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The Visitor vs. Resident concept by David White (https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3171/3049) made perfect sense to me from the beginning. Aren’t most of us often in visitor mode out of convenience? How many online workshops and webinars have I attended hoping I wouldn’t have to say anything? I was happy to participate via mentimeter or chat when invited to do so. Watched friends and acquaintances on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn without sharing anything substantial myself. So I didn’t have to leave my comfort zone. And yet I have always admired the people who actively share their opinions and reflections on LinkedIn and express themselves so eloquently, get feedback and likes and are further shared…

Earlier this year, I participated in a Working Out Loud (WOL) Circle.

WOL https://www.workingoutloud.com/; https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_out_loud) is a method where you practice, among other things, to be visible and to share (knowledge, thoughts, questions, problems…). Some of the exercises in the WOL workbook involve digital platforms such as social media. You start with simple tasks such as “liking”, then re-sharing, commenting and finally creating your own posts. Like this one, oops… 😉

But what are we afraid of when leaving a digital footprint? For me personally, it’s the fear of posting something that might not be 100% perfect or even wrong, that might cause controversy, that might not match the opinion of other people in my network. You expose yourself, make yourself vulnerable. In this context, the concept of psychological safety by Amy Edmundson (https://amycedmondson.com/psychological-safety/) came to my mind.

Most often, the concept refers to the workplace, but it can also be extended to other areas. Psychologically safe teams or groups are characterised, among other things, by the fact that everyone contributes to roughly the same amount (similar proportions of speech) and dares to speak out without fear of sanctions. So, as a workshop host, if I want my participants to be more involved, I try to create a climate of trust, or more specific, of psychological safety.

Here are some examples who to foster psychological safety in online training (found on https://www.td.org/blog/speaking-up-cultivating-psychological-safety-in-virtual-training):

Appreciation: What Gets Rewarded Gets Repeated
Encourage participation and give Positive reinforcement for students’ statements (even small ones) like “thanks for sharing” “very good question” “excellent point” or “anyone else?”

Keep Breakouts and Class Sizes Small
With 5-6 Participants in a breakout session, they are more likely to speak up. In my experience, if a group is too small (2-3) and rather introvert, it can also be an awkward situation. I find 4-6 People in a Group ideal to share information on a personal, but not to private level.

Anonymity as a Tool
Start with easy participation like in anonymous tools or by using the chat. IT can break the ice and make an active and visible discussion on a deeper level more likely

Create Psychological Safety Through Cultivation
As a facilitator, nurture virtual environments of transparency, respectful disagreement, support, and appreciation, so that speaking up surfaces naturally, for example by setting rules and principles.

What “tricks” do you use to get your students involved? Please DARE to SHARE! 🙂