How and when can Helpers help?

Sticky notes can be imitated by using hands, thumbs up/down icons in Zoom, or chat. Other suggestions welcome. But then what?

Helpers might:

  • correspond with a learner by privately messaging in the Zoom chat
  • request a private breakout room from the Zoom host or co-host

Each of these has pros and cons. There are probably other options. What do you think is optimal?

In our Library Carpentry Advisory group meeting this morning someone shared that breakout rooms were tricky because it meant that learners had a really hard time catching up when they got back. The suggestion was to have much smaller workshops and address issues as a group periodically.

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  1. Questions can be pasted into the chat, either to Everyone or the non-teaching instructors, depending on the nature of the question.

  2. Issues (error messages, stuff not working) can be indicated with a red thing on zoom, and then screenshots can be shared in a google doc, so helpers can try to sort the problem. If the teaching instructor sees a sea of red they can pause and try to start helping as well. Communication can happen in the google doc or zoom chat.

  3. Breakout rooms don’t work, as you have to activate them all at once. So if learner A has an issue, you pop learner A and helper X out to a room. Then learner B has a problem, and you want helper Y to join them in a room. This means you have to kill the room for A+X, bring them back, and then resent AX and BY to rooms again.

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In theory, I think you could keep several breakout rooms open, and have a co-host move people in and out of them as need be. This doesn’t solve the problem of people getting behind, however.

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Actually in my Zoom breakout menu I have the ability to create and close individual rooms separately. Need to investigate if this is an inconsistently available feature

Experiences so far, I’ve written in the etherpad and mentioned when I introduced the helpers that one was specifically responsible for zoom and other was the etherpad helper. In our pre-workshop planning we had discussed that they would be primarily responsible for chat and questions in each medium. While we didn’t get a lot of questions in the chat (despite prompting) with this group, I heard later from the zoom helper that they did get private messages asking for help and were able to reply and solve the issue. That said, I’ve not tried moving them to a breakout room as I was worried they would miss out on materials.
In another workshop where I was helping, I was the defacto “lead” helper and I would ask other helpers to answer questions that came up in chat so we could split up the work and then answer in private messages. That seemed to work well.

For my own interaction with learners when I’m an instructor, I’ve found people respond most in zoom chat. First I was giving them options for how to interact, now I ask specifically for them to type info into the zoom chat and I’ve been getting more replies. There still are a lot of times when I ask “everyone type the answer to this question in zoom chat” and then the first person replies and no one else does, kind of like in in-person workshops. I’m trying to give them some leeway in that since they might have trouble switching back to the chat window all the time.

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