www.insynctraining.com offers extended courses in facilitating, producing, and designing for the virtual classroom (Webex, Adobe Connect, etc.) . Graduates form bonds with one another and the instructors during multiweek sessions, and asked for a place they could stay in touch and work together as they implemented their new learning. After several starts and stops with a blog—which just didn’t lend itself to much participant-participant interaction, InSync started a Facebook group. Now at over 600 members, with perhaps 100 of those fairly active, InSync graduates use the space to discuss new products and changes to existing products, strategies for making live-online training more interactive and engaging, and questions about facilitation and other aspects of practice. Many of us, including Insync owner Jennifer Hofmann, already owned iPhones or Android phones, and many were part of the ‘2nd wave’ of iPads when the iPad 2 shipped earlier this year. We also knew we’d soon be working with participants who are joining the sessions from mobile devices. So in conversation one day we came up with the idea of getting together to try out some virtual classroom apps on our new devices. We called it a ‘rodeo’, trying to make it clear there would be no instruction. The only really formal components to the event were choosing a time to have it and which apps to try, and as Jennifer had administrator-level to the products she needed to set up the sessions. We scheduled a Facebook event and added this note:
InSync Facebook Group Mobile App Rodeo
Hello everyone. As so many folks now have iPads, smartphones, and other devices, several of us wanted to try out the mobile apps for a couple of popular virtual classroom tools. We’re just getting together to try them out and see how they work – there’s no presentation or instruction, and we can offer no troubleshooting or advice. We’re learning, too.
If you want to join us, you’ll need to download the apps to your own device. We’ll try Adobe Connect at 11 am ET and WebEx at 11:30.
Please join in with your device using the info below: NOTE: For today’s test we will only be using the products + telephony. VOIP will be a test for another day. Should be fine for smartphone users, but those using iPads or other tablet devices will also need to call in via a regular phone.
During and after the rodeo several people using different devices posted photos and comments to the group:
Adobe Connect on Droid
screenshot of adobe connect interface on iPad2
Participants respond to the question 'what did you learn?'
Chris couldn't make the rodeo but posted her thanks for sharing
A couple of thoughts:
Discussion during the rodeo focused partly on the technology itself, but just as much on thinking about the minds of the app developers and the product vendors. InSync community members want to use virtual classroom programs for, ideally, interactive training. Most vendors, however, seem to be developing products focused more on static delivery of content. With mobile apps we often found that information displayed well, but using chat, bringing in other voices, polling, etc. was challenging or nonexistent. Trainers and designers hope that developers work to make both the desktop and mobile versions of the products more training-friendly.
Finally: Even though we made it clear that this was not instruction in any form — we even called it a “rodeo”– it was interesting to see how many commented that they could not make ‘the class’ or later thanked us for ‘the training’. It this a sign that we need a culture shift, that the idea of intentional learning is so foreign that people can’t wrap their heads around it? Could be. After all, we don’t even have a word for ‘let’s go learn something together.”