Has classroom-based training had its day?

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Picture a traditional classroom with rows of students and a knowledgeable expert at the front of the room. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to find the time away from their work to attend such trainings. Moreover the expert isn’t available when you get stuck with something later. Ergo, there is no long-term shared interaction.

In 2012 learners’ expectations of how to get information have skyrocketed. Today’s kids have increasingly limited attention spans. In such a scenario, a four-to six-minute video lesson blends entertainment as well as practical application. How such instructional videos are integrated into an overall approach will make the difference. Let us take the example of an up-and-coming coaching class. In order to expand operations, they recorded the live classes they took each week at their Bangalore base and subsequently played these videos across various cities. After explaining each concept in class, the coach gave adequate breaks for students to practice what they had learnt. Additionally, he paid attention to key factors like the pace, the student’s reactions, the examples used and the visual representation as a whole. So, instead of being monotonous, students absorbed and enjoyed the video lessons.

Another important part of learning is relevance. It has to be just in time- searching for exactly what I need when I need it. Consequently by providing opportunities for reflection or feedback, the learning process is further accelerated in a way that is both personal and sustainable.

The truth of the matter is there are a lot of ways in which people can learn, and they all have their place. But it seems almost certain that instructional videos and online tools will continue to multiply.

kPoint has a new logo!

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A few months ago we started thinking about changing our logo. The first question that came to our mind was “why is a logo important?” followed by “why change now?”

In the long history of corporate logo designs, many companies have undergone several logo changes. Many logos that we would recognize in our sleep such as Apple, Mercedes Benz etc did not start out elegant. For a good review of how some of the famous logos evolved, take a look at http://www.instantshift.com/2009/01/29/20-corporate-brand-logo-evolution/.

For a business, a logo is important for branding. With a simple image, the viewer of logo can conjure up thoughts about the function and quality of a company and its products. The Mercedes Benz logo instantly brings to mind luxury and top-tier cars. With the current prevalence of digital media through websites, blogs, mobile applications, web applications, a company’s logo becomes even more important as it is frequently in front of the stakeholders. It is, therefore, very important to have a memorable logo.

So, why did WE decide to change our logo? We have been using our current logo for over 2 years. It is a good functional representation of what we do, connecting people for learning/training. We felt that we needed to convey a more abstract thought of simplicity and boldness “ something that represented our company vision rather than just the product. We wanted to be able to use a logo on different backgrounds and we also wanted to have an image that could represent the entire logo, in short form. In other words, we wanted a simple, clean and bold logo which also would make a great image. We feel we have achieved this with our new logo! Please let us know what you think of it.

Flipping Training

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Over the last 20 years, we have seen customer support evolve from a high touch, expensive, people-based model to a self-help, cheaper, and impersonal model. While this is not really a good move for those who have complicated issues which need resolution,it works well in most mundane situations, keeping costs low for everyone. What is really happening here is that the responsibility of finding the right answers is passed back to the paying users!

There is a similar movement in the learning space. There has been much talk and some implementation of a concept called “The Flipped Classroom”. Though made popular due to efforts such as Khan Academy or Udacity, the notion has been around for some time (see http://educationnext.org/the-flipped-classroom/). Simply put, the idea here is that students learn the basics on their own from some awesome online content and then apply it in the classroom where a teacher can assess the students’ understanding of the material. The online content provides some measure of what each student may have learnt and the classroom activity provides further insight into it. This is expected to enable the teachers to provide more individual attention to students and be more effective. While this idea has been discussed in the context of schools, there is no reason why it should not work for enterprise training.

There are some similarities between classrooms and training centers’ the format is lecture format, it can be long and boring, it is hard to review and absence is penalized. There are also some differences training can be , and often is , less structured , it is more interactive, time is of THE essence, and review after the training is more important than just assessment. What is really needed is a set of modern tools which allows trainers to create material that holds attention, is highly interactive and can be personalized.

Perhaps it is time for enterprises to consider flipping their training center to achieve the best results efficiently. kPoint strives to meet this challenge.

kPoint 6.0 is released!

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We are excited to bring out another release of kPoint “kPoint 6.0″. This release, like always, reflects the needs of our customers and the corporate world where Just in Time training is important and internal expertise needs to be preserved and provided to those who need it, fast, easily and precisely.

