Adventures in Virtual Learning! The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

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How are you feeling about the variety of online experiences you are having of late? What are you loving, hating (too strong?), or wondering about?

What would you do differently?

In 2015, I designed, developed, and delivered a course on (wait for it) the design and development of live online deliveries. Even earlier (2013), I had the contract to create a course on successful strategies for facilitating live online training. Both courses attracted hundreds of people for one of the largest training companies in the world.

Probably just like you, I have spent an extraordinary amount of time online over the past three months. I have seen it all, people

  • who are gifted in their delivery and are working with programs with terrific designs and engaging content
  • with good intentions and no skills
  • who are gifted in delivering programs with poor designs and mediocre materials
  • who are not gifted in delivering even good material (though a better design would have improved their delivery)

I decided that I needed to have some fun with the (mostly mediocre) experiences I was having… so I am creating an interactive piece—I’ll share it next week!

What does a stellar delivery look, sound, and feel like to you?

Here are the categories I’m interested in—what’s your thinking? What would you add to this list or how might you re-configure it?

Orienting/Grounding

  • Welcome
  • Overview
  • Agenda/Roadmap
  • Agreements/Creation of Safe Space
  • Sharing Expectations
  • Check-in
  • Check-out

Engagement

  • On-time start and finish
  • Co-creating the experience
  • Holding the facilitator role both firmly and lightly
  • Being open to questions, discussions, and conversations throughout the session
  • Making the space for a variety of view and sharing experiences (if relevant)
  • Hearing from everyone in the room—as they desire it/working with the power dynamics inherent in every gathering

Connection

  • Using tech resources to introduce and connect people before the session
  • Cultivating rapport—between facilitator and participants and between participants
  • Ensuring a variety of partners in activities

Technology

  • Exploit capabilities of the tech resources
  • Planning for sufficient co-facilitators or facilitator & producer
  • Teaching participants to use the tech (in advance of the session)

Learning

  • Knowing the participants—who are they, what is their interest, knowledge, experience…
  • Focus on need- to-know info
  • Provide resources—before and after sessions

Visualizing your future—what are you imagining?

Looking toward the second half of 2020 causes me to pause… so much has changed so fast. I relish the opportunity to sit with markers and paper to savor and learn from my experiences.

  • How are you making time in your busy life to reflect?
  • What’s the nature of the journey you’re experiencing?
  • How are you dancing with the realities, and the possibilities contained within the changes you have experienced?

In the beginning…

My year started at a breakneck pace, it was exciting! By early March, my professional and personal lives had settled into a rhythm, and my plans for the year were unfolding. Friday the 13th of March was the day NYC shut down for business, and the last day of in-person training programs for me until… who knows?

As I make the time to discover the good in what has happened—both what was planned and what happened serendipitously over the past 16 weeks, I realize that there have been BIG developments!

  • How have your working relationships changed?

My bikablo work shifted from in-person to live, online sessions with my colleague, Jill Langer from Canada. What a delight that has been! I won’t overlook some of the initial questions, the challenges, and the ramping up to get comfortable with all the platforms and devices we’re using… I prefer to focus my attention on the new experience of working with a partner and the pleasure of developing stronger relationships with learners because we need to communicate more often.

Many members of the Bikablo global training team decided to teach, share ideas, and practices about online work. I would never have had so many interactions with my colleagues without the stimulus of the pandemic. These meetings have led to new methods, greater collegiality, and last Saturday’s Global Jam with a dozen co-hosts from around the world—an event that we co-created in less than four week’s time!

That experience, shifting from colleagues collaborating with the purpose of fine-tuning our methods to event planners, was a HUGE transformation in dynamics and group structure… happily, we weathered a bit of turbulent water and everyone enjoyed our inaugural event—participants and co-hosts alike! As we’re now talking about more events together, I feel confident we will grow into these new types of relationships—it’s fantastic!

Our final activity in the Bikablo Alumni Global Jam-What are our ideas for hope & inspiration?

  • What are you learning—formally and informally?

Back in January, I started a 45 session coaching course, and, after a dozen sessions, I asked to become part to group that had started work to develop a feedback system that works for the facilitator and the participants. (Don’t even get me started about how this process has put the cart before the horse…) This experience is/continues to be really interesting and challenging for me—I am an outsider! I am the only person who has an instructional design background and I am the newest to the field (of nonviolent communication) of the folks in the group of about six to eight regulars… I speak a different language and, perhaps even more glaringly, I have a very different style and pace of facilitation/using processes to move to solutions. The experience has afforded me the opportunity to be both in the moment, and outside of it. It is challenging work!

I’ve also filled my plate with courses that I’ve wanted to take for a long time—Developing an Appreciative Mindset (David Cooperrider Institute), Compassion Cultivation Training (Compassion Institute), Appreciative Living Learning Circle Facilitator Training (Jackie Kelm) and, (coming up in July) the vAIFT/virtual Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (Center for Appreciative Inquiry). It’s so much fun —and so much work!

  • How are you growing?
  • What’s the good that you have experienced?
  • How will you work with the difficult times, using them as guideposts for a different future?

I am experiencing a difference in my thinking and interactions with colleagues and family as a result of my learning and practice. Integrating these areas of knowledge, watching the changes and growth in my relationships with myself, with others, and myself in relation to others, has been fascinating! It’s been good and challenging, and I know it keeps me on the path to more conscious communication.

