Weeknotes for May 1st, 2020

Thanks to Heather Leson, I managed to join a meeting to share our experiences running large virtual workshops for IFRC’s Solferino Academy with staff from Zoom. The Zoom representatives explained how they have frozen developing features for the app for the last 90 days as they focused on improving security. Now with the 5.0 release done, we’re hoping that they can make some changes to the language interpretation module that will mean we aren’t limited to the eight language choices provided. It seems rather disrespectful to tell Arabic speakers they need to choose the ‘Portuguese’ menu item. Also, the use of national flags for language icons, (e.g. the flag for the USA for English) seems just a tad culturally insensitive. There are other shortcomings we explained as well, such as the fact that only ‘The Host’ can manage the small group breakouts. I’ve found myself quite stressed when handling 20 breakout rooms on my own and five of them are asking for help at the same time.

This past week, I found myself reflecting on how well a collaborative doc (e.g. google doc) works in keeping track of the progress of breakout groups, instead of being able to listen in or look over people’s shoulders. Particularly during the first of two virtual workshops for The Center for Economic and Social Rights, building a strategic roadmap. As we went along, I could see how the staff were progressing and how well my instructions were working by following along in the google doc.

I’ve been supporting Jude Habib and Helena Hastings at Sound Delivery in running a virtual workshop on increasing diversity and representation in the media. Both Jude and Helena attended (Virtual) Session Design Labs and they took me up on my offer to give feedback on session designs, and this has turned into a formal role in their workshop. I’ve always enjoyed supporting other facilitators, which is why I’ve been running the labs, and so it’s nice to be engaged in this way. They’ve wholeheartedly embraced the ADIDS model.

Satisfying to complete one of my engagements with Heather Leson for IFRC, running a series of online consultations with Digital Volunteers to inform the Digital Transformation Strategy. I started the engagement before lockdown and it’s been amazing to witness the impact it’s had on how IFRC is using digital. Many of the Digital Volunteers that have come to the sessions are connected to National Societies and have remarked that since the increased amount of virtual meetings, they feel much more connected to the global network of humanitarians.

Speaking of virtual meetings for digital volunteers, Heather,  Shaun HazeldineLaurent Fernandez, and I, ran another COVID-19 Innovative Responses workshop for  IFRC’s Solferino Academy and had nearly 150 volunteers in attendance. This time we had Arabic translators on hand and took advantage of Zoom’s Language Interpretation Module to handle synchronous translation and also used another Zoom room for small group breakouts with Arabic Speakers. Hoping Zoom will address our request to make the language interpretation module more inclusive soon.

Happy to see this out, particularly as I’m increasingly concerned about neighbours, friends and family spreading mis-information and realising I’m not immune to being manipulated.