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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Interview with Cheryl Vedoe, Apex Learning: Innovators in E-Learning Series

Online learning for secondary education continues to evolve, and the curriculum developed is being used in innovative ways. Welcome to an interview with Cheryl Vedoe, CEO of Apex Learning, developer of curriculum and elearning solutions for secondary education.

What is your name and what is your involvement in e-learning?

I'm Cheryl Vedoe. I've been directly involved in the development and delivery of digital curriculum since joining Apex Learning as CEO in September 2002.

What is Apex Learning, and what is its mission and vision?

Founded in 1997, Apex Learning ( is one of the pioneers in online learning for secondary education. We are a team that is passionate about education and believe online learning can play a key role in helping schools differentiate instruction to address the unique needs of each student and increase educational opportunities for all students.

We offer a comprehensive digital curriculum that is widely used today in both distance-learning as well as brick-and-mortar classroom programs for original credit, credit-recovery, and intervention. We have designed our curriculum to offer multiple pathways to help schools meet the needs of all their students - from those not succeeding in traditional programs to those capable of accelerating their learning. Our Foundations courses offer structured remediation in math and English for transitioning middle school students as well as high school students not prepared for grade-level coursework. Our Core courses are standards-based courses designed to fully meet high school graduation requirements and prepare students for college and work. Our Honors courses are designed for motivated students who want opportunities to go beyond what is required. And finally – though this is really where we began – we offer College Board-authorized Advanced Placement courses.

What are your new initiatives?

Our most recent initiative in curriculum development is a new pathway - Literacy Advantage courses - specifically designed to support struggling readers to be successful in high school math, science, English and social studies courses. It is a startling fact that the majority of high school students read below grade level. For these students, the rigors of the required high school curriculum can be daunting. Nearly one-third of ninth graders will drop out before completing high school, and one of the most commonly cited reasons is the lack of literacy skills. With Literacy Advantage courses, schools can provide individualized learning experiences for these students, combining the instructional equivalent of a content area teacher side-by-side with a reading specialist.

Who do you consider to be the target audience? Why?

Our online courses are increasingly being used as the curriculum for instructional programs serving students who have not been successful in the traditional classroom. Regardless of whether the program is an alternative high school with students working on original credit or the focus is credit recovery to get students back on track for graduation, a consistent theme we hear is how difficult it is for these students - many of whom are struggling readers - to master grade level content. Too often, students become discouraged, their attendance declines, and, with a history of failure, they choose to drop out of high school. Literacy Advantage courses help support struggling readers to earn credits toward graduation in the required math, science, English and social studies courses while simultaneously developing their literacy skills.

What makes your approach effective? How do you know? What have you done to really test the efficacy of your approach?

When we published our first online course more than 10 years ago, there was certainly skepticism as to whether such a course could be as effective as the traditional classroom model of instruction. Our first courses were in Advanced Placement subjects, and widely used to provide opportunities to students who would not otherwise have access to AP courses. Students enrolled in Apex Learning online AP courses have consistently achieved scores on the College Board AP exams comparable to their peers in traditional AP classes. In fact, scores for online students have generally been above the national average. Literacy Advantage courses build on not only our extensive experience in developing and delivering effective online courses but also on the body of current research on adolescent literacy and recommendations from leading experts in literacy instruction.

Have recent changes in the way online learners interact changed anything about Apex Learning and/or your approach? (social networking, twitter, wikis, multimedia, voice boards, etc.)

We are solely focused on the development of digital curriculum. We make extensive use of multimedia to create situational interest to motivate students as well as to support and encourage them as they engage in learning. All our direct instruction incorporates multimedia — in the form of animations, images, audio, video, charts, graphs, and interactive exercises — along with text to present multiple representations of concepts as well as address different learning styles.

Please list and describe a few key benefits of using your new series of courses. Do you have any demos?

Literacy Advantage courses are standards-based high school courses that follow the same scope and sequence and cover the same rigorous academic content as our Core and Honors courses. What sets Literacy Advantage courses apart is the integrated literacy support to assist struggling readers in completing high school content area courses.

