How many participants?
So far I’ve only tried with participants who don’t know each other. And from my experience, participants who don’t know each other have some but limited interest in listening to other participant’s stories. So sessions are kept small. I have not tried more than six people. I would recommend an upper limit of eight people.
And with the extra time that is needed for an online session due to longer explanations from the facilitator, the session described in the Workshop Format on the main webpage took just over two hours with six people.
Starting with Zoom
What I’ve learned so far from delivering any workshop with Zoom is that you have got to got your participants familiar with the functions of Zoom. This needs doing right at the beginning of the session with a few minutes of trialing and chatting because you can resolve technique issues early before they create problems for you to deal with mid-workshop. But some of this depends on whether they are using Zoom on a mobile device or desktop/laptopand, and if they are running Zoom from the downloaded app or view their web browser. My recommendation is that you need to standardise as many things as possible. Get them all to 1) use a laptop or desktop with a webcam and 2) download the Zoom app before the workshop.
Once everyone is in the Zoom meeting, then you can encourage them to test the functions and options in Zoom. The viewing preferences of Zoom mean that some options are controlled locally by the participants from their end, and some are can be controlled centrally by you, the host. They can toggle between ‘gallery’ and ‘speaker view’. I recommend they spend most of the time on speaker view so there is one large video for them to focus on. If there is critical information, you may want to share some slides with them so test that they can see these as well. One view feature that will really help is ‘spotlight’. As host, you can choose to spotlight a participant when they are describing their model. This means that everyone will seen the video with the model being described and it will remain on this video, even if someone else speaks. If you don’t do this, the default active speaker mode means that the video moves to whoever is speaking. This active speaker mode is a problem when people are asking questions about the model being described because other participants see the face of the persons asking the question and not the model being questioned.
Other Zoom Functions
- As host, you can choose to mute or unmute all the participants microphones but I prefer to encourage self-monitoring on this and only asking people to mute in case of background noise, which can happen when they are working from home with the family near by!
- Ask your participants to change their display name on their video so you can easily refer to them by their chosen name.
- The ‘chat’ function will allow you to send them the building instructions as a PDF at the right moment
- To save bandwidth (and unnecessary distraction), you may chose to turn off the videos when they are not necessary.
Computer setup recommendations
For participants, I recommend:
- Work from a desktop or laptop with webcam rather than a mobile device because Zoom works better
- Download Zoom to the computer, and work from the downloaded web-client rather than web-browser, again, Zoom will work better
- Create some space in front of the computer for building the LEGO models
- Find a space that is well lit and relatively quiet so the models can be seen clearly and explanations clearly heard
- Tilt the laptop lid back and forth or move the webcam so the LEGO models can be clearly seen when finished