In the first two months of Hyperlink, we've run three cohorts of the Meta Course, our course development workshop.
The goals of the Meta Course are to help generate ideas that might work well for courses on Hyperlink, provide structure to the course-making process, and onboard creators to the community.
The three of us (Brendan, Jared, Celine) each prototyped our own course ideas, and we had over a dozen others join us; across the three cohorts we workshopped around 20 ideas with the Hyperlink community. It was a ton of fun, and we learned a lot!
The core structure of the Meta Course is three group calls, spaced a week apart:
Each of these first three cohorts had 4-6 participants, in addition to the three of us on the Hyperlink team. This felt like about the right group size, though we may need to either expand the total call time or make the Meta Course more focused (more on that below!)
We had a good variety of courses, many either creative or tech-adjacent. From seeing these initial batches, some commonalities for courses that seem like they may be a good fit for Hyperlink:
For us, the Meta Course was a success in early community building for Hyperlink, and a great way to get prospective course creators hyped up about developing some really cool ideas. While we found plenty of room for improvement, we'll start with what worked nicely!
The constraints of the course helped participants make progress refining a course concept, getting feedback on rough ideas and clarifying a direction. The short timeline added pressure to finish something reasonably scoped without feeling overwhelming, and the group helped with accountability.
It was useful to stress test course ideas with other people, and talk through particular sticking points or potential forks in the road. Test Runs (facilitation practice sessions) were useful for those who did them; one thing that worked well for those was keeping them exploratory to see how participants engaged with a topic.
The Meta Course was pretty low-key and welcoming; we heard that participants appreciated how chill the overall experience was with the group. Some also mentioned that it's nice simply knowing that the Hyperlink community exists for people interested in talking about this stuff, as a space to return to for other workshop or course ideas in the future.
There are plenty of points of friction and confusion that can make the course creation process difficult. While creating a good course is inherently challenging, there's also a lot we can address to help make it more manageable.
We expected people to bring specific ideas, but many came in with a loose interest (or a few!) We could build a stronger ideation process into the Meta Course, to help creators think critically early on about what would be interesting to them, and what they are looking to get out of facilitating the course.
Video calls for Hyperlink courses could be a lot better! We tried setting up our own Jitsi server — appealing because it's open source and very flexible — but the quality left a lot to be desired, and we'd like to explore better video integrations. It was also a bit odd to have the video calls in a forum embed; a separate Zoom window felt easier to use.
The casual structure was nice, but we might benefit from making certain things more explicit, particularly the intended output of the Meta Course, and expectations for work in between the live sessions. It would also be helpful to have a clear course calendar with easy access to each live session and each assignment.
For anyone not already experienced in the classroom, it can be a challenge to get hands-on experience facilitating a course without actually facilitating the course! Test Runs, sessions to practice facilitating an aspect of a course, were helpful, but we could build in more structure here, and provide more options e.g. for making use of breakout groups.
We've made some initial changes to the Meta Course already, between the first and third cohorts:
A few things we'd like to do for subsequent Meta Course cohorts:
The Meta Course has been a good space for getting feedback, helping focus ideas in a distinct direction. It's clear there's a lot more we can do to help with the later stages of curriculum development and facilitation possibilities; we're excited to improve the Meta Course going forward.
Additional possibilities we're considering:
And a few parting questions:
Let us know if you have ideas. And of course, let us know if you're interested in joining for a future cohort of the Meta Course!