Collaboration, Learning Community, Virtual Communities, virtual teaming

HOW TO: Virtually Team and Facilitate Meetings

Did you know you can meet and share with your colleagues and peers beyond an event, campus, or meeting? Perhaps you find a shared research project idea or a group of you had an idea sparked while at a conference to continue working on or you have a great colleague from afar you want to work with – then virtual teaming might help you stay connected and allow for collaboration. Through effective management of a remote team and hosting semi-regular virtual meetings, you can to provide updates, share ideas, and seek support for these new projects/initiatives. Regular meetings allow members of your community to connect and communicate beyond emails or the listserv.

Synchronous meetings allow you to deliver information, encourage discussion, and involve your communities or teams in a dynamic way! A remote/online meeting is more dynamic, structured way to connect beyond a  listserv or any social media channel. It is recommended to make these type of group meetings effective by having defined objectives and outcomes, an agenda, and a facilitator. To avoid “The Conference Call in Real Life” situation, here are a few suggestions to plan and organize the facilitation of a remote/online meeting. Or maybe you are Rethinking Office Hours in a distance/online way to meet the needs of your students, staff, and faculty — the possibilities are endless!

To work with your team from afar, you will not only have to consider meeting but also manage your work. Whether you are collaborating on research, developing a presentation, organizing a program or planning a conference — you should consider how you are going to virtually manage your team’s time and tasks. This #acpa16 Genius Lab resource will introduce you to tools and strategies to effectively share information and outline a few project management basics to help you collaborate more effectively.

The “HOW TO” Steps

  1. Planning a viable agenda or series of agendas. Identify your purpose of the meeting, what you will discuss & the agenda structure, e.g. information, open discussion, updates.
  2. Effective use of technology. Try out and experiment with your technological applications and platforms in advance, so you are familiar with how they work & troubleshooting. Be sure to include any instructions to your community members on how they will have to log in or access your meeting space and materials.
  3. Preparing participants and pre-work or pre-meeting information. By sending information in advance helps to prepare your participants for the meeting by letting them read materials, review the agenda, and prepare items to talk about or ask questions on. Emailing a reminder with this information makes for a more functional remote/online meeting.
  4. Keeping participants focused and engaged. During your remote/online meeting, think about adding in a poll or survey question, provide a space for open discussion, consider other ways participants can “talk” at the meeting, e.g. Instant Message, chat functions, within the open, shared Google Doc, etc. Consider assigning roles during the meeting, such as meeting minutes, rotating chair/timekeeper, point-person or project leads, etc.
  5. Building trust and social capital. Establish a rapport with your team or group members at meetings during the in-person meeting (if possible) or through ongoing communication between meetings on the listserv or a social media platform. Get to know your members, and allow them to get to know you! Continue this beyond the face-to-face (F2F) time to build rapport.Remember to include introductions and/or an icebreaker during your meeting. Suggestions included the References (Ericksen, 2012).
  6. Maintaining momentum between meetings. The discussion and development within your community do not have to end at the close of a meeting. Encourage meetings to plan projects (webinar, research, writing, etc.) during the in-between times & leave space on the next agenda to report in & for progress updates.
    • Encourage members to follow up or reach out to you with ideas or suggestions after the meeting as well.
    • If there are multiple projects within your community, you might want to utilize a shared space like Dropbox and/or a wiki to keep all the information and developments in one central location for an easy leadership transition.

*NOTE: Consider the remote/online conferencing tools and meeting resources in advance. How you will facilitate interaction and dialogue before, during, and after your online/remote meeting? How you will engage your participants? When can they comment, give feedback or ask questions? Think about the types of interaction and needs for your meeting when deciding on your Meeting Collaboration Tools. Also, consider options you might have available at your own institution for meeting platforms and applications – ask and learn!

BONUS: Check out the Why We Collaborate NPR TED Radio Hour for MORE ideas about collaborating with your virtual team.

