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2 Problems and 2 Best Practices for Blended Meetings
September 22, 2011 - 11:15pm

If you are supporting blended learning, you are probably having blended meetings. If you learn how to do blended meetings well, you are further up the learning curve for delivering blending learning.

Blended Meetings - A Definition: A meeting in which some of the participants are not physically present in the room.

2 Problems with Blended Meetings:

Nonverbal Communication: A large proportion of communication is nonverbal (does anyone know the percentage?). We use nonverbal cues to know when it is our turn to speak, how long we should speak, and how what we are saying is being perceived. Typical blended meetings, with either a phone conference or a single synchronous meeting tool running in the room (WebEx, Connect etc.) don't allow for nonverbal communication.

Unequal Experiences: The distributed meeting participants (those not in the room) are at a participatory disadvantage to those present. They tend to speak less, and cannot build the almost instant alliances and connections that humans automatically make in social groups.

2 Best Practices for Blended Meetings:

Many Laptops: Every person in the room should have the their laptops open, with the meeting software running. Every webcam should be on. We use Adobe Connect for this, which brings up a camera pod with live video of everyone at the meeting. Audio is through a good conference phone. This method works better than one would think, as participants adapt quickly to making eye contact with the Webcam and the video sharing, and the local (in-room) participants.

Use the Backchannel: Encourage all meeting participants to utilize the meeting chat features, the document sharing tools, and the meeting notes. Keep the meeting notes in the web meeting tool, so that everyone can review. The meeting agenda should be in the meeting tool as well. Make use of the participant list in the meeting tool to systematically "go around the (virtual) table to make sure everyone has a chance to talk.

Virtual work, telecommuting, and blended meetings are comparative advantages we can bring to our organizations and colleagues. The smartest people are not always together on campus, and we need to find ways to recruit and retain these folks. 5 days a week, 8 to 5 at the office or on campus is not a schedule that works well for everyone, as many passionate educators and technologists have loved ones they must care for, or partners that move them to other cities.

What blended meeting best practices can you share?

 

 

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