Using Elluminate Live as a tool to facilitate in-person meetings

Hi,

Gary here.  Long time no blog.

In a May 27th, 2010 post, Marketing Guru Seth Godin blogged with a challenge of using the iPad to “fix” meetings.

Elluminate Live can be used, by people in the same room at the same time, to do most of what Seth wanted as well as additional things he didn’t list.  Although Elluminate currently will only play back meeting recordings on the iPad, Elluminate Live runs on Windows (including tablets), Mac, and Linux computers and costs far less than the challenged $500 target price.

How do I know this? At Elluminate we have meetings like this when our team meets in person a few times a year.  Also, we have meetings like this remotely every day, multiple times a day, with our teams that are distributed all over the world.  We run our company this way!

I feel so strongly that Elluminate Live meets his challenges I produced a short video answer to his posting.  Here is an image from that video:

blog

Interesting points:

  • Video made in 9 hours
  • Diorama made by yours truly with exacto kife, foam board, packing tape, a few magic markers, and a few sheets printed on my inkjet
  • This may be one of the few videos that actually uses the ‘Seth Godin Marketing Guru Action Figure’ (a real product)
  • Finger puppets by Unemployed Philosophers Guild on loan from my son for the day.

Happy meeting! (And teaching!)

Gary

Elluminate Sniffs Out New Market for Live eLearning and Web Collaboration Environment

Pleasanton, California – April 1, 2010

computer dog

Never a company to bark up the wrong tree or let sleeping dogs lie, leader of the pack Elluminate is attempting to mark a new territory by going after an emerging industry segment.

According to Charles “Spotty”  Spaniel, CCO (Chief Canine Officer) of Tails O’Waggin’ Breeding and Boarding Facility, residents are using Elluminate Live® Kennel Edition™ to attend obedience classes without leaving their doghouses.

“Bow-WOW, I love Elluminate Live!” said Spaniel. “It’s more fun than chasing my tail or digging in the dirt. In addition, we look forward to working with Elluminate to develop the SoIP (smell over the Internet) functionality that’s so important to the canine market.”

“I started out with a free, 3-dog vRoom, but once I started dlogging about my online classes I had to upgrade to Elluminate Live! to handle additional attendees,” Spaniel added. “It’s a great tool to stay connected worldwide to collaborate with other breeders, and we’re also in discussions with Westminster to webcast the next big dog show.”

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New Website Prompts a Lesson in Collaboration

Today, www.elluminate.com has a brand new look, with Web 2.0 styling, easy-to use navigation, easy-to-find content, videos, and a lot more.  We welcome your feedback and suggestions about what you’d like to see on the site.

But more to the point of this blog entry, I also wanted to highlight that this project was a monumental effort by a large team of people within and external to Elluminate.  There were hundreds of pages, thousands of links, and what seemed like a million activities to coordinate and details to address.

One reason I love Elluminate is that we drink the Kool Aid.  That is, we use our own technology to communicate, collaborate, and educate.  With team members in Alberta (Canada), Arizona, Massachusetts, Oregon, Ohio, Florida, the UK, and other locations, we needed to stay connected.

Elluminate Live! brought together our team and other invested participants several times a week to report project status, discuss issues and brainstorm solutions, demonstrate progress, and train users on the content management system. Session recordings were available for those who couldn’t attend.  We used other Web 2.0 tools as well, like the wiki our design agency created to post designs and videos to review,  lists of problems to resolve, and meeting minutes.

Our ‘go live’ launch Saturday evening was an orgy of teamwork with more than a dozen participants in an Elluminate virtual meeting room. We spent hours monitoring performance, checking technical details, searching for broken links and missing graphics, and making suggestions for enhancements to make sure you have a great experience on our new site. What dedication!

We also took time recognize contributions and congratulate each other for a job well done.  And truth be told, that’s just as necessary, meaningful, and satisfying online as it is face to face.

– Beth, Elluminate Goddess of Communication

For Those Who Dream Big, There’s Virtual School

As teachers, parents, and mentors, we have always told children “you can do whatever you want to do,” encouraging them to aim high, shape their destinies, and let nothing get in the way.  We have also always reinforced that a good education is essential to achieving these dreams.  But do these two things really fit well together – as well as they can?  Traditional education requires prescribed hours, standard programs, and limited class choices.  What is an enabler may also be hindering the pace of achieving the dream because of the stringent structure.

