Bringing Design Workshops Online

02 Sep
2020
blackboard reading "never Stop Learning"

We’ve just finished day one of our largest virtual design workshops to date.  Sixteen participants from multiple states, using Zoom breakout rooms and MURAL virtual whiteboards gathered to discuss a new training experience.  Though we have facilitated many design workshops, this is our first conducted virtually. We conducted introductory icebreakers as a group and then broke into smaller teams to brainstorm key goals, desired outcomes, and favorite experiences of the current curriculum.

Our topic: 

Diversity and inclusion within a leading, global, tech company.  We’re tackling topics such as unconscious bias, microaggression, privilege and oppression, ingroups and outgroups, and intersectionality.

Our goal:

“Design a transformative, empathy-inducing, learning journey —  consisting of a series of short sessions/events/activities, and experienced over time —  that leverages technology to advance diversity and inclusion globally  by creating profound, hit-me-in-the-gut, learning moments  that affect real change in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.”

What We Learned:

Preparing for a virtual workshop proved to be different than face-to-face interactions.  More time is needed to plan the agenda, set up virtual breakout rooms, and establish MURAL whiteboards.  By spending more time setting up the workshop and having rooms, boards, and materials ready, we were able to keep the pace of the meeting high,  and the participants engaged.  This is important because as anyone who’s held a virtual meeting has experienced, distractions are common in virtual gatherings.  By focusing on engagement and breakout sessions, we kept eyes on our objectives and away from emails, iphones, and barking dogs.

We also learned much from our participants–on how they engage, their level of comfort with emerging business-interactive software, and how to best get everyone on the same page in both areas.  For example, an initial icebreaker activity that used the interactivity aspects of MURAL doubled as tech training for the less savvy, while removing the pressure to contribute to the mission of the workshop. Two more sessions to go—one with the entire multi-disciplinary team, and one with the core instructional design team to make final recommendations and create a design document. 

Stay tuned for updates on sessions 2 and 3; followed by lessons learned in conducting virtual workshops.

Dwight Johnson
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