You don't need expensive online tools for online co-creation workshops
In the beginning… it was smooth sailing. I led a research team in the development of a two-day, in-person co-creation workshop. Then the COVID pandemic hit and we all found ourselves quarantined.
The next logical step was to figure out how to hold this session (with over twenty participants) online. The problem we ran into was this: The Department of Defense has very strict rules as to what software can be used one their computers. They have very strict rules as to where information about their systems can be stored. Every fancy expensive online tool I was used to employing for online workshops was not approved. What the heck were we going to do?
Take an inventory of what technologies the client currently uses.
When we looked closely at the technologies the DoD uses every day we found three: 1) telephones, email and Microsoft Office. Could we design a workshop using only those three tools?
Issues we faced:
—Tools needed to be approved
—Limited access to information
—Limited access to people
—Limited access to required systems
Of course we can! We asked…
HOW MIGHT WE ELICIT THE INFORMATION WE NEED TO COMPLETE THE JOB?
What are the learning goals of this course?
Measure each activity against the learning goals.
Break activities up into digestible pieces.
Does the workshop need to be live (synchronous) Ask: What are the pedagogical benefits of live co-creation sessions?
We realized that the tools are not important, the framing and design of the activities are. We broke down each activity into 30 minute chances of time. We designed worksheets in PowerPoint for each activity. We broke the 20 person group into smaller 4 person pods. The secret was to chunk the workshop out into smaller parts and hold the workshop over the course of two weeks instead of a marathon session of two days.
Here is how we did it.
- Each day we sent the participants a PowerPoint document with the activity for the day. We provided examples, and the contact information for a facilitator if the participants had any questions.
- Participants completed the exercise for the day (each exercise took no more than 20 minutes to complete).
- The participants emailed the PPT back to the facilitators.
- Facilitators synthesized the output and put that feedback into the next day’s deck.
- Each day built slowly on the previous day’s work.
- We ended the workshop with a phone conference with participants and delivered a readout of the groups work-product.
Workshop Structure: Divergent-Emergent-Convergent
We designed our activities so they could be quickly synthesized at the end of every day and reported back to participants the next morning.
- Design to easily capture and transfer into excel for synthesis
- Super quick turnaround (in evening) for morning readout deck
- Specificity of questions enables focused synthesis
- Guided by “learning goals”
How we structured our week
Brainstorming activity (example)
One facilitator should act as the help desk in case participants get lost or have questions. Hold regal office hours
ANTICIPATE PROBLEMS: NOTHING IS FOOL-PROOF —Bells and whistles fail
—Be honest about your circle of influence
—Assume the worst and have a response