Weeknotes for June 12th, 2020

More Zoomies

The primary focus this week was supporting a High-Level Convening on UN Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights on June 11th. Registration closed on the morning of the event with over 1000 registrants, and we ended up with around 600 people attending. I used the webinar module in Zoom for the first time, and it was very different from running a Zoom Meeting. The webinar is intended for broadcasting and running panels, whereas Zoom meetings are about allowing people to interact with each other. Surprisingly, webinars are much more expensive. Of course, this meant I spent a lot of time rummaging through Zoom’s endless settings to make sure it would work the way we needed it. The one thing that worked the same was the language interpretation. What you get is a super-easy way to create a hierarchy. Some notes on how it worked:

  • Panellists are sent a unique login link via email that is sent directly from Zoom – so that’s frustrating as there’s not much you can do if there’s a problem, though all of our panellists logged in. The other option is that you send them a generic link, they show up as an ‘attendee’ and then you ‘make’ them a panellist when you spot them in the participant link. If you have a large number of attendees, this can be problematic. Interpreters also receive a unique login link.
  • Q&A’s can be interactive or not. You have options for attendees to, comment and vote on Questions or, only view addressed questions. Also, unlike the chat, the Q&A isn’t saved, at all. If you want to capture them – remember to cut and paste before you close.
  • We used three different zoom webinars for the breakout panels, rather than breakout rooms, and this worked quite well – no hitches in giving people agency to choose and then click on which webinar to attend.
  • Transferring interpreters to another room caused a few hiccups. We had one interpreter who used the webinar link rather than the designated interpreter link, and this caused quite a few headaches during one of the breakouts.
  • Setting up an advanced livestream link didn’t work as planned. However, when we turned on the ‘live stream on youtube’ after we’d started, it generated a link and worked as expected.  

Speaking of Zoom

Let us remind ourselves that we shouldn’t be putting all our eggs in the same basket for a platform. We have lots of options for running virtual convenings like Jitsi, Google Meet, etc.

That’s not to say Zoom is acting differently or worse than any of the other big tech companies. Remember all the controversies surrounding Skype, giving governments backdoors to their much-publicised encrypted communication. Market share is ultimately the goal, not your privacy.

Other highlights Of the week

Debriefed with European Centre on Not for Profit Law on the two virtual workshops we ran to get Civil Society involved in impacting EU policy on AI. We took some time to capture what they had learned about running virtual meetings and what should be in ECNL’s toolkit to support successfully run virtual meetings. Interestingly, they didn’t identify any tech platforms to include, instead they want a template for setting up the meeting that begins with meeting goals and then making decisions on agenda design and roles. We agreed that I would create the first draft that they will expand on and then eventually build a blog post from it.

I managed to have time to attend one of Heather Leson‘s Virtual Meeting Skillshares that she’s been running once a week for practitioners in IFRC. It was nice to hear that Eleisha John-Thoumire had managed to apply learnings she had during the (Virtual) Session Design Lab to a big virtual conference on Hurricane Preparedness. She used Hey Summit to act as your virtual conference venue and a place to organise everything and allow participants to walk through to find sessions their session. Very interested in how this idea of a virtual conference venue, have also heard of people using things like Mattermost to create a foundation for an event.

We also talked about virtual event and meeting size and particularly how to scale to provide participants with meaningful experiences. Got me thinking about drafting a blog post on ‘when to have a large group discussion in a virtual meeting’ and when that meeting might be limited. 

Regrouping with the Data Literacy Consortium

Heather and I also caught up with our Data Literacy Consortium partners, Katelyn Rogers and Lisa Petersen at Centre for Humanitarian Datawho are starting a new series of byte-sized online training centred on learnings from the pandemic.

It’s been a busy time for data literacy practitioners, so we’re convening a meeting to discuss what we’ve all learned from COVID-19 on June 25th. Do join us!