The Offstage Technologist

If you are any good with technology you will certainly be asked at some point in your career to assist with a presentation problem. The speaker is having trouble getting his or her presentation to work. Maybe it is their first time using PowerPoint (yes there are those few out there)…. Maybe it is a need to switch between video and slides… Whatever it is, without your assistance, the show will not go on. So what can you do…

First, anticipate the need for your super hero skills. You see, Superman always wore his suit anticipating the need to save the world. So if you are attending a conference and you know the speaker, be ready to fly in and save the day. If you know the speaker is inexperienced, be ready to leap tall buildings.

Next, have a workable solution. For me, I love wireless. I have both a wireless keyboard and mouse for these types of situations. When I’m asked to assist, I “bring the rain”. I roll up with a wireless mouse and keyboard. If I anticipate a need, I just grab my wireless mouse from my computer bag.

Sitting a couple rows from the stage is normally safe but if needed I’ll work from behind the stage. Whatever it takes, I’ll be connected to step in and assist. So which is better… mouse or keyboard or both. That depends on what you plan to do for the speaker. If it is volume and jumping between screens, the keyboard with volume controls is best or a super mouse with shortcut buttons on the sides. If you are just moving slides or taking care of the occasional popup window, a mouse is fine. A mouse is also helpful if the screen saver keeps popping up. You can move the mouse and reset the timer without anyone knowing.

All in all this solution is great. I’ve used it for many years. I’ve made a lot of friends in high places with my magic super powers. Remember, it is only through anticipation of the need that you can solve people’s technology problems from a distance.

Participant Response Systems

I was recently asked about purchasing a participant response system to increase engagement with students during lectures and discussions. The client works in one of my facilities and was directed to me to assist… not for the educational technology part but the money part. I guess I’m the “show me the money” guy.

I took on the project with the following specs:

Client: Physician Educator

General DescriptionPurchase a PRS to use during student review and exam prep sessions.

Requirements: MUST BE A CLICKER SYSTEM.

End user: resident physicians who are tech savvy and all of which have smart phones.

Deadline: “ASAP”

A PRS is designed to give the facilitator immediate feedback from the learners. This can be as a survey or quiz questions and can be open ended so the participant can ask a detailed question of the speaker. Some systems will collect the participant’s identify and others will keep the responses anonymous. There are many different features available in some devices while others are a simple A-B-C and 1-2-3 response.

I’ve both used systems like this before and I’ve created my own solutions to collect feedback from students. A few years ago I employed (for free) QuizSocket with my 50 students in a university class. The system required me to log in, display the QR code and website for them to log in with their phones or computers and I displayed a slide show using PowerPoint. This was probably the easiest system to deploy. No cost, no add-ons, no special steps for PowerPoint. The downside was that the system did not display responses to the crowd. Often times that is desired. For me, I did not want to influence the response by letting the students see how others responded before they entered their own answer. The students loved the system. After the first day where I gave them instructions on how to log in, they were set. However… the system is no longer available and I have not been able to find another like it.

Another solution I used was my Google Voice number. I gave it to all of my students (this time about 30 in the class) and asked them to text me their answer. I displayed the question using PowerPoint and I reviewed the stream of responses on my second laptop or phone. It was pretty quick and I could go back to the person missing the questions or not responding if I wanted to. It was free as well but lacked the summary features of other solutions. I still use this from time to time, depending on the setting and need.

Most recently I started using PollEveryWhere. I really like it and will probably use it as my “go to system” for these types of requests, given time to make the need installation and PowerPoint adjustments. The system has a PowerPoint or Google Presentation add-on which embeds a log-in and interface with the PollEveryWhere website. When the user creates a question/survey slide, the user can select from the library on his/her account, or let the add-on build a question from the previously built question slide. Pretty easy and easy to teach other less tech savvy. There are limits to the system. The free membership is limited to 40 responses per question. So, if you are in a class of students that never exceeds 40, you are good. Create all the questions you want and deploy without worry. If your needs exceed 40 you can get a membership for about $20 a month which increases your response levels and adds more features. All in all I think this is the system I will use from now on.

OMG… I almost forgot (I had to go back and add this in)… PollEveryWhere sends the question to the user’s phone if they are using a smart phone. So you can run the poll without a projector or computer. Also, if the user does not have a smart phone (they can’t see the question pop up) but they can text the answer in and the system will accept it. Too cool….

