To help congregations that might be unfamiliar with the technical aspects of distance learning, here are some tips, suggestions, and links to helpful video tutorials to get your study groups online.
Many churches are using Zoom (https://zoom.us) video and audio chat to hold their small groups online. A free version is available that allows up to 100 participants to attend online meetings up to 40 minutes long. Screen sharing is available, which means the meeting host can share videos or photos that are on their computer with the group. A paid Pro Version is available for churches that need more attendees and longer meeting lengths.
Resource UMC has a fantastic webinar on how to set up and use Zoom for your church’s small groups. Watch now below.
Google Hangouts (https://hangouts.google.com/) is free and allows for video and audio chat for up to 10 participants. Screen sharing is also available. Some tutorials for getting started with Hangouts are below:
Skype (https://www.skype.com/) has been around for many years, and video chats are free for up to 25 participants. Screen sharing is also available. A tutorials for getting started with Skype is below:
Tips and Suggestions
- Practice. Become familiar with the technology yourself so that you may better help others.
- Know your group. Does everyone in your group have a computer? Do some have only smart phones? And do others have only tablets? How are the internet connections? Knowing this will help you find a meeting solution that lets everyone join in on the conversation.
- Do a trial run. Set up a time for everyone to test the technology and work out the kinks. Provide clear instructions, especially for those who may not be tech savvy (i.e., “When the computer asks to use the microphone, click ALLOW.”). Some will immediately catch on, while others may need more time.
- Ask a techie. You probably know someone who’s good with technology. Don’t hesitate to ask them for help!
- Be patient. Online groups are new for many people, so be patient with others and yourself. Perfection is not the goal. Fellowship and discipleship are the goals.