Workshop roles: can we improve our recommendations?

In our recommendations, we suggest the following roles:

  • Instructor (cannot be shared with any other role): actively sharing their screen and presenting the lesson content.
  • Helper-Technical: responsible for watching for students reporting problems in the chat and providing assistance.
  • Helper-Facilitator: responsible for monitoring the room for muting students (requires host or co-host status on Zoom), watching for student questions across platforms. Optionally, depending on instructor preference, they may facilitate QandA sections if the instructor needs a moment to step away, loses connection, or needs a moment to review their notes.
  • Helper - Breakout manager: uses host status on Zoom to create and assign breakout rooms as needed

Reports are showing some variation in how these are applied. That’s great, but if there’s a better/simpler way to allocate responsibilities, we should update this section to reflect that.

e.g. this blog post from UCLA assigned roles as follows:

Instructors

  • Present content and exercises
  • Demonstrate live coding of key lesson concepts
  • Answer questions from learners when notified by helpers
  • Manage setting up and closing of the breakout rooms

Helpers

  • Monitor and respond to Zoom chat
  • Help learners with any technical issues that arise
  • Update Etherpad to reflect feedback
  • Proactive notification of instructors when questions arise
  • Guide breakout room through group exercises and interactions
  • Instructor (cannot be shared with any other role): actively sharing their screen and presenting the lesson content.
  • Helper-Technical: responsible for watching for students reporting problems in the chat and providing assistance.
  • Helper-Facilitator: responsible for monitoring the room for muting students (requires host or co-host status on Zoom), watching for student questions across platforms. Optionally, depending on instructor preference, they may facilitate QandA sections if the instructor needs a moment to step away, loses connection, or needs a moment to review their notes.
  • Helper - Breakout manager: uses host status on Zoom to create and assign breakout rooms as needed

What I like about this breakdown - with three separate helper roles - is that it may encourage hosts/instructors to recruit more helpers than they otherwise might. It suggests that one person can’t effectively perform all three roles, which fits to my experience, and also prompts the instructor-helper-host team to discuss a more fine-grained division of responsibilities before the workshop begins. Communication like this is vital for a smooth workshop experience!

One change I could suggest would be to adjust the “Helper - Breakout manager” role to “Co-instructor/Helper - Breakout manager,” as I believe an instructor might be better suited to this. In my experience, a co-instructor has a better handle on the content and flow of a lesson, and can better predict the timing and configuration of breakout exercises/discussions.

1 Like

From my experience in running workshops since the lockdown (5 DC workshops so far) we definitely had more helpers than in in-person setting, so I agree with Toby on this one. In our case - all of them were taking all of the helper roles, so we effectively just had a bunch of helpers each helping with technical aspects as well as Zoom room/workshop facilitation. We had team meetings ahead of each workshop to prep the helpers with Zoom management tasks. So in a way, our role split matched that of the blog post from UCLA but the tasks performed were shared and there was not a clear cut between the sub-roles performed by the helpers.

Comments from Rosa Lönnenborg on Slack

“We also assigned a “zoom-DJ” to keep track of zoom-related stuff, keeping track of the chat and time so that breaks really occurred according to schedule. . . we decided on having a zoom-DJ to keep track of the time and try to get a warm welcoming atmosphere in the zoom-room and encourage people to speak/ask questions in the chat where the zoom-DJ kept track of questions so that the instructor could focus on teaching”

Suggesting “Zoom-DJ” as alternative to “Helper-Facilitator” or “Technical Coordinator” (the term used by Angelique van Rensburg).

I really like the term Zoom-DJ!