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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Low-Cost Test and Quiz Tool Comparison

I’ve recently been working with Sameer Bhatia the CEO of ProProfs as I was going through an evaluation of various online tools that support easy, fast, low-cost testing and quiz tools (disclosure). He helped me pull together the following evaluation of a few different solutions:

  • ClassMarker
  • Quia
  • ProProfs
  • Google Docs Forms Creator, and
  • Quibblo.

Evaluation Criteria

For the specific need I was looking at, I was looking for the following out of a solution:

  • Cost: Is the tool free or very-low cost to use? Trial periods wouldn’t count.
  • Question Types/Methods: Does the tool offer the ability to create a rich testing experience by offering various question types?
  • Multimedia: Does the tool offer the ability to include audio and/or visuals for questions?
  • Data Collection: Does the tool provide detailed statistics on individual and/or group performance?
  • Grading: Does the tool allow for several methods of grading responses? (i.e. immediate feedback, final results with or without which questions were missed, etc.)
  • Download Test Results? : Can the test data be retrieved for analysis or backup?
  • Layout/Accessibility: Can the layout of the quiz output be changed and does it handle accessibility issues?
  • Security: Are there security methods in place to catch/prevent cheating, hacking, or other similar problems?
  • Ease of Use: Is the tool well supported and easy to learn?



ProProfs Quiz Maker is an easy to use quiz program with a good variety of question types and options. It’s pretty amazing that it has 1 million users, over 100,000 quizzes in its public library, and over a million quiz takers. A nice feature is the end of quiz certificates for completed quizzes that can be customized. Also, test results can be downloaded in several formats. It is good at supporting accessibility with its one question per page to make the use of a screen reader more effective. It has a free and a low-cost version. To access unlimited grade reports, a paid subscription is required.

Best Features

  • Very easy to use – I created a quiz in minutes.
  • Good variety of question types.
  • Good option for users with accessibility issues.
  • Customizable quiz completion certificates.
  • Relatively new to corporate quizzes and tests, but has some nice features for this kind of need.


  • Free version comes with Ten free grading reports - paid versions can have unlimited reports.

To see a side-by-side comparison, please see the table below.



ClassMarker allows you to create simple tests/quizzes for free and seems well suited to classroom use. Instructors are able to modify score reports to provide feedback. For some of the more useful features, such as viewing score reports, an active paid account is required.

Best Features

  • The program allows users to set up a ‘class’ so there is a unique login and password to track users.
  • Final score reports can be modified to be shown as the instructor wishes.
  • Tests can be paused, saved, and continued at the learner’s convenience.
  • Variety of question types can make for a dynamic quiz.


  • All of the more useful features require a paid account, and even score reports cannot be viewed without one.
  • No image/video support for questions.
  • Not as easy to use as ProProfs.

To see a side-by-side comparison, please see the table below.



Quia allows all users to create many types of quizzes with a large variety of question types that can also include audio and video features. The instructor can set up various security settings for each class to provide more secure grading and decrease the risk of cheating. However, I found it a bit harder to use that the other tools.

Best Features

  • Large variety of question types available.
  • All quiz results are available in the free version.
  • Security features designed to prevent cheating.


  • If students are not registered for a ‘class’, then the instructor cannot view the data from the quizzes.
  • There is no way to choose how score reports are shown to students.
  • Not as easy to use as some of the other tools.

To see a side-by-side comparison, please see the table below.

Google Docs Forms


Google Docs has a built-in Form document type that allows the creation of a set of questions. This can be an interesting quiz / test tool especially if you already use Google docs. There are a fair number of question types available and it’s very easy to use. However, users are anonymous while they are taking the test/quiz and thus need to self-report who they are (through a form field). This means that cheating would be quite easy. The reality is that this is more for creating surveys than creating quizzes and tests, but definitely worth considering in some situations.

Best Features

  • Free and easy to use
  • Data can be sent right to a Google docs spreadsheet or basic summary page
  • Good variety of question types


  • No ‘grading’ can be done on quizzes
  • No cheating deterrents
  • Not designed for quizzes

Google docs is not included in table below since it is not designed for quizzes



Quibblo is a quiz and survey system that is a bit limited in terms of question types which makes it a bit harder to create a typical quiz or test. Instead users can create the type of question they require by manipulating the instructions and fields within Quibblo.

