A huge thanks to the panel (@Frank, @Janet, @Jessika_Richter, @Peter_Mui, @Stuart_Ward & @Vanessa_Ternes) for guiding us through their experiences running online repair (related) events and to everyone who came along!
Here are the notes from the session:
Thinking about running an online repair event?
Part 1: Lightning talks from the panel
Reading Repair Café has run a couple of ‘repair advice sessions’ so far. The idea is to connect repairers and keep the community of repairers going rather than fixing stuff for visitors.
Quite a lot of people with IT problems - a bit “chicken and egg” - advertising the dial-in aspect can help with this
- Just used Zoom because another group had a paid-for Zoom account - shared the costs
- Needed a paid-for account because of the 40min limit on free accounts (Peter Mui observes: I’ve noticed that Zoom is arbitrarily extending Zooms past 40 minutes, not sure how they decide)
- Curious about Jitsi and Daily.co
- Amongst the repair community, they’ve helped each other to fix stuff, locating the best resources and places to source spare parts
- Discussing issues with repairs
Stuart noted that these online events are “nowhere near” as effective as a physical event.
@Peter_Mui (Fixit Clinics) and @Jessika_Richter (Malmö Repair Café & Lund Repair Café)
Fixit Clinic and Lund Repair Cafe have teamed up to run a couple of events. A couple more coming up. Boulder U-Fix-It is also hosting events and we’re open to any community repair organization in the world hosting. We’d love to get some in Asia.
They’ve had two Virtual Fixit Clinics so far with participants from all over the world – Jarkarta, Paris, Cornwall, Boulder, Berkeley, Malmö – and Community Repairers from all over the world – Belgium, Sweden, The Netherlands and the US (California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Tennessee…)
Everyone’s welcome to attend – even if just to observe.
2020-05-09T17:00:00Z Virtual Fixit Clinic: Malmö Sweden (details here)
2020-05-17T17:00:00Z Virtual Fixit Clinic: Boulder Colorado US (details here)
Anyone wishing to come MUST sign up in advance to get the Zoom link (trying to keep out the Zoom bombers).
-> Community repairer sign up form: http://bit.ly/fixitcoachsignup
-> Participant check-in form: http://bit.ly/fixitcheckin
“Never let a good crisis go to waste”
- Repairing stuff that would be too big to bring to an event (like a screen door!)
- Participants from all over the world - Indonesia, France and Sweden - leveraging the global internet
- Registration helps guarantee there will be enough participants and helps the fixers prepare to teach/show
- Recording and sharing after the event
- Break-out rooms - grouping people (there is real interest in top tips for this in the chat)
- Extra people turning up
- Security with Zoom - extra prep and study needed (see below)
- Assigning people to breakout rooms (What’s a breakout room?)
Managing an event on Zoom: little things that seem important
- Distribute roles among multiple co-hosts
- Start 15 minutes early (lets the community repairers mingle, get settled)
- Encourage community by having everyone show themselves via video
- Ask everyone to edit their video window info to show full name and location
- Mute everybody at formal start
- Remind everyone of features like chat and Q&A
- Pin the video to the participant, make them full screen
- Introduce each participant (“Here’s Benoit from Paris France”)
- Give the participant ample time to introduce themselves and describe the item and the problem
- Put participant’s name, (location), item make and model in chat
- Have repairers introduce themselves when initially commenting “e.g. “Peter from Berkeley, have you tried… (changing the batteries?)”
- Allow for free-flowing conversation but be ready to mute all and resort to waving hands mechanism if it gets unwieldy
- Before moving on to the next participant/item ask “Is there anyone who hasn’t had a chance to speak yet (who wants to)?”
Click/tap here for extra details provided by Peter_Mui
Advantages of Virtual Fixit Clinics:
- Scales well, at least so far: can invite all of us to your online community repair events
- 30+ Fixit Coaches
- If it gets popular we can just hold more Virtual Fixit Clinics
- It’s creating a global community of Fixit Coaches, opportunities for cross-training
- All Fixit Coaches get to see all items: a great learning and (knowledge) sharing opportunity.
- Potential for seeing items too large or awkward / unweildy to bring to a community repair event
- Some people can do real time web research
- You can more easily perform a longer repair over multiple events (ask the participant to get a part or tool)
- Reaching people with no community event near them now
- Access a global pool of Fixit Coaches
- Can serve a global community of participants (Jarkarta, Indonesia, Paris, France, Cornwall, UK, Boulder CO, Berkeley CA)
- Forces the issue of fixing it for them
- Augmentation to in-person events (can prep people for in-person events, make house calls)
- Record Virtual Fixit Clinic for persistent content and to facilitate ongoing discussion
- Allows for ongoing interaction with participants and other community repairers through web forum
- More things are a combination of hardware and software, virtual events will parallel that trend with a different mix of things being presented (with different problems.)
