This week Mike Morrison and I hosted our first summer school event for the CIPD members group on Linkedin.

The aim of the summer school is to run some ‘play’ sessions using online meeting and training software. The thinking behind this is that by providing a space to play with the technology participants can get a feel for how to use it and try it to see if the technology can do what they need it to.

By play we also mean exactly that – the emphasis is on trying it out.

So, our first session used Citrix GoToTraining. Three of us spent an hour looking at the main features and then had a go at using them.

These are some of the learning points that came out of the session:

  1. If you are going to run an online meeting then make sure you schedule it and send reminders – something we didn’t do, which is why we had smaller numbers!
  2. If you are the meeting organizer then it is useful to have the participant’s view of it – that means you will need two screens and to create a dummy profile to attend the meeting as a participant. Make sure you tell others in the meeting that the dummy profile is exactly that.
  3. Before you embark on online meetings, set up some trial ‘play’ sessions with the technology. These could be drop-in sessions. By doing this you will help colleagues get familiar with what the technology looks like and feels like and what it can do. This will help meetings off to more of a flying start.
  4. Also think of running a competition to find out what features of the technology people like to use – these could be the ones that become really useful to the organization.
  5. Think about the design of the content of the meeting because the software has functions that will help make the meeting more interactive. For example, you can use polls and tests to get feedback. You can create these on the fly but it is worth looking at the content of the meeting and how you can make it as participative as possible using the technology. A little preparation can go a long way.
  6. Also be clear about the purpose of the meeting so participants know what to expect. This will also help you design the content accordingly.
  7. If the meeting has more than five participants then default to keeping the microphones off.
  8. That means there is an important job to be done by the organizer – ideally you should have two people to help run the session if you have a larger group – who can use the ‘hands up’ function and text chat to interact with participants while others are talking.
  9. Meeting rules then become important – if you are using ‘hands up’ and text and microphones then explain how you will be doing that. You can then refer back to this as and when required during the meeting.
  10. The software is great for capturing information – text chat, polls, test results – so make sure you make the most of this content after the meeting – it can be downloaded into a CSV file. You can use the content to tell others the outcome of the meeting, which has the dual purpose of saying ‘the technology can do this’ and also of providing more shelf-life to the meeting.

If you are interested in joining a future session then look out for updates on Twitter – on the #cipdlrn hashtag – or in the Linkedin CIPD members group.

And please add to this list in the comments section if you have some top tips too.

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