Organisation and promotion of the event
- Planning - the draft proposal was posted in our blogs in Week 9 - Elaine and mine . We both actively participated in the preparation of the online event. It allowed us to consider pre-conceived problems, our interaction with others (or lack of), our communication methods and having to take risks!
- Promotion - as Leigh suggested to us both (before and after the event), we needed to assist in the promotion of the events and in getting a group of people to attend. Prior to the event we assumed a group would evolve from the FOC community and would just come along … yet we ignored the lack of discussion in the forum and failed to actively promote our event. In Elaine’s post she quotes from Leigh …
"It is a false idea to think that "if we build it they will come".”We are both now fully aware of the importance of actively (and consistently) encouraging participation in the discussion forum before the event.
Once Leigh realised no other people had joined our session, he immediately made connections with his contacts and within only a couple of minutes, we had a group (audience). (Thank you Leigh)!
While I was in Auckland with our planned guest speaker, Jennie, the week prior to our mini conference, we checked access to Elluminate and completed a ‘dummy’ run. She was going to be in Raglan at her holiday home prior to the conference but had assumed that internet access would not be a problem. Plan A was to have Jennifer Goddard (Master Trainer) however she was still flying back to the Gold Coast at the time of the conference. Plan B was to have Jennie Vickers (Senior Advanced Coach). Plan C wasn’t considered (at that stage)!
Setting the stage
I set up the Elluminate site with a visual representation of the Laws of Mind Maps for participants to view during the presentation.
Management of the event
As Russ had suggested in an early posting:
“Facilitation in this environment feels like and sounds like being nudged gently in the right directions by the community with the possibility that someone in that community takes responsibility for the general direction of that.”In the planning stages it was decided that Elaine and I would co-facilitate in Elluminate, however at the last minute she became the sole facilitator. She liaised with Leigh to ensure we were able to gather an audience, provided a warm and friendly welcome at the beginning, introduced the “guest speaker”, explained the format of the presentation by engaging them, and demonstrated the ability to provide direction and support to build an online relationship with the participants, in a neutral and facilitative manner. Elaine also demonstrated her skills in managing the online discussions by managing the audio and chat and ensuring I was aware of these communications.
We ended up going over time by a few minutes, Elaine managed to review the session and ensured the chat and audio recordings were posted in the FOC Course Mini conference wiki page within a couple of days.
Follow-up - what’s next in Mind Mapping?
We wondered whether we should have post further information on the Discussion Forum and have now done so, with new information about being in new 3-D mind map software in Second Life.
What went well?
Elaine was left to facilitate the online event on her own, felt the fear and did really well. She created a friendly, social environment for learning. She especially encouraged participation using a friendly, personal tone. Elaine:
- demonstrated the ability to provide direction and support to learners
- displayed a capacity for relationship building within the group
- provided appropriate listening and feedback skills
- remained the “guide on the side”
- maintained a nurturing pace for responses
- kept her cool (even though she may not have felt so)!
- We could have added a weblink to a YouTube video and asked the audience view beforehand. It is a 5-minute introduction by Tony Buzan, which demonstrates the basics of mind maps. The online event could have then been as a ‘show & tell’ session, or the sharing of experiences, barriers, uptake etc. computer-generated MM software and freeware, collaborative mind mapping, FreeMind (writing on a tablet) …
- At the last minute (Plan C) I had no option but to take the role of the presenter and quite rightly as Leigh stated
"It was a lecture ... very teacherly."What I failed to consider was that participants may have come in with that prior knowledge of the Laws of Mind Mapping and just wanted to share their experiences and frustrations of its use in the classroom. We should have placed more emphasis on trying to gather interest and comments from our Discussion Forum. The laws could have been included in some ‘pre-reading’ and from that questions may have been prompted that would ‘set the scene’ for the facilitation of the online event, instead of a ‘show and instruct’ session.
- We did not acknowledge or gauge the diversity of participants’ backgrounds and interests.
- We did not consider nor design a regular, manageable feedback loop and managing our time more effectively – we realised afterwards we should have paused at the end of each “branch” of the map to ask for questions – rather than wait till half way through the presentation.
As I reflect on the process that Leigh clearly set out for our team (Elaine and I), we realise now how unconsciously unprepared we were. We have now experienced the process - we both felt like total newbies similar to our first classroom experience as a teacher). Immediately afterwards, we completed a debrief, shared our feelings and reactions, identified fairly quickly what we would do differently and since then have spent the past couple of weeks analysing and reflecting on the experience.
This opportunity provided us with a concrete experience that has served as a practice, preparing and training us for future facilitative roles. By being part of the experience, we have extracted and learnt meaningful, relevant and essential knowledge and skills that can be transferred and used in our roles as online facilitators.
Overall, I found the learning process challenging, relevant and fun, and I have developed a far greater awareness and admiration of the skills required as a facilitator in an online environment - especially not to impose a point of view on the discussion - and to demonstrate the art of leadership in group communication.
I believe we have both become more aware to test and apply those lessons learnt in a similar situation (for continual improvement)! However, we felt the fear and did it anyway!