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Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Feature in Webinar Tool

Maybe I've not been paying attention, but in the webinar that I just finished, the tool GoToMeeting had a neat feature that showed the percentages of people who were paying attention (had the meeting visual in the foreground) vs. those who were not paying attention. These were shown in percentages - easy to see and understand. There was also a display of those in attendance vs. those who had left. Both of these were great pieces of information.

I'm going to want them in my virtual meeting / classroom tools going forward.

Also - know that the organizer/presenter can now tell if you have their visuals front and center!


Darryl Toney said...

I've seen that feature before in web conferencing tools and the learning professionals at my company had mixed reviews about it. On the one hand, it's nice to see who is paying attention (similar to the visual feedback you would get in a face-to-face environment). On the other hand, it feels a little too "Big Brother" to have people monitor when you are multi-tasking. Everyone does it.

jgswan said...

I have used this feature quite a few times and think it really helps to keep the learner engaged. I do let the class know up front that I have the feature. The material that I am covering is important, however sometimes the temptation is to great for the learner - they just need to look at their email. If I note that someone has "clicked out" for an extended period I can send them a private IM and nudge them back into class. Because I tell them up front I have only had to do this on one or two occassions.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me there are two key drivers behind the creation and use of such a feature:
1. Instructor ego. It's an offshoot of the "sage on the stage" mentality that insists we know more than the people out there, and they need to pay attention to us. No matter that our content might be off-track from what they need, want, or was advertised; no matter that we might be boring presenters. Yes, it's helpful to know when attention is lagging -- but that should be regular part of a good presentation anyway -- to stop for questions, to pause and let the learners think through how they might apply what's being discussed. I realize a feature like this is intended to remind the presenter to do that, but really, is it needed? I agree, Darryl -- people will multitask. Instructors need to live with that fact and not get bent out of shape about it. jgswan's comment suggests that our learners need to be monitored like children and guided like sheep. I'd suggest that there's something else going on if you have to hold such a tool over a learner's head to get them to pay attention.
2. Too often we use Webinars and Powerpoints as training tools when they're presentation tools. Then we wonder why people aren't learning what they need to after attending a session. We feel a need to keep people on track with the presentation because we suspect that they won't learn what they should -- and they probably aren't, which is why they're tuning out. The answer isn't to add a new feature but to reconsider whether we're matching the right tool to the content.
The fact is that we like to blame our learners for our faulty instruction. We like to assume that everything we say is of keen interest and importance, when the reality is that learners will take what they need and leave the rest.
And that should be fine with all of us.