This release features tighter enterprise integration for search and single point authentication. If you already have a MS Sharepoint deployment within your organization, kPoint now seamlessly integrates with MS Sharepoint search and transparently delivers an improved search experience to all Sharepoint users. Hosted kPoint service can now work with a SAML server in your organization and can give you the complete benefit of a well-established authentication framework in your organization. We also have made headway in the tablet world; all new kPoint kapsules created on release 6.0 can be played on an Apple iPad. In other usability related enhancements, the tuning wizard now simulates a real time Attendee and Presenter behavior to enable you to tune your peripheral audio and video equipment for the best experience.

The release was driven by our customer’s needs. We have worked hard to deliver those features in the most usable manner suitable to our corporate customers. We would like to hear from you about the new release and how it helps you provide Just In Time Training to their extended enterprise.

We have now switched to kpoint.com, so please remember to change you bookmarks to the same!

kPoint for Companies

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Given the diversity of technologies, people are working in a company and companies are also constantly looking up to different clients to demonstrate their skills in timely manner to get business. People in the company needs to be equipped with latest technologies. Class room training is becoming more and more difficult for people working in different groups having different priorities. The scenario still worsens for geographically distributed companies. Attrition also affects companies where in the main challenge for companies is to preserve and propagate knowledge within the company.

kPoint comes handy in such situations. On kPoint, people can record their knowledge which enables companies to preserve it and others can consume it as per their convenience so that knowledge propagates. One can also design custom courses on kpoint which people can consume. Course designer can also get feedback about how his course is consumed through reach analytics provided by kPoint, this gives them real insight into it. People can also collaborate around such courses which adds real value to it for later reuse. kPoint’s distribution platform also provides searchability till spoken words of people, helping them quickly and efficiently jump into videos saving their time and increasing throughput.

All in all kPoint is a platform that companies can leverage to preserve and propagate knowledge in timely and cost effective manner.

Khan academy and kPoint

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If you happen to tutor your school going kids, nephews, nieces or
siblings; chances are high that you are already familiar with
khan academy. Sal Khan has been creating these amazing video tutorials for various subjects under the sun from math, Biology, physics to history and English where concepts are explained so easily that everything just makes sense. The students all around the world simply love them as they are accessible on (what else?) YouTube.

Sal Khan is a star teacher and we at kPoint subscribe to many of his ideas related to teaching and education. But where Sal Khan deals with pure form of knowledge in academia, the kPoint focuses on more mundane manifestation of knowledge in the forms of information, instructions, process guidelines etc. May not be as profound as pure knowledge but nobody can argue on their necessity and importance. Imagine you going through that manual while struggling to put your new IKEA furniture together. A video on IPad explaining each of the steps pointing to the pages of your manual would certainly help. But wait a minute, as internet video is not as reliable as electricity or telephone line you wonder how would you scuffle for information other than playing your luck on a video seek bar. kPoint has the answer, it makes going through a video clip as obvious as going through pages of a book you flip, you turn, you look at the index and wonderfully enough you can even search for that tiny screw at your hand. Now that’s what we call just in time information at your finger tip.

It must be hard to create those kPoint kapsule you ask.. and the answer is a big NO. You can create them as easily as you do a skype call, more over you can use your existing documents (ppt, pdf, images), video clips and desktop screen too. We are not all gifted like Sal Khan, but using kPoint you too can share your knowledge and it will make you feel like a star when people reach them just in time to solve their problems.
Pretty cool…huh?

Hurdles in widespread enterprise video adoption

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Enterprise video is fast becoming mainstream with use cases as widely ranging as new hire on-boarding to video SEO.Budgets are going up rapidly. And, there are many factors that need to align for this widespread adoption to start delivering the promised benefits.

In our experience, factors such as network infrastructure to handle wide spread use, video life-cycle management, integration with established enterprise systems, and managing user-generated content are factors that we encounter amongst most of our customers. There is one hurdle that really stands tall is ease of consumption.

Compare video adoption with that of text-oriented web. The landmark event that led to wide-spread adoption of the web was emergence of text-based search engines. In addition, our commonly found ability to consume text at a higher speed as compared to viewing video did the trick without us knowing it. So what are the equivalents for the fast emerging video web?