Accessible text helps students comprehend rigorous academic content. All text is written with controlled vocabulary and syntax. Text is chunked and scrolling limited. Students can choose to hear instructional text read aloud. New vocabulary is supported with rollover definitions and usage examples that feature audio and graphical representations of terms. Active reading and explicit vocabulary strategies help students simultaneously develop literacy skills to bring them to grade level.

Please describe upcoming activities.

Four Literacy Advantage courses - Algebra I, Physical Science, English I and U.S. Government and Politics - will be available for the 2009-2010 school year. Our recently-announced English Foundations I course, designed for high school students reading below basic, will be available for summer school programs this June. In addition, new math courses specific to California, Florida, and Georgia will be available.

What kind of assessment strategy do you use?

Assessment opportunities – including formative, summative and diagnostic assessments – are integrated throughout Apex Learning online courses. Each lesson begins with the learning objectives. Assessments address those learning objectives and are specifically designed to test students at various levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Formative and diagnostic assessments provide opportunities to gauge student progress on an ongoing basis. Summative assessments require students to demonstrate what they have learned at the end of each unit and semester.

Why did you focus on that particular assessment? How does it meet the needs of students?

Diagnostic assessments. Unit-level diagnostic assessments provide valuable information on student strengths and weaknesses to both students and teachers. Automatically-generated, personalized study plans guide students to relevant instructional content based on identified areas for improvement.

Formative assessments. True learning requires students to constantly think about and evaluate what they are doing whether they’re reading, listening, watching, interacting, exploring, discussing or writing. This reflective mindset is supported by formative assessment opportunities throughout the instructional content. These include both scored and unscored assessments that give students continuous feedback.

Summative assessments. Students are required to demonstrate what they have learned through unit tests and semester exams. Apex Learning online courses utilize objective computer-scored test instruments and more subjective open-ended, teacher-scored testing tools to evaluate higher order and critical thinking skills.

Optional question: Do you see any applications of Apex Learning for developing online courses for technical / professional development?

It's interesting to note that although we are one of the leading developers of online courses for secondary education, we have not to date developed nor used online courses for professional development. As is true of most curriculum providers, we deliver professional development to the schools that use our digital curriculum.

We train both teachers and administrators on our courses and learning management system as well as on best practices to ensure a successful implementation to achieve each program's educational objectives. We have found that one of the most effective professional development models is for our education consultants to spend time in classrooms in one-on-one coaching and mentoring with teachers. While we believe there may not be an effective online substitute for that one-on-one in-person touch, we are now developing our first online professional development course to deliver some of the more basic training and serve as a resource teachers can go back to when they need a refresher.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Interview with Patrick Mileham, NexLearn - Innovators in E-Learning Series

Virtual worlds, simulations, and games are used in training and education in ever-expanding applications which seek to create learning experiences. Welcome to an interview with Patrick Mileham,director of editorial development for NexLearn (

What is your name, your position, and your affiliation and what is your involvement in NexLearn?

Patrick Mileham
Director of Editorial Development for NexLearn
I work closely with our partners to develop relevant, instructionally sound training experiences.

What is NexLearn and what is its mission and vision?

NexLearn is a custom e-Learning developer with expertise in creating immersive learning simulations. In fact, the core group that started NexLearn developed some of the first business-related e-Learning courses to include branching social simulations. Most of the company’s team members have been involved in the development of e-Learning tools or courseware for more than 15 years. We definitely excel in industry experience and knowledge.

The company’s mission evolved from its vision statement: “To advance excellence in learning technologies by combining people, technology and great ideas.” Once we decided where we wanted to go as a company, we outlined the best and most effective way to get there. By leveraging our creativity, experience and innovative development philosophy, we knew we could build strong customer relationships that would allow us to lead the technology-based education industry.

What new products and services do you have?

In 2006, NexLearn introduced SimWriter, a simulation authoring tool that gives anyone—including instructional designers, subject matter experts, trainers, managers and human resources personnel—the opportunity to develop custom, media-rich immersive learning simulations based on their company’s own content, processes and procedures. And since the tool features pull-down menus and pick-and-click functionality, SimWriter users can focus on creating engaging and instructional storylines instead of computer code. SimWriter’s ease-of-use translates into a savings of many hours of development time, effort and money.

