Lockdown has changed all of our lives in so many ways and the initial stages of the lockdown were filled for many with fear and sadness. While these emotions may persist many now feel the need to move forward and try to squeeze some positives out of this terrible situation. As we emerge carefully from the isolation of lockdown the new restrictions imposed to keep us safe still prevent us from doing so many of the things we love. One of those things is face-to-face workshops. Every workshop tutor, including me, has seen their carefully constructed program of workshops cancelled or indefinitely postponed. In virtually all cases the workshop spaces provided by bead shops are simply not big enough to allow for social distancing of a class of 12 students and this situation is unlikely to change in the near future. However, one of the unexpected benefits of lockdown has been that people have had to learn how to communicate effectively using virtual methods. Many businesses have learnt that a virtual meeting can be just as, if not more, effective than getting people together in person. This benefit extends into personal lives keeping families and together and people who would previously not have considered using this sort of technology have now found how easy it is to use. This provides an exciting opportunity for the crafting world, allowing tutors and students to connect across the globe as never before and I am very excited to be able introduce my brand new program of virtual workshops via the zoom platform – Zoomihimo by Prumihimo!
I have spent the last month working hard to work out exactly how and what I would like to teach. Although I have many years of experience of teaching in workshops and of demonstrating on television and YouTube I quickly realised that new skills and methods are required for virtual teaching. In my regular workshops I keep circulating around the room so I can see at a glance if someone is struggling, but in a virtual class this is not possible, so I have had to find new ways of making sure that everyone is getting the attention they need. Part of my research included attending virtual workshops as a student so that I could assess the experience and decide what worked well for me and what I would like to do differently. One of the great pleasures of attending a regular workshop is meeting and interacting with other enthusiasts, so it is very important to try to find ways of ensuring that participants of a virtual workshop get to know other students and have some sense of working together. This is probably the biggest challenge, but I believe that through adapted teaching methods and working with the optimum number of participants, plus a few tricks thrown in, this can be achieved.
Last week I conducted some very valuable and constructive trial workshops and I am very grateful to the people who helped me with such enthusiasm. It was so important to be able to test out my filming set up and my teaching methods. As a result I have invested in some new equipment and I have been working through some enhancements to my teaching style and to the filming set up.
A lot of work has been put into the designs for the workshops. They need to be appealing and original with just the right amount of technical and transferable skill content. For the first workshops the materials required will be commonly used and easy to find. The reason for this is that international deliveries are still very unreliable, so I do not wish to supply kits at the moment. In due course I am looking forward to being able to source unusual beads and cords and provide the kits for some highly original designs, in addition to those where people can use materials from their stash. The initial workshops will be aimed at those with some experience of a Prumihimo disk. In the next phase I will offer a beginners Prumihimo workshop and some workshops using the round disk. It is so exciting to see all of these opportunities ahead and I hope that as many people as possible will join me on this adventure! Please look out for more news about Zoomihimo by Prumihimo!