Questions I’m asking through the Virtual Fixit Clinic experiments:
- Can we (effectively) reach community repairers globally? (and people with the potential to be community repairers?)
- Can we grow that pool of community repairers?
- Can we collect and grow participants? Can we identify participants with the mindset to become community repairers themselves?
- Can we hold live virtual community repair events that everyone – both community repairers and participants – find entertaining and compelling while they’re watching live?
- Can we create associated persistent content based on these community repair events that people will engage and interact through out-of-band? (e.g. recordings, web forum)
- Can we leverage this moment to build a global network for rapid response repair of community-owned items, public assets?
- Can we reinforce repair and maintenance as critical elements necessary for a resilient civilization?
@Frank (Marlow Repair Café)
Marlow Repair Café have also run a virtual repair event using Zoom, but without pre-registration.
They didn’t get as many people as they wanted on the call but it was good to link up with volunteers and for new volunteers.
Teaching a bike tire change - a great example of someone doing something themselves
- Ends up being very hands-on and DIY, more so than the “normal” event
- Queue management system -> assigning complex repairs to breakout rooms
@Janet (The Restart Project)
Shared two things, not really community repair events, but online engagement:
“Asynchronous” repair help - #FixAtHome
We’re helping people via social media, using our Forum to triage and come up with repair advice
We suspect that many people - including our volunteers - are over-booked for online events, meetings, screentime, etc
“Mobiles Come from the Earth”
First event for 30minutes, aimed at 10 year olds+. 39 people turned up about one-third brought kids. Read the full write-up here: Earth Day activity "Mobiles Come from the Earth" - The Restart Project
While not talking about repair explicitly, kids inevitably mention it as a solution and get a taster for looking inside of electronics. Would like to partner with teachers and institutions to deliver these live, and we aim to deliver them to classroom-sized groups.
Vanessa talked about two kinds of community-building events Restart has run:
Skillshares between volunteers
One volunteer facilitates, demos and presents something that others can try at home. Lasts about 90 minutes. This worked well with a topic like “spare parts” (details here) that is broad enough but can allow some physical or hands-on demos. We’re thinking about running a similar session on circuit building (using digital breadboard tools).
Two hour, no-obligations video call + game (Pictionary) - this helps people who might not feel socially up for video chat. Created a real casual community feel and helped people stay in touch with people that they used to see really frequently
In addition to the events described above, Restart also ran an online hackathon-style event to document repair knowledge online: Online Wikithon: learn and share repair advice!
Part 2: Questions and Answers
1. @Sol_Moyano: what are the opportunities of online?
@Frank: the DIY aspect. Participants are forced to be doing the work! Also the international aspect
@Peter_Mui: it scales well, 30+ Fixit Coaches at one event. We’d love to have one in every time zone. All coaches get to see all items - learning opportunity that we don’t have at events where coaches focus on a specific device. People are more likely to repeat or follow-up on repairs, and follow-up is easier. Reach out to people who are geographically isolated.
2. @Melina_Scioli: what is the balance between repairers and participants/items - what is manageable?
@Jessika_Richter: We have many more repairers than participants. 35:5 in the last event. English was the default language, but they were prepared to breakout by language.
3. Question about health and safety
@Frank: When someone came to an event with a problem with a battery in a scooter, we stressed for participants not to tamper with batteries.
@Jessika_Richter: Understand the security features of Zoom, they are NOT enabled by default. Think about how to protect the space.
@Janet: Safeguarding is important if you are accepting or advertising to under-18s. You want to choose a platform that allows you to disable participants video and audio at all times, disable private chats between participants and allow the host or moderator to remove people.
4. Should there be limits to what can be fixed?
Group: That’s part of the fun. Just take everything/all
@Peter_Mui: there is some art of “curating” in advance, perhaps helping boring/easy repairs happen before the event
@Jessika_Richter: If anything, it’s hard to know when to cut it off!
5. @Susan_Waite: What about recording? How to ask for and get consent from participants
@Jessika_Richter: Zoom is GDPR compliant by design - once a call starts to be recorded, it will ask participants whether they are happy to stay in the call or not.
@Peter_Mui: The pre-registration form confirms this to participants.
@Vanessa_Ternes: It’s a good idea to notify people in advance in writing so that they know what attending means.
Find the notes as taken during the session (including a transcript of the live chat) here