So for my current client asked for a “clicker”. I did some investigating and found that the system he is interested in has a price tag of $3500 (red flag from the start), requires a USB dongle to collect responses (another headache), specialized software to retrieve responses and display on the screen (not a big deal, pretty standard but could turn out to be a problem), and by nature of being a “clicker system” requires the user to obtain a clicker and return it when done (another concern).

First red flag – price. We have already demonstrated that the need can be met for free. If that is the case why continue unless the system offers much easier use and more features.

Second concern – USB Dongle. I currently use a system in one of my locations which requires a USB antenna to capture the responses. The responses are A-B-C and 1-2-3. This was purchased before my tenure and has been a headache for me for a couple of years now. The reason is that the leader believes he will get more accurate responses if he does not have the participant use their phone to enter their response. I get it but when the system does not collect personal data then the data is anonymous. Also, I’m the only person willing to take the time to install the special software on my PC, maintain the software on our presentation PC, maintain the clickers, and the USB. Yes, this system has moved me from consultant to technician. Oh… yes, we started with 50 clickers and we are down a few. People just don’t return them.

Third concern specialized software. Some organizations require administrative rights to install new software on their systems. That makes sense. But what if I get moved from one room to another, now I need to reinstall the software in order to proceed with my meeting. If the OS is updated, then the software must be reinstalled too and they “always tell us when they do updates” right?!?!?

Finally, I already mentioned that I have lost a couple of clickers. They are used by people and wear down. They must be replaced, batteries changed, wiped down from germs, etc. Someone must collect and carry these things from spot to spot. Again, I move from Educational Technologist to technician.

If you don’t get it so far, I don’t like “clickers”.

So how will we deal with this current request… especially since the client wants clickers. Well we started by prototyping or testing the PollEveryWhere system with our end users. They loved them. The older faculty liked them too which was a surprise. The client was not present for the test so I did not make any headway with him. When I shared my findings with him, he was still against the online system. His only reason was that he had a bad experience in the past with online systems… and I can respect that.

Solution, ask that we try the online system a couple of times and collect the negative feedback. From there we take it to the people with the money and request the clicker system be reconsidered. I told him I’m not against the clickers but just feel the online system is better. Deep down I don’t like them but if they work then great… however, I will expect the final solution to be self-sufficient meaning the presenter (this physician) will manage his own technology. I will not be a technician in the final solution.

Key Points

Consider the unintended consequences or costs of using a given technology solution. Who will manage it, and what happens if they leave? What other processes will need to happen to get this solution up and running? Is it really worth it?

Consider past experiences in their context. Technology has changed. Things that may not have worked in the past may work better in the present or near future. Don’t tie yourself to an expensive solution which will be obsolete in the next month or so. Notice, my aversion to clickers is not due to the technology but the systems and processes needed to use the technology – security of installing software, USB dongles, physical clicker care, etc.

Consider the preparation put on the developer before deploying the technology. How much time will it take the presenter to adjust his or her slides to use this technology? Run it in a test setting to see before you cough up the money.

Consider the backup plan if the system goes down. If you use the clicker, it is down. If you use a phone, and the WiFi goes down, people can switch to the 4G and keep on going. If the projector stops working, smart devices can see the question and keep on clicking… cool pun.

Next week or next time we will pick up on automating your class rosters when teaching one day classes like CPR.

Cheers

PS… I am not employed by or receive any financial gain from the companies mentioned above. However, if you know someone in those companies wishing to give me a reason to change this statement…. have them call me, LOL.

The ER Nurse Project

As I pointed out in my last post, I was approached by a nurse leader needing to do some staff development for about 100 emergency room nurses. She wanted to do a flyer with a quiz and offer a gift card drawing for those submitting successful responses. The concern was that if she used a paper version it would create a large amount of work for her. I took on the project with the following specs:

Client: Nurse Leader/educator

General DescriptionDevelop an online system for nurses to read given content (provided by the educator) and submit a quiz (developed by the educator) on a monthly basis.

Requirements: Must be easy enough for the nurse educator to update and manage on her own. Must automatically grade and provide feedback. Must be free or almost free. Must collect names and contact information with each user. No additional log in or memberships required.

End user: nurses who are familiar with technology and use it on a regular basis.

Deadline: Deploy within 2 weeks.

 

Seems pretty easy. This project is really two parts: 1) flyer with educational material which can be attached to any email. 2) a link to the quiz which the nurse can click or enter and visit to complete the quiz. The client will need access to the quiz development and quiz results section and appropriate training. The big issue may be FREE.

My immature brain says setup a LMS so she can deploy quizzes as often as she wants with back issues of the flyer. She can use MOODLE and provide the user with self-registration abilities… yada yada yada… this is not the best route.

