At PYE we always advocate taking creative risks. So when we had to close down our programs due to Covid-19, we challenged ourselves to take a big creative risk. We were skeptical about how our work would translate to the digital environment, but now it was time to test our ability to adapt. Could we take our trainings online and create the same impact as with our in-person experiential trainings?
So, we donned our experimenter’s hat and launched the Creative Catalyst Series in April 2020. Each Tuesday we offered a free 90-min workshop on Zoom, where PYE trainers shared practices on how creative expression can be used for personal well-being and to increase impact when working with groups. These workshops have attracted up to 450 participants a week, from over 40 countries.
Says Devon Little, who hosts Creative Catalyst, “I was unsure what would be possible online, and I have been genuinely delighted. I’ve learned that by connecting from home, we can connect across the globe – and literally give one another a ‘window’ into our worlds. We can create a shared ‘space’ by using many of the tools we use in-person. I’ve been most surprised by the depth of connection that has felt palpable in a virtual space.”
We spent five months discovering how the world of Zoom meets our Creative Empowerment Model. We explored creative writing, visual arts, storytelling, graphic recording, and so much more through using well-known and little known Zoom features. And our participants let us know this was really working:
- “It’s my first time at a PYE workshop and I want to learn creative facilitation. It was a magical experience. In 90 mins, I felt connected to people I had never met before.”
- It’s been a long since I reconnected with my imagination and playful side. It was uncomfortable at first, but after Creative Catalyst, I really feel quite free!”
- I want to bring ALL of PYE’s 5 facilitation power tools into my work. I just started teaching middle schoolers online and they will LOVE this.
We now knew we could successfully create lasting impact by bringing more depth, engagement, and play into online trainings. That’s when we decided to share the best practices we had discovered, with our community. In September, we launched our newest training – How to Lead Engaging and Interactive Online Programs: Build Your Zoom Facilitation Toolkit. Whether you are new to Zoom or have been using it for months, this training is designed to advance your skills of using Zoom for maximum impact. What are participants saying?
Online learning can be fun and interactive. Our experiments helped us break the notion that online trainings were just webinars, and we might miss out on joy or interaction.
- “The world of online tools is incredibly exciting! We can CONNECT and get creative. There’s so much possibility. You’ve expanded my world.
- “Once I started working online I gave up a little on EXUBERANCE in my workshops. I began to learn more introspection. This workshop reminded me that joy isn’t a denial of that depth.”
- “I learned the capacity for authentic connection, reflection, and joy online. So many people – particularly educators – are hungry for these tools. They’re essential for youth AND adults.”
Zoom features can greatly aid online facilitation. This goes beyond video and break-out rooms. Zoom can offer a facilitator numerous tools to engage a group and attend to different learning styles.
- “I learned how to use the range of tools in Zoom that I hadn’t realized were there. The potential for creativity and connection is way beyond what I had imagined.
- “There are some very simple Zoom functions that can be used to lead creative activities with a lot of depth. You expanded my idea of what’s possible.”
“Online facilitation opens up some interesting opportunities,” says co-facilitator Stef Turner. For one thing, people who might not otherwise reach in-person trainings can now access things online from anywhere in the world. This accessibility could be related to physical abilities, time constraints, domestic responsibilities, or proximity. I also love getting to share how Zoom’s features enable people to do things like collaborative writing, collaging, remain anonymous when needed, share leadership, and give everyone a chance to be seen and heard. It’s wild!”
Learn more about our new training ‘How to Lead Engaging and Interactive Online Programs: Build Your Zoom Facilitation Toolkit’ and register at https://www.partnersforyouth.org/online-facilitation. To learn how to bring this training to your organization contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Authors: Nilisha Mohapatra and Peggy Taylor