What are your teams doing to stay connected virtually? Are there certain platforms or programs you have found to be most successful? Things you and your team have tried and it didn’t work? What is your best success you have found during this time to help your team?
For us, the biggest success has been Game Nights for our team via Discord. Just playing either Jackbox or Among Us on non-meeting nights has really started to re-boost and lift the fun back into the program that the pandemic derailed this year.
What programs/tools are you using to help with team meetings and stay connected during the Pandemic?
We use slack for primary communication and team management, but have been using discord for our voice and screensharing platform and it’s been super handy. We’re more focused on productivity than socializing, but we do want the work to be fun. Being able to view multiple streams at once enhances collaboration which gives meeting a good vibe, and we can play games like CAD speed runs and follow the leader. Some aspects of pre-covid meetings are lacking clearly, but our goal was to create something that’s a different sort of good that we can enjoy in the current situation, which means focusing on aspects that are conducive to remote work (CAD, Strat, Website Development, etc.)
3512 has a multi pronged approach to meeting virtually. We consodered it an adapt or die situation. I’ve summarized the platforms we use and how we use them below:
Slack: This is our main communication platform. All important information, discussion, and sub team meeting are hosted here. Slack is great for a multitude of reasons including: threads to keep discussion focused on certain topics, built in reminder system, easy 3rd party app Integration (like Trello, GitHub, Google Calendar), and for subteam meetings you can draw on drawn on screenshare which is nice for CAD particularly. One downside to Slack is the meeting limit size (15 people I think) for the free version we get for non profits.
Zoom: We use Zoom for team wide meetings. Additionally, we host live streams of our limited in person meetings. We purchased a Zoom subscription which we will probably continue with even during non Covid times.
Discord: this is primarily for subteam hangout sessions. The kids use this to play games together.
Trello: for issue tracking. Our Accounting team uses this the most.
Docusign: for signing documents electronically. This was instrumental for adding new kids for the 2020-2021 season.
The types of virtual meetings we do vary:
Tuesday/Thursday Subteam meetings (Slack/Zoom): individual meetings for each subteam to further training. We will also provide experienced kids with a laptop, camera, camera stand, and parts to host live demos from their homes on topics like using chain/chain breaks, assembling VersaPlanatary gearboxes, drilling and tapping, assembling our revised shooter, soldering and much more to come. This live interactive style of meeting has been a huge success and is the closest we can get to hands on training.
Friday All Team meeting (Zoom): our team captains host this to disseminate critical information and provide updates on what everyone is working on.
Friday Lead/Mentor meeting (Zoom): deeper discussion on the progress the team is making and planning for the future.
Saturday Organizing/Build session (Zoom/In-person): our district lets us have limited in person session (4 kids, 1-2 mentors in a room) to “organize”. The kids aren’t allowed to build anything, so we’ve used these to organize/renovate our build room. The mentors are still allowed to machine things so we’ve worked on a number of different projects like a shooter redesign and machining wheels out of AM Extrusion. We stream this on zoom have the kids design the parts, make drawings, and communicate instructions virtually for running the CNC to our Head Coach.
Saturday Software testing (Zoom/In-person): Simultaneously to the organizing sessions, we are also testing robot code remotely. Our software team is able to push code via a VPN, we only need 1-2 people in the room to operate the drive station and position/load the robot. We’ve made huge progress on our auton routines the past few months.
Our team uses everything you folks use except Discord.
We have similar meetings setup like you folks, except we do all team members in-person on Tuesday/Thursdays for 5-6 hours each day.
I cant stress enough how the in-person is helping against team attrition of students, mentors and volunteers. As hard as it is to do, the effort will pay huge dividends vs. trying to restart a team that hasnt met at all in-person for months.
Have to stay connected!
We applaud Hawaii’s Covid response - They are the currently the only state that Connecticut does not require quarantine after visiting. We are continuing Zoom CAD meetings and working in some build at home and programming Zoom meetings.