Conventional Matters

flags of nationsThis week, Toastmasters from across the world, are celebrating the 86th International Convention in Vancouver, Canada. The opening ceremonies featured the Flags of Nations parade and this reminded me, in a colourful way, of our connectedness. Toastmasters International is the only global education program I know that focuses on the personal development of its members with unique and collaborative methods in friendly club environments both land based and online.

What I discovered was that I could participate in a couple of ways, although not actually being there.

  1. Virtual Ticket for Toastmasters on Demand
    Several options available for streaming video or downloading of recordings. You can watch the semi and the  finals of the International Speech Contest live online and view educationals from Toastmasters of global renown.
    virtual ticket toastmasters on demand
  2. Participate in Twenty Minute Toastmasters meetings scheduled during the lunch hour breaks of the Convention and available across the world.
    20mintmswebpage

There is a Twenty Minute Toastmasters event on every day of the convention and can be attended by anyone around the world. For example, this one scheduled for Thursday 24th August:
20mintmswednesdaymeeting

3. Join the Facebook groups who are posting about the convention and sharing photos with Toastmasters around the world.
Firebirds Collective
Online Toastmasters
Online Alliance (Online Clubs Collaborative Network)
Toastmasters Without Borders
Witty Birds

 

 

 

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easy-speak training strategies

https://www.smore.com/uqeyd-easy-speak-help-desk?embed=1

I have been focussed on providing a variety of easy-speak help for new users. We kicked off with a Live Online Webinar on July 31 – easy-speak for club officers. The recording for this session did not activate as had been expected. Therefore I was able to share the slides only.

Slides from that event are available here.

Next I hosted an Open Help Desk session in Zoom for people to drop in and ask a question. The first of these was August 21 and a few easy-speakers did drop in with some questions. Thanks to the presence of another easy-speak champion and myself we were able to answer those and provide assistance as the learner stepped through a process using the Share Screen tool in Zoom. This provided valuable learning for others who were listening and viewing.

Easy-speak Open Help Desk

Later I will be able to host a monthly live online webinar in my Zoom room and invite easy-speak champions to provide 15-30 minute workshops on aspects of easy-Speak for attendees.

Where can you find more easy-speak help desk resources?

First place to look is in easy-speak itself. You will find a link to the Help Desk flyer from this icon on the left hand navigation bar.

estraining logo in ES

easy-speak help desk

I was amazed to see that this site has had almost 16,500 visitors since it was created a few years ago. The analytics of this Smore.com tool is a bonus. Try it out for yourself!

From the Help Desk you will find information about upcoming events and a wealth of resources to link to, including recordings of webinars stored in YouTube and slide decks stored in Slideshare. New printable and shareable resources (QuickSheets etc) are now available in the ES Shared Files Google Drive.

Note: Yes these resources are stored in different online spaces suited to the type of resource. However their links are displayed in the Help Desk Flyer for convenience.

But wait, there’s more!

Where can you access self-paced learning for easy-Speak?

The easy-speak Made Easy course (esme) was developed a few years ago as one of my High Performance Leadership projects, with Malcolm Warden himself, on my Guidance Committee. The course is designed to enable Toastmasters who are comfortable with self-paced learning, to step through the modules online and to practice on their own in King Arthur’s Playground, a fictitious club site. Take another look now as there has been some updates to its look and feel, along with an additional learning module on Control Panel Basics under construction.

esme home page new

Note: You can access this site as a guest using the password easyspeak on the Login as a Guest page.

esme 4Esme herself will lead you through the Learning Modules with some easy to understand instructions, screen images from King Arthur’s Playground for illustration, and projects to attempt at the end of each e-book within the modules.

You can also select the option to print out the e-books contained in each learning module for convenience.

And yet even more support is available in the Facebook groups for easy-speak users!

How can you join an easy-speak community in social media?

One community that I would recommend is this one, with almost 1000 members. Here you will find many easy-speak beginners, champions and gurus. Ask your questions, RSVP for events and download shared files from the easy-Speak Toastmasters Community. When you ask to join this group you will find 3 simple questions to answer. Administrators will approve your membership once they see those answers.

Another online community I would recommend is TM easy-Speak Users. Some of the members are using the tm.club.eu site and often questions are different to those asked in easy-speak Toastmasters Community. Best to subscribe to both.

fb community groups

 

 

Zooming into Online Club Meetings

You have just received an invitation to join a Zoom Online Club meeting! What do you do next?

