Earning Our Wings: The Haibane Renmei Small Group Concludes

It’s all complete!

For those that didn’t know, this summer I tried something completely different for our blog.  If you’ve noticed, I haven’t been as diligent in updating Beneath the Tangles, depending on our wonderful staff here an on a number of superb guest bloggers.  Part of that reason is that I shifted my focus during these months to doing an online small group that used Haibane Renmei as our study material.  This past Saturday, our group came to an end, as we finished by discussing episodes 10-13.

We used Google Hangout to do our studies, and once I figured out how to effectively used it (we had a couple of sessions where my audio was terrible), it worked fairly well.  Here’s a short clip from our final week:

Note: You can find almost our entire session posted on our Youtube

I was grateful for our wonderful members for this study.  A lot of people came and went as their schedule allowed, and I’m very grateful that you all could join when available!  We also had a core group of visitors – including all those that attended our last week – that committed to joining almost every session and contributing a lot of great comments and through discussion.  Thank you so much for making our small group, I think, a success!

Here are some of the things I learned from doing an online small group – I think these might be helpful to you if you’re thinking of perhaps doing one of your own in the future:

  • Preparation is key, before the small group and before the meetings.  I did a lot of prep in anticipation for this, and I think that helped tremendously.  I also didn’t spend as much time as I would like each week, and I think we could have had even better discussion if I put more time in.
  • Because I’m on a lot of different platforms, I was able to get a diverse group together, and I think that was a major plus.  This last session, for instance, featured people I knew from aniblogs (including one other from Beneath the Tangles), the Christian Anime Alliance forum, and Tumblr.  We also had one person I met on Facebook drop in.  No Twitter folk joined, though perhaps that’ll be remedied if we another such study.
  • It would be helpful if I knew more about the technology, and more about technology in general, as I came into the group.  I had as many audio problems as any – a real problem when I’m the group’s facilitator.  I mostly resolved these as we went along, but I would have liked the technology to run more smoothly.
  • The chatbox feature worked very well for our group.  It really helped us have a running commentary going that added a new dimension and a different tone to the discussion, while giving shyer folk and those with poorer connections the ability to have their voices heard.   We also explored it a bit, though there’s a lot that could be done using the chat feature that I didn’t really get into.

All in all, though, I’m happy about how the group went!  I’m not sure if I’ll do this again, but I may, with Kino’s Journey being bandied around as possibly future study material.  And if you’re interested in doing some sort of online study, a small group or otherwise, I’m here to help you out in anyway – just tweet me or comment below!


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