Just last month (February 2009), we released SimWriter 3.5, the latest version of the authoring tool that includes more than 30 new enhancements. We believe it is the most robust and flexible rapid development immersive learning simulation authoring tool available today. And the feedback we’ve been receiving from SimWriter users—including experienced developers and people who are just starting to develop courses—proves that the popularity of immersive learning simulations continues to grow.

In addition, NexLearn provides a full range of custom courseware development services. We can do everything from Knowledge Engineering to Video and Audio Production in our onsite studios. We have over 1200 immersive learning projects completed in the last 14 years, including some projects as long as 183 hours of instruction and as short as 30 minutes.

What do you identify as the key new trends that have made NexLearn beneficial to people?

Well, with the current state of the economy, we’re seeing more companies putting greater emphasis on training...including those that have downsized their workforce. It’s critical for corporate leaders to realize that training isn’t a luxury that’s only valuable when business is good. Employee training and development is an investment that is critical to the success of their business—especially when they’re asking more from fewer employees. Companies are searching for help to train and cross-train their employees effectively and efficiently.

Business leaders and CLOs are attracted to NexLearn for a couple reasons. First, we offer SimWriter. Again, the benefit here is that the tool offers developers the capability to create customized, complex branching social simulations in a quarter of the time and at a fraction of the cost it normally takes to create the same project using other development methods and tools.

And second, we’ve developed a unique and beneficial three-tier process for helping our partners succeed.

For clients that have limited or no development resources to create their own training courses, NexLearn experts can create and maintain projects for them—from the spark of an idea during the initial brainstorming session, to instructional design, graphic design and media development, to the annual updates to ensure the course content is current. NexLearn is a full-service developer.

The second option for NexLearn clients is a “we create, you maintain” plan. In this scenario, NexLearn develops the program but the client makes any updates to the course. This option would have been almost unthinkable just a few years ago, but with the availability of SimWriter, companies now have a tool that gives them more control over the development process. By doing more of the work, companies can save more money.

Finally, companies that purchase SimWriter can take advantage of the “you create and maintain” option plan. Many organizations have qualified internal resources to be able to create their own training programs, we’re now giving them the ultimate rapid development tool they need to create high-quality, media-rich courses.

How does NexLearn work? Can you provide one or two examples?

As I mentioned earlier, NexLearn and SimWriter are a powerful combination that provide multiple options for companies interested in creating customized training that is engaging, interactive, and very effective. We believe that simulation learning is the best approach to training today. By creating life-like scenarios, learners can experience real-world processes, procedures and decision-making opportunities in a safe learning environment. In the real world, failure is not an option. In a simulated world, it’s a learning experience.

This is an example of a customer service simulation created using avatars.

This is an example of a sales simulation created using video to allow learners to evaluate both verbal and physical cues to respond appropriately.

This example shows the unique SimWriter interface that allows users to view both the simulation map and the corresponding text and media components simultaneously.

Please describe upcoming activities.

Chief Learning Officer Summit 2009
Sawgrass Golf Resort & Spa, Ponte Vedra, FL
April 1 – April 3

ASTD 2009 International Conference and Exposition
Washington DC Convention Center
June 1 – June 3

Optional question: How can NexLearn help develop human capital and resources? How can it contribute to a global economic recovery?

The challenges of a waning economy, such as hiring freezes or layoffs—coupled with the fact that millions of baby boomers are preparing to retire—are forcing business leaders to maximize their human capital. To accomplish this feat, organizations must invest in the skills of their employees like never before. From soft skills like communication, negotiation, and leadership to more technical skills like equipment operation and even industry-specific compliance training, it’s critical to the success of every business that employees are well trained. We work closely with our partners to identify and develop the educational and training experiences employees need to do their jobs better, faster, and more effectively.

