Thursday, May 8, 2014

"Presentain" for Mobile, Engaged & Archived Class Sessions

Today, there is a lot of potential to leverage mobile devices for engaging and enriching learning. The challenges are in understanding how to ensure learners don't get excluded in process, keep costs low, and, of course, support effective pedagogy.

Recently, my good friend +Vicki Curtis who teaches ESL at Ohlone College mentioned to me that she was experimenting with the use of a new tool called Presentain in her face-to-face class. The features of Presentain at first sounded confusing to me but the outcomes of the experience (for both instructor and students) made me curious enough to listen and want to learn more. So Vicki and I stayed in touch while she continued to try it out and she soon let me know that she felt confident she was on to something good.  Last week, she joined me as a guest for a Center Hangout on Air. And it was awesome!

Here is a quick overview of Presentain but if you really want to check it out, view the 40-minute Hangout embedded above. In it, you will see Vicki engage the live Hangout on Air audience in an interactive demo of the tool, as the virtual audience members play the role of students in her class (to be clear, Presentain is not intended for distance presentations -- it does not synchronously relay audio, in other words).

Presentain is available for free but you will find the need to upgrade if you like the product. The free version is pretty limiting, enough to get a taste. There is no "education" license, per se, they offer a staggered pricing plan based on features included. Click here for pricing information.

For the "presenter," Presentain requires use of their web app and free mobile app (available for Android and iOS). Prior to a live presentation (before a face-to-face audience), the presenter (let's use the word "instructor" for our purposes) loads one's presentation into the web app in PDF form. The presentation is stored there. At this point, the instructor can also create and store polls within the account (paying attention to the poll and presentation limitations of one's account type).

At the time of class, the instructor enters the classroom, takes out her mobile app (this could be a smartphone or tablet), and launches the Presentain app. Also, she logs into the Presentain web app from the computer in the front of the room (connected to a projector for the students to view). At this point, students are entering and settling in. On her mobile, she is able to view thumbnail views of the presentations she loaded previously. She selects the one she wants to present for the class and indicates whether or not polls will be included and, if so, pulls those into the queue. Then Presentain provides a PIN number to enter into the web app. Now the presentation appears on the computer screen and the Presentain web app provides a simple, unique URL to share with students!

Students are now ready for class. The instructor greets them and asks them to take out their internet devices (smartphone, tablet, or laptop -- anything with access to WiFi, provided there is WiFi in the room -- or else a network connection would be required on the device, of course) and go to the URL displayed on the screen. From there, the students view each slide on their device.
  • Presentain allows any student to view the instructor's presentain on his/her internet connected device, regardless of platform, via a URL (no account or log in required).
 as the instructor clicks through her very few, slides that are beautifully designed with sparse amounts of text and Creative-Commons licensed images (grin). The instructor moves throughout the class, bending down to engage closely with each learner. She makes eye contact directly with each student as she moves through the room.  She holds her mobile device in her hand and swipes the screen -- yes, it is acting as a remote. She doesn't even need to think about it.
  • Presentain turns the instructor's mobile device into a remote.
As she pays attention to her learners, that mobile device in her hand has also been transformed into a recording device. The microphone is picking up her words as she speaks and the app is recording the presentation as she delivers her content to the students.
  • Presentain turns the instructor's mobile device into a recorder.
Now, after three slides and ten minutes, the instructor pauses. She activates a poll on her mobile. It projects on the screen in front of the class and simultaneously the students see it appear on their mobile devices. They read the prompt and click their response. As they respond, the results of the poll appear dynamically in the form of a pie chart on the screen. The instructor enthusiastically engages with the responses and the students start to inquisitively ask questions about the concept that had just been covered. Together, they engage in inquiry to understand why most students chose A, while some other students chose B and C.
  • Presentain enables an instructor to use dynamic polls from a mobile device that students respond to on their internet connected devices (no log in or account required).
One student is still confused. He is embarrassed and does not want to raise his hand. So he clicks the "return to Dashboard" link on his iPhone's screen and from there Presentain gives him the option to submit an anonymous question. He types his question. The instructor receives an indication (that is not seen on the presentation screen) that a question has been received. She clicks the notification to review it and chooses to display the question to the class.  She notes that she felt similar confusion about the topic when she was a student and then proceeds to clarify things using a real world analogy. The instructor prompts the class to submit questions if they have more, as time is running out.

Fifteen minutes have now passed. The instructor knows that's enough presentation time. It's time to move on to an activity. So, she stops the presentation on her mobile device using the Presentain app and requests the app to publish the recording. Within moments the recording is available and the link may be emailed to students and/or embedded directly in an LMS.
  • Presentain instantly provides an embeddable video of an instructor's presentation, enabling students to review class sessions or experience sessions that were missed.
Intrigued? Watch the Hangout. You can learn more at  Vicki Curtis can be followed on Twitter @LearningGuide12.

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