Preparation

preparing for zoom

In Online Clubs where Zoom.us is used, meetings are scheduled in Zoom Cloud web conferencing software. You can prepare yourself and your computer for participating in this environment by accessing the video tutorials at the Zoom Support site: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/categories/200101697-Getting-Started

    • Note: In particular please read this instructional page to help you get Zoom setup on your computer:

https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115002262083-How-Do-I-Test-Prior-to-Joining-a-Meeting-

In addition please view this short video tutorial on How to Join a Zoom Meeting:
https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362193-How-Do-I-Join-A-Meeting-

System Requirements: for computers

  • An internet connection – broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
  • Speakers and a microphone – built-in or USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth
  • A webcam or HD webcam – built-in or USB plug-in
  • Or, a HD cam or HD camcorder with video capture card

System Requirements: for mobile devices

Please access this page for system requirements, equipment and supported operating systems: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201179966-System-Requirements-for-iOS-and-Android

View these video tutorials to help you to prepare yourself!

https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials

Participation

And now for the fun part! Managing the Zoom Tools.

managing zoom tools

Managing Audio 

When you are participating in an Online Club meeting you have the opportunity to speak using the Audio tools. You will need to have a microphone/headset or earbuds to plug into your device. This will ensure that any audio echo is avoided.

Check first if your Audio is on. Look for the microphone icon in the lower left hand corner of the Zoom screen. If it is crossed through, you will need to un-mute by clicking the icon.

Note: Sometimes the Host of the meeting will Mute All to avoid any unnecessary background noises during speeches. You may need to Un-Mute to ask a question.

Managing Video

Use your webcam to be seen in the meeting. Check first if your webcam is switched on. Look for the Webcam icon in the lower left hand corner of the Zoom screen. If the icon is crossed through, click the webcam icon to switch on your camera. You should be able to see your image among the other participants.

If you are using a laptop with built in webcam the small light in the top centre of the laptop should be illuminated. Focus on that so that you appear to looking at everyone.

Managing your background and lighting

Now consider your background visuals. Ideally choose a quiet space away from distractions and avoid busy backgrounds behind you.

If you are situated in a busy environment with lots of objects in view, or with the possibility of people moving behind you, can you provide a screen? You may be best to locate yourself in front of a wall that is not distracting or with curtains that can be closed. Notice the variations in backgrounds for these Zoom participants.

laptop_screen2.jpg

Does the colour of the background complement or clash? Consider how your image may help you to be seen clearly against the background you have chosen. Colour is important.

Note: if you have your own Zoom account you can select Video Background in your Settings to enable the use of a background image. You will need to have a green screen behind you for this to work effectively.

Now think about how your image is illuminated. Do you have a balance of lighting? Ideally your lighting should include one lamp in front and one more behind the computer, to illuminate you and not cause shadows or silhouetting of your image.

Zoom recommends: … if you want the best lighting, we’d recommend at least 1350 lumens in that same space (3×40-watt light bulbs).

Review other recommendations from the Zoom Blog at:
http://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2015/02/12/scientific-lighting-zoom-meetings-will-ever-read/

If you are in a room with natural lighting and with unshaded windows. It is good practice to position yourself so that the window is not directly behind you. Behind your computer screen or to the side will work well because it doesn’t cast your entire face into shadows.

Managing the Speaker or Gallery View

When you are in a Zoom meeting you can adjust the way you see the participants. There are two options for this, Speaker View or Gallery View. The Gallery view shows all participant videos as a grid across your screen. If there are more than 25 in the room, you will see an arrow to move to a second screen.

If you are sharing your screen for a presentation, the Gallery View will shrink to a panel available on one side of your screen. You can use the navigation arrows to move the panel up or down.

The Speaker View enables you to show just the speaker large on screen. If you are the speaker you can Pin the Timer’s video screen so that you will always see that person.

Managing the Chat

Zoom provides a chat panel in which you can see the comments or questions posted by participants in the meeting. Use this to provide feedback for a speaker or to ask a question of a speaker in a Q & A segment where relevant. Use the chat panel to pass a message on privately to a participant where appropriate.

Use short sentences when posting in the chat and avoid long essays. Share URLs by copying from your browser and pasting  into the chat panel – this ensures that the link is clickable.

Note: If you are the chat monitor for the meeting, it is best to keep that panel open.

