digital facilitation : keyboard, tablet and pencil

The noble art of digital facilitation – pt. 1

The idea of a post about digital facilitation has been growing in my mind for a while – then the European community of trainers involved in non formal education activities gathered online recently, during the event called Mini-bridges for trainers: a shorter, lighter version of the multiple days event called Bridges for Trainers, happening every other year in different cities all over Europe.

Last edition was in Prague in 2018, and now it is a different world from then: the last in-presence edition, postponed for covid and scheduled for this year, was one of the many events postponed again for the newer pandemic wave.

I vaguely remember that back in 2018, in the trainers’ community not more than 10 people more or less, could really say to know what a thing called digital facilitation could be, and probably 5 had already some experience about how to do it: and it was, mostly, trying to use technology to support training events, courses and conferences.

Enter Covid and, four years after, here we are with (a few members of) the European trainers’ community discussing about introducing, or at least defining, the figure of the digital facilitator.

(damn I should have written this article when I first spoke about it with Federica one year ago or so – but anyway, nevermind, let’s write it now…)

Digital facilitation is not meant for digital environments only

This would be my starting point: when digital facilitation appeared, it was mostly about supporting real-life meetings using technology. A relevant example could be using “event apps” to connect and engage participants in a conference or something similar, for instance. In my experience, Lineupr was a very effective tool for this, but other platforms can be used as well; apart from discussing which tools and platforms to use (and yes, they continue to increase, evolve and change), the reflection should be about which needs to address with this kind of tools.

I think we should consider first of all the great importance of having all the relevant information for the training/conference/event in the same place, inside our mobile phones: how to reach the venue, where is every room, who are all participants and how to get in touch with them, and then the complete programme, the speakers, and maybe some highlights and updates from every programme day. Moreover, I think the possibility to reach all participants at once with updates and important last-minute information, engage them in voting and evaluating the sessions etc are all features worth including in the activity flow.

Another example of digital facilitation to support (also) in-presence events, is using digital tools for recognition and (self-)assessment of learning. Digital open badges have a tradition of working well for this purpose, and have been adopted in many European activities for years, mainly thanks to the work of the Badgecraft team.

Moreover, tools that have become mandatory, in order to interact with an audience of distant participants connected from their offices or homes, like Mentimeter, or Kahoot for a more playful (and kid-oriented) approach, were first introduced to interact in a new, fancier and more effective way with the live audience of in-presence events or activities.

In the same way, flipcharts and boards have been digitalized years ago, becoming tools like Padlet, or Miro, or Jamboard (and so many more). Even if in a real-life event, digital ways of collecting information and thoughts allow a better and more efficient collection and dissemination of outcomes and results of discussions. When in an online environment, even more, this is the only way to get to work together from a distance – and since we are slowly moving towards discussing online and digital spaces, I want to say that sharing what happens in a real-life event inside social media platforms or streaming channels is something digital facilitation should take care of, and we should keep doing so from now on: what we do deserves a wider audience, and a chance to be reviewed and known even in a second time – even in the real-time interaction can only happen once, during the actual event. But this is something we should start tackling. In the next post 🙂

digital facilitation

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