How is that possible – a scout and guide group meeting online?
Central components of a group meeting are games, outdoor exercise and community. This is difficult at a distance when you can’t see each other. But like us JOTA-JOTI shows boy scouts networked virtually long before Corona.
Dare to do it and just try it out! In this post, you’ll find a few tips that can help you get started. They are driven by the two questions:
- How does it work with the technology?
- What should we do in a digital group meeting?
1. Technology: How does it work?
What to look for when choosing a video conferencing tool?
To hold a group meeting online , of course, you need a video or telephone conference. There are various tools to choose from for this. For most of them, an organizer needs an account, sets up the conference and then sends a link to all participants. Differences can be found in price and data protection, but also in certain functions, such as chats, voting or the possibility of dividing into small groups. There are tools where you set up a fixed user group and all of them need a login. For others, only the organizer needs an account. Almost all tools have an app that you can install. For some, everyone has to install the app. My recommendation: think about what you need and deal with the options. There are various comparison articles. Here is an option to find out more from the magazine t3n (in german) .
What technology does the group need? Can they do that?
Most video conferences work on any smartphone. A tablet or laptop works in any case. For (older) computers, a camera and a headset or microphone and loudspeaker are also required.
Experience shows that most children who own a smartphone get along without any problems. Many children are familiar with video telephony. Some rovers and scouts can teach the leaders a lot. Use this potential!
What should be considered in the conference?
There are a few simple tricks that can make video conferencing better for everyone:
- Quiet surroundings and secure internet are essential for a relaxed video conference. So it’s best to find a quiet place with good WiFi. Neither you nor the others will enjoy the train 😉
- Headsets eliminate annoying noise pollution. A simple cell phone headset often works.
- Mute yourself: If it is loud in the background, everyone can mute themselves. With a large number of people in a conference, it helps if one person takes over the muting. Often, however, people start talking and forget to unmute themselfs. So try out whether you can do it without muting. Guideline: Muting makes sense for 10 people or more.
- Switch on video: In a conference you first speak with a screen. It helps a lot when everyone turns on their videos. Then you see reactions like nodding and laughing. However, when the internet connection is not so good, sometimes turning off the video is the only way to fully hear the sound. Many tools have the ability for a person to “disable” incoming video. So not everyone has to switch off the picture when someone has a bad connection.
2. Group meeting: What to do at the digital meeting?
Let’s get to the core: the actual group meeting – community, games, activity, collaborative projects. All of this also goes Online .
As in a normal group lesson, an initial ritual helps to arrive. Whether a song, a prayer, a chat where everyone tells something from the week. The same applies to the end. If you have fixed rituals, take them with you on the digital!
Many games can also be played Online . Here are some ideas for games that can be played online without additional programs. There are also websites with special games. Just look for your favorite game.
Anyone who has been to school (or homeschooling) all day needs exercise. A little creativity is required here. Of course you can’t play catch. But some other games where you have to move. Or try a dance workshop, yoga or a body workout. You can play instructions directly from YouTube. But it is nicer when someone prepares it (the ideas can come from YouTube) and explains it to the others in the group.
Handicrafts, experiments or baking cookies can also help. Send the children or young people a shopping list beforehand or, for a special highlight, a package with the material.
Joint projects or topics provide an incentive to come back. Think about what interests them together with the participants. The chat function can be used for brainstorming. Votes can take place by show of hands or by poll. An impulse or a task that everyone deals with can be set and these are then presented to each other.
If you are leading a team, you will soon notice that it is much more difficult to coordinate non-verbally and that a time delay makes it difficult to speak up. So it helps to have a main moderator: someone who coordinates who speaks when. Of course, the group children can also pass an imaginary speech ball on. Then it just has to be announced clearly. (“Whoever said something says who’s next”) The “raise hand” function can also be used or you can report to the camera. Somebody just has to keep an eye on that.