In 2020, we conducted a series of virtual tools trials, to test out platforms and apps that help communities connect and work together online. Together with members of the CSCCE community of practice, we tested eight platforms, and recapped our findings on the CSCCE blog.
This Spring, we are launching “Tools Trials 2.0.” Instead of focusing on a single platform, we’ll devote each monthly trial to discussing, and hopefully solving, a specific use case. We’ll then take what we learned and share it with the broader community.
What happens at a Tools Trial?
One of the biggest challenges for community managers and online event facilitators is having the opportunity to test out a tool or app with a big enough group of people that they can get a feel of how things will work (or not). This was the inspiration for our first round of trials. This time around, we’re adding to this by pooling resources, experiences, and ideas to find the best ways of using the virtual environment to gather.
If you attend a trial this Spring, you can expect to spend some time exploring the use case, including goals, resources, and limitations. And then the rest of the time will be devoted to testing out one-three platforms identified as potential solutions by members of the CSCCE community of practice and/or CSCCE staff.
How can I contribute?
If you are a member of the CSCCE community of practice, watch out for a post in Slack a couple of weeks before each trial. There, you can offer your ideas for solving that month’s use case. Or, if you have a use case you are trying to solve for and would appreciate working through it in a future trial, you can let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You keep saying “use case.” What do you mean by that?
A use case is an outline of a situation, generally including specific details. For example: “I need to host an event for my 25-member executive team. It’s a kickoff meeting and none have them have met before, so I want to begin with an engaging icebreaker that gets them off Zoom for a little while.” We will provide a template for anyone with a use case to complete so that we are all clear about the requirements that we’re trying to solve for.
What kinds of use cases are you planning on covering in this series of trials?
Our first trial, which is scheduled for 25 February 2021 at 4pm UTC / 11am EST, will focus on networking. Our use case was provided by community member Rachael Ainsworth, who outlined it below:
|What kind of event are you planning? |
E.g., group meeting, networking event, brainstorming session.
|A 30-45 minute networking and social programme activity as part of a larger conference to facilitate opportunities for participants to connect outside of Zoom. We would like to attempt a virtual activity analogous to the in-person activity where participants line up along an axis and take one step forward if the prompt applies to them. The host will ask a question/state a prompt to reveal participant backgrounds. This will segment the group on different axes to see what they have in common and different in order to connect with each other.|
|How many people are you expecting to host?||Up to 50, but this is not set in stone.|
|Do your meeting attendees know each other already?||Some do, some don’t. We want to provide opportunities for those that don’t already know each other to connect.|
|Are you scheduling across time zones? If so, which ones?||Targeting [evening] BST, but registered participants from any timezones are welcome to join.|
|Are you looking for a standalone platform, or something that will integrate with something you are already using?||We will be using Otter.ai for transcription during the main event, ideally it will integrate with that for use during social activities. Otherwise, standalone.|
|What features do you need the platform to have? |
E.g., video, audio, and chat
|Video, audio, chat, and virtual space(s) to move around.|
|What features would be nice, but not necessary?||Ideally, participants will be able to click a link to join and edit any personal settings without having to create an account. Customisable/configurable spaces.|
|What are your accessibility needs?||Ability to communicate instructions to those with hearing impairments either through integration with Otter.ai or through chat functionality. Simple interface/ease of use for those who are visually impaired.|
We plan on hosting one trial every month from now until June, and we plan to cover use cases that include: collaborative note-taking, ideation, and asynchronous icebreaker activities. If you are working through a relevant use case at the moment let us know by emailing email@example.com. And, if you’re not yet a member of our community of practice but would like to be, you can request an invitation to our Slack channel.