Browse Tag by informal learning

What’s in a name? Let’s Huddle!

It’s more than just a social gathering


On my travels through the blogesphere (looking for something else as it happens), I came across Huddle. Now the name intrigued me because of what it brought to mind.

One definition for huddle is “to gather together privately to talk about or plan something”. I often use it when facilitating in a classroom asking the group to ‘huddle’ around the flip chart to discuss a topic.

The people at Huddle describes it as follows: “With Huddle, you can manage projects, share files and collaborate with people inside and outside of your company, securely. It’s available online, on mobile devices, on the desktop, via Microsoft Office applications, major business social networks and in multiple languages. Simply: if SharePoint was built today, the would have built Huddle.”

Taking a further look around the website, it seems it has a lot going for it to encourage people to work together and learn together more easily and, they stress, securely. I haven’t taken a really close look or opted for the free trial but here’s a low-down on what Huddle offers:

    File sharing and management
    Collaboration
    Real-time collaboration with web conferencing and phone conferencing
    Project management features that sound similar to Outlook
    Security features which allow you restrict or open up elements
    Customisable for a corporate look and feel
    Tracking activity of members and assign individual priviledges and permissions
    Individuals have their own profile area
    Mobile connectivity across various smart-phones with the ability to access Huddle via other social networks such as LinkedIn
    Huddle is cloud-based which means less strain on internal IT infrastructure

With the increase in emphasis on working and learning smarter by enabling channels for collaboration, sharing ideas and best practice, experiential and on-demand learning for improved performance from a bottom-up approach, Huddle may be one solution for organisations out there who see the need for such working and learning practises but are sceptical about using the open social tools.

I’m not so sure they’d be convinced by the name of the product alone. It does seem some social tools out there have been given some strange nom-de-plumes that do little to help sell their benefits to the more serious minded potential user. But that’s a whole different story. If we want to get past the quirky handle, we’re going to have to sell the benefits ourselves.

Huddle, themselves, have given us a good head start.

I was impressed by the list of testimonials and case studies on their site which include organisations who, from my own experience, are very strict about accessibility and security. I’ve taken the list from Huddle’s testimonial page.

    Kia Motors
    Akqa
    NHS East of England
    Dept for Business Innovation& Skills
    Kerry
    Liberal Democrats
    Belgian FPS Social Security
    Aggie-Lance
    Berkshire Community Foundation
    Boots
    Rufus Leonard
    Bright One
    Care for the Family
    British Institute for Facilities Management
    Cheltenham Brough Council
    East of England IDB Ltd
    Distinct
    Fulham Football Club Foundation
    Inform
    Government Skills
    Plymouth Mind
    Post Office
    Traffic Management Solutions
    University of London Computer Centre

So if you want to get past the sales pitch, how about checking out some of the case studies or even contacting their customers and find out what it’s done for them.

I’ll be very interested in hearing from anyone out there who has implemented Huddle, either tried it out on the free trial or is already up and running with it. How have you found it useful and any tips you might have to help others who are thinking of using this or any similar application.

After I’ve taken a look at the free trial, I’ll share more thoughts here.

Reflections on making a video interview – 2

Preparing for interview

In a previous post I shared with you my accidental learning – quite literally – when travelling down to Brighton to interview Clive Shepherd on his recent book The New Learning Architect.

Here I carry on the tale and summarise with some tips for preparing for interview.

I woke up bright and early, excited and looking forward to the day. I was all prepared and armed with a Google map and directions, I set out in plenty of time to find the studio which apparently was a 5 minute walk from the hotel. That is it would have been a 5 minute walk if I could match the streets with the map! My plans had been to arrive the day before at a reasonable time in the evening to wander around and find the venue but the unexpected incident at the service station had put pay to that. Nevertheless, I had, afterall, given myself ample time that morning so wasn’t unduly worried.

This was my first trip to Brighton and it was a superb warm sunny morning the day before Good Friday. As I wandered through the little streets following my map I was teased with the rich smell of coffee and pastries from the abundance of little cafes. If I closed my eyes I could have been wandering through the streets of Italy. No time for a coffee and pastry for me though.

Even at that early morning, the sun was hot and I began to wish I’d travelled a little lighter but even with some retracing of my steps finding the studio, I was still in plenty of time and found a shady spot to catch my breath and ring home for best of luck wishes.

The studio was small but very light and airy. There were two chairs positioned almost opposite each other just off-set a little. There was a very large piece of board, white on one side which was used to reflect the natural light from the window back onto Clive and me during the interview process.

There was one large camera on a tripod and what looked like an over-sized hand-held microphone.

Before the interview began, there were a few tests to do.

