Monday, August 11, 2014

Five Ways to Increase Learner Engagement

One of the biggest hurdles we all have as trainers when delivering virtual instructor led training is how to keep our learners engaged. It's all too easy to be distracted by our in-boxes, phone calls, and IMs while on the receiving end of a training session when we're seated behind a laptop screen. As instructors, it's our responsibility not only to deliver content, but to make sure that knowledge is retained. And what better way to increase knowledge retention than to increase engagement levels...

Here are 5 things you can try in your next training session to help your learners become more engaged.

Ask your learners for a summation

Did you just spend the past 15 minutes discussing a particular topic? Instead of you summarizing that topic before moving on, ask if someone from the audience can summarize it for you. In some ways this can facilitate peer teaching and can be even more impactful in longer training engagements where you've just come back from a break... Ask an individual to summarize or recap what was discussed before the break.

Survey your audience with an actionable response

Using the tools that are available to you in the platform you're delivering the training in, pause for a moment and ask for feedback: 'Raise your hand if you agree with me that...' or 'Type Yes into the messaging area if you have encountered this in the past...' or 'Click the green response button if you think such and such'.

Keep people on their toes and randomly ask for feedback

Are you asking a question or trying to get some input from the class? Instead of generally asking your audience, ask someone specifically. Most all of the learning platforms out there today have the ability to display the names of your learners present with you. Use that to your advantage and call on people directly. Referring to people by their name will also help keep your training engagement a bit less formal.

Try a Viewpoint Round

Assuming this activity is appropriate for a given a topic, provide each learner with an opportunity to spend 2-3 minutes to express their perspective on that topic, while the rest of the class listens. You can use this method of participation to get a range of viewpoints, but don't force the entire roster to do this - let folks pass their turn if they choose to.

Allow for a rabbit hole every once in a while

As trainers we're taught to keep our learners on topic as much as possible. But telling stories can sometimes be just as memorable. The next time someone asks a question that might not be 'on topic', don't be so quick to dismiss it. Allow for that conversation to take place and see where it goes... You might be surprised to see how relevant it really is.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

'Lync Has a 3D Virtual Environment Secret Weapon' Article from Aragon Research

Jim Lundy, founder and CEO of Aragon Research, is a well respected analyst who has covered the collaboration industry for quite a number of years. He has written about and advised on all aspects of the space, including 3D, so we were delighted when he blogged about us earlier this month on his site.

Here's a snippet from the post:

ProtonMedia has evolved over the years with more enterprise deployments featuring its flagship offering Protosphere. Ron Burns, the Founder and CEO, is still at the helm of ProtonMedia. His move to partner with Microsoft Lync is timely and it will help both ProtonMedia and Microsoft.
3D Virtual Environments have lots of use cases, particularly in the Enterprise. Microsoft has not made a big deal out of this, but as enterprises seek to justify continuing investment in Lync, ProtonMedia could be a difference maker.
We see the demand for 3D Virtual Environments going up, partially due to the fact that we see Facebook, Google, and Microsoft starting to promote the concept, even though others, such as IBM, were involved with this concept early. For now, Microsoft gets special treatment from ProtonMedia. We expect to see more integrations as enterprises start to realize that collaboration can be interactive and engaging.

You can read the entire article over at the Aragon Research blog.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sneak Peek at the New Look of ProtoSphere

Our development team has been hard at work on the next generation of ProtoSphere and has been making really nice progress on it these past few months. Last week I spent some time with Jim Seaver, ProtonMedia's Art Director, getting a look at the upcoming version and capturing the video below.

He gave me a tour of the environment, the new interface, and some of the beautiful spaces being created with the improved dynamic lighting, shadows, and normal mapping that the game engine is capable of. I even got a sneak peek at the 3D object management tools that will be providing customers a lot more flexibility to create custom spaces and artwork in ProtoSphere.

Monday, May 19, 2014

CBS News Features New Milford High School Students Using ProtoSphere

The students and teachers at New Milford High School in New Jersey were featured in a story on Friday by CBS News about how they are using ProtoSphere to learn in a whole new way.

For the past few months we've had the pleasure of working with Laura Fleming, the Library Media Specialist there, who has helped bring 3D learning into the school. She's partnered up with a number of teachers to pilot the software with their students and gauge its effectiveness in providing a learning platform that's engaging, interactive, and dare I say… fun!

The students have been learning about a variety of subjects from Art History to Chemistry and everything in between. The video shows them working together in class, helping each other understand certain topics, and how even the teachers can get in on the action. You can hit this link to the article and watch the video on CBS' site.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Top Ten Rules of Etiquette for Virtual Collaboration... And One Extra for Good Measure

Just like any other social situation, there are certain "rules" of etiquette for interacting with other people in a virtual environment such as ProtoSphere. In talking to our customers, I've found that they've come up with a few of there own, and the list below is a collection of some of those best practices. Some of them are specific to ProtoSphere, but many would apply to any virtual collaboration tool.

  1. Just as you would in real life, turn your avatar toward the person who is speaking, or to whom you are speaking.

  2. Respect others’ personal space. You wouldn't walk up to your colleague in real life and stand only a fraction of an inch in front of him while talking would you? In ProtoSphere, people have a sense of personal space… respect the space of others and don't get too close or step on their toes. It helps to keep yourself in 3rd person view so you can see how close you are to others.

  3. Business appropriate language should be used in group conversations.

  4. Please refrain from spamming the group conversation window with text that isn't relevant to the conversation.

  5. Avoid using all capital letters when sending text messages back and forth - it's usually perceived as "yelling".

  6. Mute your microphone. This is a big one folks… Lync audio is very sensitive and any background noise (dogs barking at home, very loud typing) can be distracting to other participants in your events.

  7. When others teleport into your location, wait a few extra seconds before you start speaking. Their avatar will often appear in the space before they connect to the audio conference and you don't want them to catch you mid-sentence.

  8. During a presentation, only the presenters should advance the slides.

  9. While in a meeting, keep an eye on your Avatar to make sure it is not randomly standing, pointing the laser, or turned the wrong way in a chair while zoomed in on a board – (this is usually caused by an inadvertent tap on your keyboard).

  10. Instructors should use the remote control feature as often as possible, instead of facing away from the participants to look up at the screen. Seeing the instructor’s face is a better, and more realistic experience.

  11. If you have to step away for a few minutes or take another call, so the Instructors or Administrators do not call on you during a class inadvertently, move to the back of the room or other designated that has been established as an “Away” area. It is also helpful to change your Lync status to “Away”.

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