Best Features

  • Free quiz designer


  • Site geared more for social settings than academic or corporate
  • Lots of advertisements along the sides of quizzes- distracting

Quibblo is not included in comparison table as its not an academic or corporate quiz site.





Free (some features require purchase) $24.95 - $49.95 per year

Basic is Free. $49 per year for Educators, $199 per year for Corporations

Personal use version is free. Educator version is $2.97 per month, Business version is $16.67 per month

Question Types/Methods

Multiple choice
Multiple response
True/ False
Free text

Multiple choice
Multiple correct
Initial answer
Short answer

Multiple Choice
Multiple response
Short answer


No image/video support for questions. Does allow for specialized characters.

Yes. Can add an image or audio URL to a question.

Yes. Supports image/video for questions.

Data Collection

Can only see score results with a paid account.

You can see the results of students in your class.

10 free reports are displayed. Premium version comes with unlimited reports.


Yes. Final score reports can be modified to be shown as the instructor wishes. Students can also save and finish the test later.

No, students will know their scores at the end of the quiz, but the instructor cannot choose how the reports are shown to students.

Yes. Several scoring options exist along with end of quiz certificate customization.

Download Test Results?

No, however, everything is backed up on the server. It cannot be downloaded.

Yes. If students are registered to the ‘class’, then the instructor can view the grades. If there is not a ‘class’ created, then there is no way to retrieve the data.

Yes, data is downloadable in several formats.



This cannot be changed. Overall the layout can get a little hard to follow and can take some time to get used to.

This cannot be changed. The layout is easy to understand, and someone with visual difficulties should not have problems.

This cannot be changed (though it supports one question per page or all on one page option). Someone with visual difficulties should not have problems.


Each user has a unique login and password, so the information is kept secure.

Access can be restricted to the ‘class’ only, and reduces the risk of cheating.

Users all receive a unique login and password to ensure security. Quizzes can also be protected by common password.

Ease of Use

Not as easy to use as some programs.

Not as easy to use as some programs. More time was spent viewing the tutorials than creating a quiz, and even then it was still somewhat confusing.

Very easy to use. Clear and concise instructions.


Lack of reporting in the free version is not great, but it’s low-cost for the version with score reports.

The variety of questions is great, as is the ability to add multimedia to a question. However, the ‘create a class’ function is potentially daunting, and it is not as easy to use as a whole as some programs.

Nice program with good features, and very easy to use. Low cost.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sales eLearning – 21 Great Resources

I was asked about approaches for eLearning for Sales People.  I’ve had quite a bit of experience with this and actually one of my very first projects was creating a pretty incredible eLearning solutions for Lexus sales people.  Of course, it’s such a big topic that I decided to cheat and quickly point the person to eLearning Learning and particular to eLearning Sales, eLearning Sales Metrics, Sales eLearning Case Studies, and Sales Performance Support.

Instructional and Performance Strategies for Sales eLearning

  1. Learning Theory 101 for Sales and Marketing Professionals (Part 1)- Business Casual, October 13, 2008

    When consulting with sales and marketing professionals who work for companies that create training products and programs, I try not to be a "training purist" when discussion goes to "positioning" their product for the market. Specifically, the web. In Part 2, I'll list some of the levels within one of the learning types.

  2. Learning Theory 101 for Sales and Marketing Professionals (Part 2)- Business Casual, October 18, 2008

  3. Learning Theory 101 For Sales and Marketing Professionals (Part 3-Last)- Business Casual, October 24, 2008

  4. eLearning Development: Instructional Design Lessons from a Sales Trainer- Upside Learning Blog, July 11, 2009

    That’s because I’ve been in training this week; and would you believe it was Retail Sales training. What’s an instructional designer doing attending sales training? We’ve been tasked with converting their Retail Sales Training seminar into an eLearning package. Yes, I know haven’t posted anything interesting last few days.

