Carnegie Mellon University

Hands working on laptop with learning-related words on the screen

January 21, 2021

Learning Partners Group Reconvenes

The Office of Human Resources helped reunite members of the Learning Partners group. The original group had paused to re-evaluate its purpose; however, the recent shift to a remote work environment brought renewed interest in the group and its value to help connect and leverage information and resources among various training providers on campus. With an overwhelming interest in collaboration and pulling of resources, members came together this past August to provide feedback about how to best to serve its members.  

After a commitment to the partnership was re-confirmed, a successful follow-up meeting was held in early December. The primary topic centered on facilitating training remotely during the COVID-19 era. Participants shared their insights about the delivery of training in the current remote environment and ways to engage participants. The take-aways from the meeting included the following tips, suggestions and best practices for remote training: 

  • Smaller groups: Keep meetings smaller than traditional trainings to allow for more engagement. 
  • Facilitating engagement: 
    • Set ground rules for engagement and successful calibration. Provide these ground rules prior to the meeting or place them in the chat or on the screen so people are reminded of the rules and participants can maximize their meeting experience.  
    • Utilize the polling feature in Zoom to gather feedback and to quiz participants on content.  
    • Utilize breakout rooms to engage all participants. 
    • For technical trainings and support sessions, use screen sharing and have participants share their screen whenever possible.  
    • Use the annotation tool in Zoom to engage participants. 
  • Participant considerations:  
    • Keep in mind different personality types and learning styles and be respectful of their needs. 
    • Understand participant comfort level with turning cameras on during sessions: 
      • Be flexible and understanding of an individual’s specific situation. Encourage camera use, but also understand that some individuals may not be comfortable turning on their cameras due to technical limitations or equity considerations.
      • Use Zoom backgrounds to help mask personal space; this could be incorporated into an icebreaker activity (e.g., have participants select a background in advance based on specific theme or topic). 
    • Allow private chat as an option. Some participants may want to share ideas or ask questions, but prefer to remain anonymous to the rest of the group.  
  • Start off with positivity and fun
    • Play upbeat music. 
    • Share entertaining videos at the beginning of a Zoom meeting.  
    • Utilize resources such as Kahoot and Jackbox Games to play games with the group. 
  • Take advantage of campus resources for Zoom

The December Learning Partners meeting confirmed that there is a campus-wide audience that can benefit from a platform to collaborate on shared challenges and goals related to training. The next quarterly meeting is scheduled in March 2021. For more information about Learning Partners, please contact the Learning and Development Team.