A big thank you to those who joined our first official BRACED Discussion Forum. We received 40 unique visitors and a total of 110 comments were posted during the hour-long discussion. The main objective of this Forum was to introduce the technology of the virtual platform, give everyone change to test it out, and provide feedback on what worked well and what worked not so well.
It was a lively discussion, characterized by moments of confusion (‘I can see the poll but can't seem to find how to answer it?!’), revelation (using hashtags to follow conversations works well), and many valuable suggestions for harnessing this tool for structured discussion and debate around key BRACED learning themes (‘It would be great if we had a list of discussion topics. That way the relevant people can attend from each consortium and also good for planning ahead’).
Below a few more comments shared during the test run:
‘One thing I like about this platform is that it's very stable in places with low bandwidth - one of the things we've heard loud and clear from various members of the BRACED family. You do have to type, which can take time, but it also creates a useful record of our interactions. Very unlike Skype which can be fast but often falls out, leaving people missing things...’
‘I wonder also on how experts working on our respective project who do not speak English would be able to attend and participate?’
We were pleased to discover that the virtual platform has the option to translate comments and conversations to French. We also plan to have discussions moderated by French speakers from the Knowledge Manager.
The test run was an interesting learning experience for facilitators as well, and we’ll be drafting Tips for Facilitators based on this experience. Key lessons learned from this perspective included:
- Ensure privacy of the conversation as some discussions might be sensitive
- Keep discussion focused so people can more easily follow and comment
- Summarize the discussion from time to time - and move people to the next question.
- Prepare icebreakers to engage many participants from the start (e.g What is your name, organization, and mention the best thing that happened to you related to BRACED this week?)
- Provide tips for using the technology to participants beforehand
- If a video is uploaded, propose as Facilitator to take time for everyone to watch video, or to agree everyone should watch the video later
Moving ahead, the KM will ensure each discussion is moderated by a Facilitator and a Technical Lead in order to ensure smooth flow of communication, and strong focus on a specific technical topic. In addition, prior to all Discussion Fora, the Knowledge Manager will circulate an agenda, together with the session's goals and objectives, key discussion questions, any relevant background reading, and a list of desired outputs/outcomes. This way all partners can plan ahead who may participate from their project team.
This blog will be the first of many to summarize highlights and key question raised that may be of interest to wider readership. Keep an eye out for these blogs all of which will be posted on the BRACED website!
On behalf of the Knowledge Manager, we look forward to continuing to foster connections though this virtual platform as well as through other approaches to promote integrated learning and synergies. A detailed schedule of upcoming online discussion forum will be shared soon...