Thursday, 26 July 2007

How It Went - LearnByDoing E-meeting 1 - 26th July 2007

Today we had our first LearnByDoing E-meeting.

We met at the Minciu Sodas chat room. There were seven of us there. We were from three continents - Africa, Europe, and North America - and from five countries. Two more friends from Africa were kept in contact with the chat-room meeting through yahoo chat, because they experienced problems accessing the chat room from their cybercafes.

Most of us are already in contact through the LearningFromEachOther yahoo group. We were also happy to welcome a newcomer - Caroline Ifeka.

We are developing a format where:
The session topic and the meeting leader(s) are agreed beforehand.
We start off with informal chat, and break up for informal chat again at the end of the formal session.
When everyone has arrived the formal session begins and we agree an agenda.
At the end of the formal session there is a review of what has been discussed and learned.
The formal session closes.
People have the opportunity for informal chat before logging off.

As this is a LearnByDoing project the structure of the e-meetings are not already set. It is part of the project to develop effective strategies for e-meetings, strategies that suit the different e-locations where we meet - and suit the real world locations (and cultures) where we are connecting with the Internet.

In this first meeting we did start and end with informal chat, and there was a more structured central session which had a formal ending. We made sure that everyone was able to use colour to make it easy to follow which contributions were made by which people. We discussed various practical issues relating to access and personal introductions.

We are exploring how to develop the right balance between making people feel at home in the group, and moving forward with the business of the meeting. For our purpose of having an e-meeting in a chat room it is a disadvantage that, when people join in, they do not see the chat that has already taken place.

Maybe we can get our chat room changed so that people can easily see what they have missed. (Of course in a real world meeting you do not get the chance to see what you have missed - but e-meetings offer different possibilities.) Maybe we will simply agree that if anyone arrives after the formal session begins we will not be able to greet them properly until the formal session is over.

We looked at the possibility of preparing personal introductions before the e-meeting begins, so people can easily introduce themselves at the appropriate moment. We will explore ways of doing that effectively as the project develops.

The chat from the e-meeting can be read here...

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