Recording: Capacity building - challenges & solutions during Covid-19

During the WildHub Festival, I hosted a brainstorming session on conservation capacity building, both in general, and specifically during the coronavirus pandemic. We described the challenges we face, and worked in groups to better define the problems and propose possible solutions.

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TLDR: To enable broad participation in your virtual capacity building, aim to rely less on synchronous, high-bandwidth activities and instead incorporate a range of different learning activities including asynchronous and low-bandwidth tools.

Here are links to the resources we created.  You are very welcome to add to or comment on the solutions padlet, regardless of whether you attended the original event.

  1. Challenges we face, and prioritising them for discussion: http://www.tricider.com/brainstorming/3BGXqpXGNQV
  2. Exploring the challenges and some potential solutions: https://padlet.com/VerdantLearn_LT/WildHubFestival_CB4C
  3. Map of participants: https://padlet.com/VerdantLearn_LT/WildHubFest_CapacityBuilding_Participants

The video includes highlights and a window into our brainstorming process, but not the breakout discussions, so here's a brief summary of the main challenges we identified and our suggested solutions.

Challenge: Working in multiple languages

Video calls or online discussions without live translation can be tough for those working in a second language.  Training resources and tools may not be accessible without fluency in English.

Solutions:

  • Enable learners to work in their first language by providing translated resources and single-language cohorts
  • DeepL for translating text
  • OtterAI for transcribing live audio

Challenge: Poor internet and multiple time zones

Solutions:

  • Use a combination of synchronous (e.g. video calls) and asynchronous formats (e.g. discussion groups) to broaden opportunities for participation
  • Choose lower bandwidth tools e.g. collaborative documents, or messenger apps
  • Make outputs from live sessions available afterwards for less connected participants, e.g. record short, compressed videos for later viewing - a shared screen with voice-over and captions

Challenge: Bonding and emotions

Video calls only allow a short window of time to work with people, and you get less feedback from body language, tone of voice etc.  Fatigue from constant video calls, and feeling left out when you can't fully participate.

Solutions:

  • Again, use a range of tools which allow people to connect, get to know each other, and work together in different ways over a period of time, rather than relying on video calls
  • Use icebreakers to enable bonding, and vary the pace and type of activities to keep people engaged

Follow-up

I will start conversations about tools to help with teaching in multiple languages, and low bandwidth alternatives to video calls.

I've removed long sections of the video when I was facilitating group formation and assigning people to breakout rooms - facilitating live collaboration is one of my big challenges currently!  Add a comment if you'd like me to share the facilitation in a separate post, or outline my current process for managing these live remote brainstorming sessions.

I hope you find this recording and the resources we created useful, and look forward to continuing these discussions and supporting each other as we move forward!

Lucy Tallents

Founder, VerdantLearn

E-learning, virtual events & networking, interactive data visualisation
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