I've been involved with teaching and learning technology for nonprofits since 1993 when I worked for the New York Foundation for the Arts' online network for artists, Arts Wire. My job was the network weaver. I didn't know anything about UNIX, discussion forums, email, or any of the technology used. And, many of our community members were just learning too.
I was immediately thrown into a situation of dynamic teaching and learning. I had to learn how to create web pages, manage email, modem escape codes, navigate the Internet, and whatever came along. And then immediately create instructional materials and trainings for the community. It developed into something called "SpiderSchool."
Later, as I developed workshops and content for strategic technology planning, I became obsessed with learning about technology professional development for nonprofits and designing effective trainings. It was almost five years ago to the day, that I did a webinar for NTEN on the topic and have been integrating social media into teaching and learning experiences ever since.
When Maddie Grant at Social Fish invited me to do a FREE webinar over at the 365 Engage Community, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to reflect the practice of incorporating social media into instruction. The Webinar will take place next Tuesday, January 26 at 9:00 - 10:00 am PST. Here's the description:
Join Beth Kanter who has been teaching nonprofit technology workshops for over 15 years, both offline and online. For almost six years, she has been integrating social media tools and tricks into her instructional practice. She is going to share with you all her secrets, her tool bag, and other tips for using social media to create instructional materials, research your audience, deliver your workshop and follow up.
If this isn't enough, she'll be giving away three free copies of Cliff Atkinson's new book, The Back Channel, required reading for trainers. All workshop participants will receive a discount coupon for the book.
When I design a training, whether a one-hour webinar or an all-day face-to-face workshop, I don't begin with the technology integration. I begin with the instructional goals and finding out as much as possible about the audience. Not unlike where you start for a communications or social media strategy, eh?
- Understand why it is important to incorporate social media tools in your instructional practice for trainings
- How to think like a social instructional designer
- Introduction to six different social media tools and techniques for a planning, delivering, and evaluating a training session
I also think about what I'm not going to cover due to time constraints and communicate that upfront. I also try to scaffold Webinars - and give more overviews and point people to the presentation for links, resources, and more self-directed learning.
I also try to identify a framework that will help me design the content. My central thesis is that social media can enhance all phases of the instructional design, delivery, and evaluation process:
Because I'm mostly teaching workshops about social media, if the participants have a social media presence, I can easily find it, review before the workshop, and even incorporate a screencapture or two into the materials. If I'm doing a Webinar, I might use the poll feature and do my research in real time. It's the equivalent of asking the audience to raise their hands if ..
The big questions I want to know are related to the learning goals:
- What is the audience's level of experience?
- Are there any particular attitudes or opinions that the audience holds that may be a barrier or enhancement to reaching learning goals?
I use Google Forms, one of the tools I'll cover, to collect this information
Because this is a webinar connected with an online community, I've been reading the threads on the site to understand attitudes better.
I've also learned I always get a mixed group. That's one advantage of the backchannel - is that you came your presentation top level - and encourage more advanced people to share what they know in the backchannel and then bring that into the conversation. You can also encourage those who are less experienced to ask their questions. This encourages interaction between participants and they can learn from one another.
Materials and Lesson Plan Development
The next step in design is the actual content and instructional delivery. I also think about how I will engage participants, especially if it is a webinar. I do this for myself by creating a detailed trainer's outline that includes timings, content, and process. Sometimes I just use my powerpoint deck and add the process notes and timings in the notes section.
I always include a good list of resources, particularly how-to steps, videos, and screencasts. I think it is ineffective to take a group of people through a step by step process all at once because people are different levels of understanding and comfort. For me, it is better to show people the important concepts and principles, and then link to how-to steps for self-paced tutorials. It takes practice to master tech steps.
The part of the planning process always include research for good resources. I use delicious, slideshare, and twitter. When I'm ready to build materials, I start with me setting up a workshop wiki
It becomes a hub for all electronic materials.
The advantage of having all this detailed information on a wiki is two-fold. First, it saves a lot of paper. For face-to-face workshops, I try print only what is necessary and give people the URL of wiki if they want to go deeper. Second, you can refer detailed questions to a resource on the wiki or if you get a question about something that you haven't included a specific resource for, you can add it on the fly.
The social media integration also includes setting up a #hashtag, uploading slides into slideshare, and living link lists on delicious.
I'm going to how social media in your training can benefit both the instructor and learners, the design process, and then provide some very practical information:
-Use Google Forms for Pre/Post Participant Evaluations
-Use Delicious To Research and Build Your Resource Link Lists
-Share Your PowerPoint Deck with SlideShare
-Use A Wiki For Electronic Handouts, Electronic Flip Chart, and Leave Behind
-Integrating Twitter as A BackChannel into Instruction
-Documenting Your Workshop With Photos and Videos
You can register for the webinar here.