Perhaps the worst thing a business leader can do right now is to pull the plug on employee training. By drastically reducing training opportunities, workforce skills will become stagnant and companies will lose their competitive edge. On the global stage, NexLearn and SimWriter contribute to the world economy by helping organizations develop custom training, which allows them to fill job vacancies that require specific expertise.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Interview with Majda Cimperman, Principal: Sodrazica, Slovenia -- Quality in Education Series

Welcome to an interview with Majda Kovačič Cimperman, who lives and works in Slovenia. She is principal of a school that offers instruction to students grades 1 through 9, and also includes a kindergarten. The school, OŠ dr Ivan Prijatelj Sodražica, was named after a distinguished scholar. In this new series, we share the experiences of successful educators as they discuss their unique circumstances and their programs. In addition to sharing educational philosophies and approaches to teaching, the series gives educators the chance to compare notes and see where there are insights to be gained by taking a look at the opportunities and challenges that face each school. In this interview, Majda Kovačič Cimperman describes experience of the school and the winner of the a nationwide essay contest in conjunction with the children's novel, Good Deeds Society.

Where is Sodražica, Slovenia?
Slovenia is a small, yet diverse country with many points of interest and natural beauty. Sodražica is one such place located in the Lower Carniolia region of Slovenia and borders with the regions of Loški Potok, Velike Lašče and Ribnica and is situated about 500 m above sea level in the lowest region of the valley. It has an area of 49.5km² with 23 surrounding villages and approximately 2200 inhabitants. The villages are mostly in the lower region of the valley near the River Bistrica but 10 villages lie about 800 – 900 m above sea level.

Please describe your school: OŠ dr Ivan Prijatelj Sodražica.
Education / Schooling in the Sodražica Valley dates back more than 190 years with its beginnings as a Sunday School, developing into a Public School, surviving both W.Ws all up to todays' Primary School.

The school is named after Dr Ivan Prijatelj who was born in a small village Vinice and was named amongst the first university professors in Ljubljana in 1919. He was a literary historian, essayist, theoretic, translator ……..

There is also an affiliate school in Sveti Gregor about 5 km away with 15 pupils.
It caters for pupils from grade 1 till grade 5 and then children are included in the home school in Sodražica.

What are the ages of your students, and the grades? How many students do you have?
Children are obliged by law to attend school at the age of 6. We have a total of 221 pupils from grade 1 – grade 9.

Special assembly of students at OŠ dr Ivan Prijatelj Sodražica in conjunction with celebrations to honor the Slovenian writer France Prešeren.

What are the general demographics of the surrounding area? What are the major sources of employment? What types of diversity exist?
15 villages are demographically endangered. The population from the time of WW I is less and as a result there are less births, but the migration of the population has also contributed to the depopulation of the area. (America, Argentina, Germany)

The latest statistics show that there are about 908 active workers (614 employed and 65 in private enterprise), 39 farmers ( sheep, dairy,beef, rabbits,goats,..) and about 190 unemployed.
People make a living by working in factories in the valley: (FIPIS d.o.o producing metal, plastic and cloth filters for the automobile, pharmaceutical, rubber, petrochemical, building industries as well as in the field of ecology; FRAGMAT – IZOLIRKA different types of insulation and building elements; POS – a private company making products from plastic and FIBRAN-NORD producing insulation material). People are also employed in services like cafe bars, reaturants, post-office, bank, school, kindergarten, shops, bakery, hairdresser's salon, butcher's, greengrocer's.

Because the younger generation has attained a higher education many are unable to find jobs according to their qualifications in the home environment and therefore there is also a daily migration of people to work in Ljubljana (45km away) or nearby Ribnica ( 10km away), Bloke, Lož (20km away), Kočevje (27km away) .

It is worth mentioning here that farming doesn't represent enough income for a comfortable living probably because of the harsh weather conditions, so, many farmers compensate and manufacture the famous wooden-ware for which this region is well known (souvenirs,toothpicks, sieves, basket weaving, flooring, wooden tools, etc. ) Some pedal their goods all over Slovenia and some have placed their goods on the international market even to China.

What is your schools mission and vision?
Knowledge, respect and honesty are the foundation stones of our school.
I believe that school is a place where we learn and work together – weaving trust, respect and the feeling of belonging into the everyday life of our school.

