PI Network sessions were a mix of expert-led teaching or discussions and peer-to-peer audience discussions and best practice sharing. We found that a session that was purely expert-led resulted in participants feeling like they didn’t get a chance to hear from their peers or network, whilst a session that predominantly consisted of audience discussions led to feedback that asked for more information and directed learning.
We worked with facilitators to include guided discussions so that sessions were around one third peer-to-peer sharing discussions, with two-thirds facilitator-led teaching. Prompt styles for discussions varied with facilitator, however we found that shorter, more focussed discussions with the facilitator keeping the discussion on topic to be the most effective approach. Some participants are always more vocal than others, and our approach was to allow them time but to also ensure that we provided opportunities for participants we’d not heard from to speak up or to write comments in the chat function if they’d prefer.
Another way we included peer-to-peer learning in PI Network sessions was to invite 1-2 guest PI/MoR speakers for an event. The speaker would be well briefed in advance of the session so that they were aware of what was expected of them, and would talk from their experiences.
- Click here for an example PI Network session briefing for a guest PI/MoR speaker.
Since attendees could initially be from one of three higher education institutions across the North West of England, all PI Network events were held virtually using the platform Zoom. This provided that added advantage that we could record all or parts of the events to create video resources for those unable to attend the session, accessible via the Prosper portal. Where an event was being recorded, we paused the recording during discussions to ensure that discussion was not inhibited. We found that breakout rooms were sometimes viewed negatively, however feedback was more positive when the discussion prompts were more specific. We generally used breakout rooms in events where we had more than 15 participants for ease of discussion and to allow more people to actively participate.
Not every participant will find that an event works for them. Some may provide negative feedback after or even during the session itself. In the very rare cases a participant was negative during an event, we listened to their complaints and tried to understand their issues, explained our own rationale, and presented them with facts and information to support our statements. If this didn’t resolve the issue then we let them know they were more than welcome to stay for the remainder of the event but that they were under no obligation to do so. A participant leaving an event early is preferable to them disrupting the rest of the event or negatively impacting the safe discussion space the event created.