I blogged a couple of weeks ago about a couple of workshops I was planning. Normally I would have done these in person but not this time and I was concerned as to how they would turn out. My main worry was how I would be able to interact with the participants and control the direction of the discussion. You see, when you are in a room with people you can pick up on their frustrations, understand when they want to speak and make sure that everyone gets a chance to get involved. All of these are more difficult in the online world.
Before the workshop came around I took the opportunity to speak to Dawn Parkin, a good friend of mine from my days at North Tyneside and an expert in delivering workshops. I thought she must have had experience in her own business of moving from the physical to the online and sure enough she had some great advice.
She suggested I created a folder to share documents, something that I can easily do with Google, and create a document for people to take notes on, while using Jamboard as a virtual whiteboard for repositionable notes. Using these tools would allow people to engage in a way more akin to a physical workshop. It was good advice.
With the tools set up and the folder shared I was ready to get going with the workshop which was to look at developing a set of tools that allow businesses to test their ethical position.
The workshop went well and this is what I learned:
- Taking notes and trying to chair an online meeting is much harder than in the physical world.
- The participants were new to the online tools and weren’t as ready to use them as much as I would have liked.
- Some People don’t speak and they have to be coaxed but, because you can’t see everyone at the same time, it takes a bit of effort to remember who has and who hasn’t been involved.
- Sticking to the subject, especially something as amorphous as business ethics is hard in an online environment.
- Managing people coming in and falling out of the conference while faffing on with mute and un-mute is an effort I hadn’t included in my expectations.
All in all then, my first online workshop went reasonably well, at least the participants felt so, which was good because I had another one later that afternoon.