Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Meet the FLO Facilitators: Leva Lee

Cross posted to BCcampus News.

Meet FLO Facilitator: Leva Lee

Over the years, individuals from institutions and organizations across British Columbia have taken Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) to the next level by participating in the Facilitator Development/Mentorship program and co-facilitating one or more of the FLO courses. If you are thinking about adopting FLO courses at your institution, these are the people who can help!
What got you started on this path to becoming a FLO facilitator and mentor?
Leva Lee

What experience and expertise do you bring to this new support role of helping others to adopt and/or facilitate FLO courses? 
With a background in open learning, learning design, and educational technology, I have many years’ experience designing, developing, and experimenting with online courses, resources, and experiences for the secondary and post-secondary educator communities. I enjoy the design process of adapting our work so that we may maximize the potential of online space and continue to support learners using evidence-based teaching practices. Led by Sylvia Currie, the FLO community is such a wonderful and enthusiastic bunch of educators. I’m pleased to be part of the facilitator “family”!
How can people contact you?
The best way to reach me is by email at leva.lee@bccampus.ca

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tips from Tech Buddy Gina

Cross posted to BCcampus News. Written by Gina Bennett.

Tips from Tech Buddy Gina

This post provides recommendations for creating a good tech buddyship experience and is a follow up to this article on the recent FLO Enthusiasts gathering at Thompson Rivers University.
by Gina Bennett
Before the event:
  • Find out what technology will be used for the event (Skype, Zoom, etc.) and make sure both you and your buddy are not only familiar but comfortable with it. If possible, introduce yourselves and practice a bit beforehand.
  • It’s really handy to have an alternate means of communication if something goes wrong. Share mobile numbers with your buddy ahead of time.
  • Advise your remote buddy to use a headset with a microphone (you — the event buddy — will probably not be able to use a headset because you’ll need to follow what’s going on at the event).
  • Given the current state of technology, it seems a laptop (rather than a cell phone or tablet) still works best for the event buddy. You’ll want to make sure your battery is charged AND bring your power cord as well.
  • Find out if your remote buddy has received any event resources: an agenda, a slide deck, supporting documents, list of attendees, etc.
At the event:
  • Once you’re at the venue, connect to the Wi-Fi and check the connection. You’ll need a relatively strong connection to share video. Find out if someone is available to provide tech support on-site.
  • Sit at the front so your remote buddy gets the best sound reception and an unobstructed view. Have a look around to see where the nearest electrical outlet is (in case you have to charge your battery at some point).
  • You will need a table or desk to set your laptop on. Holding your laptop on your lap is just not practical and the bouncing around will drive your remote buddy crazy.
  • Ensure your remote buddy can hear and see what’s going on (e.g., the speaker, whiteboard, presentation). If the video feed is really flaky, suggest your remote buddy stop sending their video feed. (By this time, you should already know what they look like.)
  • It sometimes happens that an event whiteboard or flipchart gets so marked up that your remote buddy can’t read it via webcam. Now you will be glad you shared mobile contact info: take a photo with your cell phone and send it that way.
  • While the speaker is talking, you probably won’t be able to talk to your buddy (whispering works poorly over a remote connection, especially if there’s background noise). If you and your remote buddy want to chat while the presentation is underway, use the text chat. You really should check every 10 minutes or so to make sure your remote buddy is able to follow along.
It’s mainly about presence…
  • If the event organizer doesn’t introduce remote attendees during the event introductions, introduce your remote buddy after you introduce yourself.
  • The most important tip of all: Don’t forget that your remote buddy is there. When the action shifts to another part of the venue, make sure you bring your remote buddy along. If there’s a vote on something, get your buddy’s vote, too. If small group discussions are part of the event, do what you can to include your buddy in the discussion.
  • If you have to disappear for a few minutes, let your remote buddy know. If you’re going to be gone for a length of time (e.g., maybe you are presenting a session yourself), introduce your buddy to someone who can take over as event buddy while you’re gone.
  • Maybe your remote buddy has their own plans for lunch and coffee breaks, but if not, bring them along or encourage other event attendees to come over and chat with them.
Perks of being an event buddy!
  • You get to sit at the front, and you get to have a table/desk, even if these resources are scarce.
  • You have someone with whom you can share side conversations and observations about the presentations, etc.
  • You have the opportunity to give your videoconferencing software a real workout and gain proficiency in supporting your remote students or clients.
  • You will get to meet somebody who is willing to push the boundaries of access, and you will feel way more confident about trying remote attendance yourself when the opportunity arises.
People sitting in a group, two chairs with laptops and attendees listening remotely

Meet the FLO Facilitators: Colleen Grandy

Meet FLO Facilitator: Colleen Grandy

Cross posted from BCcampus News

Over the years, individuals from institutions and organizations across British Columbia have taken Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) to the next level by participating in the Facilitator Development/Mentorship program and co-facilitating one or more of the FLO courses. If you are thinking about adopting FLO courses at your institution, these are the people who can help!

Colleen Grandy and her two kids

What got you started on this path to becoming a FLO facilitator and mentor?

I had been teaching communication courses online at Yukon College for a few years, and I wanted to connect with and learn from other online instructors. I missed the collegial connectivity and peer support network that seemed so much easier to build in face-to-face teaching. After clicking on a link in a BCcampus newsletter, I stumbled across the FLO community. It was wonderful! I quickly connected with other online facilitators, completed FLO Facilitator Development (FDO), and participated in several FLO MicroCourses.

