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Role Play Online

Sometimes, whether there's a pandemic raging or you just want to minimize the amount of travel people undertake for professional development gatherings, you may want to do this activity using an online videoconference. For more details about how the PLIX team pulled this off as an online-only experience in November 2020, read on.

Preparation

  • Everyone must register for your event with a unique Zoom ID.
  • Schedule the activity to allow time to build a spreadsheet on the backend (we had overnight to sort the Zoom IDs of attendees into two groups. Our spreadsheet had the following data:
    • First Name
    • Last Name
    • Email
    • Role (one of 9, including Facilitator and Persona ONE through EIGHT)
    • Group (one of 8, named, for example "Group A" through "Group H")
      • as a crosscheck: a table on the side to count how many people were in each group, using the code "=countif(E:E,DataVal!B2)" where column E was the Group column
  • At the end of Day 1, identify attendees to volunteer to role-play as co-facilitators in the session on Day 2. We had two co-facilitators per breakout.
  • Pre-assign each person two different breakout rooms for Day 2’s Personas sessions in the spreadsheet you built: one for their Role, one for their Group. Our spreadsheet looked like this ➡️
    • If you want a sample file to use as a basis, Zoom has one linked in their instructions.
  • Save your spreadsheet as two CSV files, each with only the email address and the room. Ours were called
    • BY-ROLE.csv
    • BY-GROUP.csv
  • In Zoom, pre-assign participants to breakout rooms — you'll import each CSV file in the Zoom web portal using Meeting Options one at a time.
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  • Have the text describing each roles ready, perhaps using our slides. To distribute these, you can do any or all of the following:
    • Email the personas to each person as soon as you've assigned them—then they can read it well ahead of the activity!
    • Have the text handy to copy it into the Zoom chat.
    • Share screen with the slide from this slide show.
    • Have single slides ready to share with those in each room.

Live Event Run of Show

Introduction to Personas Activity

(15 minutes)

Explain the activity and the goals of the activity; set personas ground rules.

  • Goal 1: To practice facilitating a STEAM learning activity while not feeling like an expert
  • Goal 2: To build empathy among facilitators for learners who may approach an activity differently than they would
  • Guidelines for everyone:
    • There is a path toward resolution for every persona
    • Don’t try to “stump” the volunteer facilitators
    • Bring yourself to the role!

Go over logistics of getting persona assignments. This is how we explained it:

Every breakout will eventually have 8 participant personas and 2 volunteer co-facilitators.

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  • Right now we are in the Main Room
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  • First we will go into breakouts where we will get assigned our personas
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  • For the main part of the activity, we will all be sorted into a second breakout room with a heterogenous mix of one of each persona and two co-facilitators.
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Send people to Breakout 1, using the CSV file BY-ROLE.

Getting Your Persona

(10 minutes in Breakout 1)

  • Share the link to your group's persona slide in the breakout room chat; ask participants to go to that link and keep it open for reference throughout the activity.
  • Share screen with your group’s persona slide.
  • Copy the text of the persona description into the chat for everyone’s easy reference.
  • Talk through the role; see if any participants have questions.
  • Continue discussion, perhaps talking through a plan for playing the role.
  • Wait to be called back to main room.

Technical Interlude

(5 minutes in Main Room)

Return to Main Room

Re-sort into Mixed Persona Groups

Import the BY-GROUP.CSV using the same process in Zoom to pre-assign participants to breakout rooms — uploading the other CSV file in the Zoom web portal using Meeting Options.

Send people to Breakout 2, using the CSV file BY-GROUP.

Persona Activity

(45 minutes in Breakout 2)

  • Main event facilitators hand off the Personas Activity for 1–2 minutes
    • Make sure everyone understands what’s happening and has their role.
    • Remind folks that we have ~30 minutes for the role play, then we’ll debrief as a small group before debriefing as a large group.
    • Thank the participants who volunteered to be in the role of co-facilitators, and hand them control of the room.
  • Role Play Co-facilitators run the activity for 30 minutes, including an activity reflection/debrief as part of the role-play, still in character.
  • Reflect in the Breakout Group for 15 minutes—this time de-briefing the Personas activity.
    • Do a quick round of letting people reveal their persona and share all personas in one slidedeck
    • Invite people to reflect on their experience, using some of these questions:
      • What did you notice during this activity? What was interesting?
      • What questions do you have of/as the facilitator?
      • If you were the facilitator, how would you have supported your persona?
      • What is something you would have liked to do differently?
      • How is this experience the same as your usual programming? How is it different?

Full Group Wrap-up

(15 minutes in Main Room)

Lead a reflection and share-out to wrap up. Choose one or two questions from the earlier breakout wrap-ups as guiding questions:

  • What did you notice during this activity? What was interesting?
  • What questions do you have of/as the facilitator?
  • If you were the facilitator, how would you have supported your persona?
  • What is something you would have liked to do differently?
  • How is this experience the same as your usual programming? How is it different?

Remind people that facilitation is a practice and that it’s always important to give time for reflection like this in order to keep improving.