Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Next Generation Audience Response Systems for Teachers and Trainers

Audience Response Systems (ARS) establish interactivity between presenters and their audience. Traditionally ARS consist of  several units of wireless hardware (a clicker pad which looks like a remote control) used by the audience, and it is combined with a presentation software used by the presenter.

Among the several well-known benefits of ARS, the most important one is that it creates an interactive and fun learning environment. Presenters can gain and retain audience attention, help increase knowledge retention, and confirm audience understanding of material presented. This is done in several ways: polling anonymously, tracking individual responses, displaying polling results immediately and so forth. Some presenters gather data or even take attendance using ARS.

According to Wikipedia, audience response systems may present some difficulties in both their deployment and use.
  1. The per-unit purchase price of ARS devices
  2. The maintenance and repair of devices when owned by a central unit or organization
  3. The configuration, troubleshooting and support of the related presentation software
  4. The reliability and performance of the devices
One can further state that the next generation should support some, if not all, of the following requirements.
  1. Must work in a webinar / online meeting environment where people are not in the same location. Increasingly, meetings and classes take place in this mode. Clickers are no good for webinars.
  2. Must avoid the need for purpose-built special hardware even when the audience is physically in same room (refer to my earlier post on Microsoft Mouse Mischief)
  3. Should provide the option of using  generic reliable hardware such as computers, tablets or even smart phones as participation devices
  4. Should work with popular presentation software such as PowerPoint
  5. Must allow free text entry (apart from selecting from multiple choices)
  6. Must make it possible for the presentation software to share with everybody the result of participation instantly, thus fostering interaction 
Any other thoughts on the next generation audience response systems?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Content Authoring with Video Interactions

Trainers have long known the importance of video in all types of training. Digital video has now become so commonplace that nearly everyone knows how to shoot video using a camera or a smart phone, upload it to Youtube and share it with others. It is high time these two trends converged. Content authoring needs to embrace digital video.

The newly announced version 8.0 of  Elicitus, a leading desktop authoring tool for trainers, educators, subject matter experts and other e-learning creators worldwide, makes this happen.

Creating great courses with Elicitus requires no programming. Even users with no page design experience can create visually appealing courses with Elicitus. Videos can now be added to topic pages and customize the size of the video. Various types of video such as AVI, MPG and SWF are supported.

Users can easily import existing PowerPoint® presentations directly into Elicitus with great accuracy. What is more, Raptivity interactions are easily inserted in the courses and tracked. On the output side, Elicitus allows you to choose from many form factors to suit the needs to diverse screens such as iPad, smart phones, laptops and so forth.

A 14-day free trial is available on the Elicitus web site.