What experience and expertise do you bring to this new support role of helping others to adopt and/or facilitate FLO courses?

I’ve been teaching in (first) physical and (now) digital classrooms for about eighteen years. Currently, at Yukon College, I teach face-to-face and online communication classes and support faculty as part of the Teaching and Learning team. After co-developing and co-facilitating a FLO MicroCourse through BCcampus (“Experience and design a community building activity”), I co-facilitated the same course through Yukon College’s learning management system. I’d be happy to chat with folks about finding and supporting the online teaching and learning community, and about adopting FLO at their own institutions. It is a privilege to be part of this growing and supportive community.

How can people contact you?

Please reach out by email at cgrandy@yukoncollege.yk.ca.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Our FLO Enthusiasts Tech Buddyship Experience

Cross posted to BCcampus News.

Our FLO Enthusiasts Tech Buddyship Experience

On June 19th, a group of FLO Enthusiasts gathered together at Thompson Rivers University to share experiences and plan next steps for the FLO family of courses. These face-to-face meetings that bring together a group of facilitators who typically interact in online spaces have become an (almost) annual event.
By Asif Devji, Gina Bennett, and Sylvia Currie
Immediately after sending out the invitation, requests started to roll in from very enthusiastic enthusiasts asking about the possibility of remote participation because they were unable to make the journey to Kamloops.
At BCcampus, we have experimented with a Tech Buddy format at events based on first-hand experiences with the “I’ll take you with me…” approach developed by Beverly and Etienne Wenger-Trayner. Shall we try it again?
The final motivation came from Asif:
“I’d be happy to volunteer to help set up/administer some of the tech required — if BCcampus would be willing to share its tech resources for this purpose.”
drawing of stick man on laptop
Asif also coined the term “buddyship,” which perfectly captures this experience of teaming up to bring a remote participant into an event.
Asif’s experience as a remote participant:
Offering to set up the tech that would let me access an event that I otherwise couldn’t have attended — an opportunity to exchange with other online learning wonks, no less — was a no-brainer.
As I sent that email to Sylvia, I was thinking in terms of a web conference — which would have obliged the event presenters and activities to cater in some way to that broadcast medium.
When she responded proposing Tech Buddies, things quickly shifted. It was a simpler and less labour-intensive solution. All that was required was a Skype video connection to a buddy at the event with a mobile device that could be used to carry you into the activities. The responsibility for accessibility shifted from the event to the individual.
A Google Doc outlining the Tech Buddy process was emailed to all event participants. It included a coordinating table that we could use to input our Skype/contact details and to buddy up. Buddyships were quickly established.
I was lucky enough to be able to buddy up with Gina Bennett, whom I already knew as a facilitator of an online course I had participated in. That pre-existing relationship helped cement the buddyship. We had a quick email exchange to confirm and organize.
On the day of the event, at the time allotted on the schedule — about 10 minutes prior to the start — Gina Skyped me and we established an issue-free video connection. The participants were finishing up breakfast as Gina toured me around the room and introduced me to people around her. This really helped me feel that I was “there” and part of the group.
Once the event began, my buddy ensured I had a good view of the presenters and their presentations on the big screen. She checked in to make sure I could hear what was going on. When questions were asked and answered, she pivoted her camera to capture the back and forth between participants and presenters. I felt well taken care of.
My video and audio feeds were always live on her end, and I could mute either on my end when I chose. This allowed me to jump into discussions freely. The experience was very different from watching a webinar presentation — I felt more like a participant actually at the event rather than an individual audience member watching from home.
3 chairs, each with a laptop buddy
Things got more interesting when it came time to participate in the Liberating Structures activities, which called for time-limited interactions with multiple participants. While some were simple to tweak for remote participation — for example, creating a drawing on my end, then holding it up to my camera to show the group as part of the visual interviewing activity — others required more accommodation from the event participants.
For impromptu networking, in which participants filtered around the room and spoke to three different people for three minutes each, I was placed on a table in the hallway — as the background noise of all the conversations made it difficult for both sides to hear — and my event buddy had to recruit people to come out and talk to me.
For the crowdsourcing activity, which involved writing ideas on recipe cards and then shuffling those cards through multiple people, my event buddy had to create my cards by copying text that I typed into the chat — while also completing her own cards, and so effectively doing two jobs in the limited time allotted — and then one of the presenters had to play my part in shuffling my cards through the group.
The event presenters and participants were constantly thinking on their feet to make sure that we three remote participants were included and accommodated. There were a couple of surreal moments — such as having a screen-to-screen conversation with another remote participant (while our two tech buddies held their devices up to one another) — and hearing from event participants about the weirdness of my disembodied head moving around the room like some kind of robot.Asif's image on a laptop on a chair
As the day wore on, my event buddy’s device started to run low, and I was given a bit of a side perspective on things as she placed it close to a wall to plug in and recharge. In the end, the Tech Buddy experience was a complete success. I spent a full five hours (plus a one-hour break for lunch) actively participating in a remote event — something that would have certainly been more difficult in a webinar environment.
Stay tuned for the second part of this blog post: Tips from Tech Buddy Gina!