  • Where are you visualizing for the second half of 2020—what do you want?
  • Which of your strengths will support you in creating the future you desire?
  • What questions excite you?
  • Where will you focus your attention?

All of these experiences, plus my interest, training, and work in the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness, and several other fields are leading to the creation of a new coaching program. It is quintessentially me—to learn, practice, do, and create new offerings for my clients. I am thrilled to be on this path!

Please reach out to me with questions that arise for you, or if you seek for a partner in exploring what your future holds.

I’ve got post-training blues…

Check-in for our third session

Yesterday, I felt the high of being with people as they transformed before my eyes. For this bikablo Basic Virtual Training, we had four sessions of plorking (playing and working) over two days —their diligent practice and collegial nature led to exciting results.

This morning, my realization upon awakening was, “This will be a different day… training is over. “And while our next session is in July, I am missing the joy that goes into creating the learning environment and experience.

This virtual training of the Basic course has required new approaches to delivery and the creation of new charts. I have stretched in new ways, facing the occasional challenge in the most effective use of the technology for the learners and for me—which became a spur to broadening and deepening my knowledge and skills.

This morning I missed the sense of anticipation that I have had for the past week, just waiting for the training to begin. Once we began on Tuesday, I enjoyed collaborating online again with Jill Langer, using the tools and resources we have gathered, and developing connections with the participants. Watching folks dive into new methods, experiment with new tools, assess their own work, and offer compliments, insights, and suggestions to their peers was a delight!

I will have to wait until July for more of the same feelings—the bikablo Basic Day 2 Virtual Training has eight folks signed up already! Until then, I will savor the experience.

How about you? When did you last attend a training program, facilitated experience, or coaching session that you thoroughly enjoyed? Did you wake up the next morning celebrating the experience, mourning its passing, and savoring it too? What’s next on your calendar? I hope that you have something special planned!

Making Time to Be Here Now

As I sit down to write this week, I am filled with swirling thoughts and emotions. While I want to share my ideas and questions around my work, to connect with you and be of service, I am also keenly aware of the heaviness in my heart.

I love to focus on what brings me joy and areas that challenge me in my work yet I need to honor this moment in time. I am not just my work. Even when I am working, I bring all of me to everything I do. So I am going to pause now because it feels right.

Perhaps sharing some of the resources that I use to be in-the-moment/present to challenging times, and finding my way through, to tap into the strength to make change—personally, interpersonally, and societally—will be of interest and support to you. Here are some of my tried-and-true, and also a few newer-to-me gems.

Books

  • The Healing Power of the Breath, Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg
  • The Joy of Appreciative Living, Jacqueline Kelm
  • Dynamic Relationships, Jacqueline Stavros & Cheri Torres
  • A Fearless Heart, Thupten Jinpa
  • Radical Compassion, Tara Brach
  • Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg
  • Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman

Magazine and Sites

More Resources

I also use these tools in my work and personal life:

  • Points of You card decks:  The Coaching Game and Punctum—for reflection and insight
  • www.zentangle.com—for peace, calm, joy, beauty

 

It’s my hope that you will add your favorites—books, sites, podcasts (I didn’t even go there!), card decks, and more— so that I may expand my cache of resources. 

If you are curious about any of these resources, please contact me. I am passionate about their impact on my life.


Relief, delight, spaciousness, agency—these are the feelings I experience…

when I look at my calendar this morning. No appointments, calls, or video chats, no classes or deadlines for today! While there’s lots to be done, I am the designer of my day—and I LOVE it! Sure, we all have (varying degrees) of opportunity to shape our days—this one is bliss for me, as I am feeling overstuffed of late. The chance to plan, prepare, and dive into my projects is exhilarating.

What about you? How are you feeling about your days (and evenings)? Have you figured out how to ride the waves of work, opportunity, and connection — both professional and personal?

It’s possible that I’m more in tune with appreciating this unusual circumstance because I am in the middle of taking the course, Developing an Appreciative Mindset offered by the David Cooperrider Institute, and reading, The Joy of Appreciative Living by Jacqueline Kelm. I am quite consistently conscious of making the time to imagine, reflect upon, and note/journal about what I am grateful for, what will bring me joy, and developing an appreciative eye. This work takes me back to my life-changing experience in Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness Coaching program, in 2004. His book, Authentic Happiness, and the work in the program made many of the practices integral to both my professional and personal lives. 

What do you know about your strengths? How are you leveraging them during this topsy-turvy time? If you haven’t taken the Strengths survey at The VIA Character Institute, I can’t say enough great things about it! It’s free, requires maybe 15 minutes of your time, and yields valuable and actionable information—even if it just confirms your thinking! It’s what you do with the results that can make a huge difference in your life.

I noticed that my results had changed just a wee bit since 2004…

My strengths—now and then!

A snippet from Our Family Tree of Strengths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the EuViz 2014 Conference in Berlin, Understanding the Light and Dark Sides of Our Strengths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years, in my consulting, training, and volunteer board work, I have used the survey results to help people nurture greater understanding of themselves and others, to leverage strengths of teams.

The strengths survey results of the 2014 IFVP board members.

 

The strengths survey results of NPower interns

What would be possible for you, if you were to consciously and consistently, use your strengths? Can you imagine it?

I LOVE these kinds of conversations! If you take the survey and want to chat about your results—and how to work with them in your life, let’s do it! All my coaching clients complete and reflect on the survey results before we start our formal work together. Click here to join me for a complimentary coaching session.