Managing the Screen sharing!

If you are presenting in a club meeting using a view of your browser screen or applications in use such as PowerPoint, you should make sure that you have that screen ready in the background.

Access the video tutorial and helpful advice on screen sharing here:

https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362153-Screen-Sharing-and-Annotations

Source:
https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362153-Screen-Sharing-and-Annotations

When you are using PowerPoint, first ensure that the slides will be viewed correctly by selecting the Browse by an Individual Window option in the Slideshow setup menu.

For even more advice, tips and tactics, subscribe to the Zoom blog at:
http://blog.zoom.us/wordpress

Empowerment

How to develop an Online Training culture in your Toastmasters Clubs

An online training program can make a huge difference in the way your club members learn fast and effectively. In land based and online clubs, specific members are stepping up to provide valuable learning experiences for Toastmasters both inside and outside of their meeting schedules – this is part of fabric of a shared learning community. It often just takes a little thinking outside the box to translate those into online learning opportunities.

Toastmasters have regularly offered one or more of the following for their clubs and districts:

  • 1-2 hour workshops in order to practice their Training skills;
  • 15 minute Educationals to teach skills to members;
  • 3-4 hour Training events for Areas
  • Speechcraft and Youth Leadership programs

Online webinars, blogs and podcasts and video tutorials are now offered as valuable real-time or anytime events – tools used by the online training champion. An online training champion can be grown and supported in your own club with a little training in the following tools and techniques.

  1. A webinar provides an opportunity for an interactive learning workshop with guest trainers from any part of the world.
  2. Blogs offer reflective learning opportunities for Toastmasters who wish to share their own learning or to read the learning of others.
  3. Podcasts offer others the opportunity to interview or be interviewed for first hand, close up and short audio visual engagement to suit those who like their learning in byte sized pieces.

None of these are new – they have been favoured by e-learning and e-training champions for decades. However, all of this can be used effectively for online training for Toastmasters in new ways using a Networked Collaboration approach. A way to share the best of the ‘best practices’ in clubs and areas near you or online.

If your club is challenged by geography and your members cannot easily attend Club Officer Training sessions you may be seeking new ways to offer effective training. This is often true for members of Online Clubs and many of them are now seeking more effective methods of training online.

The Networked Collaborative model of online training might work well for your clubs; either land based or online: preliminary training – real time webinars – followup mentoring.

Preliminary training and reading activities

  1. At changeover time, promote the use of anytime training tools and resources made available online in your club or area websites, as well as those made available from Toastmasters International. (Provide a shared document that your club officers can add to as they work through their preliminary training and reading activities.)
    For example here is a simple list of club officer tasks required of one land based club Club Officer Tasks 2017 Land Based Club can be distributed during the installation of new officers. Such documents could be provided as Google Docs for ongoing improvement or on USBs for ease of access for each officer.
  2. The Handover process can include a physical meeting one on one or as a group at a specially arranged meeting – preferably early in July. At this meeting each outgoing club officer will have an opportunity to exchange written notes, resources and assets that will help the incoming club officer. This process can be emulated by arranging online meetings; one to one (in Skype) or as a group (in Zoom). Sharing of real documentation can be done by uploading the notes and other resources to a share repository such as Dropbox. For example this link will enable you to view and download useful documents for Evaluating projects from Advanced Manuals.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zn1623kn9ksz0qi/AAByCFeYezjMcX6UnLNbBnQha?dl=0

Online Training Webinars

We all know that training happens most effectively over a reasonable period of time and that attendance at one day training sessions will not be sufficient for some club officers who are new to the task. The Networked Collaboration Model includes a series of one hour training webinars, scheduled over the year to meet the specific needs of club officers at times most appropriate to the Toastmasters program for the year.

Club Executive Handover Webinar

mentorPrepare for and schedule an interactive one hour training session for your club or Area to focus on the most effective methods of handover for their club officers. Late June or early July is best for this webinar. Be sure to invite trainers and participants from other clubs to share their ideas, questions and experiences.

Key objectives:

  • Process – simplify the handover process,
  • Resources – provide information from the previous year and any useful documentation to assist the incumbent
  • Support – learn where to go for help, when to let go, and setting them up for success

Follow up Mentoring

The Networked Collaboration model of online training will also include opportunities to match up officers of one club with those of another club (land based on online) for a short term mentoring process as the incoming officer learns the ropes. This method may be simplified by having the outgoing officer provide the mentoring to the incoming officer in their own club.