  5. Data Driven- eLearning Technology, December 10, 2008

    Will the retail sales training change behavior in ways that improve customer satisfaction? Understanding this model is important in order to be able to apply it within different situations in order to help drive behavior change that ultimately leads to improvement in metrics. Most action plans last four to six weeks.

  6. A Formula for Storytelling in eLearning- Integrated Learnings, April 6, 2010

    When a client asked our team to develop a sales skills enhancement course, we opted to base the training on the methods of the most successful sales person in the department. By Shelley A. Gable. One of the things I love about instructional design is that it engages me both analytically and creatively. Illustrate a concept.

  7. Learning Performance Business Talent Focus- eLearning Technology, July 15, 2009

    Performance – Responsible for ensuring that behavior change occurs in a way that improves performance. All things being equal (which they never are), I'm guessing my focus is more a business and performance focus. Certainly Work Literacy has a learning and performance focus and is a passion of mine. Does this ring true?

  8. Work Context: The New Classroom- Living in Learning, March 22, 2010

    Fifteen of those years were spent living out of a suitcase as a roving sale trainer and then as a manager. It was shocking to me because I had convinced myself – after more frequent flyer miles and Marriott points than a human could use – that I had the sales training gig figured out. And I did. As oddly as it may sound.I

  9. Harvesting Learning’s Fruit: A Downstream Training Investment- Living in Learning, September 4, 2009

    Learners, managers, training staff, and SMEs all have a vested interest in what happens after training with respect to reinforcing learning through coaching, knowledge sharing, and in the case of sales people – boasting and bragging. Yes, I was in sales for many years and know what to expect. Refer to Figure 3.0 Figure 3.0.

  10. The Business Case for Social Learning- Daretoshare, April 13, 2009

    Job losses, combined with cutbacks in workforce development investments, mean that many companies are less able to serve customers, make sales or generate innovations than they were just a few months ago. The Business Case for Social Learning. In effect, their capabilities are in recession.

  11. Creating scenarios for learning - a four-step guide- Bottom-Line Performance, May 27, 2009

    If you are creating a sales training course, for example, your challenge might be the need to increase sales in a territory. The first course was designed to teach new sales reps basic electrical terminology. Tom Kuhler and his “Rapid e-learning&# blog once again bats 1000 by sharing tips for creating e-learning scenarios.

Technical Approaches and Case Studies for Sales eLearning

  1. Sales Team Portal for Content and Expert Access- eLearning Technology, October 12, 2009

    I wanted to share some discussions I've recently had around an interesting project where the company provided the sales team a collaboration, content distribution and expert access portal. Their large sales team sells a diverse and complex set of products and services to multiple markets. Do you have a case study for me? learning.

  2. Shift in eLearning from Pure Courseware towards Reference Hybrids- eLearning Technology, May 25, 2006

    sales. Most of the content is presented as static web pages that tell how to perform particular tasks, but some of the pages contain embedded Captivate movies to demonstrate or simulate use of the system. Just when you've made the transition from the prior generation of CBT authoring tools (e.g., It is asynchronous.

  3. Using the iPad in Sales Training: Case Study by Lora Davis- Learning Solutions Magazine, July 19, 2010

    instruction, one sales training team has already been successful in using Apple’s new device in blended. While many e-Learning producers are struggling to understand how the iPad may be useful in online. instruction in the classroom. Here’s their story.

  4. Case studies of corporate (social) learning- March 12, 2010

    The Business Case for Social Learning , Accenture, Point of View, April 2009 Sun Learning eXchange " When the company�s sales division reduced training hours and budget, Sun Learning Services (SLS) needed to get strategic. Here are some examples of social learning in organisations. Im looking for the Why? and How?]

  5. 10 Strategies for Integrating Learning and Work (part 1)- Gram Consulting, June 15, 2009

    The goal of learning in the workplace is performance–individual and organizational.  If we’ve learned nothing else in recent years, we’ve learned that improving performance through learning is more effective the more it is integrated with real work.  Build a performance support system. Understand the job.