I would like this everyday life to be filled with optimism and happiness. The time that we dedicate to education and upbringing – with the cooperation of teachers, pupils and parents- we build the mosaic of children's values which they will hopefully carry on into their future lives.

What do you view as your core instructional strategy? How do you accomodate and reach out to diverse populations?
The People's University of Kočevje promotes the education of grown ups in all life learning. It carries out education programmes with professionals and has a net of »Education points« at local primary schools in the region. Every second Wednesday of the month the doors of our school are open to the public hosting different seminars,craft groups, computer studies groups.

Who is the principal ? What is the principal's role in your school?
Mrs Majda Kovačič Cimperman is the principal of the school and adjoining kindergarten.
She is the leader and coordinator of the school's life. She plans and leads work in the school and kindergarten, prepares the yearly work plan ; is responsible for seeing that children's rights are respected and that the pupils are made aware of their responsibilities to the school and learning; follows the work of teachers and is present in class offering an evaluation and advise for future work; responsible for enhancing cooperation between the school and parents ( parent – teachers's meetings, lectures for parents,..) and informing them of developmnets within the school and kindergarten; enhances the cooperation of the school and health care institutions; employs personnel; above all she ensures that the working environment is pleasant and healthy for all those employed as well as for the pupils and parents and carries out the demands made of her as stated by the law of the Republic of Slovenia.

How is English taught at your school? How are books in English made available ?
Children begin learning English at lower primary school level – last year we started in grade one and have followed through to grade two with one hour of English every week. The formal teaching of English is planned (formal curriculum and graded ) from grade 4 onwards . Because there is quite a lot of new material and a totally new subject for many, an extra curricula activity is offered to children in grade 3 – once a week . We believe that the introduction of a foreign language then, makes learning English in grade 4 less stressful and the children build their self-confidence as they have already met some vocabulary and continue building on this foundation in grade 4 .

In grade 4 we have two lessons per week. In grade 5, three lessons per week with one hour devoted to differential study ( ranking of »competent« and »less competent« pupils – two teachers ). In grade 6 four lessons per week with one hour devoted to differential study. In grade 7 four lessons with one hour of differential study. In grades 8 and 9 pupils have 3 hours of English per week. This year we have heterogeneric MIXED groups( »very competent« , »competent« and »less competent« pupils). There are also extra froms of work - like preparing for county and state competitions in English.

We use textbooks authorized by the Ministry of Education in Slovenia which are bought by the school and lent to the students for use and returned at the end of the year. Workbooks are bought by the students. Teachers have resources such as teachers books, CDs, DVDs that accompany textbooks and ofcourse internet sites for additional information and exercises for students who want to know more!

English books are made available by purchasing them via catalogues or from sales persons when visiting the school. There is however a limit associated (money alloted) to the buying of books. English teachers also bring their own books and share them with students whenever they feel student enthusiasm.

Please describe the contest that your school ran in conjunction with the release of the book. Good Deeds Society, and the activities that were held.
In September of last year, the teachers of Slovene received an invitation from KUD Sodobnost International and Vodnik Publishers to participate in a literary competition associated with the translation of the Good Deeds Club written by Susan Smith Nash and her visit to Slovenia.

Entrants had to write in the form of a »thinking essay« on one of the following themes:

· Kithie and her mother: who is the child?
· When does the internet hurt the most ?
· As the President of the school's Good Deeds Club I would…

Pupils from grade 6 to grade 9 were invited to enter, however the greatest response came from pupils in grades 6 and 9.

Every year we remember our famous writer France Prešeren the author of the official Slovene Anthem –( Slovene national cultural holiday, 8th February ) and this year we included Susan's visit into the school's activities . On Thursday 5th February pupils met with Susan and listened to her introduction and presentation of the Good Deeds Club- listening very attentively to her every word and trying to understand. Whatever words they didn't understand were translated .

The students who took part in the essay competition were given the opportunity to ask Susan some questions about her life and work in English. Pupils were also very eager to attain Susan's autograph which she gave with delight and also added a personal message for each pupil.
The day was made even more memorable by the fact that Blaž had his birthday on the same day as Susan came to visit . Who would have thought that receiving a prize and having a birthday happens all at once / at the same time? – quite an unforgettable experience!

