Thoughts about chairing a private room in WildHub

I'd love to hear your thoughts and top tips too
Thoughts about chairing a private room in WildHub
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Introduction and background

Hello! My name is Beth and I am a WildLearning Specialist at WildTeam. My job is to design, organise and deliver online training workshops in subjects such as project management and strategy development. I’ve been using private rooms on WildHub for about six months and although I’ve learnt a lot during that time, I still have some areas I’d like to improve in. So I thought I’d share my thoughts here and would love to hear your thoughts as comments below.

To give a bit more context about how I use the private rooms, the training workshops we run are six weeks long and comprise one live session per week and some pre-recorded videos each week. I start a new private room on WildHub for each training workshop and then archive it a few weeks after the training ends. All participants then have the option to join an alumni group for anyone who has taken a WildTeam training workshop.

I’ll break down this post into things I’ve found useful for a) helping people to join a room, b) helping people get started in the room and c) keeping engagement going.

Helping people join the room

The first learning curve for me was setting up the rooms and helping people join them. I give people the two links, one for joining WildHub and one for joining the private room. I thought I’d given clear instructions, but some people were still going straight for the second link which gave access to the room before they were on WildHub, so, therefore, understandably getting confused. I found that some tweaking of wording, making some words bold to help them stand out and subheadings helped a lot! In case it is useful, I’ve included the text at the bottom of this post. For me, it works to put a time limit on the signup links to encourage people to join soon (I give three weeks), but I realise this isn’t going to be the case for all private rooms.

For some groups, including the workshops I run, it isn’t mandatory to join the WildHub room, so I find that a key step in helping people to join the room is to help them see the benefits of joining, to create a buzz and get people excited about being a part of it. Benefits will, of course, be different for each room and dependant on the aims of that room, but could include: learning from others, making new connections, sharing lessons learned, sharing failures, keeping all learning material in one place, collaboration etc.

Helping people get started in the room

Once people have joined, my next task is to make the room as easy as possible to use. There is a lot to share with people new to WildHub private rooms, so explaining it in the quickest but most comprehensive way is the challenge - it is a balance. To start with, I send a video out by email introducing people to WildHub and some of the useful features. Here is the video I share with participants to introduce WildHub. All this could also be explained via email, but I prefer video as you can demonstrate things.

The video includes how to:

  • Join using the links provided
  • Bookmark webpage of the private room
  • Change your notifications
  • Edit your profile
  • Navigate around WildHub
  • Create a post and assign it to a room.

Thirza has created useful videos on these topics too that you can use. I use Thirza’s videos in a welcome post in the room to again signpost to useful things but with a different face and voice. One challenge that occasionally pops up is that when people post their introduction post they don’t select a room. This is because it isn’t immediately obvious how to do this and no warning appears when you don’t select a room. I try and make it as clear as possible, but I do have to keep an eye on the main WildHub posts and, together with Thirza, arrange for them to be moved if needed.

A challenge I find is that people get a bit of video fatigue, especially during an online training course that is 50% pre-recorded videos! So in the first live session of a workshop, we spend a couple of minutes demonstrating how to change notifications on WildHub to make sure everyone has got their settings as they want them. Another option is to provide a summary in the text that is sent out with the video.

When you first look at a WildHub room it can seem a bit confusing about what is what and how to find your way around. So I’ve found that there are a few things I can do to help members of a private room navigate:

  1. Pin useful links to the panel on the left-hand side and hyperlink them. As I understand it, most people are just setting up one room, which most likely Thirza has set up for them, so I shan’t go into details about the technicals of this. For the workshops we run, things I pin to this panel include links to the shared folder, links to the documents used for exercises and the Zoom link for the live sessions.
  2. Post key updates as videos so participants can filter them out. For the training workshops we run, we have the main weekly update, and then one or two posts throughout each week to keep in touch. The main weekly updates are the most important, so I have made a short (no more than 30 seconds) video to post alongside the text that explains that week’s activities. Then if people just want to see the weekly updates, they can go to the private room, click on videos and just see the key information.

Keeping engagement going

This is possibly the biggest challenge with chairing a private room on WildHub, or on any other similar platform for that matter. We’ve tried various platforms for message boards for training workshops and each had its advantages and disadvantages. We used LinkedIn first, but the engagement was very low and the functionality was frustrating. We then used Facebook, which was fairly good, but as not everyone was on Facebook, meaning that many people were left out of conversations, plus we still had to send all the training updates via email as well. WildHub has helped us to overcome most of these challenges, and I like that it is a professional platform that you can keep separate from personal life.

Here are some things I do to increase engagement in WildHub rooms:

  1. Always respond to comments. I sometimes feel what is lacking is the ability to simply like a comment as you can with Facebook, but perhaps not having the option requires me to be less lazy and actually use words to respond to comments.
  2. Have at least two facilitators if possible, as it creates diversity in the people responding to posts and comments, and also helps create a buzz.
  3. Ask questions and run polls. Although you can’t actually do this on WildHub so people can tick their preferences, you can still ask a question within a post, list the options and then ask people to give preference along with their thoughts as comments underneath the post or as a comment thread.
  4. Create a sense of shared ownership. With the training workshops, I don’t mind what people talk about, as long as it is interesting to them. When introducing the room, I stress that it is their room to talk about what they want. 
  5. Don’t get too disheartened when no one responds, people are busy with complicated lives. It doesn’t mean they haven’t read what you wrote and enjoyed it.

Wrap up

I hope this post was useful, I realise that people use the rooms for different purposes. So I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips for chairing rooms on WildHub. 

Thanks, 

Beth

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APPENDIX

Example text for an invitation to join a private room on WildHub

We kindly ask you to NOT share these links with anyone else - this is an opportunity for participants of this training workshop only. Links will expire 3 weeks after the training starts.

Step 1: Use the link below to register for WildHub and gain 'expert' status. Do not register via their general site or else you will need to go through a verification process which takes longer:

>>LINK 1<<

Step 2: Only after you have registered (see step 1), click on this second link below which will bring you to your group's private room. It will show you an error message, do not worry about that - you will be added as a member nevertheless!

>>LINK 2<<

The room is called:  >>INSERT PRIVATE ROOM NAME<<

Then please introduce yourself on the message board. Click ‘Contribute’ in the top right corner, then ‘Create a post’. See here for a video with further guidance and don’t forget to select the room you want to post within from the list on the right-hand side.

Some things to try if you are having problems accessing the message board on WildHub:

  • Click here to access the right room. You might find it useful to add this as a bookmark to your browser or alternatively, when you go to WildHub, click the three white lines in the top left corner and click on ‘Rooms’, then find the room relevant to this training workshop. 
  • Try a different browser, e.g. Safari, Chrome or Firefox.  

Otherwise, email me or contact WildHub's Community Manager, Thirza Loffeld, via the WildHub website's assistant (click on the orange box in the lower right corner).

Please sign in or register for FREE

If you are a registered user on WildHub, please sign in

Go to the profile of Natalie (Tally) Yoh
over 3 years ago

Thanks for your post Beth!

Go to the profile of Beth Robinson
over 3 years ago

I've actually changed my mind about some of my thoughts here - the part where I say "Always respond to comments". I've recently had a training cohort that have been really active in the chat room, I'm not sure quite what made the difference, perhaps one or two keen individuals that are leading the way, then others following. What this has taught me is the importance of not responding to every comment, to sometimes step back and let people have conversations amongst themselves without having me as a constant presence. I think this helps participants have ownership of a room. Although, of course, this is much easier when a group is chattier to start with.