  6. The Future of the Training Department- Learning and Working on the Web, October 21, 2009

    NCR delivered the first sales training. You’re going to shift the focus to creativity, innovation, and helping people perform better, faster, cheaper. Tags: Informal Learning Performance Improvement The latter 20th Century was the golden era of the training department. People had vocations, not jobs. The U.S. ASTD is born.

  7. Bridging the Performance Gap: Training is Just Part of the Solution- Performance Punctuated, July 1, 2010

    If, on the other hand, you are changing your sales model, a pretty important and difficult change, you need a change management strategy and plan. Therefore, there always has to be some reinforcement and feedback to truly affect performance. Tags: Performance Improvement Talent Management Organizational Learning by Reni Gorman.

  8. Social Learning at Sun- Learning in a Sandbox, June 5, 2009

    As a result of that they couldn’t provide the training hours needed to meet the training needs of the sales people. Secondly, sales people needed to have access to the right tools and information needed to close their deals in the field. informal learning??).

  9. A Pharmaceutical Leveraging Web 2.0 --In a Big Way- Kapp Notes, November 17, 2008

    site containing information on mechanisms of action, employee and project profiles and Pfizer products and other information useful to researchers and sales personnel within Pfizer. If you think Web 2.0 can't be used in your company because of legal or regulatory concerns, think about this. Pfizerpedia is resource-sharing Web 2.0 tags: web_2.0

  10. Sun Microsystems Uses Open Source and Enterprise Social Software to Build YouTube-Like Portal for Social Learning- Learning on the Leading Edge, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rapid eLearning Search [Stupid Google Results]

This is stupid but struck me funny.  I did a search for rapid eLearning and the following is a screen shot showing the results with arrows added for one that I really don’t understand.


There have to be all sorts of great jokes about what this implies about Rapid eLearning, Articulate, etc.  By the way, I had logged out at the time.  It’s NOT because of personalized search.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Effective Web Conferences – 41 Resources

I wanted to follow-up 19 Tips for Effective Online Conferences with some additional resources that relate to this topic.  I primarily used the eLearning Learning and Communities and Networks sites and used Conference, Online Facilitation of Conferences, Online Interaction in Conferences, Moderating Online Interaction, and others.


  1. 28 Web Conference Training Tips- eLearning Weekly, July 10, 2009

    Learning to use web conferencing technology is pretty easy, but there is a lot more to training via web conference than just putting on a headset, dialing up an audio-conferencing bridge, and logging onto the application. When developing PowerPoint slides to use in web conference training follow these guidelines: Simplify content.

  2. How to plan and run a good web conference- Influence, May 7, 2009

    While the technology is getting better and better ( here's a good list of options ), putting on a good web conference still requires some preparation and practice. Encourage people to participate during the conference and identify the ways in which you want your meeting participants to engage with you. Below are some helpful tips.

  3. Community Roles: Manager, Moderator, and Administrator, January 8, 2008

    was asked an interesting question last week about the best ways to divide the community manager role into separate manager, moderator, and administrator roles. In most cases, and in my case, the community manager also performs the moderation functions. Moderation would be a small part of several people’s jobs.

  4. Moderation types- Made by Many, February 4, 2009

    Whenever companies want to publish user generated content (UGC) they need to look into moderation, which usually consists of the following three types: Pre-moderation: Some sites operate on the principle that every piece of UGC should be moderated before it’s displayed on the website.

  5. Community Roles: Manager, Moderator, and Administrator, January 8, 2008

    was asked an interesting question last week about the best ways to divide the community manager role into separate manager, moderator, and administrator roles. In most cases, and in my case, the community manager also performs the moderation functions. Moderation would be a small part of several people’s jobs.

  6. Moderating for development- I collaborate, e-collaborate, we collaborate, July 15, 2008

    It’s a process of several months which started in May and includes two live conferences (in a cinema, close to Ede), papers written by specialists on development issues and an online discussion via the website [link]. The names of these people came from the participants list of the conferences. It’s a guess why.

  7. Ed Mitchell: What are facilitation and moderation, February 17, 2008

    What are facilitation and moderation February 15, 2008 – 1:55 pm A quick addendum about facilitation and moderation on online spaces before a longer post about strategy. Are they facilitating, moderating, re-purposing, or nothing at all? Moderation: Is the coalface end end of the model.

