Respect and the Multi-Generational Workplace

Diverse Roles Common Goals with Ruth-Anne Klassen

First Fridays @ 5: Join the Conversation

November 5, 2021

Hosted by Ruth-Anne Klassen

The November 5, 2021, presentation of First Fridays @ 5 centered on working with people of various ages in the workplace. I covered the depth of groups present in the workforce, focused on Generation Z, the issue of ageism and how to address it, and ideas for working with people of different ages.

First, I familiarized everyone with one classification of today’s generations that are present in the workplace. This kind of division is a social construct, one way of describing the diversity of people. Generational groups vary widely, so it is uncommon to identify fully with your assigned age group.

I briefly described the different age groups that are present in the workforce. Traditionalists (born 1946 or earlier) are often respectful of authority, recognize their hard work to get to their position, stay with their employers long-term, and prefer traditional methods of communication like hand-written notes. Baby Boomers (1945 to 1964) act as great team players, prefer leadership tactics like empowerment and collaboration, are skeptical of authority, but place a high value on their personal experience. Generation X (1963 to 1980) is the Latchkey generation, often the children of divorced parents, who are often self-reliant, efficient, and hard-working. Millennials (1981 to 1996) care about growth and development, as well as having autonomy and challenge, and want supportive bosses who care about their well-being and job engagement, not just financial goals. Generation Z (1997 to 2012) vary greatly in their stage of life, from elementary school to early career. Generally, they are dependent on technology, care about diversity, individuality, and personal expression.

If we look more closely at what people are saying about Generation Z, much of it contradicts. For example, many observe that Gen Z is a digital generation, comfortable using phones for everything from schoolwork to ordering food delivery. However, numerous Gen Zs also prefer in-person work, not necessarily remote or digital positions. This includes having training, receiving feedback, and general communication in person. Many are fiscally conservative, spending carefully, choosing stable jobs, and making smart investments to attain financial security. Others are more risk-tolerant and entrepreneurial and prefer the flexibility of gig work or owning their own business.

Many employees today also deal with ageism, which is discrimination of people based on chronological age. Workers over the age of 40 are more likely to face this kind of discrimination, from the job search to derogatory myths about them on the job. If we are to separate myth from likelihood, everyone is different and has a niche somewhere. Ageism can be subtle and socially acceptable but still a point of discomfort. To address ageism, don’t just hear what is said about people, but listen to all perspectives and focus on different benefits that different people offer. Mature workers are experienced in handling workplace politics, are better at communicating, and have helpful traits like caution and levelheadedness. Another approach is to recognize the similarities across generations i.e., desire to receive fair pay and to create a better quality of life.

A critical factor amongst co-workers is the meaning of respect, as a survey showed that different generations define respect differently (Deal, 2006). Older people were more likely to answer that respect comes with age. Younger people, however, were more inclined to answer that respect can be a mutual understanding, regardless of age or seniority, something gained by making good decisions and treating people well. To keep the peace at work, try to give people the respect that everyone wants. Younger people might show respect for older workers’ experience, while older folks can respect the talent, character, and potential of younger people.

Intentional bonding can be fruitful for all involved. Traditional mentoring can allow an older person to pass on their wisdom to a younger person,  giving the less experienced person a leg up in their career. Reverse mentoring is when a younger person helps an older one, often in technology or other skills, they could use in their careers. Cross-generational mentoring also involves cultivating relationships, but if participants are equals, not the one-sided mentoring relationship. Still, the elder shares what they know and upgrade their skills and knowledge, while the younger learn from an older person and advance their career.

From the discussion that followed:

The conversation involved much talk about the different ways we show respect for people, from honoring their preferred name and title to avoiding subtle discrimination.

When looking at traits of the different generations, one attendee noted that people in a generation try to avoid being like their parents but try to be like their parents’ parents. For example, Gen Xers will try not to act like Boomers but to act like Traditionalists. Also related to age and technical writing, age-related changes in abilities can create different needs for user experience. For example, a person might need different specifications for types and sizes of fonts and white space.

