exchange of ideas

Thanet Creative’s first virtual meet-up

Today, Thanet Creative held a virtual meet-up as a test for running critique and training sessions online. This is an after action report of our first virtual meet-up on

How the virtual meet-up went

We used a platform called Jitsi which we chose due to the fact that all anyone needed to do was access a webpage. Jitsi is a set of open-source projects that allows you to easily build and deploy secure video conferencing solutions. It is a low latency peer-to-peer conferencing solution. Also, it is free.

After we took care of a few technical issues – making sure webcams were active and mics were all responding, things went pretty smoothly. Even when we added additional laptops to the conference, the platform never faltered.

We were able to share youtube videos, collaborate with a shared document, and share browser tabs.

Uses for Jitsi

Over the course of about an hour of playing about with the settings, we identified a number of potential use cases for future virtual meet-ups.

  • WordPress training
  • Livestream events
  • Virtual critique events
  • Writer chats
  • Collaborative writing

WordPress training

The screen sharing capabilities suggest that a virtual meet-up with Jitsi would be great for training.

This would be a training session presented by Matt (me) and Danny. While the session would have an overall theme – starting a blog, writing a post, posts vs pages, tagging, and embedding media – each session could be tailored to demonstrate answers to questions.

That is truly the power of the screen sharing feature. Not only can the session’s teachers talk you through what you are doing (if you share your screen) but they can show you how they do it too (if they share their screen).

Livestream events

Assuming that we can locate sufficiently interesting guests, it would be possible to use the platform to run a live streamed conference to our YouTube channel.

There are a few potential guests that suggest themselves. If you would like to be a guest, please get in touch.

Virtual critique events

One of the topics we explored (briefly) was adapting critique events for online use. Our “famous” model for critique events which we know other writer’s groups now use would have to change a little but it could be a good alternative for writers that cannot get out or who live a little too far away.

The most obvious way would be to pre-share written work in the days just prior to the feedback event. This would allow all participants a chance to read the work and form an opinion. Then, during the virtual meet-up, we could focus on offering feedback and discussing matters of technique that arise from the feedback.

Collaborative writing

I am not sure how or why exactly we would want to do this, but we could have a live shared writing session. That would certainly be a novel way to write a “writers explore” article for this blog.

This might be good for a brainstorming session. Who knows. The option is there…

What Jitsi cannot do

There are a few things Jitsi cannot do, none of which are a huge hurdle. Mostly because it would be unreasonable to expect Jitsi to do most of these things.

  • It can’t fix your PC.
  • Jitsi does not put the kettle on.
  • It will probably never make you look younger and more attractive than you actually are.
  • Becoming self-aware and take over the world – this is not likely to happen

What’s next?

After a very successful dry run, the next step is to hear from you to find out which event types appeal the most. We will be talking about Jitsi in our Facebook group. We will also be talking about which online events members of the group want to take part in.

I invite you to use these virtual event ideas for your own group. Please let us know how you get on with them.

For now, that is all there is to report. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or chat to us on Facebook.

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