Well, our view is that all content associated with any video and not just the textual meta-data such as titles, author, and tags must feed the search and index infrastructure of the text-based web. So, the spoken word must also get indexed by the search engines.

And, video consumption must be significantly enhanced through easy and precise navigation to any part of the video. So, for example, one should be able to quickly look inside a one hour webinar and view exactly what one needs.

kPoint weaves both of these unique aspects into the user experience.

Interacting with videos

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The Internet has made it easy for anyone to express their thoughts. It started with emails, usenet groups, blogs, and, now, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. At the same time, how one expresses oneself has also evolved from purely textual messages to simple media (pictures) to more complex multi-media (sound, video, pictures together) content. This trend will continue, adding to our information overload.

Those who express themselves are interested in knowing how people react to their thoughts, opinions or artistic expressions. The interest in feedback on one’s work can range from curiosity to business criticality. However, prevalent feedback mechanism for multimedia content is still in the form of comments that one has to scroll through and surmise the context. Any correlation to the original video is in the form of 3 minutes and 5 seconds I saw such and such and here is my comment on that. That is just old school!

Now, imagine, if you commented on a video about a certain spot and stated this move is cool. For the next viewer, this does not mean anything unless you describe it OR state exactly where in the video it is (e.g. 3 mins, 5 secs). Similarly, while watching a training video, a question pops in your head that you want to ask the author of the video. It is not efficient to do this with mere comments though that’s the way it is done today. Or, what if you missed attending a webinar and are now watching a recording of it and would also like to answer the questions popped in the webinar when it was delivered live. This can keep the webinar interesting for you instead of watching a monotonous video. It is clear that interacting with video needs to get more sophisticated than just commenting on them.

kPoint strives to solve this problem by making interaction of training videos easy and intuitive.

A face only your mother could love

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A face only your mother could love.

Remember the first time you heard yourself? The voice mail you had left for a friend who played it back for you? The home video where you were talking loudly in the background? Unbelievable. It wasn’t you!

What then of how we look like in a video? Face too fat, too small a head for our body, too big a head the insecurities we feel as humans are numerous and it’s a wonder we live our lives every day! It’s not so much what we look like, we still have friends who have dinner with us, our employees and coworkers don’t flee when you enter the room, and customers do answer your phone call. It’s our self-consciousness that bothers us the most.

This is a significant issue for most presenters when multimedia is used to capture a presentation or training. We can write volumes, read by hopefully anyone, without the slightest tremor. But the one five minute video you put out expounding on javaScript may keep you awake at night wondering how you will be perceived.

But enough of our vanity, let’s think of the people watching. Your employees who might want to have a closer connection with you, your students who learn better when you explain a concept, who look forward to seeing you and hearing your familiar voice, all of them stand to benefit more directly from such media.

Remember the recent video making the rounds of Steve jobs speaking at a university graduation? Now think of reading plain text about living life with the knowledge of your certain mortality. Not quite the same thing.

So try all the possibilities of using video and audio to broadcast your message. While everyone might not love your face the way your mother does, it’s a valuable human connection for your employees, students and customers.

kPoint cloud now leverages corporate directory server based user authentication

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The corporate directory server is the centralized controlling entity for all other application servers for user authentication and other user identity management functions. This enables the system administrator to efficiently manage on-boarding and off-boarding of employees from a single place.

In a typical setup of an organization:

The corporate directory server runs inside the intranet boundary and remains accessible to all internal applications.

  • For rest of the externally hosted applications and cloud based services, the organization sets up a SAML IDP (Identity Provider). This SAML IDP internally talks to the corporate directory server for user authentication and user profile data access.
  • kPoint cloud acts as a SAML SP (Service Provider) and talks to this SAML IDP over HTTPS for user authentication.
  • The IDP returns the result in the form of SAML assertions.
  • kPoint cloud listens to these assertions, extracts authentication result and other user profile data and then seamlessly establishes the kPoint session for the end user on successful authentication.

Thus kPoint cloud securely and seamlessly leverages the user authentication service offered by the corporate directory server via SAML.