Certain people, such as those in Gen X, are conditioned to respect people of a greater age by calling them by a title, even when a first-name-basis may be appropriate. We have different levels of formality for different environments since we are conditioned to address people differently. For example, we can’t bring ourselves to call a former professor by their first name, only by their title. However, another participant cautions to be careful or avoid using a title like Mrs., as such titles assume gender and that a surname is a married name, not a maiden name.

Regarding respect, we might treat people with respect because civility is a professional attitude, even when we don’t respect them. When respecting what people want to be called, remember that respect starts with listening.

Participants related on changing a birth name to a different name and how friends, family, and others don’t always know to call a person by their current name. According to Miss Manners, one participant said, people use the name they first knew you. They probably do not have bad intentions, it is generally polite to forgive them and let them call you by the name they feel comfortable using.

On the topic of changing names, there was a situation where a group of transgender high school students wanted to display their current name, not their “dead” name, on their diplomas. Legality prohibits the schools from doing this.

Although we assume that leadership personnel are advanced in years, it sometimes occurs that a manager is significantly younger than you. We might even learn a lot from younger people, as everyone has something unique to contribute.

When we talk about discrimination, we might start to think about the character of a person making discriminatory remarks or how relatable those remarks are. Though discrimination is unpleasant to deal with, we might remember that all discrimination is unconscious bias, which we might all relate. Still, it could also be said that what comes out of a person’s mouth indicates how they think. Even seemingly innocent or well-intentioned moves like correcting a person’s spelling can be unconscious bias, as we are assuming education levels and English as a first language when there may be exceptions or learning in progress.

Overall, the conversation after the First Fridays @ 5 focused on names, respect, and how we might create better workplaces for different people in the workforce.




“Benefits of Cross-Generational Networking.” Published August 2, 2019. Insala. Accessed November 5, 2021.

Carmichael Lester, Margot “Q&A: Myths and management of the multi-generational workforce.” SmartBrief. Accessed November 5, 2021.

Deal, Jennifer, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young and Old Can Find Common Ground. (2006). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. As cited in “The Myth of Generational Differences in the Workplace.” American Management Association. Accessed November 5, 2021.

Eddy, Nathan. “Combating Age Discrimination in Technology Hiring.” Dice. Accessed November 5, 2021.

“Generational Differences in the Workplace [Infographic].” Purdue University Global. Accessed November 5, 2021.

“How to Improve Your Active Listening Skills at Work.” Image from Robert Half Talent Solutions. Accessed November 5, 2021.

“How to Thrive in a Multi-Generational Workplace.” MindTools. Accessed November 4, 2021.

Kapoor, Devon. “BC Human Rights Tribunal v Schren: Employment Discrimination and Access to Justice.” Image from webpage published January 9, 2018. Accessed November 5, 2021.

Kronos Incorporated. “Full Report: Generation Z in the Workplace.” Workforce Institute. Accessed November 5, 2021.

Marcus, Bonnie. “Cross-Generational Networking is a Win-Win for Employees and Their Organization. So Why Don’t We Do It?” Published January 11, 2021. Accessed November 5, 2021.

MinervaStudio. Image from “How to Thrive in a Multi-Generational Workplace.” MindTools. Accessed November 4, 2021.

Moll, Rhonda. “So Happy Together: Managing Five Generations at Work.” Employment Practise Solutions. Accessed November 5, 2021.,the%20differences%20among%20them%2C%20including%20the…%20More%20

“Roundtable Discussion Description.” Image from NISOD. Accessed November 5, 2021.

“Top 5 Benefits of Reverse Mentoring.” Mentoring Complete. Accessed November 5, 2021.

Weinstein, Bob. “How Five Generations Can Effectively Work Together.” Reliable Plant. Accessed November 5, 2021.

“What are the Core Characteristics of Generation Z?” Last edited April 14, 2021. The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

We Went Around the World in Zoom!

First Fridays at 5 Around the world with Virtual Backgrounds 20210903

First Fridays at 5: Join the Conversation

September 3, 2021

Hosted by Ruth-Anne Klassen

For the September 3rd edition of First Fridays @ 5, we took the grade school concept of Show n’ Tell to a virtual level, and we had the coolest class in attendance! At the meeting titled “Around the World with Virtual Backgrounds,” we displayed real-life pictures in our Zoom background and told the stories behind them. After getting a primer on how to change our backgrounds, we received invitations to post pictures in the background according to a given theme.

