26 September 2023

Industry’s café shows way to the future

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The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ Futures Team has held a ‘virtual café’ to explore scenarios likely to emerge out of the current pandemic disaster.

The success of the event prompted the Team to share their learnings with the broader Department and PS.

The on-line experiment attracted more than 90 people — an increase on previous face-to-face meetings, giving participants the chance to use multiple technologies.

Member of the Futures Team, Chun-Yin San said one of the reasons the team chose to run the session as a virtual café was to ease the audience into a new format.

“We took a model that we knew people were accustomed to — s­itting in a room, listening to someone present — and moved it to a virtual environment,” Mr San said.

Another member of the team, Josh Wilson said cafes were where people relaxed.

“We wanted to make it a very informal atmosphere where people had the space to breathe while discussing a serious issue like COVID-19. It was a positive experience and narrative,” Mr Wilson said.

Mr San said it was important to know the technology platform and its limitations.

“Use your chosen platform as much as you can to support what you’re trying to do,” he said.

“We ran the session through Skype for Business, sharing and discussing PowerPoint slides. However, we found that Skype for Business wasn’t as robust as we needed to take questions or poll the audience. So, we added a conversation loop through the website Sli.do.”

He said they introduced Skype’s chat function and Sli.do to allow people to fully engage throughout the session.

“If we didn’t have these, it could have been chaotic with 90 people trying to talk over the top of each other,” Mr San said.

“At the start, we also asked the audience members to turn off their cameras and microphones,” he said.

More information is available from [email protected].

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