Moodle requires server space and while you could set that up on a free hosting site, it will not always be free and is not dependable. Moodle also requires the user to enter a new system, create a user profile, and password stuff. The client will need to learn a new system and all this requires me the EdTech to be available for glitches and hangups at almost anytime.

Enter from stage left… Google Forms. I’ve used Google Forms for some time and love it. It is simple and easy to setup, manage, collect information, download info… it is FREE. Depending on what the client wants, it can be set to require a Google account for the end user or not. All in all, it works great. Downside, there is always a downside. Google does end services from time to time. Should this happen, we go back to the drawing board and do something different. Very little will be lost. The customization is also very limited. You can change the colors of the form or the header image but generally you are not able to change anything about the form.

Another great feature of Google Forms is that you can collect the data directly into a spreadsheet which Excel or Google Docs can use and manipulate. Copy the form to a new one and make the monthly changes and you are done. Copy URL for end user and plug into the email as a hyperlink or reduce to a tiny URL and that part is complete too. You can even turn off the form so no new items are collected. All in all it works great and FREE.

So, I developed a quick prototype for the client to review, sent her the link and presto, it worked. I created a simple quiz form for the client to use. Click here…  Ok… it is only a prototype. The client is a short nurse and I pick on her so please don’t be offended by the answer choices. It is not my final product but it is proof of concept and she likes it. I’ll share another Google Form project later but give it a try.

Oh… as for prototyping your projects, we will discuss that further as well but for now consider this. My EdTech professor always told me, “What you heard is not what the client said and what they said is not what they meant.” Basically, if all that happens from a prototype is you are able to get on the same page with your client, you were successful… but that is for a later post.

Key points:

While you may be able to build a big robust system, consider the needs of the client in the context of the abilities. If they will hire someone to manage a large system, go for it. If they want to maintain it in house, what you build may be what you have to maintain yourself.

Consider Google Forms for your quiz and survey needs. It is free and easy for the client to maintain.

Prototype in a free area before spending any money. It will save you a lot of headache in the long run.

Next week I’ll discuss using an online participant response system to increase student engagement. Again … for free!!!

Cheers

 

 

Educational Technologist

Every week I’m faced with at least one educational technology call. Educational technology is the study of the use of any technology which can be used to improve the educational experience of a student. The age of the student does not matter, it really depends on the need of the client. Age comes into play when the student can’t use the technology or the level of technology interferes with the learning experience of the student.

This week’s challenge was posed by a hospital friend looking for a method for quizzing and teaching her nurses without adding a significant workload to either her or the nurses. The setting is a busy emergency department with over 100 nurses. These nurses work both shifts and 7 days a week. The work of touching each nurse on a regular basis is almost impossible. The nurses all use computers in their regular job and are familiar with the use of smart phones, although some may not use them for more than email and calls.

The idea was to deliver a newsletter to the nurses with an educational topic identified as a weakness in the department. The nurses could read the newsletter and then take a quiz. Those completing the quiz successfully were entered in a monthly drawing to win a gift card. Each month the newsletter would be updated, sent out and the quiz updated and deployed.

Early in my technologist career, I would take problems like this and immediately deploy a high level technology heavy solution. The client would be happy for about iteration of the deployment. Why? Because I failed to recognize the need for a technology trained person to maintain this system. I can build the system and deploy it as often as they ask but now instead of a creative engineer, I’ve become a technician. My workload would increase with each new project. When my time was all used up, my ability to solve new problems would stop. No fun for me.

Now, I look for solutions in the open domain meaning, the manager of the system could not only own their project and make changes them self, but the support for the product was already out there. I did not need to do anything but develop the prototype and assist with the start up and they were on their way. If they later need help, I’m their guy. This not only reduced my workload, it gave the client the freedom to control their future, speed of changes, expansion to other projects, etc.

I know I’m not going to talk about how I solved this problem in this post but I will in my next post. This post was  to kick things off and share my philosophy as an educational technologist.

 

Key points:

Educational technologists are not just technicians, they are teachers of technology to teachers and users of technology in the educational setting and where education crosses other industries. Their skill is in knowing how to use technology to an educational advantage to solve various problems both educational and beyond. Don’t get bogged down into a technician role; You are much more valuable and trained than that.

Match the client to the solution not just the solution to the problem. This sounds wrong but if the client can’t support the solution you will need to find another solution to the newly created mismatch problem. Clients called you to provide a solution… don’t give them a new problem.