To change the virtual background in Zoom:

Once you are part of a Zoom meeting and have allowed Zoom to use the computer camera, there will be a “Stop Video” button displayed. Hover over the button and select the ^ icon within it.

Stop Video button

You should be given a menu to click on the “Select Virtual Backgrounds…” option.

Choose Virtual Background

A new menu will appear, where you can either choose from Zoom’s selection of backgrounds or click on the + icon to add an image from your computer.

Virtual Background options

We first invited the group to take us to places they had visited, in the form of pictures. Our group has collectively traveled places such as a snowy field in Halifax, their own home in Virginia, a giant tipi in Alberta, and a rocky seaside. Also on display was a beerhouse in Germany, a shark from vacation, and newly captured wedding photos. Though the sight of snow was unheard of to some, others described how common snow is in their part of the world.

The conversation became tinged with pride and fondness as we shared images of some of our closest friends, animals and humans. Multiple dogs appeared in backgrounds, varying from young and old, innocent and mischievous. Others had chickens or a turtle, while one group member displayed a picture of their loved ones in a family band.

We showed we are not only technical writers but well-rounded hobbyists, as we revealed what we do in our free time. We learned designing quilts is a task that becomes easier with specialized technology, and another group member likes to read books and visit libraries. One group member enjoys providing leadership at Vacation Bible School, while another shared a product of their photography pastime.

The most appetizing part of the conversation was when we showed off culinary creations. A loaf of bread would have eclipsed the group member’s head due to how big it looked in her background, while a buffet in a German hotel was a widespread affair. The group could almost feel the texture and flavor of a home-cooked French dish, and the comfort meal from Popeye’s also sounded satisfying. Still, there’s a reason we might not photograph food—we made food to dig in, not to take pictures of it. The food tasted delicious but did not prove itself in picture-worthy aesthetics.

Overall, the meeting was a lively time to learn more about IDL regulars and welcome fresh faces among us. The pictures provided a way for us to bond over tales of common experiences and learn more about group members’ lives outside of technical writing.

What’s up With Slack? Understanding the Benefits and How to Use It

First Fridays at 5: Join the Conversation

August 6, 2021

Hosted by Anita Matechuk

We join organizations like STC to network and have discussions with our peers. Slack allows us to communicate with other like-minded members between events. Schools and businesses are recognizing the importance of peer-to-peer learning and the benefits of using messaging apps.

You can join STC’s Slack workspace using the following link. Slack | Society for Technical Communication (

Everyone can access their desired information when it is convenient for them, so no one is excluded from the conversation. Also, full team communication isn’t limited to reply-all email chains. It is often faster to send a message through a messaging app than by sending an email.

You can belong to multiple workspaces, just like you can have multiple filing cabinets. Each workspace owners and admins decide the rules for using their workspace. Rules like whom you can invite into the workspace, allowable channels and topics, and posting formats can vary from workspace to workspace. Slack informs you of what workspace you are in with a highlighted icon on the left-hand side.

You can update your profile information at any time using the edit profile option. However, your display name and email address are the 2 most important pieces of information to provide. Update your profile name to suit the workspace you are in, like including your job title or volunteer role. Your email address is where Slack sends all your notifications. You want to ensure that information is correct; otherwise, team members can’t contact you.

To create or edit your profile:

  1. Select your profile icon at the top of the page.
  2. Select edit profile.

While it can be convenient to have Slack notify you of every message, sometimes you need to set some boundaries. For example, you might be interested in a channel topic but don’t want to get constant updates, or maybe there are times in your day that you need a do not disturb message. You can set the notifications for each channel separately or for the entire workspace.

Set your notifications for each channel based on your interest in the topic. Change your notifications for the entire workspace under your profile using the statuses, pause notifications, or preferences options. For example, you can set up a notification schedule or just pause your notifications during important events.

