Interactive training and the BSN Pulse-Meester

Interactive training and the BSN Pulse-Meester

At our whole staff meeting at the beginning of this year we tested a new system for an interactive training session.

We have some smart IT colleagues and they coded what we have dubbed the “BSN Pulse”. In essence, colleagues logged in with their smart card at the beginning of the session and were sent a login email to their chosen device. They then responded to questions and prompts during the keynote given by Simon Noakes. They also posted generic questions and responses about the key themes for the day and we returned to these in the plenary / wash-up.

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BSN colleagues interacting with the BSN Pulse-Meester

We needed to beef up the wifi infrastructure with so many colleagues logging on and interacting at the same time and the preparations behind the scenes over Christmas were significant; it was a great team effort.


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Statistics from the audience led the session

The questions needed to be carefully planned and also when they would be asked – so as not to interrupt the flow of the keynote :

What is the most important consideration when introducing new EdTech into the classroom?

This was on display as colleagues logged in at the start of the day during coffee and we returned to these answers throughout.

It was then good to start with a simple tech-check question at the outset:

How are you feeling on this first day back?

 1.      Where am I again?

2.      Incredulous that the two weeks are already over

3.      Happy but slightly poisoned by excess

4.      Inspired and ready for action

This information generated a bar chart representing percentages; this showed colleagues where we heading with the concept and raised a smile.

Slider – How would you rate your EdTech confidence? 

This question generated a number between 1 (not very) – 10 (extremely) and gave us some valuable data about this perception across our different campuses.

Is EdTech better than traditional ways of learning?

1.                Absolutely

2.                They complement each other

3.                It’s a natural evolution

4.                No, and never will be

If you could get away from Social Media would you? – Yes / No

We re-phrased these two questions *live* – to make them better questions

You can see that the role of the BSN Pulse-Meester was crucial. Flipping between keynote slides and pulling up screen shots of statistics gathered or individual questions posted at the whim of the CEO needed a keen understanding of what we were trying to achieve, patience and skill.

Luckily we have this person. He will, for now, Stig-like – remain faceless here…

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A different kind of keynote – The Pulse-Meester’s view

It was a faintly nerve-wracking experience and a risk. But our keynote, Simon Noakes, was up for it and sanguine about the chance of failure.

We learnt a huge amount about how this might work at a future event and how we would approach things next time.

Next steps – what we learnt:

  1. We need to enhance the wifi infrastructure for these events;
  2. We’ll learn from this first facilitation and design our questions even more carefully;
  3. The software can be buffed up to include different graphical representations;
  4. The data generated is genuinely “big data” for strategic decision making;
  5. It works.

Colleagues’ feedback was warm and enthusiastic. Most had not experienced anything like it at a conference.

One comment was particularly interesting. Because questions were identified with individuals’ names some felt that there may be a reluctance to contribute. My response to this was surprising to some.

I welcome divergent thinking. I’m not a “hunter-killer” seeking to exact retribution for alternative views. If you’re confident of your opinion – name it. I’m hoping the sub-text here is that as a leader, I may not always agree with you but I respect and welcome the debate. There are so many platforms to contribute opinion to now.

We also feel there’s a market value to this software and facilitation. But that’s a story for another time.

Would you like your keynotes / INSET to work in this way?

  • BSN Pulse is a great tool to really engage staff, already looking forward to the CPD Conference on April 11th!

  • Audience interaction with content in any presentation is fairly critical if you are going to get your message across. Moving your audience from passive observer to active participator is without doubt one of the better ways to achieve the goal. To this regard the Pulsomatic 5000 (the name you should be giving it if you are selling it on the Shopping Channel) ticked all the boxes and more. The immediacy of response and ‘live’ collation of the results further added to the interest and also gave a much needed break for Simon. I don’t think it interrupted the flow of the presentation and am sure it allowed you to plan elements of the talk more effectively.

    I liked the way that you started to respond to the questions that the audience suggested. This offered increased reassurance, further engaged them in the presentation and showed you were willing to listen to [opposing/different] points of view. As someone who occasionally enjoys twitter schadenfreude from politicians who go online to #askmeaquestion I thought it a particularly brave and risk taking adventure. I would be interested to know if this crossed your mind when planning the questions. Personally we should be doing much more of this sort of thing. Pulse is a great tool and has potential to be more than just simple polling.

    Imagine having that in a lesson where students are making decisions that alter the shape and journey of what they are learning. Not only do you given them a sense of ownership in the lesson but also an understanding of the voting process and the impact/consequences of their actions. The ability to respond and then alter/review your course of action (think on your feet) is surely a refreshing antidote to the click by click nature of most (of my) presentations. Everyone should experience a little chaos in their classroom from time to time.

    Would I like my keynote/INSET to work this way? Perhaps with some Dutch courage… ;o)

  • Kieran Earley

    Thanks, Gideon. It was a risk but there is a strong level of professional respect and trust within the school. Taking this outside of our context would need additional planning and contracting!

    Like the idea for a classroom application.

  • Liz

    The event was very thought provoking. From my perspective it was also the only time I’ve seen interaction actually work on this scale in this type of environment so it was a winner.
    Often I’ve been to talks, conferences and seminars that are about tech yet don’t utilize tech. Or they’re about being modern yet use regular one guy at the front every one present passively listening styles so this was really different.
    I hope we can use it and develop it even more.
    An audience of educators thinking about their role in a presentation is very different. How can it reflect the role of the learners in their own rooms?
    Using it again in April will be something to look forward to.

  • Rebecca Van Homan

    As teachers, monitoring the engagement and understanding of our students as we are teaching is one of the many ‘in the head’ decisions we make to judge whether we need to change our level of questioning or alter the course of the lesson. It reminds me of the mini whiteboards which became prevelant in primary school classrooms to promote the ‘no hands up’ and the expectation that all the children have to respond throughout the lesson. Active rather than passive participation, so to speak. It is part of that good practice of teaching the children, not teaching the lesson.
    When you have a large audience, who are largely faceless, this kind of tool allows for that instant feedback we need to ensure we are on track with the message / learning we are trying to get across and supports engaged, active participation we seek from the group.
    The presenter would then need to be flexible and skilled enough to alter the course of the session based on this instant feedback. But that’s what good teaching is all about, isn’t it?

    • Kieran Earley

      Agreed.

      Quite a class size to extend your metaphor!