WikiProject remote event participation/Documentation/Train the Trainer Wikipedia Online

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Format of the event[edit]

Main format
The event was an online training for volunteers and consisted of two thematic modules: digital pedagogy and online facilitation. The module on digital pedagogy lasted a week and included two webinars of an hour each and a self study period, the module on online facilitation consisted of one webinar (two hours).
Duration
3 webinars from August 25 to September 15, 2020
Main goal
Train Wikipedia trainers on how to give an editing training online
Main target audience
Volunteers who give online Wikipedia editing trainings for newcomers or want to give online trainings in the future
Total number of participants
13
Number of organizers
3 (One staff member at WMDE and two external moderators and experts for the webinars.)
Language(s) spoken during the event
German

Details[edit]

Tools and Methods[edit]

Videoconferencing Tool

For all three webinars we used Big Blue Button via the non-profit hosting service. Senfcall. The service offers GDPR compliant free video calls using the open source software Big Blue Button. The video call can be created and accessed via browser only. The two trainers giving the webinars created the conference link and WMDE sent it to the participants. Senfcall does not offer data processing agreements with organizations, therefore we were not able to host the calls ourselves. All three webinars were very stable, even though all participants used their cameras. Participants used the chat quite a lot. Also the note taking section was used during the webinar and was understood by all participants intuitively.

CodiMD

The trainer for the digital pedagogy module used CodiMD, a collaborative markdown note editor as a platform to make all the seminar materials available. This included the presentation slides used during the webinar, instructions and materials for the self study period and links to further collaborative tools used (Flinga and Etherpad). The materials can be found here. It was very helpful to have one central online platform where all materials and information could be found and which also serves as documentation after the workshop.

Flinga

For a collaborative collection of thoughts and questions the trainer in the pedagogy module used the Finnish tool Flinga. Participants were invited to share their questions from the self-study period before the second webinar, so the trainer could address them in the meeting. Participants can use the tool via shared link in the browser without registration or software installation, usability is very straightforward. It also works well on mobile. To create boards for mindmapping or brainstorming and share them with others you have to create a free account.

Etherpad

For taking notes and also reflection during the self-study period in module one Etherpad was used. The trainer in the pedagogy module prepared an Etherpad with some guiding questions about the materials which participants were asked to answer during the week of self study.

Mentimeter

In the module on online facilitation the trainer used the quick survey tool Mentimenter. Participants were asked to enter the survey via smartphone (or any other second screen) and answer the questions. The trainer presented the answers to the questions via shared screen in Big Blue Button. Usability was very straightforward, all participants took part in the survey.

Content[edit]

The online training consisted of two independent parts which covered two different aspects of online learning and teaching: online pedagogy and online facilitation. The modules were prepared and delivered by two different trainers, experts in the respective area.

Module online pedagogy

The online pedagogy module focused on learning theories. We looked at how people learn successfully and how those insights can be transferred to online learning environments. The focus of the module was on how to adapt existing materials and formats so that they also work online. The central recommendation is to restructure an editing training and transform it into a series of shorter events covering a longer period of time. For example a trainer would break up a four hour session into two shorter webinars and transform the practical part into a self study period in between. The webinars frame the self study period and serve as a forum to exchange information and clarify questions. The structure of the module in the online training exactly mirrored this model and consisted of two one-hour webinars and a one week self study period. The content of the module was loosely based on teaching materials for online editing trainings we had developed in June 2020 (Teaching materials in German).

Module online facilitation

The second module focused on another challenge in delivering online trainings: facilitation in the digital realm. The trainer introduced some methods and a series of practical tips and tricks for how to create energy and a group feeling in virtual meetings, for example through energizers and a mix of interactive methods. Another focus was on time management, for example via visible timer and on helpful tools for online facilitation.

Organization[edit]

Communication

We invited participants to register for the training via posting on the village pump and invited participants of last year’s train the trainer workshops via email. Furthermore we posted on user talk pages of users who had expressed interest in participating in a train the trainer Wikipedia workshop before. In total 13 participants registered and six more announced interest in further trainings.

Registration and Access

Participants were asked to sign their names on the project page onwiki and to fill in a registration form via Google forms in order to obtain email addresses for further communication. The email addresses were needed to send access links to the webinars and the study materials. Also participants were asked to indicate if they would like to obtain a certificate for the training and which name should be on it.

Evaluation

After both of the modules participants were asked to fill out an evaluation form. The results of the evaluation can be found here (in German).

