Conducting an online Practical Method Foundations practice group (Process)

by Tinh Thai on 2020/03/15

Online practice groups are a way to support and motivate each other along our Practical Method journey.
Anyone learning Practical Method can conduct an online foundations practice group regardless of where you are in the world.

Purpose: 

  1. Meet and practice with students and disciples we may not normally have the opportunity to meet.

  2. Encourage regular foundations practice.

  3. Share any relevant Practical Method news, videos or events with peers.

What it is NOT:

  • A PM class – any instruction or corrections should be arranged outside of this context.

Definitions:

  • Facilitator – a PM practitioner (student / disciple applicant / disciple) who is setting up and conducting the practice group.

  • Participant – a person attending the practice group.

Equipment/resources required:

  • Computer with webcam and microphone (both can be in-built)

  • Internet connection

  • Room for you to stand in front of the webcam – this will vary by a person’s height so try different spaces during software setup.

    • Suggestions:

      • Webcam at least 2 metres away from you.

      • Allow standing room for the half-horse stance.

      • If moving step is practiced, allow space for one full step to the side.

  • Lighting – natural lighting or artificial light is required to ensure visibility. Test lighting adequacy during software setup.

  • Video conferencing software – see table below for suggestions.

  • Online storage for recorded sessions – this will be dependent on participant agreement. Recorded videos can be shared privately via Google Drive, Dropbox, YouTube or any other storage mechanism available to the facilitator and the participants.

Video conferencing software (correct as at 19 March 2020)

Software

Pros

Considerations

More information

Zoom

  • Free with limitations (see Cons).

  • Video recording.

  • Meeting invitations to participants by email or using a link.

  • Screen sharing.

  • Free version allows 40 minutes video conferencing where there are 3 or more people in the video conference. No time restriction when there are only 2 people in the video conference.

  • Software download required.

  • User account required.

https://zoom.us/meetings

Zoom has been tested for this process.

Skype

  • Free.

  • Video recording.

  • Screen sharing.
  • Video calls with up to 50 people.

  • Software download required.

  • User account required.

https://www.skype.com/en/features/

Skype has not been tested with this process.

 Jitsi
  • Free.

  • Video recording.

  • Screen sharing.

  • Accessible from the Jitsi website without downloading an application.

  • Up to 35 meeting attendees before performance declines. Hard maximum of 75 attendees.

https://jitsi.org/Jitsi has not need tested with this process but is a good free option without any downloads or account creation.

Cisco Webex

  • Free plan available.

  • Video recording.

  • Meeting room and meeting link to share with participants.

  • Screen sharing.

  • Meet as long as you want.

  • Free version allows up to 100 participants.

  • Software download required.

  • User account required.

https://www.webex.com/

Cisco Webex has not been tested for this process but as been used by PM instructors to conduct online classes.

Feel free to provide other video conferencing software suggestions by commenting on this post.

Note: Although mobile phones may be used to join video conferencing, the screens are fairly small and do not allow for good viewing of the session.

Process:

  1. Setting up a new practice session

  2. Attending a practice session for the first time

  3. Conducting/Attending a practice session

 

1. Setting up a new practice session:

Step

Details

Responsibility

Timeframe

Select and test video conferencing software.

The video conferencing software should allow:

  • All participants to have video on during the practice session

  • Record the session

  • Ideally be free to use or minimal cost.

  • Usable in each participants’ country or region.

Facilitator

At least a week prior to the first session.

Select a regular time and date.

A regular time and date for the session is ideal to encourage a routine with practice.

The frequency of the sessions is up to the facilitator to decide (eg. weekly, biweekly, monthly and so on).

Duration can be as required; typically 30 to 60 minutes.

Facilitator – with input from participants

At least a week prior to the first session.

Issue session invitations.

Send session invitations to participants with:

  • Session time and date

  • Instructions for accessing the video conference (eg. app to download, link to the conference).

Facilitator

A week prior to the first session.

 

2. Attending a practice session for the first time:

Step

Details

Responsibility

Timeframe

Test video conferencing software.

Install the required software and test equipment set up.

Participants

Prior to the first practice session.

Allow approximately 15 minutes to test software and equipment.

 

3. Conducting/Attending a practice session:

Step

Details

Responsibility

Timeframe

Run the practice session.

