Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different ways that I can use the Postdoc Academy content?
The Postdoc Academy content is completely flexible to fit the goals and needs of your community. The programming is released under a Creative Commons license, so you’re welcome to adopt and adapt the materials. There are two potential ways to use the content:
- Facilitate a Postdoc Academy Learning Session (PALS), the learning communities supported by the Postdoc Academy
- Incorporate the content into your existing programming
How do I sign-up to be a facilitator?
Just complete this form and we’ll reach out to you!
What are some of the benefits of joining the Postdoc Academy Community of Facilitators?
This community is focused on supporting practitioners through creating an open discussion space and continued professional development. By joining our Community of Facilitators, you can:
- Learn from other facilitators and network with other practitioners
- Access online facilitation trainings, held quarterly
- Attend a day-long facilitation training, held yearly at the National Postdoc Association Annual Conference
- Access the Facilitator Guide and evaluation tools, including pre-session and post-session surveys
- Stay up-to-date with upcoming online and in-person events
What is my role in a Postdoc Academy Learning Session?
A PALS is a small group of postdocs who meet regularly while taking the online course, Succeeding as a Postdoc. As the facilitator, some of your roles include:
- Creating an environment for learning through reflection and discussion
- Promoting equitable participation of all members
- Building trust and create a sense of community
- Upholding the norms and standards of the Postdoc Academy community
What can I find in the Facilitator Guide?
The Facilitator Guide contains suggestions for discussion topics, reflection prompts and learning activities designed to explore the content and encourage postdocs to situate the learning within their context. We encourage you to use the guide flexibly to fit the goals, purpose and needs of your community.
We have 2 versions of the Facilitator Guide – one for in-person PALS and one for virtual PALS.
What is the recommended length of PALS?
Each session can be held for 60 or 90 minutes. We recommend that PALS are held weekly for 7 weeks. Here’s an example of what a PALS schedule can look like:
|1||Finding Success as a Postdoc||Introduction|
|2||Finding Success as a Postdoc||Finding Success as a Postdoc|
|3||Building an Actionable Career Plan||Finding Success as a Postdoc|
|4||Developing Resilience||Building an Actionable Career Plan|
|5||Working Effectively in an Intercultural Environment||Developing Resilience|
|6||Checking In||Working Effectively in an Intercultural Environment|
How can I facilitate a PALS virtually? What resources do you provide?
Here’s a brief overview and check out the Facilitator Guide for more details:
- Identify dates and times that you would like to meet with your PALS.
- Recruit postdocs to join your PALS (we have template marketing materials to share!)
- Communicate logistics to those who register for your PALS
For facilitating PALS virtually, choose the platform that you’re most comfortable with – Zoom, Blackboard, Microsoft Teams, or something else. The Facilitator Guide contains how-to links for Zoom and Blackboard.
How do I engage participants virtually?
Engaging participants online can be more challenging than facilitating a workshop in-person. Here are a few tips to increase participant engagement:
- Before the session:
- Create small talk, just as you would in-person
- Have an icebreaker in the chat or on your screen as participants are entering the ‘room’
- During the session:
- Icebreakers/warm ups: They don’t have to be complicated or generate content. It can be as simple as show the favorite thing on your desk.
- Invite participation: Ask participants to share ‘round robin‘ or ask for sharing using the hand raise feature.
- Have multiple ways to engage: Verbal participation, chat, Annotate tool, etc.
- Be specific in your directions
- After the session:
- Create an opportunity for the group to connect off-line. A Slack channel might be useful.
Some participants leave their video off during our sessions. How can I receive non-verbal feedback virtually?
We suggest encouraging your PALS participants to come as they are. This might be video off/on, audio off/on, or participating only in the chat. Some might turn their video off as a signal that they’re not ready to engage in conversation or the particular topic being discussed. With that in mind, it can be challenging to receive non-verbal feedback if video and audio are turned off. Here are a few tips that you can use:
- Icebreakers might provide some insight into how participants are doing/feeling each session.
- Get a quick sense of the room with the emoticons (not anonymous) or polls (anonymous).
Should I record our sessions for those who couldn't attend?
This decision is up to the participants. If you would like to record the session, obtain permission from all participants. Importantly, ensure the participants know what will discussed in the session before obtaining permission to record.
Some alternatives to recording the sessions are: 1) take notes and share a summary with those who missed the session and 2) offer to connect them with another participant to schedule a follow-up conversation outside of the normal meeting time.
I still have questions. Who can I contact?
Questions about facilitating with the Postdoc Academy resources can be directed to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.