Zoom into Breakout Rooms

Welcome to the world of zooming! By now, many of us have become quite familiar with the Zoom platform as the “new normal” for what had been face-to-face meetings and classes. Through these experiences, you may have had more of those “this could’ve/should’ve been handled in an email” meetings, or had classes with a range of engagement.

Over the past 2 1/2 semesters, with 6 classes during that time via Zoom, both at the graduate and undergraduate level, with class size ranging from 4 to 20, a key challenge that has come up across these classes is how to keep students engaged during the class time which can range from 1 to 4 or more hours at a time. Today we will share some teaching ideas for breakout rooms:

Brilliant Breakout Rooms: Breakout rooms (ideally) offer the possibility for partner or small group work and a chance for everyone’s voice to be heard and increasing engagement. Ideally. In reality, there is little to no control as to what happens in the breakout room. An instructor I was supervising reported yesterday that she had 7 breakout rooms, and as she jumped from room to room, almost all participants had their videos and the mics off. Prior to inviting them to the rooms, she had a slide that outline the instructions, and she told them to take a picture of their slide so they would remember the task. She also alerted them that she would be joining them in the rooms. About a minute in, she sent a reminder to all groups as to what they should be doing. Then she sent a message that she would shortly be joining. All of these are great ideas for increasing engagement, but repeatedly, the students were not engaging. Each time she entered a room, she had to repeat the instructions. Not quite the outcome she was hoping to have. What else could she do?

  • Provide material beforehand. If lengthy (paragraph or more) material is needed, such as a paragraph describing a case study or scenario, provide that information prior to class AND in class. For those who did not access/read the material beforehand, you can (a) remind them to do so at the beginning of class and during a break, (b) put a link to the needed material in the chat box, (c) provide the material on either a slide or document during the chat and suggest they take a picture or screenshot of it.
  • Simplify instructions. The more complicated or lengthy the instructions, the less likely the group will be able to accomplish the task. Follow the KISS acronym (keep it simple/short sweety). In a recent class, I had very, very brief scenarios for 3 groups, and decided to keep the instructions the same across groups.

  • Set a time limit. Determining how long to allow for breakout room activity can be challenging. The maximum amount of time that I’ve found helpful is ten minutes. 
  • Specify expectations for when they return. Another way to increase the likelihood participants will stay on task during breakout rooms is to let them know how what they will be doing in breakout rooms will be used when they get back. Saying “we’ll discuss what you’ve come up with” is too vague, and might result in their hoping someone else will carry that discussion and/or that they can jump in off of what someone else says. The slide below shows a table that I showed the students before dividing them into pairs (I have 11 in this class) so they would know what was expected when they came back. The assignment was to look. The partners were to look through 2 articles that were reading assignments on the history of counseling and school psychology, and identify what they felt were the top 5 developments for both fields during their assigned period of time. The expectation was that they would come back and paste their top fives into the table. By having this visual in front of them before they left for the breakout rooms guaranteed they would be on task.

  • Require reporting. Here’s an example of what the partners provided when they came back. I did have them also briefly summarize what stood out to them. In 5 words or less, how would you characterize your period for CP & SP? I gave advance instructions to listen for themes across the decades. After each group had gone I asked about general observations from what we had shared. I also asked what they thought was missing from the table, and the next decade would bring.

