At about this time last year, though, I started thinking about how CCC Confer is used by our community (myself included) when students aren't involved. Half of our business comes from Meet & Confer and Call Confer sessions. What have we done to make their meetings more effective? Are there tools we should be adding that will make life easier for those of us who meet regularly online? Is it possible to use technology to enhance meetings, inspire creative idea sharing, sort shared ideas, move people toward consensus, produce action plans, and record proceedings? Can we do for online meeting facilitators what we've managed to do for online instructors: make their jobs easier and more productive?
We think so. We've just added a new tool - CCC Brainstorm - to bolster our online meeting tools. Here's a short (one minute) introduction:
The software is powered by FacilitatePro and licensed to the California Community Colleges through an agreement with CCC Confer. You can use it online or face-to-face, synchronously or asynchronously, according to your meeting needs and circumstances. You can learn more about Facilitate by downloading this document, but I'll summarize some key features here.
Brainstorming. Everyone in the meeting can add ideas - at the same time - without raising their hands or waiting for anyone else to finish. The ideas dynamically appear on the screen as they are added and generate a sense of collaboration and interaction that is often difficult to produce in overly structured group meetings.
Sorting into Categories. An active and engaged meeting can generate a lot of ideas. These can be sorted into categories as they are added or later, allowing the participants to recognize emerging themes or to distinguish and appreciate how the ideas fit into possible solutions.
The result can be graphed - again, instantly - and shared in real time with the group. This is far more effective than the Confer polling tool, which is great for impromptu questions. This tool actually presents a detailed vote breakdown, statistical results, and graphs for your entire list of ideas. The summary table shows overall votes, weighted averages, and standard deviations.
Complete Meeting Report. No need to take minutes or transcode illegible flip charts! With this tool, you - or anyone in the meeting - can instantly print a report that will include, in an attractive package, tabulated results and every one of the ideas and plans your group has produced. It's also possible to import this report into a word processor so it can be incorporated into a larger document.
We're just getting started on the video tutorials for this product, but you'll find enough to get started on our YouTube playlist.
Meanwhile, here's wishing you better meetings this year!