Recruiting and sharing comments from an audience with Google Forms

At the end of a long and hectic week with little sleep, I was on the way down to my final gig, the the annual ICCS Lecture at LT32 in NUS. Bleary-eyed after just two hours sleep that night, I rubbed my eyes and looked at registration – 100 people were signed up. They’d be a pretty serious bunch to come down to NUS on a Saturday morning at 9am!

Well, the lecture would arm them with a better understanding of marine life in Singapore and the issue of marine trash. There were four-parts and I was ready. I had about 2.5 hours of talking to do over a 3-hour slot which meant a comfortable two breaks.

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Now that the lecture was done, I felt there was too much, rem, lecturing! What could I do?

In June, the Public Hygiene Council’s first Keep Singapore Clean Conference invited suggestions from the floor with pen and pear and allowed time at the microphone later. The audience had responded very well! At my table, I got to hear from several concerned people and it was impressive.

Could I try this with the ICCS Lecture audience? I was now just ten minutes away from NUS.

Out came the MacBookPro, and I got on to the internet via my iPhone. I created a simple Google Form, obtained a tinyURL, prepared a slide and inserted that into two places – the beginning, to alert the audience we’d be thinking about solutions, and just before the solutions lecture, when the exercise would begin.

LINE ICCS Lecture Crowdsource

ICCS Zone Captains (ICCS Otters) were already at LT32 welcoming participants and talk to Organisers. They were active on our LINE chat room, and I described what was afoot and alerted them to help facilitate a session later.

With ICCS Otters Chen Kee, Dinesh, Kai Scene, Adriane, Airani, Oi Yee, Kah Meng, Hongxia, and Sean aware we’d try a crowd-sourcing session, they fanned out to encourage and facilitate responses when the session began.

It was really good to see the exchange going on. The ICCS Otters are very experienced at interaction from guiding at numerous Toddycats workshops and exhibitions!

It was also a nice way for me to take a break!

84 responses were submitted and I looked through them briefly and make comments before leading in to the last part of the lecture.

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As participants chatted and submitted ideas, I projected their input on the LT screen which is always interesting! Then I embedded it on the “News from the ICCS” blog, so there would be no delay in access.

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News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore | Battling marine trash on the beaches and mangroves of Singapore since 1992

The technique was primitive for sure, but already it helped to highlight the need to think about and implement solutions upstream in our urban environment. People also talked to each other to exchange and develop ideas, and enjoyed the camaraderie of motivated people.

I’ll share the comments with Organsiers and other volunteers as well with friends in the Public Hygiene Council. Some have provoked ideas and can be built on further.

Digital tools allowed this without additional logistics. Enough of the audience were internet-enabled to contribute. And they could support those without a smart phone, tablet or laptop. Of course this was also a keen audience, interested enough to submit ideas very quickly.

This was dreamed up in seconds, influenced by other things we do. With time to think, it could improve tremendously. In fact its worth a workshop of its own.

But already several other matters beckon.

This is why in ICCS we calm our idealistic chirping to make just one improvement each year. Else we’d keel over – we’ve been at this variously since 1997!

Next year then!

Thanks to Adriane Lee for the photos.

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