Slack lets you notify your team members if you are in a meeting and have your notifications paused, away from your desk, or on holidays. You can choose from the standard settings and time limits or create your own. For example, I could create a different availability schedule for each of my workspaces or select a status to let people know I’m currently away from my desk.

There is another option to tell people you are away from your desk. You can set yourself as away, which turns off the green dot notifying people you are online. This option doesn’t turn off until you set yourself as active again.

You can have a discussion in a channel or through the direct message function. Choose the option with the features that are appropriate for your conversation.

Channels are for conversations with a defined topic, and you join the channels with the topics that interest you. While the main topic of conversation doesn’t change, the people having the conversation can. For example, STC has a channel for #sig-instructional-design. Individuals interested in what is happening in the IDL SIG can join or leave the channel as desired. The topic of the conversation doesn’t change, but the people do.

Channels can be for public or private conversations. With public channels, people in the workspace choose to be a part of the conversation. While with private channels, they need an invitation to join, similar to needing a key to access a locked filing cabinet drawer. Private channels are labelled with a lock instead of the usual hashtag. They are only visible to individuals in the channel.

These messages are for conversations that don’t require the entire team’s input and aren’t related to defined topics. Additionally, these conversations are private. While individuals in the conversation can choose to add or remove members, individuals in the workspace can’t join independently.

For example, I could create a direct message conversation in STC’s Slack to say hi to another student. I would choose the direct message option as the conversation wouldn’t be of any value to the rest of the organization, and the topics we discuss could change. However, we can add other people to our direct message conversation.

You can send it to a channel (or direct message), reply in a thread, or you can reply in a thread and send it to a channel (or direct message). Slack displays the 3 styles of messages differently. For example, you can only view replies in the thread by selecting the blue reply option below a message or viewing all your threads. Choose how you compose your message based on how Slack notifies individuals of the messages.

Slack displays the channel name in white to show there are unread messages in the channel. The message appears on the main screen of the channel. Slack also sends notification messages to individuals in the channel with their notifications turned on.

Slack links the conversation together, so the entire conversation can be viewed in the thread. Unfortunately, the reply doesn’t show on the main screen of the channel, so Slack doesn’t show there are unread messages in the channel. Still, Slack notifies individuals in the conversation that they have unread threads. A common practice in social media is to reply “following” to a conversation when you are interested in the conversation but don’t have any input. Following ensures Slack notifies you of any additions in the conversation.

Slack links the conversation together, so the entire conversation can be viewed in the thread. In addition, the reply shows on the main screen of the channel, so Slack shows there are unread messages in the channel. Therefore, Slack notifies individuals in the channel that they have unread messages.

Use this feature when the individual must know about your message. For example, tag an individual to let them know of an assignment, ask them a question, or congratulate them. Tag the channel to notify everyone in the channel of your message or tag everyone in the entire workspace. Slack warns you about using @channel and @everyone. Tagging everyone might be a fast way of notifying people of a fire in the building; it probably isn’t the best for telling them there is cake in the breakroom.

Celebrate, give your approval, or let everyone know you are looking into it all with one reaction. Of course, if you can’t find the right reaction emoji, you can always add your own.

There is a lot of information available on Slack, and it can be overwhelming at first to know the channels you want to join. Using the search function to find the conversations that interest you can be a great way to start. The search function is also helpful to find the conversation that you remember seeing but now can’t remember where.

Instructional Design in the Hobby Industry

First Fridays at 5: Join the Conversation

June 4, 2021

Hosted by Anita Matechuk

I didn’t set out to create a virtual flipped classroom. I didn’t know what instructional design was when I started, let alone a flipped classroom. All I wanted was to prevent my dying in-person quilt guild from completely disappearing during the COVID-19 restrictions.

In May 2020 (a couple of months into the first set of restrictions), another guild member asked if I knew how we could get together and still follow the restrictions. So we created a quilting trunk show where we met in a parking lot, and each of us displayed our quilts in the trunk of our cars. At the event, I mentioned I started using Facebook to see the new fabric our local fabric shop was selling.

The comments of “Oh, I’ll have to try that as I just need something to look forward to!” got me thinking. I went home and started researching what online options were available. I decided a Facebook group offered us the best option to share what we were working on and communicate with each other.