  8. Gilbane Group Blog: More on "engage and collaborate" vs. "command and control"-  April 1, 2007

    Gilbane Group Blog Gilbane Group analysts, consultants and contributors on Content and Web technologies & trends Open to the community and moderated Home Archives XML Blog Search Blog Globalization Blog News Conferences Sign In Search More on "engage and collaborate" vs. research last week, Niall Cook comments: You ask: ".what

  9. Backchannel Resources- Full Circle, September 11, 2009

    back channel facilitation in online groups where you make a decision to address issues privately and not “in front&# of the whole group. Conference Back Channel. Raising the bar at online events. Clay Shirkey on back channels at conferences. Jon Garfunkle on the backchannel at conferences (from a blog post comment).

  10. Raising the Bar on Online Event Practices- Full Circle, August 11, 2009

    Alan Levine wrote a deliciously provocative post on last month that I’ve been meaning to comment upon, Five Ways to Run a Deadly Online Seminar. It has been a while since I wrote about synchronous online facilitation is a focused way.  inside the online meeting room). World Cafe’s online ? Spot on, CogDog!

  11. Improving Conferences - Ideas & the Year Round Conference- Engaged Learning, February 6, 2009

    WH Says: “…Open up the pool of presenters beyond the same 10-20 names I see at every e-learning conference… More voices would be a good thing and shows strength (and depth) in our industry.&#. Maybe Brent Schlenker, Heidi Fisk, someone at ASTD or other conferences can tell us the # of RFPs vs. into the conference

  12. Liveblogging an Online Conference- Experiencing eLearning, April 17, 2008

    Wendy Wickham asked a good question in the comments on TCC08: Second Life: Teaching Tips from the Virtual Frontier: Christy - are you using 2 computers (one for blogging, one for the conference), or just one? How are you finding the experience of liveblogging an online conference? am using two computers. It does feel a little intense.

  13. How to Run a Conference That Makes Us Say “WOW!”- Engaged Learning, June 22, 2010

    Attending conferences is always a mixed bag.  conference , my favorite part was talking to others about each others’ issues, concerns, questions.  conference Barcamp e2.0 conference keynote session  .  . Photo on Flickr by Lars Plougmann. We LOVE the other attendees and the idea we get from each other.  More of you.

  14. Online Facilitation, Twitter, Backchannel and Keynotes- Full Circle, February 24, 2010

    The topic was “Online Facilitation: 14 years on. My topic was about my past experience with online facilitation and where I thought it was headed. The conference started with an amazing “Light Night Learning Live&# biting and sharp comedy set up by Jared Stein and Marc Hugentobler. First: Reflection. Perfect timing.

  15. You do whaaat? A glimpse behind the scenes of technical moderation- eModeration, June 10, 2010

    For anyone who believes that a moderator spends his or her time deleting rude words from forums and hitting 'reject' on naughty video submissions (although we do this also), I wanted to give a quick glimpse into the nitty-gritty involved in eModeration's most complex project for a mobile phone provider client. Warning: this gets technical.

  16. How to Develop Robust Moderation Methodology- Community Guy, March 23, 2010

    Moderation, at its core is about ensuring that published content on a particular site, typically submitted by the site’s users themselves, meets the terms of the site’s Terms of Service (ToS). The problem with approaching the moderation task as an analog, queue-clearing activity is that it simply doesn’t scale.

  17. 4. Moderation and safety- FreshNetworks, June 6, 2009

    Why moderate? 8220;Why moderate?&# Moderators] help and assist new members by welcoming them into the community.&#. Moderation is essential to a clean, healthy, vibrant community. good moderator has a light touch, barely noticeable, and a well-moderated community is spam-free, troll-resilient and buzzing.

  18. How to Moderate Teens and Tweens- eModeration, June 26, 2009

    We're really pleased to anounce that we've published a new whitepaper; the second in our series on Teens and Tweens, called 'How to Moderate Teens and Tweens'. Moderation has a role in helping to guide them as well as keeping them safe.”. Tags: teens child safety moderation In this latest publication.

