Thought I would give an update here since we just finished the week three class session last night with 18 learners! So I had 30 sign up and about 20 showed up for the first session. We’ve been averaging 20 or a little below. My main point here, is that this can be done! It’s working out really well so far!
I had made the decision to use Etherpad instead of Slack, and I have been thinking Slack would have been better, perhaps, but I’m sticking with Etherpad because I don’t want to confuse anyone and I really don’t like making people get an account somewhere (though I’ve recently gotten into Discord and I am liking the idea of using Discord where I can have past and present learners in the same space with video and audio chat and text chat features…) Anyway, I split the group into five smaller groups and gave each group their own Etherpad that’s linked from the main pad so they have their own space to work. And a few learners started a separate conversation on the main page. I think Slack would have been better for those conversations, but in the past few people have wanted that, so I didn’t think we would need that for this class.
Zoom is a pain over breakout rooms though. Last week we sorted out who wanted to be in what group based on the genre they’re writing, and I had to manually input everyone into a room, which was awkward and time consuming as everyone watches me do it. lol. And it’s a lot of switching back and forth between screens. So after class I edited the Zoom meetings so that everyone was presorted and it should have just been press a button and everyone magically goes away. Well, that didn’t work. Don’t know what happened, but nothing I had done was saved and I had to manually move people again and then had to resort two of them. I’ve now learned that you can’t resort someone if they return to the main space. They have to leave the Zoom completely and come back. Such a pain. I almost think Jitsi would have been better here where I can just use Etherpad to link to the breakout rooms and learners can get themselves where they need to go with minimal fuss. Today, I intend to update each and every meeting time for the next 6/7 weeks and hope it sticks. Maybe I will create Jitsi spaces anyway, just because it’s easier.
Aside from the breakout rooms not working out initially, the groups were having great conversations last night and I heard a lot of good helpful comments in every room. I assigned one person in each room as a time keeper so they can move their group from one exercise to the next while I float between all the groups. Everyone seems to be getting along, although one guy may likely cause some minor friction, so we’ll see how much he annoys the others.
I had someone call the library yesterday because her ipad had died and she didn’t want to miss class and didn’t know how else to connect, so I was able to call her back and get her set up with her phone, which was great. I’d been thinking she didn’t like the course or something, but she just didn’t want to miss it, which was so great to hear.
And now I’m off to futz with the Zoom breakout rooms. Wish me luck this time.