During the mentoring process, ask each officer to make regular contact with each other and agree on duration of mentoring, specific requirements from each officer and how the communication should take place. By telephone or over a coffee in your home town cafe or online in Facebook Messenger, Skype or other social chat service. For example: some online club officers select a team of assistants and conduct regular meetings with them for forward planning, and may invite the outgoing officer to attend. These can be achieved as a series of anytime discussions in a private messaging tool or with a group in a social chat forum setup for the purpose.

This type of follow up will help implement Training into Best Practice!

Finally don’t forget the self-paced learning who prefers an individual independent method of learning.

Where do they go for their visual learning? You can find a video tutorial for mostly everything on YouTube. Consider these videos as potential ‘any time’ training tools for your Toastmasters club officers and members who prefer the self-select method of learning. Visit YouTube and seek out those video tutorials that will help your incoming officers.

For example, there are many video tutorials on YouTube for those club officers who need to learn best practice in the use of easy-Speak club management tool. Conduct a search for easy-Speak videos and include links to these for your new club officers.

 

 

New Series: Network Centred Collaboration!

This month I am focusing on the benefits of Online Champions of Change! I have some reflections to share with you and some information on what I know about current Online Toastmaster Champions and how to develop a network of future champions.

Reflections of a Flexible Learning Leader

Phase One: E-learning

All good things come to those who wait! Yes, sometimes it takes considerable time in waiting for larger organisations to change. E-learning was one of those changes that took place in the years 2005 to 2008 in Australia and took about three years to embed into the Australian Adult Education environment. Just before that change was implemented the Australian Flexible Learning Framework initiated a Flexible Learning Leader program that enabled a cohort of over 200 trainers from Universities, TAFE, Industry and Community Education, to research, explore and build strategies for embedding e-learning. They were known as the Flexible Learning Leaders (FLL). My turn as an FLL, began in 2002 and my focus was on developing e-mentoring strategies for e-learning teachers.

As the Flexible Learning Leaders program completed and reflections of its success were commissioned,  I joined a team of four authors to create the paper called:

The impact of e-learning champions on embedding e-learning in organisations, industry or communities” – learn more by viewing.

The major findings from that research was:

The impact of e-learning champions

This study concurs with the literature findings that e-learning champions aspire to:

  • change attitudes towards e-learning
  • build e-learning capacity among as many teachers, trainers and learners, where possible
  • influence their organisation to adopt processes that will sustain e-learning and build the organisation’s reputation in e-learning.

The E-learning environment grew from those beginnings and Australia is now leading innovation in E-learning. The Flexible Learning Leaders are still actively supporting e-learning in their learning institutions.

Phase Two: E-portfolios

In this phase in Australian tertiary education the adoption, implementation and embedding of e-portfolios for teaching and learning emerged as the next strong contender for sweeping changes in the industry. The e-portfolio movement is still thriving today after ten years and also has its fair share of champions.

E-portfolios Australia grew from those beginnings and I was very proud to have been part of that initiative.

ePortfolios Australia is a professional network which aims to support the use of e-portfolios in Australia and beyond through professional development activities and the sharing of resources, ideas and practice.

The contributions from e-portfolio champions across the world continue to inspire new learning and assessment strategies in adult training through the embedding of e-portfolio systems and practices.

Fast Forward to Toastmaster Online Champions

I consider myself as one of the champions for online training within the Toastmasters Education program. I have explored the development of online training in different formats: from running live webinars, creating video tutorials for user training of easy-Speak. I have also developed online club officer training strategies for online clubs and instructional designed self-paced online courses  – one to help the easy-Speak Community. I am just one of many who champion the growth of online strategies for improvements in the Toastmasters experience.

Online Training Champions

images for articles

There are a number of Toastmaster Online Training Champions who are exploring other strategies such as webinars for Mentoring, Social Media, Club Management, Club Officer Training and many more. Yet others provide regular Podcasts, Video Tutorials, and the use of a wide range of e-learning tools for education. Another specialist online club is beginning to attract Global Online Trainers.

The journeys of these ‘early adopters‘ provide a wealth of knowledge and wisdom in best practice for those who come after them. They are not funded or supported officially in their roles, they are doing this voluntarily for the benefit of others, to help cope with change. In my view, they too are champions,

Network of Champions

Just imagine what else may be achieved with a special ‘advisory group‘ commissioned by World Headquarters  to explore the future potentials for online training. A current network of online champions is emerging from groups of online Toastmaster leaders.  ‘Action teams‘ are exploring the realms of Education & Training Online for online clubs.

