Blog post: How the MEOPAR Training Awards gave me options during COVID-19

By December 20, 2020February 1st, 2021No Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions threatened to stall my postdoctoral research project Building Capacity for Difficult Conversations on Flood Risk Management in Canadian Coastal Communities. I build this capacity through the Tough Conversations protocol which includes a serious role-playing game, the Flood Resilience Challenge (FRC) game that I had co-designed to be played in-person in order to maximize participant interactions.

The purpose of the FRC game is to build the capacity of stakeholders to improve flood resilience and enhance flood risk governance, including (collective) decision-making. The FRC game achieves this purpose, as an educational and engagement tool, by:

  • increasing flood literacy,
  • fostering social learning, and
  • creating a safe space for exploring both risk management and communication strategies.

You can find more information about the FRC game here.

The in-person version of the FRC game was tested twice and was successful. I could not imagine how the game could be as successful if it was moved online, nor did I have the skills for creating a virtual version or the knowledge about which technological applications to use as there were a growing number of options and many factors to consider (cost, security, user-friendliness, etc.).

The Tough Conversations Protocol also includes a webinar on conflict resolution techniques and a literature review on stakeholder engagement best practices in the context of flood risk management.

The MEOPAR online training funding opportunity was announced just at the right time for me to enrol in two online courses on distance education through Athabasca University for the fall 2020 semester: Foundations of Instructional Design and Survey of Current Educational Technology Applications. I focused the majority of my assignments from the courses on thinking through the steps of how to move the FRC game online and how to make the conflict resolution webinar interactive. The online version of the FRC game has been moved to Miro which is an online collaborative tool similar to a whiteboard and Zoom will also be used. I tested several different platforms for the conflict resolution webinar and decided on using Camtasia for recording the presentation as it also allows for the incorporation of interactive activities.

The MEOPAR training funding helped me to continue my PDF research as planned without interruption from the pandemic. The online FRC game is scheduled to be played in 2021 by students as part of a university course as well as decision-makers and practitioners in Vancouver and Halifax. The FRC game and the conflict resolution webinars are integral components of the Risk Dialogues workshops for the broader research project on Effective Flood Risk Governance in a Changing Climate lead by PI Dr. Daniel Henstra.

My name is Evalyna Bogdan, I am a postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo. My research project, Building Capacity for Difficult Conversations on Flood Risk Management in Canadian Coastal Communities, is possible thanks to support from the MEOPAR Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and the SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship.


Photo credit: Sina Golchi