Traditional thinking tends to always favor in-person meetings and training over virtual Web-based replacements. Most people would say that while Web-based meetings and conferences have their place, especially when travel is difficult or too expensive, in most areas they fall behind a face-to-face meeting.
But anyone who has used Web-based conferencing extensively knows that there are certain advantages over real-world meetings and conferences that extend beyond the travel savings. And one of the biggest is the ability to instantly quiz and poll meeting and conference attendees to track their knowledge and grasp of the information being presented. This kind of real-time feedback can be invaluable when it comes to customizing and even changing presentations on the fly.
And it is also much harder to gather in person. In small meetings you can ask for a show of hands, but this doesn't work with complex questions and there's the reality that people will change their vote to match the rest of the group rather than be the only person without a hand up. And when it comes to auditorium-sized conferences and training, shows of hands are pretty much useless.
If you're lucky enough to work in a modern university environment, or have a business with advanced and dedicated training facilities, you may have access to audience response systems built into seats and desks. But these are very expensive to deploy and can't be taken to any conference room or meeting environment.
This problem is why I was interested in trying out Turning Technologies' ResponseCard AnyWhere, part of its TurningPoint Response System.
The ResponseCard AnyWhere is a small RF (radio frequency) device that makes it possible to do on-the-fly quizzes and polls in meetings and training sessions and get instant feedback on the knowledge and information level of the attendees.
Getting up and running was very simple. The system consists of the main ResponseCard AnyWhere device along with a number of smaller ResponseCard RF devices that are handed out to attendees.
The ResponseCard RF devices offer up to 10 different number or letter question responses (useful for classic multiple choice questions). All I had to do was pose a question, either by writing in on a whiteboard, listing it on a printout or simply throwing out a simple yes/no question out loud, and then choose "start polling" on the main ResponseCard AnyWhere device. By default attendees have 60 seconds to respond.
Once everyone had responded, the ResponseCard AnyWhere device provided a visual graph of the polling results on its small LCD screen. It was also possible to plug the device into a PC using a USB cable, and with the ResponseCard AnyWhere desktop software I could access reports and do more in-depth analysis of polls.
It was also possible to use the device with the TurningPoint Response software to integrate the polls with PowerPoint slides in real time, providing much of the same instant polling feedback that we've come to expect from Web-based conferencing systems.
The ResponseCard AnyWhere device is priced at $299 and the ResponseCard RF keypad devices are priced at $69 with volume pricing available.
For more information go to http://www.turningtechnologies.com.