METM22 Chronicles: Kit Cree

Building an online community – thinking inside the box

As someone who has enjoyed many online activities since the pandemic, I was eager to hear how MET transitioned from in-person to online, to hybrid.

One of the most familiar MET faces on-screen is Kit Cree, who has overseen the off-METM programme for the last few years and presents the MET Conversations online every month.

Kit’s session started with a warm welcome to join the conversation. She reminded us of the needs the pandemic brought home: talking and listening to each other with tenderness and honesty. MET Conversations and the theme of this year’s conference, The personal touch, are proof of the value MET places on meeting these needs.

Kit shared her seven Ps, key ingredients for creating an online community, were she to start over:

  • Participants: MET members.
  • Purpose: to bring people together to talk about a topic of interest to the language industry.
  • Platform: Zoom, offering breakout rooms of four or five randomly selected people for 20 minutes.
  • Profile: expert or learner, someone willing to share knowledge on-camera.
  • Procedures:
    • Presenters: no slides or reading from a script. The aim is to act as a springboard for meaningful conversations.
    • Participants: take part, don’t hog the mic, encourage quieter people to talk…
  • Key Players: Kit gave special thanks to Rob Lunn and Anne Murray for their support backstage. She believes that if you’re doing the talking, you shouldn’t be doing the tech.
  • Promotion: newsletters, stand-alone email reminders on the day and social media.

Like most conversations, these sessions involve talking, listening and adapting. MET’s winning formula features five-minute presentations by guest speakers, followed by 20-25 minutes of small group chat and repeat. There’s a Google document where all attendees jot down ideas, resources, etc. which later gets written up for the Hive, as well as a feedback form.

The secret to the Conversations’ longevity is that the format has been adapted to the changing needs of MET members, from more light-hearted topics in the darkest moments of the pandemic to more professional or academic themes as our social lives returned. People attend when they are genuinely interested in the subject, since there’s no sign-up and no obligation.

In Kit’s opinion, CPD is changing and now lies on a sliding scale. Before, it was very much “sit and listen”, but a conversation can be every bit as enriching.

She also touched on other online MET activities:

  • MET Book Club, a safe space to share our opinions on our chosen reads and add to our to-be-read pile.
  • New Member Chats, a place to welcome anyone new to the association.
  • Writing retreats, organized and attended by MET members.
  • HSS Hub, which runs co-working sessions three times a week online.

In preparation for her talk, Kit researched other online communities: the WI, the Scout movement and Jamulus, a platform for musicians. Moving online was often the only way for these groups to survive.

To round off her session, Kit gave us her key takeaways:

  • An online community is anything you want it to be. It should fit the times, be adaptable, suit the need and be democratic.
  • If there’s no true need for an online community, it won’t last.

She left the ball in the audience’s court, encouraging us to come to MET’s activities and get involved by presenting a topic or suggesting new ideas.

Now that the buzz of METM22 has died down, I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the next online MET event!

This METM22 talk was chronicled by Sara Blackshire.

Featured photo by METM22 photographer Jone Karres.

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