Check out Florida Virtual School’s video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIunOHl0s5o ), where students are interviewed about their virtual school experience.  I want to be a dancer, a NASCAR driver, a marine biologist, a pediatric hematologist.  Given these passions, traditional school was apparently not the best fit.  With virtual school, they’ve found flexibility, personalization, independence, specialization, and more.  Combine this with core elements of education and you have a formula for raising kids who are motivated, inspired, and confident.  They live their personal dreams.

So teachers, parents, and mentors, continue with your encouragement and advice.  Kids today absolutely can have high aspirations, pursue their personal or outside interests, and get a great  education at the same time – more easily than ever before.

What do you want to do?  Dream big.

– Donna from Elluminate

Make Meetings Productive

With today’s pace of business, constant barrage of information, and economic pressures, who isn’t strapped for time each and every workday?  Surely avoiding meetings is a way to free up time for something else more pressing.   This thinking assumes that going into it, you don’t expect anything real to get accomplished.  The Harvard Business Review article Is Your Company As Dull and Unproductive As Its Meetings? caught my attention and turned my thinking around.  Why not embrace meetings and treat them as a key way to strike more off our daily punch lists?  Critical to the success of this is effective moderation, engagement, and managed participation.  Online meeting services, also known as web conferencing, can help with all of this, improving meeting productivity and maximizing the value of every meeting.  Here are a few ways:

Use tools that allow participation – Simply watching and listening makes for a boring meeting experience.  Allow your colleagues to be active during your meeting.  A shared whiteboard enables multiple users to contribute to a brainstorm session, add or remove action items, and snapshot visuals for review  and annotation.  Be sure your online meeting tool saves all team contributions to the whiteboard as you peruse multiple virtual whiteboard pages during your meeting, and as you end your meeting.

Use engaging media – Nobody likes “death by PowerPoint”, and merely sharing PowerPoint slides in an online environment may drive participants’ attention elsewhere.  Take your meeting participants to relevant websites to validate points, show video clips to assess needs or provide testimony, use live video to establish a personal connection with your participants.  And by all means if you do present PowerPoint slides, use pointers and graphical mark-up to focus your audience on key points as you speak.

Exercise your moderation skills and tools – Your great meeting leadership skills will transition well to an online meeting environment.  And, you will now have more tools to make moderation even easier.  Know when to “open the floor” for ad-hoc discussion and when to “give and take control” using virtual microphone for a more structured and focused approach.  Want someone to temporarily take the reins as meeting leader?  Make sure your meeting tool allows you to selectively give moderation powers to a colleague – and more importantly let’s you remove them to get your seat at head of the table back.

Offer up several ways to communicate – Use multi-way audio conferencing – either VoIP or phone – to speak, but also allow participants to use text-based chat.  This is a great way to get all ideas out on the table, especially from those who typically may not win any airtime at an on-site meeting.  Be flexible with your agenda and pause every now and then to read what’s happening in the chat, addressing any questions, issues, and ideas for further discussion.

Record for those who cannot attend – Don’t waste so many cycles polling for availability and finding the ideal day and time when the whole clan can come.  Rather, schedule the meeting for when your key stakeholders can attend, either online, by conference call, or ideally both.  Record the meeting so that others who wish to be informed can be – on their own time.  You will avoid repetitive one-on-one recaps with those who could not attend.   Make sure you’re using an online meeting tool that captures everything – content, shared media, VoIP audio, and phone audio – so that nobody can plead ignorant at accountability time.

So don’t give up on meetings.  If you and your colleagues underperform in an on-site, face-to-face meeting environment, try it again online.  You can improve productivity using tools unique to this environment and potentially save big on time, travel, and room rental costs.

Finally, do not tolerate meeting mediocrity.  Your company or institution cannot afford it.  Expand your meeting management talents by leveraging new online tools that can help you and the team accomplish so much more.

– Donna Christopher, Elluminate Director of Marketing

Reflections on 2009

From an Elluminate perspective, 2009 was a great year. While we continued to enhance existing products, like Elluminate Live!, Elluminate Plan!, Elluminate Publish!, and Elluminate Bridges, we also launched two new innovative products with Elluminate VCS and LearnCentral.

We grew revenues to record highs and increased our customer base to over 1,500 accounts, we served more than 624 million annual web-collaboration minutes to over 7 million teachers and students located in 170 different countries. Wow!

