Adobe Connect is a web conference software that allows for collaborative interactions during meetings, training and webinars. The tool has screen share and video capabilities which make it an idea option for meetings and training. In my organization, we use Adobe Connect to facilitate all of our instructor led training classes.
Tools for Instruction
The need to deliver training in a virtual environment exists in many organizations. With employees across the country and even internationally, it’s not always possible to pull employees together in a physical classroom environment. To accommodate classroom training, virtual training is necessary. According to Aitken (2011) “Web conferencing services lend themselves to learning since they allow participants to share presentations, edit and review documents and interact online in a range of other ways as their training session progresses” (p. 31). A facilitator can use Adobe Connect to share training materials, conduct breakout sessions, gather participant reactions, conduct chats, white board information, etc.
Integrating the Tool
We use Adobe Connect as our tool for delivering instructor led training in a virtual environment. Trainers are able to use all the bells and whistles included in the tool to keep learners engaged in training sessions. The video capabilities can be integrated into training and used during breakout sessions so learners can physically see each other. The trainer can build polls into the tool to gauge learner’s knowledge and feedback throughout the session. Chat boxes can be used for learners to provide feedback and contact the instructor individually if they have any questions or are having issues with the technology. Identifying a space for learners to provide feedback on their experience allows the trainers to adapt their delivery to increase engagement and meet individual needs (Jaenke, 2012).
Adobe Connect is not a free tool, so getting started would require purchasing the software or having access to it through work. Once a trainer has access to the tool, they should set up a room for their training and begin customizing it for their class. Polls, chat boxes, Q&A pods, etc. should all be set up and ready to go before learners join the class. Since the technology may be new for some learners, the trainer should consider sending basic instructions to the learners before the class. If that’s not possible, they should look to incorporate a brief overview of the tool at the start of the class. For additional information on how to get started in Adobe Connect, please reference the links below:
Aitken, R. (2010). Building for the future with virtual learning. Strategic HR Review, 9(1), 29-34.
Jaenke, R. (2012). JUST ASK THEM: Increasing Learner Engagement. T+D, 66(7), 30-31.
Facebook is a free social media platform that allows users to connect with others and join public and private groups. The groups allow people with similar interests to interact through a page dedicated to a specific area of focus. For example, a group could be set up for parents of children is a local girl’s scout program for parents to share pictures, discuss upcoming events and coordinate volunteer activities. These groups do not have to be limited to personal activity. Facebook can be leveraged as a social learning tool for businesses.
Tools for Instruction
Through the use of groups, Facebook can be leveraged as a tool for instruction. Abbasi (2016) states “While Facebook was not originally created as a learning platform, it does integrate useful education applications. Apps such as Slideshare and Webinaria Screencast Recorder allow instructors and learners to share information and collaborate seamlessly on Facebook” (p. 27). An instructor can set up a Facebook group and invite all learners in a class to join the group. Through that page, an instructor can post information, solicit feedback, ask questions, conduct polls, etc. Learners can react to the information that both the instructor and other learners post. This set up can serve as an engaging platform for healthy dialogue between all parties on the page.
Integrating the Tool
I’ve never used Facebook as a tool for learning, but have participated in several group pages. As the presence of millennials continues to rise in the workplace, I need to consider how my organization could leverage Facebook for our current programs. We tend to gravitate toward teaching in the ways we’ve learned, but as leaders and instructors it’s important we recognize the needs of the increasingly tech savvy learner (Tucker, 2016). I could easily establish a Facebook group for a class of learners that are getting ready to start a new hire class. This could be especially effective for a class for work at home learners that will never have the opportunity to meet and connect in the classroom. Our facilitator could use the page to conduct an icebreaker activity where people post pictures and introduce themselves. From there, the page could be used to engage in additional discussion outside of the daily classroom activity. It can also be used as a way to recap daily lessons.
Getting started on Facebook is really simple. The tool is fairly intuitive and will help any user establish their page and user groups. It will be important for an instructor to communicate to users how they use the tool and what their expectation is for how they interact on the page. As a tool for learning, Abbasi (2016) offers some simple advice for getting started: create a page for the program, use the discussions tab to engage learners in discussions, make the title page catchy, link your company page to the group page, use Facebook insights to track engagement, embed surveys to gather feedback and ensure content is kept fresh and relevant. The following resources provide additional information on how to get started:
Abbasi, I. (2016). Get social. TD: Talent Development, 70(3), 26-28.
Tucker, C. (2016). Escaping the lesson-planning doldrums. Educational Leadership, 74(2), 83-84.
Bonfyre is an employee engagement tool that allows users to connect and build relationships through a social media app. Bonfyre is also accessible through a desktop for those users that don’t have access to a smartphone or tablet from which the app could be launched. Having a forum that allows employees to interact and engage with each other makes it an optimal tool for learning.
Tools for Instruction
Similar to Facebook, instructors have the ability to build Bonfyre pages for training classes. Once a page is built, instructors can invite learners into the forum. Once in the forum, instructors can provide logistical information about the class (start and end time, room location, pre-work, etc.) and begin generating excitement about the learning experience. Users can respond to the instructor and interact with other users in the class. Once the class begins, the instructor can use Bonfyre to post questions, polls, pictures, conduct daily recaps, etc. This provides more opportunities for users to engage and to benefit from social learning. Jeffrey (2015) defines social learning as “enabling employees to learn from and collaborate with each other, and plug into or create internal and external knowledge networks that ideally become self-sustaining rather than centrally mandated” (p. 37). Bonfyre engagement doesn’t have to stop at the conclusion of training. Users have the ability to continue to engage and interact with each other once the class has ended.
Integrating the Tool
Social media tools do not have to replace traditional learning methods, but can serve as a complement to learning activities (Puijenbroek, Poell & Timmerman, 2014). In my organization, we’ve integrated Bonfyre into our learning programs as a supplemental tool to reinforce learning and encourage engagement. Instructors have flexibility to determine the best approach for using Bonfyre with their learners. After learning more about how to set up social media use for effective learning, we do have an opportunity to create more structure around how and when instructors use the tool. Consistency in approach will allow us to gain and share best practices across instructors. This tool can benefit leaders that are looking to create deeper connections across their teams. In the same way instructors interact with learners, leaders can do the same thing, fostering a stronger sense of community across their team.
Like many apps, Bonfyre is fairly intuitive and easy to use. If an instructor or user is familiar with any social media tool, they can figure out Bonfyre quickly. The tool is designed for businesses, so there is a cost associated for a company interested in using Bonfyre. Some pre-work is required for an instructor looking to use Bonfyre for a class. They’ll need to gather the names and email addresses of their learners so they can invite them to the Bonfyre ahead of time. Additionally, games, activities, polls, etc. all require set up before they can be deployed. Simple interaction and posting of content and pictures requires no pre-work. For instructors or leaders looking for additional information on Bonfyre these sites may be helpful:
Jeffrey, R. (2015). What apple pies can teach you about social learning. People Management, 36-40.
Puijenbroek, T., Poell, R., Kroon, B., & Timmerman, V. (2014). The effect of social media use on work related learning. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(2), 159-172.