PIECE BY PIECE: Online Mosaic Workshops for Older Adults (55+) and Seniors (65+) who reside in Scarborough.
March 8th – April 2nd, 2021
Programming by Jenneen Beattie
Hosting three separate online workshops in a one-month period is intense. The instructor, Program Manager, and technical support all found the schedule to be intense. This program was rolled out under special circumstances – during the grant writing phase of this project the schedule was to deliver one series a month over three months. However, even with an extended schedule that we planned for initially, the program would greatly benefit from the additional support of an assistant instructor. Going forward with this program, an assistant instructor will be needed to assist the instructor with slides, facilitating screenshares, and monitoring the chatbox and muting functions.
Avoid Overlapping Timelines
For this program, we had the series overlap in order to fit three series into the designated time frame. However, this turned out to be confusing for the instructor – when the morning and afternoon sessions are being instructed at different points of the curriculum, it is hard to keep the lesson plans for each class straight. In the instructor’s opinion, it would not a problem instructing a session in the morning and a session in the afternoon as long as the curriculum was the same for both classes each day. Going forward, if we decide to have a series in the morning and a series in the afternoon, these series should have the same start and end dates, daily lesson plans, timeline, curriculum, etc.
Curriculum, Daily Agenda, and Information Handout
With the support of two advisors, the instructor created a general curriculum for the program. While the goals and outcomes were met with each series of this program, in the future, a clear outline and more detailed curriculum would be helpful for participants to follow and for the assistant instructor to know what slides or videos to present and when. We received feedback from a few participants that a daily agenda would be helpful as well. I would recommend that the instructor submit a daily lesson plan for each series of the program. Based on the feedback received, a lesson plan for participants to follow was expected by this demographic, who enjoy structured classes with a clear outline. As the support person for sharing slides, I would recommend a detailed lesson plan for the assistant instructor with instructions on slides, videos, images, and other information that they will need to assist with each lesson.
The instructor included a two-page handout for the participants to keep after the course with information about Mural Routes and how to stay involved with the organization by becoming a member and joining the newsletter sign-up list. The handout also includes vital information taught during the course such as the material to use when creating an indoor mosaic vs. an outdoor mosaic, a list of supplies, and where to source materials.
Based on feedback from participants, many really liked the daily sessions. Originally, during the design of the program we did not have daily lessons scheduled. However, many participants mentioned that they liked having it every day for two weeks. There were also a few who mentioned that it did feel like a lot to come every day for two weeks. Going forward, I would say that we could safely offer two or three sessions a week to retired folks. Ten sessions was a good amount of time to have the participants learn, practice, and execute their mosaic.
All the supplies for the workshop were delivered inside a large storage container. This was a successful way to transport and deliver the materials and supplies. It also provided the participants with a reusable and convenient container to store their art supplies in their homes for easy pull-out and put-away access. This is a successful practice to include in future programs. In the future, I would suggest including print-offs of the instructions and curriculum/agenda in the kit boxes. This way the participants have an electronic copy in their email and a physical copy in their kits.
Emails, Waivers, and Photo Releases
A few of the participants were not receiving my emails. It became important throughout the workshop to inform the participants when an email had been sent out and to check their junk folder for communications. In the future, I would include a section in the introduction instructions with a list of Mural Routes contacts and to add to their contacts list to avoid emails going to junk mail boxes.
We used JotForm for waivers and photo releases. It was an easy to use tool. The participants were able to complete and sign the waivers and photo releases easily. None of the participants voiced an issue using this software.
Technical by Jackie Santos
Providing technology to participants
Mural Routes purchased six iPads (8th generation with WiFi + Cellular capability) for these workshops, three of them with prepaid, Internet access, and made them available for participants to borrow. Two of the devices with Internet were requested and provided (one for series 2 and one for series 3). Shock proof cases with a built in stand, were purchased and installed on all the iPads before use. The workshops were delivered using Google Meet.
A sharable data plan from Rogers mobile was purchased. Approximately 17GB of data was used per participant (1.5 hours per session x 10 sessions each). This option worked very well, but we will look around for other options, such as the LTE hotspot, before purchasing this one again.
Setting up iPads for participants
We set these devices up with the expectation that the user would have little to no experience with using a tablet.
Each of the requested iPads was set up using its own Apple ID, one Apple ID allocated for one series and one for the other. If more iPads were being borrowed, they would be setup with the Apple ID corresponding their workshop series. The Workshop Meeting links/reminders were set up in iCal and could be edited remotely by logging into the iCloud account corresponding to each of the series. Having the same Apple ID per each of the series eliminates having to set up the meeting reminders on iCal six separate times (if all the iPads were to have been distributed).