This is one of several teams which are part of the network, a group of experienced Online Club executives and members, who seek to liaise with WHQ at Toastmasters International about how best to support members of chartered online clubs and potential online clubs. Yes a group of champions leading the way and providing advice on the change from land based club management to online club management! Explorations of online club officer training is part of that.

Pathways Champions

PathwaysLogo-mask675px

There is now a need for personal skill development programs to help Toastmasters participate in the changed Pathways Education program. Pathways Guides are being enlisted to support Toastmasters who participate in those programs. The Guides themselves will undergo personal training about the Pathways program and how best to support members in clubs across the Areas in their Districts.

These Pathways Guides will become the champions for the Pathways program and assist in the implementation and embedding of change within the individual journeys for club members.

Their championship is supported by the Chief Ambassadors for the roll out of Pathways in each district. Each will continue to liaise with the Program Quality Directors in each district, as the roll out continues over the next year or so. This is the embedding process!

Another group of champions.

What have I learned in my online journeys?

I learned how to be an effective e-mentor for teachers. I learned how to implement change in adult learning institutions. I learned a great deal about change in large educational organisations through my work as an e-mentor for trainers in Universities, Technical and Further Education Institutions and Community Colleges. I also realised early on, how important it was to build a cohort of champions to assist in the process of implementation and embedding of change.

I can now use my reflective practice and knowledge gained to propose a rationale for Toastmasters to build their own network of Online Champions. I began this week to consider the characteristics and tasks of champions from my Flexible Learning Leadership program and how to transform them for use in the Toastmasters environment.

What are the characteristics of an Online Training Champion?

  • skilled in online training
  • willing to share their expertise with passion and enthusiasm
  • learner focused and able to communicate effectively with all kinds of people
  • able to provide tailored e-learning messages, solutions and advice
  • enterprising and willing to solve problems: small/large; technical/non-technical
  • open to scrutiny and willing to adapt as new information comes to hand
  • persistent and model their actions on core values of integrity, respect, excellence and support
  • communicate a commitment to promoting online training and the use of technology to provide educationally sound and reliable teaching and learning solutions.

What activities do champions undertake?

Good practices by online training champions to facilitate the uptake of online training and e-learning include:

  • developing a strong understanding of facilitator, trainer and learner needs through active listening and relationship building
  • offering e-learning solutions that are contextualised to the user’s needs and build on their current skills and knowledge
  • monitoring the preparedness of learners to include e-learning in their practices
  • transferring e-learning know-how in small chunks
  • supporting learners on their e-learning journey
  • building confidence through mentoring strategies
  • improving learner outcomes based on feedback and their own research.

We now have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in starting, chartering, managing and maintaining online clubs embodied within our network of Online Toastmaster Leaders.

It is time to focus on how to model, implement and embed online training strategies into our Online Clubs. We need Online Training Champions!

Next blog posts in the series:

Network Centred Collaboration

  1. How to develop Online Training Champions in Toastmasters Clubs
  2. How to develop Champions for Change in our Toastmasters Clubs

 

 

Trialling a New Course: Starting an Online Club

landing page

I have begun to construct a Thinkific short course for those who wish to start building an online Toastmasters club.

Starting an Online Club

In this course I have been harvesting some of the resources provided by skilled onliners and bringing them together into a cohesive learning experience.

It is raw and unedited at the moment, however, I am willing to share with you so that you can make some comments on its improvement.

I am also requesting help – to harvest the wisdom of the online executive teams who have already experienced the process of starting an online club.

If you would like to contribute text, audio or video pieces to this course, please let me know. You can leave a comment if you subscribe to this blog.

These are specifically required for the latter Chapters of the course.

Here is the Course Outline:

 

 

future of online clubs … call to action

What can you do to make a difference in the future of online clubs?

That question has prompted this call to action from those who are currently experiencing membership and/or leadership in online clubs. Perhaps you are a member of a 100% online club or a land based club that accepts online membership? Maybe you are already exploring the potentials of online clubs and how they suit your journey and goals in Toastmasters?

View the slides below and decide now on how you can make a difference!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Communicate with the Online Alliance in Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/OnlineClubsAlliance