Best of all, we continue to hear from enthusiastic and loyal customers who are using our enabling technology to transform teaching and learning worldwide. We applaud those innovative educators. Elluminate is making a difference. We are grateful for the opportunity. And very proud.

– Beth, Elluminate Goddess of Communication

Educational Networking: A New Kind of Professional Development

If you are an educator, you’ll want to know more about social networking for educators, or educational networking.

With educational networking, you have access to a 24×7 online experience not unlike the connecting and sharing that happens face-to-face at conferences. But now, geography is no longer a constraint, critical mass of interest needed is lower, and time and cost to participate are significantly more affordable.

Here’s a great new white paper, “Educational Networking: The Important Role Web 2.0 Will Play in Education.” It was developed by our own Social Learning Consultant Steve Hargadon, who is also the founder of Classroom 2.0. The paper discusses social networking, Web 2.0, the emergence of educational networking, and its adoption for personal learning.

It also looks at how our LearnCentral social learning network for educators is taking educational networking a big step forward.We invite you to become part of the educational networking revolution. It’s free to join, and you get a free personal meeting room and access to a free public conference room for larger events.

– Beth, Elluminate Goddess of Communication

My Rememberances of 9/11 and Continuity of Learning

I read an article in the Boston Globe today that said that many students no longer have much recollection of the events of 9/11, as they experienced them at such a young age. Lessons for today are turning more into historical facts vs. a discussion of remembrances. My memories are still so alive. After all, 8 years ago in an adult’s life seems like just yesterday. And it was 8 years ago on 9/11 that I experienced “continuity of learning” without even realizing it.

Early morning 9/11, I was at work planning for a Customer Advisory Council meeting. I worked for a company that developed virtual learning products, and I needed to learn about what educators needed in future versions. My meeting was to be held online, using web conferencing technology, the next day.

At 9:10 on 9/11, I abandoned my preparation efforts to watch the replays of the twin towers being hit by 2 planes, crowded into a cubical with co-workers all standing in silence. As the day went on, I worried about my family living in the NY area, my co-workers and neighbors who headed to Logan Airport that morning for a flight, and colleagues at a conference in NYC. Like everyone, I experienced distraction, confusion, anxiety, and grief. This was not a business-as-usual day. Would tomorrow be?

The next day, 9/12, was my big Council meeting. I attended my online event from home. As invitees began to enter the virtual room from all over the U.S., I greeted them and said “I’m really not sure what to expect today.” I was referring to meeting attendance, but my comment triggered discussion about concerns of the nation that day. It turned out that in the end my online session was quite successful despite the crisis situation.

In retrospect, the worries I had about my meeting were incredibly minor compared those who were faced with life and family changes as a result of 9/11. They were:

– Would everyone attend? — Why not. Flights were all grounded but internet service was fine. My online meeting was on and reachable at the click of a link.

– Would this session even happen today? — Why not. People displaced by shutdowns or who chose to work from home for safety merely attended from a different PC-equipped location. They had participated in online sessions so many times before. Only their chairs were different now.

– Would we be in the mindset? Sure. Live interaction and discussion allowed for a brief but needed decompress. After that, we were ready to focus on something engaging and positive.

As they say in times of death, life goes on. In times of crisis, learning and productivity can go on, too.

– Donna Christopher, Elluminate Director of Marketing

Large Educational Webinars – An Intimate Experience?

I recently attended an online webinar along with approximately 349 other people distributed throughout the world. There may have been even more attendees than this, as some attend as a single online participant but have a room full of people behind it. Even though seated here all by myself in my home office, I left at the end believing that I had a more intimate experience than if this had been a seminar in a physical conference room.

Why? Many reasons, but I will describe one – I was able to interact and actually influence the presentation by nature of the feedback I contributed. I did this through chat. I did this by adding my thoughts in text to the whiteboard. And we were all encouraged to do this by the brave presenter willing to take on the challenge of making this a true educational experience, not just a one-way push of information.

The bottom line is that I doubt I would have had the opportunity to do this if seated in row 50 of a dark conference room with a PowerPoint presentation on the big screen at the front. So an intimate, engaging experience no longer means small class sizes in the online world. I’m not entirely sure that means big is better, but it can be pretty darn good.

To see for yourself, view the interactive recording of “5 Games in 50 Minutes” with Lou Russell.

– Donna Christopher, Elluminate Marketing Director