Log into session.

All

During the session.

Commence recording.

Ensure all participants can be viewed in the recording.

Facilitator

Introductions – name and location.

All

Provide an overview of the session and remind participants of session evaluation.

Ensure one person is delegated to count.

Model session (approximately 20 minutes)

40 times on each side:

  • Twisting the towel

  • Fetch water

  • Six sealing four closing

  • Positive circle

  • Negative circle

Other foundations such as double positive/negative circle or moving step positive/negative circle can be included/alternated.

Facilitator or delegate

Discuss events, news or any relevant matters.

All

Remind participants:

  • Of the date and time of the next session, or any changes

  • To complete the session evaluation form.

Close session.

Facilitator

Send recordings, resources and evaluation form.

Issue participants:

  • Session recording

  • Resources mentioned during the recording

  • Link to evaluation form*

Facilitator

As soon as possible after the session.

Complete session evaluation form and record practice.

  • Complete evaluation form.

  • Record practice on the PM website (link here).

  • Keep practicing.

Participants

As soon as possible after receiving links and completing the session.

 

* For facilitators:

  • There is a central evaluation form located here: https://forms.gle/pMQqo6omnPNNv1B87

  • To have your name added to the evaluation form, please contact Tinh Thai using WeChat (id: tinhthaijing).

  • Results can be obtained by contacting Tinh Thai using WeChat (id: tinhthaijing).

 

This process will evolve as facilitators have more experience conducting these sessions and participants provide feedback.

There will also be a little story about how this first came about between two fellow PM students soon.

Updates:

19 March 2020 – Added Jitsi to the list of video conferencing software.

30 March 2020 – Added Cisco Webex to the list of video conferencing software.

 

About Tinh Thai

Tinh has been a Chen Taiji Practical Method student since August 2015. She lives in Sydney, Australia and enjoys the challenges and developments that it has brought into her life. You can read more about her story here - http://practicalmethod.com/?p=56397.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucas Brouns March 17, 2020 at 6:21 am

From a colleague elsewhere, I hear Jitsi is an open source video conferencing platform. https://jitsi.org/

Reply

Tinh Thai March 18, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Thank you very much for your recommendation, Lucas. I will look into Jitsi in more detail.

Reply

John Upshaw March 19, 2020 at 9:55 pm

Kelvin Ho and I did this once a week for a few years through Google messenger. I would be interested in participating.

Reply

Tinh Thai March 20, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Thank you for reading this post. That is great, John!

Right now I’m practicing with Vanessa at 9:30 am AEDT fortnightly, next Wednesday is the next session. Let me know if you’re able to make it and I’ll send you the details via WeChat or email.

Otherwise, feel free to kick-off a session at a time that suits you and let people know about it.

I have thought about putting together a list/calendar of online practice sessions. Once there are a few more regular groups I can see what can be done.

Reply

Zoran March 23, 2020 at 4:52 am

Cisco Webex. It’s free, no limit, can share screen, recording, no need to download software (You can access from browser). Tested.

Just to introduce myself. My name iz Zoran and I’m from Croatia. Last year I’ve attend one of master Chen weekend seminar in Italy. Learned 13 postures and few fundamentals that I’m regulary practicing and enjoying. Since just repeating and practicing few movements I would like to be corrected (one day) and get answers to a lots of questions I have. So far enjoying watching videos of master and other students. Wish You all the best to all of You!!!!

Reply

Tinh Thai March 30, 2020 at 12:39 am

Thank you so much, Zoran. Cisco Webex has improved its free offering. I will update this post soon with your suggestion.

It is great to hear from you, Zoran. How fortunate it was that you got to meet Master Chen in Italy and learned the First 13 and foundations. Please feel free to join the online classes that Practical Method instructors are setting up. There are two already planned for April 2020. Best wishes to you too. Stay healthy. Keep practising!

Reply

Edward Liaw March 30, 2020 at 12:23 pm

Discord is another video conferencing program, catered to video gaming – it allows for up to 9 people in a group video chat.
https://discordapp.com/

Reply

Kelvin Ho March 30, 2020 at 8:19 pm

Cisco Webex works fine. I have set up mine for my local class. http://webex.practicalmethod.ca

Reply

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