Lessons learned[edit]

Success[edit]

  • we were quite satisfied with the number of participants interested in the train the trainer workshop and able to fill almost all of the 15 places available. Also the no show rate with 9 out of 13 being present in all webinars is probably quite okay for an online event.
  • the work with external trainers in planning and executing the training worked well
  • tools: all tools used worked very well. Big Blue Button was stable, the set-up of the calls was very easy and the surface was easy to navigate for participants
  • in the evaluation the vast majority of the participants stated that they would participate in a similar training again
  • the splitting up of the first module in two webinars and a self study period in between worked well in order to deepen the knowledge and make room for individual active learning
  • in general the atmosphere of the trainings was really pleasant, inclusive and discussions were fruitful
  • we found some news participants took the opportunity to take part in a Wikipedia train the trainer workshop for the first time, possibly due to the easier to access online format

Challenges[edit]

Concept and content of the trainings

We had several helpful takeaways concerning the conception of the training. Most participants taking part in the evaluation wished that the immediate relation of the training content to their work in educating newbies about Wikipedia had become more clear. To leave the transfer of the theoretical knowledge about online learning into planning a practical Wikipedia training online for individual reflection did not work well. This is something a future training would need to provide explicitly. Also we got the impression that it remained unclear how to work with existing materials for online training and some personal introduction and discussion about the use of these materials would probably be beneficial.

In the first module’s self study period the trainer guided the independent learning by reflection questions in a shared etherpad. This worked okay for most participants - about half of the participants did these exercises. However the learning very much remained on a theoretical level here. For facilitating the desired practical knowledge of how to plan and give an online training it would probably be better, to let participants do some practical exercises like drafting a module for an online training and presenting it to the group afterwards. Also in the module on online facilitation there were no opportunities to practice the imparted knowledge. Probably this would have been very helpful. It remains an open question however how to transfer practical exercises, which are so easy to incorporate into an offline training into necessarily shorter online sessions.

Missing time for interpersonal exchange

The second main point we took from the evaluation was the missing peer to peer exchange. In an offline training normally this would take up a big part of the training and the free time in the breaks and evenings and is at least half of the appeal of attending a training. In offline events a lot of motivation for the work as a trainer comes from sharing challenges and rewards of delivering Wikipedia trainings. There was no time slot planned in the online training for sharing experiences, questions and learning from each other in order not to prolong screen time too much in times where everybody is weary of just another online conference. However in the future the conceptualization of an online training would need to take this into account and somehow make room for this. Right now we plan on doing a follow-up meeting reserved for this exchange only.

Communication with participants

Communication with the participants was per email. It was difficult though to obtain the email addresses. We asked participants not only to sign their user name in the onwiki attendance list but also to fill in a google form in order to obtain the email addresses for further contact. Only half of the participants did this, the other half needed personal reminders before they filled in the form. This resulted in a lot of extra communication effort.

Participation and timing

As probably could be expected about 30 percent of the participants who signed up for the training did not show up in all or some of the webinars. As online trainings are easier to access without travel they are also easier to cancel if something else comes up spontaneously. In general the participation rate decreased over time, most participants (11) took part in the first webinar. Also only about half of the participants managed to read through the materials in the self study period. It is hard to find the perfect time slot: we did the webinars in the early evening from six or seven to eight pm on a working day. For some participants later time slots or time on the weekend would have been better.

Possible improvements[edit]

  • strengthen the transfer from theory to teaching Wikipedia and its specificity for example by group discussion sessions in breakout rooms explicitly dedicated to this
  • work more closely with existing teaching materials as a framework for giving online Wikipedia trainings
  • integrate room for exchange and peer to peer learning, either in a separate meeting, via time for open discussion within the webinars, or also through creating half-formal rooms (hangouts online)
  • include more practical exercises immediately connected to the work of a trainer, for example drafting an outline for an online module, preparing some input or practice the set-up of an interactive method with a new tool. Make room for reflection and feedback for these exercises. This might also increase the incentive for doing the self-study period
  • make it more clear that email addresses are needed for organizational purposes when signing up for the webinar
  • include more information on technical questions: we perceived a big interest in support in setting up tools, for example drafting a survey in Mentimeter or on how to set up a Miro board. This could be part of practical exercises in self-study periods.

Recommendations[edit]

Apart from the learnings regarding the structure and content of the training mentioned above we would recommend:

  • do not forget to document participation for every webinar if you want to award participation certificates for those who took part in all parts of the course
  • In our setup of Big Blue Button the person first entering the online meeting room receives facilitation rights, which are needed to share the screen. Make sure the trainer is the first person to enter the room.
  • in general an online training is a great opportunity to motivate volunteers to attend who would normally not be able to make the time to attend a training session for a whole weekend

Documentation[edit]

Questions & discussions[edit]

If you want to talk to the the organizers, ask further questions, feel free to use the talk page.