Friday, December 26, 2008

Interview with Dave Giusti, Freepath: Innovators in E-Learning Series

Welcome to an interview with Dave Giusti, Community Manager for myFreepath. myFreepath is a network of people who exchange content through playlists created in Freepath. With Freepath, you can share your favorite media with a private group or a worldwide audience without having to struggle with file conversions or FTP. It is not necessary to upload, convert, or embed. All one has to do is drag and drop.

Hi Dave, Welcome to E-Learning Queen. How did you get involved with Freepath?

Prior to joining Freepath, I was an Engineering manager at Google for close to 4 years on the AdWords team. I discovered Freepath as a user.

What do you see as the most useful aspect of Freepath?

The ability to utilize a variety of file types and media to tell a story. Freepath provides an iTunes-like player for the everyday digital story-teller to show common types of content in a seamless and meaningful way. Content that includes traditional desktop files, multimedia and web content. To be able to interact with such a diverse set of content is very powerful.

Let me give you an example. Think about a person who is going to present on the recent election. The content and media that was generated from the election was extremely rich and available in numerous formats: YouTube videos, candidate websites, reports in PDF format and digital pictures of demonstrations and rallies generated by the media. Think about a flat linear presentation consisting solely of slides with a focus of giving an overview of the election. Now, contrast that with a presentation created in Freepath.

A presentation that perhaps would begin with the cheers of a crowd, followed by sound bites of candidates espousing their positions, slides outlining their credentials, digital pictures displaying the passion on all sides! It is Freepath’s ability to pull from a wide range of digital content, enabling it to interact seamlessly that makes it such a powerful tool. Freepath gives the presenter the tools to create something that is above and beyond what audiences have come to expect in a presentation.

How does Freepath compare to other integrative applications?

Freepath occupies a unique space. When I look at where Freepath lives, I see a cross section of areas: Presentation software (PowerPoint, Keynote, Ovation), Online Collaboration tools (LiveMeeting, Intercall, WebEx, GoToMeeting) and Broadcast and Communication (YouTube, Skype, Ustream). Freepath extends the power of these applications; it is a dynamic solution for face-to-face presentations as well as for web communications. We have a user who says that Freepath makes him feel like the wizard behind the curtain. The ability to pull together different media types then present over the web or in a classroom is very powerful. Adding the ability to share this diverse collection of digital media in the form of a playlist for collaboration or information dissemination makes it that much more compelling!

How do you envision using it in training and webinars?

I see Freepath similar to a toolbox. The user fills up the tool box with instruments used to create. In the Freepath world, these tools take the form of video, documents, websites, and digital files. The trainer has in mind what she would like to create; a message to convey. However, in a dynamic environment such as a classroom or a meeting, questions arise; the direction of discourse changes. The presenter needs to be able to change course on the fly or perhaps repeat a previous point to underline it. Freepath gives the presenter this power and flexibility. In Freepath, there is a prep mode where you drag and drop your media: websites, videos, sound, documents, and slides. The interface has been described as an iTunes-like player. It is intuitive and easy to use…just drag and drop!

The audience is either viewing a second monitor or through a projector in full mode.
As the presenter moves through the presentation, she has the ability to move in a non-linear way if desired. Giving the ability to move between a mash-up of digital media; responding dynamically to the audience and to the content. If the presenter is displaying a website, she has the ability to unlock the screen and select links to dig deeper within the site. The user can manipulate numbers in an excel spreadsheet, add or delete text to a document, then lock the screen to move forward (or backwards) through the presentation.

What is your relation to Freepath? Why do you believe in it?

Freepath has a companion website called myFreepath. It is a place to share, collaborate and discover content. I am the myFreepath Community Manager. As Lou Douros, Freepath co-founder, says, “I am there to protect and promote.” myFreepath user gets 100mb of free storage for their .play files; this is the format of a saved playlist. myFreepath users can invite friends and contacts, create groups that can be private or public and upload and download content. The myFreepath community is growing every day. We are starting to see teachers create groups to share and exchange subject matter, trainers providing best of class information for their constituents, and sales teams exchanging product collateral. The exciting thing for me is to see how people have adopted Freepath and myFreepath into their work flow and communication channels.

Susan, let me give you an example. Say you are pulling together some training material: four PowerPoint slides, a video, some photos you shot on a digital camera, a PDF and a few Word docs. You finished your training session and it was a success; so much so, that some of the attendees expressed an interest in accessing the class data for future reference or perhaps to share it with colleagues.

You export the playlist in Freepath 2.0 into a .play format (all the assets/files are contained there) and upload it to myFreepath. Perhaps you create a group that includes the class attendees. Every person in your group now has access to your playlist - right from their installation of Freepath 2.0. As the creator of the playlist, you have the option to keep the playlist private, only accessible by the members of your group or make it public. myFreepath is place to go to discover content, collaborate with others or to share your content. We will continue to expand the myFreepath experience; there is a lot on the horizon!

We have a Freepath update in the weeks to come with some really cool new features and functionality. Stay tuned!

If you would like to see Freepath in action, check out the 90 second tour:

Freepath gives people a new way to present. Pulling a variety of file types into a presentation (movies, PowerPoint slides, websites, PDFs, etc) and then moving between these files in a non-linear, dynamic way really took the idea of presenting to a whole new level for me.

We have a user, a trainer, who likes to say “I’m not cool, but my content is.” This really underlines the strength of Freepath. The linear slide presentation that we have all had to endure in meetings and classrooms is not the only option anymore. The ability to use exciting, vibrant and compelling content in your presentations and classrooms is a reality with Freepath.

In addition to Freepath, we offer users 100mb of free online storage at It is a community built around content; sharing, collaborating, discovering. There is a mountain of content out there in different formats. The Freepath community helps push the best content to the top and then make the presentation of that content seamless and flexible.

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