  19. References on Lurking | Full Circle Associates- Full Circle, March 28, 2010

    First, is an old discussion summary from the Online Facilitation list from 2003, compiled by Chris Lang which still has value to me. I’ve written about it here on the blog quite often over the years!) It is more generalized reciprocity. Download file. Finally, some fine blog posts on lurking by friends and colleagues. link]

  20. Is your event worth the price of the ticket?- Social Reporter, March 15, 2009

    The other day I was discussing social reporting and other online activities for a £300-ticket, two-day event with the organiser, and he said: “Next year we are going to have to make it free&#. And in future they’ll have to blend online and offline activities. Limited interaction conference. Problems if not!

  21. Conference Balance- eLearning Technology, June 6, 2008

    Just read a great post by Clive Shepherd - Cutting the Pie - where he discusses what the appropriate balance is at conferences. As you know creating Better Conferences is something that very much interests me. Check out that post, the poll results and the discussion for lots of ideas on how to make conferences better.

  22. Rethinking the Conference Structure - Time to Step it UP- Engaged Learning, February 3, 2009

    Mark Oehlert attended TechKnowledge ‘09 and his thoughts were very similarly to mine: Conferences need to be updated. 8220;Social media should be the default and should kick in as soon as I register and continue past the conference.&#. I will be MUCH less likely to come to your conference.  Ohhhhhh yes.  Yes, Mark, it is.

  23. Online Conference Formats- eLearning Technology, April 23, 2009

    Also, if you are interested in future conferences, please go sign up on the Learn Trends Ning Group. We've just seen an interesting experience with Jay Cross having pulled together a 24 hour, worldwide discussion on the future of learning at Learn Trends. You can find some of the recordings here. On Tuesday morning, we had 125 listening in.

  24. Rethinking conferences- Informal Learning, February 17, 2009

    When I signed up for Spaces for Interaction: An Online Conversation about Improving the Traditional Conference , I didn’t appreciate how timely the topic would become. Conferences have traditionally provided foundation knowledge for instructional designers, trainers, CLOs, and others in the field. Is it a Conference?

  25. Twitter Conference Ideas- eLearning Technology, January 30, 2009

    Twitter has become a pretty great tool to help with socializing at conferences. There is also an interesting effect that people who are not attending still hear quite a bit about the conference and have some level of tangential participation. We also encouraged everyone to put in the hashtag. What do I need to cover by what point.

  26. Better Conferences- eLearning Technology, June 18, 2007

    believe we can build better conferences. And, I need you to help by doing one or more of the following: provide a response to the poll below (won't show in an RSS feed - sorry) provide suggestions for what you'd like to see in future conferences (add comment). because most conferences have these same problems. distributed.

  27. Online Conferences and In-Person Conferences- eLearning Technology, October 28, 2008

    Lisa Neal asked a great question in a comment on Learn Trends 2008 - Free Online Conference : What do you see as the main differences between in person and online conferences? Now, don't get me wrong, I still very much like to do in-person conferences. It's hard to get all the way to an in-person conference.

  28. Social Conference Tools - Expect Poor Results- eLearning Technology, April 23, 2008

    I saw a post by David Warlick - Reaching Out With Your Conference where he suggests that conference organizers should: Consider a social network for your conference. Although I remain skeptical about social networks, social networking is essential, and a few conferences have made brilliant use of them. It's rare.

  29. What Exactly IS a Conference?- aLearning, March 2, 2010

    What’s the intention of having the conference? Jeff Hurt, over at Midcourse Corrections, has a great post about opening and keynote speakers, and it made me think about conferences in general… …and about my own situation. So what’s the purpose of the conference? Is it an educational event? Meeting?

  30. I Have Seen the Future of Conferences...and it is 3D!- Kapp Notes, March 15, 2010

    Terrence Linden discussing the new Second Life browser at VWBPE conference. If you missed the Virtual Worlds' Best Practices in Education Conference , you missed not only a great conference with really good content and presentations, you missed a glimpse into the future of conferences. Check out her entire presentation.