- All iPads were set up without a Passcode or touch ID.
- Uninstalled or hid (on the second screen) any unnecessary default apps, such as: music, GarageBand, iMovie, Pages, etc.
- Removed FaceTime from the “dock” and home screen (after one hour of tech support, it was discovered that a participant was trying to connect to the workshop using FaceTime, not Google Meet, even with detailed instructions, so this step is highly recommended).
- Placed the most important apps on the dock at the bottom of the screen, for easy use. In this case it was: Google Meet, iCal, Google Chrome and Settings.
- Icons were set to “large” for easier visibility as well as the font size.
Setting up online Workshops with Google Meet
Each series of workshops was set with a separate meeting code/link which would be used for the whole series (so three in total).
- iPads to be loaned out were grouped by Apple ID according to their series.
- The meeting reminders and links were setup/scheduled using iCal (via iCloud) for the different Apple ID accounts. Reminders were set to pop up at 5 minutes before and at meeting time with a link to click on to open the Google Meet app and automatically connect to the Workshop Meeting.
- Simple, but detailed, instructions were printed out and delivered with the iPads that explained how to connect using the calendar reminders and also by providing the Google Meet ID to type directly into the Google Meet app, if desired or the first method failed.
- Each device to be loaned out was also set up with a unique Google account, in order to enter the Google Meetings with their own name (firstname, last initial) on the screen. These names will obviously need to be changed before loaning out for use again.
- A third iPad was set up in the same way, and used by the technical support person, in order to help troubleshoot any issues that came up during the workshops by iPad users.
Before the iPads were lent out:
In Settings: WiFi turned off, Bluetooth turned off, Cellular Data turned on, Location Services turned on, Ask Siri turned off. The devices were fully charged and the charger was inserted so the user would know where it connects to the device.
Mobile Device Management (MDM):
In order to keep track of all devices in one place, we signed up for a free account with Miradore (some installation required on the devices). Because we are using the free account, it does not come with location services and we still need to have access to the iCloud accounts for the “Find my iPad” feature. Miradore is still worthwhile for being able to see all your device inventory in one place, whether they are on or offline, how much free space they have, what apps they are running, all the technical details about each device, and we can remotely set a passcode or lock, wipe, clear passcode or enable “lost” mode.
Technical Lessons Learned During Live Workshops
These lessons are specific to Google Meet, but similar considerations would apply to any online meeting platform.
- Detailed, simple meeting instructions were provided in a PDF and emailed to participants. Some people never saw them or possibly couldn’t open the PDF attachment. Recommended: put meeting instructions in a separate email, in the body of the email rather than an attachment, and/or create a webpage for users to visit. Printing out and delivering instructions along with the workshop materials is also a good idea.
- Regardless of any prior meeting instructions, some time should be spent at the beginning of each online workshop series going over the meeting platform controls (mute, video, raise hand, chat, leave meeting, controlling the meeting layout, pinning someone to the screen) and how they work. Make sure to point out that if you accidentally leave the meeting that you just need to reconnect the same way that you initially did and you will be admitted right away.
- Specific instructions about the meeting layout and how it differs from computer to mobile devices are important. Participants on computers can control how many people they see on screen at once but participants on the iPads could only see the person speaking in the main meeting area and some thumbnails for the rest. How to pin and unpin the instructor was important, especially in a format where multiple people have their microphones on during a discussion.
- The instructor also had a separate meeting connection for a second device, to demonstrate how to use materials that were provided.
Some important notes for this:
- Second device in the same room as another device: must be muted and volume turned off or else it will create an echo.
- During demonstrations made on one screen, with the instructor speaking on another screen – the demonstration screen was not visible for all participants – especially the ones on tablets. To work around this, our meeting facilitator pinned the demonstration screen and then “presented” her screen in the meeting. This format will override the screen of the speaker and make the demonstration visible to all participants.
- During workshops it sometimes became necessary to mute participants. Once you mute someone you cannot unmute them, so special care had to be taken in order make sure people knew how to unmute. On an iPad or mobile device, you actually need to click on the screen before the controls show up, so it is worth reminding people of this when they are struggling to unmute or attempting to leave the meeting.
- At the end of each workshop/meeting it was sometimes necessary to manually remove participants, as Google Meet will allow people to stay in the Meet even after the meeting organizer has left.
Virtual phone number
In order to protect the phone numbers of our staff while working remotely, we used Grasshopper to set up a virtual phone number with extensions to reach tech support and program support. Staff were required to set up an app on their phone/desktop and a general voicemail with instructions for extensions was recorded. Messages could be checked from the website or the app, and the app was used to dial out – protecting the real phone number of the device. This was important mainly for tech support issues and to arrange delivery and pick up various workshop materials.