‘Think like a film maker’ – Tips for delivering online workshops
Peer Led Conversations
Since the start of the pandemic, so many forms of learning have had to go online meaning a steep learning curve for those not used to working via video link. And despite lots of things starting to open up again, it seems that online workshops are here to stay. So in order to think more about how best to do so, we brought together artists Beth Hopkins, Liz Atkin, Daniel Regan, Sarah Carpenter, Karta Kaur and Izzy Parker to share their expertise, what they have learnt so far after over 18 months of delivering online workshops. Here are some of the points they raised, and the learning that they shared:
Two is better than one
It is really useful to have a producer and an artist working on the same workshop, or two artists plus someone doing the technical things (like helping people who can’t access the session, answering comments in the chat etc).
Having two people also helps in the case of issues with one artist’s network – I.e. if one loses connection, the other can fill in.
Two artists can be more creative and the experience more varied and rewarding – artists also learn from each other.
Delivering workshops in a hospital setting
Think carefully about timing – what suits ward routines?
It is tricky delivering a workshop when you can’t see people – if more than one person is sharing a laptop, you may not be able to see anyone. Some wards project the screen onto the wall so that the artist is more visible in the room.
Be inclusive – Remember names where they are not listed.
How do you enable all participants to share work if they want to, when some may be shy? This is important too to enable the artist to check in and see how everyone is doing. Check in regularly with participants. Invite participation with ‘what would you like to share?’
Use an app like Padlet so that people can upload images in real time- ask them to add their name so that you can discuss specific artworks.
Design a handout so that people who can’t join in online, or who get a bit left behind, can still participate.
Online tutorials are also good but beware of not being paid appropriately. For example if the tutorial will be online and used to train hundreds of people, make sure the remuneration is appropriate.
Sometimes old school is best – send out self-addressed envelopes for people to send back their work in to be documented and put online. Then the work will be well photographed – and celebrated!
Try to avoid – broadcasting a live workshop is twice as much work, and often neither party onsite or online feels included. It could work if you have huge screens and a roving microphone to enable both people at the venue and online to interact and feel part of the workshop – but this is expensive.
Checking in / Debrief
Seeing other people in their home environments can be stressful for some participants. Be mindful and check in afterwards.
Check in regularly with participants – you can ask for a show of thumbs up/down/wavering to gauge how people are doing.
Artists may also appreciate a check in before and a debrief after the workshop, its good practice.
Thinking outside of the box
What would workshops look like using virtual reality? Using drones? Get creative to solve problems with working online.
Think like a film maker
Delivering online you should remember that people only see what your camera picks up – the sense of space is so different.
Get to know your set up, which might be a part of the desk in front of you. Flag up your space, and any differences in set up/materials between you/participants.
Learn how to work with delayed sound and image
Remember that online delivery takes more careful planning.
The extra and very deliberate checking in that you need to do throughout a workshop takes time, so remember to build this into your plans.
If there is too much noise, one of the facilitators can mute participants or ask people to mute themselves.
If bandwidth is low, ask people to turn off cameras.
Rig up different cameras (or a phone) to have an aerial view of your workspace.
With thanks to Beth Hopkins, Liz Atkin, Daniel Regan, Sarah Carpenter, Karta Kaur and Izzy Parker for sharing their learning.