Connecting to my virtual audience

I spent the next year converting my tiny in-person quilting guild into a functional virtual guild. We had 20 members on our email distribution list, and only 5 people paid to come to our events. This year taught me that some quilters have difficulty using technology and need encouragement to try it. For example, when we went virtual, we struggled to deal with the reply-all email chains and adopting the new virtual platforms.

I won’t lie; the overwhelming response of 5 interested members in my newly created Facebook group was a little disappointing. I had thought I was the only 1 not on Facebook. Still, I continued to post to the Facebook group and email the invitations each month.

The Facebook group had the added benefit of easily allowing members to invite other quilters to the group. By the time all the distribution list members joined the Facebook group, our membership had almost doubled to 9 paying members.

We went back into heavy restrictions the day of a planned in-person quilting event. So, I decided to give my guild something to look forward to, and I began posting to our Facebook group. I talked about how I was still going to quilt and that this was my guilt-free quilting day. I said I was excited about not packing my equipment, hauling it through the snow, or putting on socks. I posted what I was working on throughout the day and asked them to share what they were working on. Little by little, the replies came in, and by the end of the day, it felt like we had a quilting event.

Looking for ways to increase engagement, I added a virtual morning chat in a Facebook room to our monthly events. In addition, I started creating contests, posting daily, and arranging for presentations on our virtual quilting days to keep people engaged between meetings.

Wanting to focus on the benefits of virtual events over in-person events, I increased the quilting events from once a month to every 2 weeks. To prevent fatigue and encourage interaction, I planned 2 activities instead of an all-day virtual meeting on each event day. We had a 1 hour morning chat and a 2 hour noisy sewing time in the afternoon.

The morning chat was when we showed what we were working on and had guest presentations. The noisy sewing time was when we sewed together, showed what we accomplished that day, and supported each other in our successes and failures.

As the demand for human interaction grew, so did our events and members. The group that was terrified of trying new technology collected enough new guild memberships to cover a professional Zoom membership cost rather than lose the virtual events.

Our 1 hour of virtual chatting for 5 people once a month has grown to 2 virtual events every other Saturday for up to 20 people from our 50 person guild. We don’t know if we are going back to regular in-person events. However, the flexibility of the virtual events has created enough new members to ensure we are continuing with the virtual events.

Learning my audience’s needs

It was the personal interaction that made the quilting days special. We often sewed at home alone, so I focused on encouraging the interaction during these events. I used Zoom’s spotlight feature on anyone holding up their work or asking questions. Spotlighting allowed everyone to see what they were talking about during questions and ooh and awe over each other’s work.

Interaction still occurred if I didn’t spotlight, but it mainly revolved around general conversation instead of peer-to-peer learning. The guild members didn’t show their favorite tool or ask for help. People stopped watching their screens and focused more on what they were doing as there was nothing to see on the screen. The quilting conversations dwindled, and conversations about the weather and current events started.

I went back to school to get a certificate in technical communications. In my first class, I discovered Adobe InDesign. To get comfortable using the program, I designed quilt patterns. By sharing my designs with my captive audience, I learned what issues could cause people to struggle with my patterns. So with every new pattern I wrote, I tried to fix the issues people had with the previous patterns.

I joined more quilting Facebook groups to have access to a larger audience. I joined other designers’ quilt-a-longs to see what I liked and disliked about their patterns and read the customer complaints. Access to the complaints was a massive advantage for me. It was easier to read complaints about someone else’s product and found issues I wanted to address in my patterns.

The issues I discovered I needed to address in my patterns were:
  • Customers sometimes choose not to print in color to save money and use fabric colors that don’t match the pattern. Therefore, illustrations need to be in black and white to prevent customer confusion.
  • Customers have more difficulty retrieving a portable document format (PDF) from a Facebook posting than from a website or email.
  • Some customers skip the pattern steps they feel they already know how to do and make mistakes. Therefore, I need to provide the requirements necessary for each step to work. Providing the requirements allows the customer to confirm if they need to correct what they have done or if it’s okay to use it for the pattern.
  • I found it annoying to print an additional piece of paper for 1 line of text.
  • I struggled to keep a class pattern together and in order when it came separately for each class. So, I wanted to include page numbers and the total page count for the entire pattern.