  31. Conference Networking Tools - Do They Work?- eLearning Technology, May 18, 2007

    You may have seen them before and will likely remember their scatter plot: There are other applications aimed at helping you to network at conferences: CMC Central - Tradeshow Appointments , Eveni Meeting Matching ExpoMATCH , eXtreme Networking , Introplus , Leverage Software , NetworkingMatch , and Or maybe it's me.

  32. Be an Insanely Great Professional Conference Attendee - eLearning Technology, September 14, 2006

    As way of introduction to this topic, let me start with a typical scenario that you will recognize if you've ever attended a professional conference. The conference organizer has put signs in the middle of each table with a topic. What are other activities at the conference where I can talk to people? So what LMS are you using?

  33. Conference Preparation- eLearning Technology, March 14, 2007

    As I'm thinking about going to the eLearningGuild Annual Gathering in Boston next month and ASTD in Atlanta in June, I went back to look at some notes I had created before around getting ready for conferences. link] I also ran across this good post: Conference Survival Guide for the Web Worker with some good suggestions

  34. Conference Wiki Examples- eLearning Technology, November 25, 2008

    Someone asked me for an example of a conference using a Wiki both for organizers during planning, evaluating proposed sessions, etc. can say that this made pulling things together for the conference significantly easier. and for attendees with session pages, participant lists, that kind of stuff. It was more aimed at the attendee side.

  35. Conference Session Breakout- eLearning Technology, December 18, 2007

    Uh oh, I just saw a post by Donald Clark slamming the use of small group breakouts during conference sessions. Update: 12/19/2007. There has been great discussion in the comments. wanted to provide a bit more context for this. The session will be workforce learning professionals (an ASTD audience). Original post. Uh oh. Now I'm worried.

  36. Prepare for a Conference- eLearning Technology, January 12, 2009

    Heading into ASTD TechKnowledge , there's a particularly timely podcast that I just did for Tom Crawford of VizThink on the topic of: How to be an Insanely Great Conference Attendee If you follow the link you can get to the podcast. There will be more information coming around the use of Twitter at the conference.

  37. The Rise of Webinars, Virtual Conferences, and Twitter Chats- Element K Blog, May 8, 2009

    Conferences are still being held in the Learning and Development industry as in past years, and generally they have the same level of quality presentations, hallway discussions, vendor demos, and much more. An example of the latter would be the “online forums” that the eLearning Guild does each month.

  38. Online Communites are Changing my World- Daretoshare, June 26, 2010

    Here are four examples of how online communities have changed my world: I was organizing a conference in London UK for a client.  The first time we met in person was at the conference.  Should online communities have a better reputation?  Should Should you join and participate in one more online community? 

  39. Twittering at Conferences- Learning with e's, May 7, 2009

    I really missed the Edumedia Conference in Salzburg this year. have pleasant memories of last year's conference and the beautiful city of Salzburg. Here's the conclusion in full: Microblogging at conferences seems to be an additional way of discussing presented topics and exchanging additional information. Ebner, M., Beham, G.

  40. How to Get the Most Out of a Conference- eLearning Weekly, May 7, 2009

    Conferences have been on my mind quite a bit lately. So you can see why I was pleasantly surprised today when I ran across an excellent blog post on how to get the most out of a conference. Here’s a summary of his suggestions: Choose your conference wisely. Conference Survival Guide for the Web Worker.

  41. Layered communications will change online communities- FreshNetworks, April 14, 2009

    Time for a prediction: layered communications - a mixing of text, speech and video - will become a key issue for online communities in 2010 and beyond. . Two things this week got me thinking about the place for layered communications in online communities and social networks. 

Thursday, August 05, 2010

19 Tips for Effective Online Conferences

I was recently asked me about my recommendations for conducting effective online conferences (virtual conference).  They had attended the LearnTrends free online conference.  This conference has been run for a few years now and is tentatively scheduled for November 15-17 this year.

This is my attempt to collect some of what we’ve learned over the years doing those conferences.  There’s some good information back in Online Conferences and In-Person Conferences, Be an Insanely Great Professional Conference Attendee, Online Conference Formats, and Conference Preparation.