  • Vary the activities. As engaging as the activity above was, if it was the only type of breakout group activity I used each time, the approach would get tired.
    • Vary the number of people in the groups. Some activities work better with partners, some with a slightly larger group. 
    • Shake it up. Start by assigning people to rooms. After a few minutes, either ask certain members to move to another room, or manually  move people to different rooms. This can be useful when you are wanting people to hear different perspectives on a given topic.
    • Double the size, double the fun. Along the same lines of shake it up, if you start with partners on a specific topic, when the time is up, double the breakout room size by combining rooms. It should be clear what the new goal is. For example, it could be for each group to share what they discussed and to come up with a set # of recommendations.
    • Show and tell. Invite members to find one item that symbolizes their thoughts about one of the topics being discussed and share. In one class, we asked students to find something that helps them feel more confident with interviewing. Most chose an article of clothing or fixed their hair differently or showed a pair of shoes.
    • Role play. Often in my face-to-face classes, we’d have an application time when students would role play being a career counselor and client. Zoom breakout rooms is actually ideal for this, as they are much quieter than having 20 people in a classroom doing this at the same time. You could also include an observer to provide feedback.
    • Summarize key points. When I am covering a heavy topic, such as career theories, I usually have students pair up to summarize their notes to their partner on the key points of the last couple of theories I covered. This helps identify any gaps in their notes. Depending on the group size, partners/groups could be assigned specific theories and tasked with coming back with 3 key points of that theory, or analyzing a given case through the lens of that theory, or coming up with counseling questions that reflect the theory components.
    • Use other tools. Using a tool such as google docs can allow the whole class while in their breakout rooms to work on a shared document. They can create a brief presentation together that they then can share with the larger group.
  • Seek feedback. Consider having an anonymous survey or poll, perhaps not after every class and certainly not after every activity, but to see what they enjoyed about the breakout room activities, and if they have suggestions from other classes or their own experience on other types of activities that might be useful.

These are some hints that I’ve found to increase engagement during breakout rooms. What have you found to be helpful for increasing engagement? Hit us up in the comments!

The Power of Visual Media in Career Development Services

Today, I had the pleasure of presenting the keynote session at the Missouri Career Development Association‘s (MoCDA) Spring Conference!

This event was scheduled to take place on-site in Columbus, MO, but … in reaction to precautions related to COVID-19 … made a quick switch to an online conference. 

Many thanks for the invitation! And kudos to MoCDA President, Mako Miller, professional development chair, Jonnae Hill, and the entire conference team for the incredible coordination and communication that made the switch seem seamless. 🙂

The conference theme? Using Technology in Career Development – perfect timing, right?

My goals for the session:

  • Bring awareness of the importance of visual media in digital communication efforts – branding, retention of information, engagement
  • Provide an introduction to free tools and graphic design basics
  • Lead a review and critique of infographic examples
  • Brainstorm a list of uses in career development settings
  • Encourage attendees to create original visual media for use with their audiences and contexts.

Presentation slides and resources are posted here. Please take a look and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you might have!

Resources:

Screenshot 2020-03-27 12.31.15

 

Neat Site: PsyberGuide

Had a student present yesterday on the topic the impact of technology on psychological and mental health delivery. She shared a website called “PsyberGuide,” which is a really nifty website that critically evaluates apps based on credibility, transparency, and user experience. Here’s a brief video from Dr. Stephen Schueller, PsyberGuide Executive Director, describing the rationale for and goals of PsyberGuide.

 

Here’s a screen shot and link to their App Guide:

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It’s excellent to have a source dedicated to reviewing apps for quality. However, they don’t currently have career apps like we do in our tool library. They also don’t include the other technologies such as websites, blogs, podcasts, and youtube videos. That being said, perhaps if you notice an app of interest on our page, travel over to theirs to see what the review is.

Stay well!

How Will You Use Social Media in 2020?

This is an updated version of an article from my Social Media column in the Career Development Network‘s  Newsletter – Volume 38, Number 1.

If you’ve been following this blog over the last several years, you know that there is a lot you can accomplish with social media. You’ve also heard about multiple platforms, from Twitter to LinkedIn, and many ways to participate, from networking to live chats.

social media in 2020

What can you do to improve your social media experience in the New Year? The first step is to take an inventory of what you are using and how you are using it. Then it is important to set goals for the future. Use the following checklist to both review your social use in 2019 and develop a plan for action in 2020.

Audit Past Participation

As you reflect on how and when you’ve used social media over the past year, what comes to mind? Which experiences were the most valuable to you in your career services context? Consider the following activities, and add others you’ve been involved with to the list:

  • Sharing information: You can benefit as both the sender and receiver of resources that are exchanged regularly through social networks.
  • Building and joining communities: If you’ve been active in the past year it’s likely that your accounts have more followers, and that you are following more accounts.
  • Networking with peers: We all stand to benefit from connecting with others who do what we do, and who work with clients and students in our target populations.
  • Participating in events: Social media makes it possible to learn from on-site conference and workshop sessions, even at a distance, by following the event hashtag (#) on social platforms.

Do you want to do more of these things or are there ideas here you have not yet tried? Start thinking about goals (more on that coming up)!

Conduct Profile Maintenance

Your social profiles may be overdue for some housekeeping. It’s not unusual to open a new account with good intentions, only to find it gets left behind when competing priorities overtake your calendar. Start your maintenance with the following steps:

  • List all of the accounts for which you are currently registered.
  • Categorize these according to use: 1) use often, 2) use rarely or never, but want use this year, and 3) use rarely or never, and probably won’t use in the future.
  • Delete those accounts in category 3, and then update the rest.

For the social profiles you use often, or plan to make better use of in the coming year, block some time on your calendar to review and refresh the details of each one. Here are just a few of the items you should include on an annual (or more frequent) maintenance schedule:

  • Update your profile picture. Have you ever met someone at a conference and realized that his/her picture must have been taken many years ago? Make yourself more recognizable by posting something current. [1]
  • Revise your bio or headline. Is your current profile information still relevant? Have you completed a degree or earned a credential that should be included? These bios introduce you to the world, so ensure that all of the pertinent details are in place.
  • Test links. If you profile includes links to a personal or professional website, online portfolio, or other resource, make sure that they are still working.
  • Provide contact information. If you are open to having other users contact you based on your social profiles, include some alternatives (e.g., email, online contact form, phone) and make them available

Review and (Re)set Goals

Are you using your social accounts and networks the way you thought you would when you set them up? Maybe you’ve tried several strategies that aren’t getting the results you planned for. It could be time for a change. What do you want to get out of the experience this year? Your goals might include items such as [2]:

  • Establish a brand for your center or practice
  • Publish updates on a regular basis (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly)
  • Share new types of resources, such as images and video
  • Engage in discussions through live events and/or online forums
  • Promote special events

Create a Task List for 2020

Taking some time to think about what’s working and what’s not, and setting realistic and relevant goals, will help you make the most of your limited social media time. Plan to accomplish several specific tasks in the coming months. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Make a list of the items you routinely share, such as event calendars, marketing materials, pictures, and links, and schedule these items for the coming year, and add something new to the list.
  • Create a roster of people you want to connect with in the New Year and begin making contact with each one through social accounts and communities.

Whether you are using social media as an individual professional or as part of a school career center or other career office, you can enhance your efforts with a little reflection, revision, and action.

References

[1] The Research and Science Behind Finding Your Best Profile Picture from BufferSocial – http://bit.ly/1ODrmVo

[2] Social Media Inventory Checklist: Are Your Social Marketing Efforts Outdated? From Business2Community.com – http://bit.ly/1Ps8OL2

So many tools, I must try them all!

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Here we are, the Tech Twins, at NCDA Houston! We had a blast meeting at our presentation, where we met so many other Tech Fans. In addition to sharing our own current favorites, we turned the tables and asked participant to share their favorites. Here they are, busy at work!

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They wrote lists on a google drive document, they wrote them on notecards, and they shared them on our newsprint. Here’s just one page: IMG_3631.jpg

And, true to our word, when we got home, we added them all (86 NEW ITEMS!!!) to our library, including 3 new categories (wilderness therapy, relationship therapy, and multicultural topics).

Here’s a quick reference that might be helpful as you search for new items in our library: https://www.wikihow.com/Search-in-Google-Sheets-on-PC-or-Mac Also – we have our orientation video to the library on this post: https://technologytwins.com/2019/03/22/introducing-our-new-tool-library/.

Here are the slides with our favorites:

Hope you take some time to explore these new tools. I (Deb) recently tried out Genius Scan (recommended by our users) to see if the end product would look better than a simple picture.  I’ll let you be the judge! The one on the right is Genius Scan. I took them both on a table, under the same light. I even brightened the one with the left!

photo8.jpg  photo8.jpeg

As an aside, NCDA proposals for 2020 are underway! Come share your knowledge with us!