Groups and Learning Design
As we have adapted to home working over the past twelve months, many of our ‘traditional’ work practices have had to change along the way. As an Instructional Designer, a big part of my role is planning courses with teams through learning design workshops. These workshops are a hands-on, practical exercise in which the teams involved will use ABC cards to write down activities and map out courses over a 90-minute workshop.
Over the course of the past year we have successfully migrated this from a paper-based activity to a fully online digital format, using a mix of Microsoft Teams and Planner. The format change has been successful and we have now run numerous workshops in this fashion.
A new challenge
Recently we were presented with a new challenge, one that would take the online ABC workshop to another level. The task presented to us was to run a workshop for a new Library course which consists of 10 individual modules, each with an Academic Support Librarian (ASL) responsible for their own module. Normally in a traditional ABC workshop we would map out a course ranging from round 4-6 weeks with 2 or 3 academics who are responsible for developing the course in the workshop, so we were in unfamiliar territory.
One of the challenges was trying to run the workshop in such a way that would encourage a good level of interaction between the ASLs and the Instructional Designers/Learning Technologist in mapping out the content without becoming too overwhelmed with the amount of people involved in the workshop.
Thinking inside the room
To overcome this, we decided to use the breakout rooms feature in Microsoft Teams. In order for this to work, we divided the attendees into 3 separate workshop groups, and split these groups into 3 separate breakout rooms in Teams, each one assigned an Instructional Designer/Learning Technologist to help them with the mapping of their sections of the course. Once all the sections were complete, we were able to reconvene back into the main meeting room together to review what we had done and to have an opportunity to ask further questions.
This turned out to be successful on the day. It allowed the ASLs within their respective groups to interact and share ideas with each other, whilst still being able to work on the board. However, I would note that if you are thinking of doing a workshop of this size, then planning ahead is essential. Plan how you are going to run the workshop, how you are going to split the groups, and decide in advance when you are going to use the breakout rooms. This will help reduce any admin issues you might encounter during the workshop. I had a great team working with me on the day who played a massive role in making this successful.
What this has shown is that conducting larger learning design workshops fully online is possible. With a bit of careful planning, it can be a lot of fun and a great way for larger teams to be able to interact simultaneously with their peers even while working apart.
More information about ABC
Find out more about ABC workshops.