Discovering instructional design

One of my guild members had noticed our local recreation center was looking for hobby instructors and informed me that I should apply. The interviewer stopped me in the middle of the tell me a little about yourself part to say, “Oh, I know you. You are that quilting lady that creates the programs my boss is so excited about!”

Getting hired that way, I realized I didn’t just want to teach how to make a quilt but to create an enjoyable experience while the students make it. Students who take classes in the hobby industry aren’t just looking for instructions; they want to participate in an enjoyable social activity. It isn’t about the need to learn but for their enjoyment. So, I needed to determine the virtual classroom style that would create this experience.

My current guild members have varied years of experience and training. Some have been quilting longer than I have, but they have never taken a class before. Others have joined me in most of the classes I’ve taken. So I needed to create an enjoyable class for my quilting peers that didn’t overwhelm my students with new technology and was easy enough for beginners to understand.

Choosing the flipped classroom style

There are 3 main classroom styles in the hobby industry lecture, standard, and flipped. While all of them allow the students to engage in social activities, certain styles are better at instructing and entertaining them. When the world went virtual in 2020, each style changed, and some styles handled it better than others.

Neither the lecture nor the standard classroom style provides the experience I wanted my students to have. Virtual lecture classrooms are not much different from free YouTube videos. Without the ability to mingle and meet your idol, they tend to lose their appeal. Virtual standard classrooms do not allow wandering around your students to observe and instruct. It is hard to provide that one-on-one teaching experience they are known for without this personal touch.

The flipped classroom style works really well in the hobby industry as the students’ skill levels vary greatly in each class. They often take a class without considering their skill level because they want the social activity or the project. Each student can learn at their own pace by receiving the instructions before the class. Beginner students can read and watch the instructions until they understand a complicated procedure. In contrast, a more advanced student only needs to review the instructions once.

Many hobby instructors have added online courses to their virtual class offerings. While this idea intrigued me, I didn’t feel it would suit my audience. Instead, I felt the flipped classroom style would provide the best student experience for my virtual quilting class. In addition, I didn’t want to spend my class time dealing with students trying to download and print the class instructions.

Creating my virtual flipped classroom

The virtual environment is well suited for the flipped classroom style, as delivering the learning materials through email or website downloads allows communication to happen outside class sessions. In addition, well-timed reminders to complete homework assignments and additional instruction deliveries encourage maximum class participation. Finally, adding a social media platform to handle class sharing allows student interactions between classes, increasing peer-to-peer learning.

The genres and tools my virtual flipped classroom required:
    • PDF pattern with all the instructions to make the quilt. The pattern had to be printable in black and white on letter-sized paper. The pattern needed to be split into classes but include page numbering as if it was 1 document. All graphics needed to be illustrations, not photographs, to prevent confusion due to fabric selections.
    • PowerPoint presentation to show tips I’ve learned to make quilting easier. All graphics needed to be photographs, not illustrations, to create an in-person demonstration look.
    • Emails to let the students know what to expect from me and what they needed to do.
    • Facebook group to provide the peer-to-peer learning platform.
    • Zoom meeting platform to provide our virtual meeting space.

    I had a major advantage for my class; they really wanted to get started. The moment the students signed up, they asked for the instructions to prepare for the first class. I had quilters emailing me for the instructions before the community center had even emailed me the list of students!

Sending a welcome package

I decided to build off their initial excitement, so I emailed a welcome package to my students a few days earlier than my 1 week before class plan. In the email, I explained how and when they would receive instructions, get help from me, an invitation to a private Facebook group, and a PDF with a supply list and pre-class instructions.

Engaging before class

As soon as I had students join the Facebook group, I posted the fabrics I used to make the class quilt and asked the students to share theirs. Then, a few days before the first class, I posted a picture of my completed pre-work and asked if they were as excited for the class to start as I was. As replies came in, I emailed them invitations with the Zoom meetings’ information.

