Online workshops for Ninti One
Community Works has been a partner of Ninti One for several years. We have worked with the organisation as it has developed and managed programs that have created economic opportunity, improved service delivery and boosted the livelihoods of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.
An important part of our contribution has been to support to planning and training processes for organisations across Australia. Given the distances involved in reaching people living in the most remote and isolated parts of the country, online methods of work have always been a part of the mix of methods we have used. Recently, we have translated more of the workshop-based planning and training materials to online access, a process that been very rewarding.
Three of the approaches we have adopted have been especially effective:
It has been valuable to share a single canvas with a group of people online in which all the content you wish to discuss is included. This means it needs to be a big space. Navigating around the canvas and focussing in on the relevant section enables a smooth transition from one topic to the next, with comments and points of discussion recorded on the canvas as we progress. We have found Mural to be a valuable platform for these kinds of processes (see the example on the right). Recent examples of session content includes in-depth research planning with three community organisations in the Northern Territory.
Facilitating a training or process workshop through remote video presents challenges, but they can be overcome with good planning in advance. Having the facilitators in one location and the participants in another means that the quality of the connection needs to be adequate, including the audio quality. Pacing the workshop in a way that prevents in turning into a lecture is critical, so that the participants are not worn down by the experience of watching the materials displayed on the screen. This means that breaking up for group exercises, posing questions to the group on a regular basis and inviting people to watch a video and then come up with their questions and comments are essential to the process.
Probably undervalued as a method, we have found narrated slides to be very effective as a flexible way for individuals to engage with material in a time and at a pace that suits them. We have developed online materials of this kind for the National Best Practice Unit for Tackling Indigenous Smoking, which is managed by Ninti One. The approach draws on the methods we have refined through the online masters course in cross-cultural conflict resolution we have delivered for James Cook University in recent years.
Our successful work with Ninti One is likely to see more online methods being developed for an increasingly wide range of topics including research, service improvement, evaluation, project management and various training courses.