Who won the contest? What were some of the themes the essay touched on?

Essay contest winner Blaž Kranjec, with principal Mrs. Cimperman, and Alenka Urh, from Sodobnost (l to r).

The contest was won by a pupil in grade 6A Blaž Kranjec - one of five pupils from the whole of Slovenia who were awarded with books and a visit from the author in person at their school.
The theme he chose to write about: Kithie and her mother: who is the child?

Blaž opened his essay with the thought » Age is not necessarily associated with being grown-up/ or an adult: what's important is responsible behaviour.«

He believes that the roles are questionable and that at times Kithie and her mum even change roles as far as responsible behaviour is concerned.

He presented descriptions of both mother and Kithie in different situations: their relationship as mother and daughter ; the relationship with her step-brother; the time Gus's father went missing, the Good Deeds Club - showing how both coped with the same situation.

He concluded his essay with a question, inviting Kithie for a comment – maybe to agree with his overall thought of the book- » Not everything is as dark as we see at first, from every bad experience you can learn something new and in this way steer clear of future difficulties. It is very important that we give one another support at these times, combining knowledge and the will to solve problems and thus get through/over hardships.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Interview with Joe Gustafson, Brainshark: Innovators in E-Learning Series

What is your name, your position, and your affiliation and what is your involvement in Brainshark?

I’m Joe Gustafson, the CEO of Brainshark. I founded the company in 1999 to create a simpler, faster, cost-effective way for organizations to deliver learning and information to their employees, customers and partners. Using Brainshark, organizations can significantly accelerate learning programs and leverage subject matter experts to rapidly create and deliver compelling multimedia presentations and eLearning courses.

What is Brainshark and what is its mission and vision?

Today, Brainshark ( is the leader in multimedia for the enterprise, helping businesspeople to transform static business and training content into high-impact on-demand presentations. Our products enable users to communicate faster and more cost-effectively than ever before.

Brainshark has democratized the use of multimedia – making it possible for any businessperson and subject-matter expert to easily deliver knowledge and information in an engaging format that is effective for knowledge retention and can be experienced on demand, anytime, anywhere.

All of our offerings are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and can be implemented in days. Today, Brainshark is being used by more than 1,000 companies for training, as well as marketing, selling and corporate communications. For learning applications such as compliance training, sales training, and customer training and channel certification, Brainshark provides a quick and cost-effective way to educate geographically dispersed audiences in a consistent and convenient manner.

Welcome to an interview with Joe Gustafson, Brainshark, an innovative solution for generating effective instructional multimedia and webinars. Brainshark includes hosting as well as a simple interface. Instructional strategies meet current economic realities. Software as a Service makes it affordable for organizations to adapt to the times at a financially viable level.

What new products and services do you have?

I’m very excited about a new aspect of our business: the Brainshark Content Network ( It’s an online marketplace of on-demand, user-generated content for business learning. The site has really taken off and is continually expanding. You’ll find content on a wide range of business topics – from Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance to Creating a Greener Company.

By tapping into a vast universe of experts – allowing any expert to publish content at no cost and providing a targeted distribution channel of businesspeople and organizations seeking relevant expertise – our Content Network turns the traditional way of creating and acquiring eLearning content on its head. Organizations can easily acquire these training topics and customize them to their needs.

This content is both free and fee-based and invites community involvement – allowing viewers to rate, comment on and share the presentations they see. In fact, leading eLearning research firm Bersin & Associates last month dubbed Brainshark a “2008 Learning Leader” due to our development of the Content Network, which the firm called “a YouTube-like open market for e-learning.”

What do you identify as the key new trends that have made Brainshark beneficial to people?

In this economy, there isn’t a company we’ve talked to lately that isn’t trying to reduce costs, and that is causing many to rethink the way they’re delivering learning. In many situations, they’re canceling annual sales meetings, freezing or reducing travel, and generally trying to do more with less.

Because Brainshark provides a very cost-effective way to create and deliver training, we’re seeing strong demand. In fact, we’ve developed a micro-site, available for viewing here, with examples of how our customers have realized cost savings and aligned their organizations for the road ahead.

Another important trend we see is the growth of informal learning. Training professionals are looking for ways to enable informal learning within their organizations, and many are searching for the right tools to empower employees. They’re concerned with how to manage the quality of user-generated learning without being a bottleneck. Brainshark provides several ways for companies to allow SMEs across the company to self-publish compelling content and for training professionals to manage quality and provide self-organizing portals to share, search for and access learning. It is absolutely where the direction of learning is headed.

How does Brainshark work? Can you provide one or two examples?

Making a Brainshark presentation is intuitive and virtually goof-proof; in fact, I’d invite you to get a taste of the process – for free – here: All you need is a Web connection and a telephone, and you can see how easy it is to add your voice to a presentation.

Step 1: Upload a presentation. Normally, a user would upload his/her PowerPoint presentation to the Web to get started; here, to simulate the process, we simply ask you to select a template.

Step 2: Add your voice. You’ll see simple instructions appear in the browser window. Using your phone, dial the toll-free number, and when prompted, enter the presentation access code provided. In your browser, you’ll see the first slide of a sample presentation, and on the phone, you will hear voice instructions similar to using voicemail. You’ll press “1” on your phone to start recording, and you can begin to record voice to your slides. (In this case, a script is provided for you!) Should you slip up or forget something, you can start over on a particular slide at any time.

Step 3: View your presentation! Your Brainshark presentation is e-mailed to you as a link, which you can also e-mail to others. Whenever someone views your presentation, you will be alerted via e-mail of that person’s identity and contact information, and how long they viewed your presentation.

Of course, in our full product, there are a lot of “extras” – including the ability to add surveys, quizzes and polls; incorporate video; set course completion requirements; run reports and more!

Welcome to an interview with Joe Gustafson, Brainshark, an innovative solution for generating effective instructional multimedia and webinars. Brainshark includes hosting as well as a simple interface. Instructional strategies meet current economic realities. Software as a Service makes it affordable for organizations to adapt to the times at a financially viable level.

Please describe upcoming activities.

We recently launched a new program for non-profit organizations that includes a quarterly license grant as well as a discount program for qualifying non-profits, and we’re getting ready to announce our latest grant recipient. On the non-profit section of our Web site, you can learn about one of our recent grant recipients, the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games, who used Brainshark to train 5,000 volunteers – saving tens of thousands of dollars, as well as weeks and months of staff and volunteer time.

In challenging times, using technology is an essential way for non-profits to leverage their resources, and so many organizations have communication and training challenges that we can help solve. Several of our current customers have inquired about using Brainshark for the causes and organizations they are involved in outside of work, and we’d love to see even more grant applications and inquiries.

Optional question: How can Brainshark help develop human capital and resources? How can it contribute to a global economic recovery?

Brainshark helps organizations share knowledge and deliver learning programs quickly, easily and cost-effectively. By enabling subject-matter experts with easy-to-use self-publishing tools and providing an enterprise-class platform to manage, deliver and track vast amounts of content and numbers of learners, organizations can overcome the traditional bottlenecks of learning delivery and better leverage people, money and time. Unlike Web conferencing which requires participants to take scheduled time out of their day to participate in training or meetings, Brainshark’s on-demand format makes learning available at any time and in short segments, such as when learners have a few free minutes in their day, enabling learning without sacrificing productivity.

Training and travel budgets are among the first to be cut in a down economy, but to increase revenues, companies still need to retain good employees and train them to perform at their peak. They also need to adapt to change, align around profitable strategies, and strengthen relationships with customers and partners. With Brainshark, companies can significantly cut costs while doing even more to train, communicate and increase revenue. We look forward to continuing to help organizations find innovative ways to reduce time and expenses and prosper in difficult times.

Examples of forthcoming webinars (from a Non-Profit):

Many Faces of GIS: AAPG Web Symposium Series

Stimulus Bill (Will the Stimulus Change Life as We Know It for Energy, Education?)
AAPG Web Symposium Series

Good Deeds Society

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