The day before each class, I emailed them a PDF of the instructions for the class. I sent them close to the class time to create an urgency to read and print them right away. The students needed time to read and print the instructions but not enough time to complete the class assignment. This timing was a bit of a balancing act as some of my students struggled to keep up, and others couldn’t wait and ended up making 2 quilts during the class.

Interacting during class

I emailed an appointment reminder 15 minutes before each class, stating I was logging in early to help people get logged in. Every single student signed in early.

I started the class with a show and tell session. I used Zoom’s spotlight feature on each student and asked them to state their name and tell us about their fabric selection. To say they were shocked at being the center of attention is a bit of an understatement. I think some were terrified of being on camera with people they didn’t know, and they paid money for me to teach them and found it strange that I wasn’t the center of attention.

The half an hour of sharing their hobby helped them get comfortable being in a virtual meeting. Next, I started my PowerPoint slide show to show pictures of each part of the class instructions. I shared tips on what made each step easier and why I chose specific processes in my pattern. I kept my total presentation to under 15 minutes in each class, and I only taught 1 step at a time.

I explained that the goal for the class was for everyone to be able to try everything while I was there to answer questions. So I sent them off to follow their printed instructions, a little surprised they just paid all this money on a 2-hour class for 15 minutes of teaching.

Human interaction was what made a $10 pattern worth paying $70 to attend a class. So, I planned to create the experience I wanted my students to have instead of focusing on teaching. A few minutes later, my students realized the value of this class when they asked the first question. I spotlighted the person asking the question, and the other students rushed back to their screens to see what was going on. Not only was I able to answer the question, but other students wanted to show off their work. So I spent the class encouraging conversation, spotlighting progress, and prompting students to try the next steps.

My students were surprised at how quickly the time passed and finished the class, still excited to continue. I ended each class by reminding them to post their pictures on the Facebook group and that I was available for questions between classes through the Facebook group or email.

Encouraging after class

After each class, I posted a picture of my completed classwork in the Facebook group, saying I couldn’t wait to see theirs. In addition, the post included a listing of the minimum they needed to complete to get the most out of the next class. Providing a minimum encouraged the students to be ready for each class without requiring everyone to work at the same pace.

The students posted their questions and shared their successes in the Facebook group. I liked posts, answered questions, and encouraged when needed but let the students comment on each other’s work. This peer-to-peer learning created more excitement for the next class. After the class was over, it also continued as each student completed their project and posted their results.

Learning from my virtual flipped classroom

The 3-week class ended with completed quilts and excited quilters with plans to make more. Yes, I provided a pattern, taught beginners to quilt, and taught them how to use Zoom and Facebook. Still, they could have gotten this instruction free from the internet. Instead, they asked for more classes not because of what I could teach them but because I provided them with the opportunity to connect and learn from their peers. In my class, experienced quilters learned something new, beginners gained a support network, and we all remembered how much fun it was to quilt with friends.

I still have a lot to learn about instructional design and the flipped classroom. For instance, it would have been easier for the students to remember my tips if I had separated them even more for each step. Also, by only reviewing the tips right before we tried each step, I could better transition to the next part of the class and help the students learn.

The students need to be the star of the flipped classroom. As the instructor, you prepare everything in advance and then step back while encouraging your students. The hours spent creating the training materials are worth it when you see the experience you created for your students.

We’re Having Drinks After Work

First Fridays at 5: Join the Conversation

July 2, 2021

By Ruth-Anne Klassen

The July 2nd meeting of First Fridays at 5 was a relaxed get-together, where the only thing on the agenda was catching up with IDL group members. 8 or 9 people tuned in, and some had cool drinks of different kinds (as many attempted to cope with a heatwave in their respective areas). Virtual backgrounds were a recurring theme in the conversation since every picture held a story from someone else’s world. Thus, the group heard about fossil displays, quilting projects, and Indigenous skateboard art. A few had stories about exploring science museums, and others reminisced about their time in the Chicago area, where the 2022 STC Summit is taking place. The group also looked forward to the shorter term, though, as they received reminders about upcoming IDL events, like sessions on internet memes and Slack.