Know your end users. The end user may not be the client. The end user is the person who will ultimately use the product. While the end point of the problem may be for the data to come back to the client or an associate, if a user along the process line is not technologically savvy, your solution, no matter how creative will rest on this technologically weak user.

Next week I’ll walk you through my solution to this problem and share what we discovered along the way.

Cheers

Start with Why – Simon Sinek

The inspiring, life-changing bestseller by the author of LEADERS EAT LAST and TOGETHER IS BETTER.

In 2009, Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 28 million who’ve watched his TED Talk based on START WITH WHY — the third most popular TED video of all time.

Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with WHY. They realized that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it.

START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY. – FROM AMAZON PAGE

 

Ted Talk by Simon Sinek

 

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Many of my clients and students want to talk about their dreams and what it will take to reach those dreams but they fail in taking the next step – put your money where your mouth is. I’m going to take that step… My goal by the end of the year is to earn my CHSE (Certified Health Simulation Educator) certification. So here it is… I’m starting my application and paying for the exam.

What’s your goal and what are you doing to put your money where your mouth is?

Quick Wins

What is a “quick win”? I’ve heard it used a lot over the last couple of years. The term has different meanings for different people. It is typically seen as a reference to the outcome of a project which requires little effort but offers high return.Image result for "quick win"

I ran an n-gram using Google and found this image and quickly noticed the increase in the use of the term skyrocketed in the early 1990’s.

The term has obviously become very popular in our lexicon but is it being used wrong? I believe it is…

When a person enters a new role or needs to spark enthusiasm among a team, a quick win can be helpful; however, if we live by the “quick-win” model we will start looking more for Bandaids than true long term solutions. Leaders enter new roles needing to demonstrate their ability and a quick win can do that but innovative leaders know to get meaningful solutions which will deliver lasting results you must fail to succeed.

Quick wins are also simple, often obvious solutions to problems but when you think deeper you realize that if the solution was so easy then why did it not get done by the previous administration?

There is a place for quick wins when starting out a new process or system in order to gain buy-in but be careful. A quick win may actually set you up for failure down the road, especially if you must later remove the Bandaid to fix the problem you covered up in the earlier phase.

As an innovator I look for the deeper problem. Why does this look like a quick win? Could it be that the information I’m being given is intended to make me bite the quick win hook instead of dealing with the real problem? Could this be a strategic move by the problem causer to protect them self by distracting me with an easy win? Be careful when you look for quick wins as things are often too good to be true.

 

Restarts

What does a restart look like? It seems like people have different feelings about restarts. Some consider them a sign of a failure requiring efforts to stop and be re-planned. On the other hand, some feel a restart is just another opportunity to try again. I tend to lean towards the latter.

The restart is all about perspective. If you see things as being a failure, then it will be… but if you can look at things as a learning opportunity then the restart is the next chapter. The future hasn’t been written yet so learning from the past and moving forward in the present is the only way to succeed. Failure is the only other option. It will always be your choice in the matter.

Students Entering Research

The purpose of this page is to provide students of research  a single site for required links and documents. Please notify the webmaster if you find a link to be broken.

Protection of Human Subjects Training

Protection of human subjects training is required for all researchers engaged in work with human participants. There are many different packages out there to meet this requirement but some IRBs require training from specific sites. Below are two popular resource locations.

CITI – this site requires the user to be associated with a sponsor institution. Some IRBs and sponsors require CITI as well as periodic refreshers.

NIH– this site is free and a bit easier but some IRBs do not accept this certificate.

IRB Documents

Applications for Institutional Review Board Review are unique to the organization. Using a generic application or template can help the researcher get ideas and thoughts on paper for later copy & paste into the official application. Most IRBs have a unique checklist of items to submit with your application.

IRB Joint Application – Navicent-MUSM– this document is intended to reduce the burden on researchers associated with both Navicent and MUSM.

Research Proposal Template – This document can be used as a guide for developing your research proposal. While it may not be all inclusive, it does get you started in the right direction and can be tweaked to suit your needs.

 Checklists

Below is an example of a list of required documents.

IRB Application – see above

Human Protection Training certificates for all research participants (PI, Co-PI, research assistants, etc) – see above

FDA 1572 form (FAQs) – Click here for form

Researcher’s brochure (FAQs from GCP)

Informed Consent – (Regulations) – also in template above

Data collection instrument – the IRB will want to see all data collection forms to compare with the research protocols.

IRB Fees form or waiver request – Many IRBs require payment for services which can range from $250 to $1000 or more. Requests for waivers are often permitted when the research is not funded or is within the institution’s mission. Students often receive waivers.