  1. Assign people into roles.  For us we have someone who is an overall producer (actually there are three of us, but we split it well), session moderator, recording engineer, speaker prep person. 
  2. Technical Issues.  Prepare for technical issues and decide what you will do about them.  We’ve used Elluminate as our webinar system.  It has issues with firewalls.  So, we ask everyone to test until they find a location where they can connect.  This means that some people need to attend from home. 
  3. Communicate all of the details in great detail.  No matter how much you feel its obvious what to do, there will be confusion.  This is especially true with information like testing the virtual meeting software, getting into sessions, protocols during sessions, time zones, etc.
  4. Closely related to the above, make sure you have a well known way/place to submit questions and some assigned to answer these.
  5. Make it obvious where to access to resources from speakers.  For us, we create a discussion topic associate with the session and attach files or content into that.
  6. Session timing and design is difficult online.  Most presenters are not used to designing for online, so it’s important to help them plan their sessions to be effective.  You definitely need interaction and time for Q&A.  Some of the best sessions have very effective means of capturing the wisdom of the attendees.  Even the length of sessions is challenging.  Long sessions can try to get too much content in and often lose steam before Q&A.  Short sessions often means really superficial.  This is where a good prep person along with a good moderator can really help.
  7. Open discussions have worked, but they are risky.  I often find they meander too much for me.  Of course, I generally am more comfortable with directed Learning Goals.  Certainly, if you are going to try it have a great moderator and interesting audience.
  8. Getting participation outside of the sessions is challenging.  People don’t read things, or enter discussions ahead of the sessions.  No matter how hard we’ve tried, it’s VERY difficult to get an audience to do anything ahead of when the sessions start.  And it’s even difficult to get them to engage through discussion forums outside of the sessions.  It’s best to design things where the discussion forums are an added bonus and have some set questions to spark discussion.  But don’t count on that much participation.
  9. Make sure you have breaks between blocks of sessions.  The conference staff needs it, but so do the attendees, even if you think they will pick and choose sessions.
  10. For us, defining the times for sessions is difficult.  There’s no way to choose time slots where it’s not an ungodly hour in some part of the world.  Not sure we’ve ever figured out an answer.
  11. Text Chat works great during sessions as a Back Channel.  Encourage it and make sure the moderator and/or presenter weave it into the session – see Presentation Backchannel Multitasking.  Also, make sure that the presenter is not distracted by chat.  I always encourage speakers to ignore it and I’ll (as the moderator) let them know when there’s something I’d like them to discuss.  And I’m not a big fan of using multiple back channel tools that effectively split the discussion.  Just keep it in the webinar tool.
  12. Inject fun into the event. Nancy White jumped in to lead a round of Pecha Kucha using slides she had never seen before. The spontaneity and spirit of fun raised energy levels. Need fun stuff sprinkled throughout.  Moderators can help this greatly.
  13. Speakers on a common topic should get to know one another and swap ideas on their approach in advance of the session.
  14. Pictures of speakers make the event more real. Have pictures on session descriptions and on the first slide of each speaker.
  15. Thanks to Scott Skibell, we recorded the sessions directly off the web, i.e., outside of Elluminate and he produced great recordings.  This helps a lot.
  16. We’ve tried a few different ice breakers.  Interaction to learn the webinar tool is always a good idea.  Sometimes a kind of introduction to break the ice with audio can be good.  Especially if you want audio input.  Many people freely text chat, but don’t like to speak online.
  17. Be careful with screen sharing and video.  They require so much bandwidth that they often make the presentation not work for lots of attendees.  Much better to use screen shots.
  18. Some people take online commitments lightly. Several presenters never showed up. Some volunteer moderators disappeared when we tried to pin down times for them to cover.
  19. Online conferences have the advantage of being able to have introductory and truly advanced topics that will appeal to a narrow audience.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Evaluating Knowledge Workers

I’ve discussed before about how it’s Hard to Evaluate the Performance of Knowledge Workers and now some additional backup from Dilbert:


Which goes along with:


But let’s be careful here because: