Digital Storytelling is a dynamic topic for professional development. The PD opportunities I have developed and extended through DIGICOM Learning are highly engaging, interactive, and collaborative. They depend heavily on participants being able to work in small groups, provide peer feedback, engage in community building, and film off-site at a variety of locations. In other words: Digital Storytelling PD is not meant to be conducted remotely! However, in a changing world with a "new normal," I knew that I wanted to take on the challenge of facilitating a weeklong workshop through video conferencing. I thrive on professional challenges, and this was an opportunity that could help me grow. Here are some of the lessons I learned this week:
- A blended approach is key. Zoom fatigue is real, as is screen fatigue. Structuring the workshop into clear sections of online and offline work was beneficial to participants' individual needs and served to maximize our synchronous time together.
- Planning is more important than ever. I created a course agenda that functioned as a living document. Everyone in the class had access to the agenda via Google Docs and could see my live updates. This was important, because the schedule was always changing to according to participant needs, pacing, and feedback.
- Having access to a professional Zoom license increases your ability to foster collaboration. Fortunately, DIGICOM Learning possesses an upgraded account, which let me leverage breakout rooms to their maximum potential.
- Breakout often. I structured several different types of breakout rooms for participants to engage in collegial discussions. Depending on what I wanted them to gain from the conversation, I utilized grade level groups (elementary, middle school, high school), randomized groups, and intentionally mixed groups (with participants divided equally in terms of grade levels taught).
- Portions of the workshop were still able to be collaborative for those who felt comfortable and able to work together. In revising my instruction for the Zoom format, one of the aspects I prepared to part with was the idea of participants working in small groups to go out into the world to film together. A pleasant surprise was that several teachers were able to work together with content teammates to collect footage at their respective homes. They were super smart about how they shot the footage to provide the illusion that they storytelling together in the same space. I was impressed! Don't you love it when students surprise you in the classroom? It's no different when the students are teachers and your classroom is Zoom!
- Be available during offline work time. I provided participants with my cell number, email, and social media information in order to be available for "just in time" coaching. Many reached out for tech troubleshooting as well as storytelling help. Being able to jump back onto Zoom or FaceTime was valuable in terms of meeting the needs of the people in the "room."
- An effective way to provide feedback was to have participants turn in their work via Google Classroom as usual. Then, I went into my Drive and made the assignment folder containing drafts for peer review publicly viewable. I posted the folder in the Classroom Stream along with a prompt for feedback:
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