A Few Meeting Collaboration Tools & Resources:

References

Chavanu, B. (2013, July 6). Online meeting guide: Software and strategy. Make Use Of. Retrieved from http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/online-meeting-guide-software-and-strategy/

Craemer, M. (2014, March 2). 7 tips for effective conference calls. Seattle PI. Retrieved from http://blog.seattlepi.com/workplacewrangler/2014/03/02/7-tips-for-effective-conference-calls/

Ericksen, C. (2012, May 2). Eight great ice-breakers for online meetings. Cisco Blog. Retrieved from http://blogs.cisco.com/home/eight-great-icebreakers-for-online-meetings

Fried, J. (2010, October). Why work doesn’t happen at work. TEXxMidwest https://www.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work

Hogan, J. (2015, March 15). 25 ways educators across the country are using Google Hangouts. The Compelled Educator. Retrieved from http://thecompellededucator.blogspot.com/2015/03/24-ways-educators-across-country-are.html

Schindler, E. (2008, February 15). Running an effective teleconference or virtual meeting. CIO. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/2437139/collaboration/running-an-effective-teleconference-or-virtual-meeting.html

Thomas, F. (2010, December 20). 5 tips for conducting a virtual meeting. Inc. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/12/5-tips-for-conducting-a-virtual-meeting.html

Wolf, L. (2010, October 13). How to host an effective virtual meeting. California Digital Library INFO News. Retrieved from http://www.cdlib.org/cdlinfo/2010/10/13/how-to-host-an-effective-virtual-meeting/

Young, J. (2009). Six critical success factors for running a successful virtual meeting. Facilitate.com Retrieved from https://www.facilitate.com/support/facilitator-toolkit/docs/Six-Critical-Success-Factors-for-Successful-Virtual-Meetings.pdf

Learning Community, PLN

Building Communities of Practice in Higher Ed

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Milton Cox from Miami University, met with a group of students, staff and faculty to share ideas on how to build effective communities of practice at UNT known as Collaborative Learning Communities (CLC).  In his lecture and our discussion, Dr. Cox shared suggestions on how to “mind the gap(s)” in higher education and consider the broken spaces between our current disciplines, departments and silos on campus.  The process of connecting to establish a community of practice (in his example, faculty learning communities) it is to connect faculty and their institutions to think beyond their department, discipline and separate goals for the campus.
Image c/o Dr. Milton Cox
It is all to common to see department loyalty being rewarded and interdisciplinary activity questioned in higher education. There are also disconnects between student development and academic affairs priorities. For higher education to move forward it will be critical for faculty and staff to engage students in new ways of learning and scholarly activity. Although many students want to see the sage on the stage, to just consume information, it will be increasingly critical for our learning institutions to encourage inquiry-based learning and promote self-regulated scholarship.
One way to close the education gap and challenges in higher education, is to consider forming communities of practice (CoP) that work together. There are a number of students, staff and faculty need to collaborate to discuss civic engagement, learning communities, and pedagogical shifts to our higher education curriculum. Dr. Cox introduced the concept of Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs), which tend to be more structured than the organic CoP, and they are voluntary, structured, and at least a yearlong commitment from the members. Here are some other suggested practices for setting up FLCs:
  • size: 8-12 faculty, professionals, Administrators, TAs, students
  • voluntary membership by application
  • Affiliate patterns: consultants, mentors, student associates
  • multidisciplinary and from different departments
  • encourage participant curiosity
  • allow for richness of innovations
  • permitted relief from dysfunctional units
As we connected and discussed ideas around our own Collaborative Learning Communities (CLCs), we found sharing ideas could help work towards resolving institutional challenges and support the strategic goals for our campus. As our CLCs gather and collaborate, I am looking forward to connecting, brainstorming, and creating initiatives that will enhance what we do on campus.
Along with this idea for collaborative learning communities, Sue Beckingham, Jeff Jackson, Eric Stoller and I hope to discuss this topic as a #sxswEDU panel in 2013 => Communities of Practice in Higher Education as we hope to answer the following questions:
  1. How can communities of practice and learning networks play a critical role in meeting the challenges of higher education across the globe?
  2. As professional and personal learning networks (PLNs) develop, how can these informal entities support and contribute to the future of higher education?
  3. What are some actionable items and issues that higher education communities of practice can take on both at the local and global level?
Sign in and CAST YOUR VOTE HERE.

References:

Cox, M. & Richlin, L.  (2004). New Directions for Teaching and Learning:  Building Faculty Learning Communities.  Vol. 97.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wenger, E. (2002) Communities of practice. Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Volume 1.5, Article 5. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam. 
Collaboration, Learning Technologies, PLE

Surfing the Google Wave.