  • A little footage was taken to test the light
  • where best to position us
  • checking camera angles
  • checking sound levels

Because there was only one camera and one microphone used, this meant we had to film various shots out of sequence. The idea being to cut and edit the filming for a smooth final viewing.

First we recorded Clive answering my questions. This was the easy bit for me. Because the camera was on Clive, I could read my questions. The microphone was held close to Clive so my voice became almost a whisper when being filmed but this would be edited out later.

Then we recorded my questions. This time, I couldn’t read these out but had the benefit of checking them before each cut. It was still difficult though because I need reading glasses so needed to pop these on and off. Oh how I wished I had memorised the questions a little more. Either that or be less vain and keep my varifocals on! Although I would have still needed to take a quick check before each question.

Then we recorded what I call the noddies. This is where you film the people involved nodding whilst listening intently to the other person at different distances and angles for variety of shot. This is done all without sound as the idea is to edit these in over the talking so the interview has some visual variety.

Finally, we recorded me introducing Clive.

It was all a very interesting but odd process and seemed very disjointed but you’d never guess from the final edit.

The advantage of filming this way is that you only need one camera and microphone. In this instance, a quality camera was used, but it is feasible you could do a great job with a more affordable camera with a tripod and good quality external microphone. You’ll need some editing software too and there are some great affordable if not free tools out there that do a great job which I’ll explore another time.

The disadvantage from my experience here is the natural flow of the interview can be affected. For example, after asking my question, I was listening intently to Clive’s answers and was able to add little improvised comments. Unless you’ve got an excellent memory (not one of my strong points), this natural conversation style is very difficult and often lost when having to record all these as separate sequences.

If we had more time, perhaps we could have listened back to Clive’s previous question before recording my next questions thereby allowing me to provide a more natural link without it being too controlled. But as with anything, we have to work within the constraints we have and we had little time and would have needed something to play this back with.

With all the filming complete the next job was to turn that raw footage into a polished product.

I’ll continue to explore video interviews in future posts adding some tips along the way as well as sharing some thoughts on how these could be incorporated into a learning solution.

Reflections on making a video interview

Accidental Learning

I’ve always advocated that the best way to learn to do something is to do it. Sometimes, we just need to jump in at the deep end and try it out. I also have to admit that I’ve never been the ‘follow the instructions’ type of person but would rather get stuck in. However, that doesn’t mean that instruction guides are not necessary as I’ve often found that after ignoring them initially, I eventually have to give in and read something.

Of course sometimes we just learn by accident. When something happens unexpectedly but we learn from our experiences. Other times, we decide to do learn something which is often borne out of necessity and sometimes it’s a deliberate choice out of interest i.e. just because…. We are all learning machines and much of the time it just happens.

My journey into video interviewing was a dileberate choice – out of interest initially. I wanted to try it. However, it was also becoming relevant from a personal development point of view. I thought I’d reflect and share my own learning experiences from the interviewing process with you.

But before I do, considering a great deal of accidental learning occurred before I got there, I thought I’d share that first.

My adventure (yes it turned out to be a very eventful adventure) started with a long drive to Brighton from Shrewsbury on a warm and sunny day. It was my first trip to Brighton and so my first new experience of the journey. The trip, according to TomTom would take about 4 hours and I factored in a short half-way stop. It was at this comfort break that my best laid plans went out the window.

After stopping at the services en-route, I returned to my car to find a big dent in the side of it. Someone had taken the turning into the adjacent parking space next to mine a little too wide and a little too fast. Fortunately, they had waited for me to return to my car and we exchanged details.

 

Learning point 1: Have faith in others – there are still honest people around.
Learning point 2: Try and park the furthest distance away where less people will park
Learning point 3: Always keep insurance details with you so you don’t have to get husband to search files
Learning point 4: Remaining calm helps you think more clearly and diffuses tension
Learning point 5: Take lots of photos at the scene – your mobile phone is a useful tool

After at least an hour and half delay I was back on the road towards the goal of my journey. Only 2 more hours or so to go!

Nearly there and dutifully following TomTom’s instructions I was looking forward to enjoying a couple of deserving glasses of wine to relax and and reflect on my notes before the interview the next day. My TomTom, however, had other ideas and after being directed to take a turn signposted Eastbourn rather than Brighton and Hove, I began to wonder whether I should continue trusting my co-pilot. I stopped to double check the route….

Learning point 6: When programming your SatNav, make sure you know the difference between co-ordinates for East/West. A rogue minus can make a lot of difference to your journey.
Learning point 7: Always check your route properly with a map rather than rely wholly on SatNav
Learning point 8: Concentrate on your route despite following SatNav

What would I learn the next day? I’ll cover that in my next post.

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