Google wave is a web-based application that enhances electronic communication. Here is a (long) presentation and preview of Google Wave:

This latest initiative may provide educators additional resources for online personal learning environments. In EDUCAUSE‘s 7 Things You Should Know About Google Wave, details how this emerging technology can be utilized for teaching and learning:

  • Conversations -multiple messages for message board chats, IM, texting, etc
  • Archiving email/chat dialogues that are also non-linnear & asynchronous
  • Interactive maps
  • Informal polls
  • Translation of text for global learners
  • Photography & image sharing
  • Playback function for review of conversations, notes & presentations
  • Team-based learning for collaboration of projects
  • Accessibility & usability
  • Practical uses for academic advising [from @ericstoller]

As a recent invitee to Google Wave, I am still experimenting and sampling this new resource [with the help of The Complete Guide to Google Wave]. As more people receive invites and the beta version of Google Wave develops, educators will get involved and as they find value and potential for their profession.

Collaboration, Higher Education, K-12, Open Education

Get Creative (Commons)

cclogolarge

is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.

[They] provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.

Creative Commons (CC) is quite relevant for all faculty & instructors who put together online course materials for students. It allows for content, such as images, videos, writing and music, to be shared freely and some access rights to the intellectual property. As classrooms expand and more material is shared openly, it is important for educators to be aware of how to use Creative Commons, and the implications for teaching & learning. Here are a few videos that best explain CC.

If you look at the Content Directories of CC is utilized by many companies, and even educational institutions. Some faculty started to challenge the traditional methods of research collection and how intellectual property is shared with others. One faculty shares how to encourage this open education movement in a publication called –  Open Doors and Open Minds.

The recent development and contribution from Creative Commons is the DiscoverEd search engine,  which provides accessible searches for open educational resources. This allows educators to access and share teaching and learning materials in an effective, easy way.

The question is… Wanna Work Together?

blogs, Collaboration, Higher Education, Photo Sharing, Social Media

Happy Birthday ACE!

For those of you thinking about implementing a new online, web 2.0 project for student learning… I say: GO FOR IT!

This is the 1 year anniversary of the ACE pilot project that was initiated at The Academic Advising & Career Centre, University of Toronto Scarborough.  Happy Birthday, ACE!

ace

ACE (Academic & Career Explorer) is an online, peer buddy who connects with students at UTSC to share information & resources about job search, academic questions, career options and study skills support.  You can connect to ACE various ways online:

The ACE project was a fun project to work on with staff and students.  Kudos must go out to E-Lin, Suzanne, Esther & the great team of student staff at the Centre for all their creative work and on-going support.

Here’s a shot of E-Lin celebrating ACE’s birthday today with some cake (office tradition), of course:

photo_1

Collaboration, Learning Technologies

For the Love of Google (& Learning)

drseuss09

When we first look for things online, we often turn to the popular search engine – Google.  But have you thought about what else Google can do for you?  Take a look at the various Google Apps that could be utilized for your practice in education, and an interesting article that supports use of Google  technology for learning.

Here are a few suggestions on how YOU can use Google as an educator with your learners or colleagues:

  • Google Scholar: encourage scholary research & utilizing online publications for students and professional development; accurate & credible resources; also a fan of Google Book Search for similar use
  • Google Earth: geo-tagging is all the rage in higher education; you may want to include Google Maps to this app to create collaborate landmarking & mapping
  • Google Notebook:  Interested in keeping those searched websites in an orderly fashion?  Great for research & archiving
  • Google Docs: store Word, PowerPoint & Excel documents online; share & collaborate with students, staff & faculty; excellent project management tool
  • Google Calendar: keep track of assignments, itemize lesson plans visually, and more to help with better time management
  • Blogger:  course contributions, themed journal writing, writing & development classes, and MORE!  Blogger has been used for a wide variety of contributions to learning. Here are some blog examples in Higher Ed.
  • Google Sites: plan meetings or lessons, share information on a secure website, collaborate on projects, or stay connected to learning communities; similar to website or wiki development; easy to use 
  • Google Reader:  lets you subscribe to web sites so that new content comes to you when it’s posted; similar to RSS feeds
  • Google Talk: send instant text messages, voice and/or video conference, chat from desktop or Gmail, send documents, files or hyperlinks; easy way to host “office hours” from any location

Go forth and Google.