Q&A with Nick Barber, Sr. Analyst with Forrester Research on Employee Experience


We were given a chance to ask a few questions to Nick Barber, senior analyst with Forrester Research, on video and how it relates to the employee experience. Here’s what Nick had to say based on his research around enterprise video technology. Question:  Driving genuine employee engagement is universally acknowledged as important. What techniques have

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Keep Students Engaged in Online Learning and Manage Technical Glitches

AV in Education

Whether your staff taught the occasional virtual class or had no experience, everyone just got a crash course in delivering a full-time online learning schedule thanks to COVID-19. Keeping college students engaged in online learning is an essential part of delivering quality education.

Below I’ve outlined ways to keep students engaged during online classes. Pass on these ideas to your educators to encourage their students to fully participate in virtual sessions. I also included tips on how to overcome some technical difficulties during live online sessions.

Outline your virtual class in short sections

Break up your online class into different sections or chapters. Presenting the class in short “chunks” can help you deliver an energetic class and retain students’ attention. Create a virtual class outline that can be turned into a short agenda to share with your students.

In your outline, include problem-based learning tasks. Communicate to your students that the solution to the problem lies in the course material that you will present online. This can motivate students to give their full attention throughout the online class to learn the solution.

Use different media formats

Mix different media formats in your virtual class to change the pace and keep students engaged. Share a video of you talking and add a recorded video. In between, share slides or other documents on the screen. Follow the tips in our Online Learning Best Practices for Educators blog when recording or sharing live video.

Design your online class for audio-only and mobile experiences

In a perfect world, your digital class will be delivered perfectly. But glitches happen. Taking proactive steps can help you overcome technical difficulties. While video is more engaging than audio alone, don’t rely on it. At times you may not be able to send video, or class participants may not see the video due to bandwidth or device issues. Note that having a student leave the virtual class and then log back on may correct audio or visual issues for them.

In case video is not available during your class, design your material so that students can absorb the information by hearing the audio portion only. Keep talking when visuals are on the screen. If all is well with sending the video, be sure to record it so students who had any issues can watch a replay later.

Also, consider that students may be using a mobile phone or tablet to attend class. Small screens can make information hard to read. Use large type and break up information on a few slides, instead of cramming everything on to one slide or page. View your materials on a mobile phone before adding them to your virtual class presentation. You’ll avoid a situation where students cannot easily see your video content.

Record a back-up session before live classes

Hopefully, you won’t experience your classroom technology going down completely. If you do, be prepared with a recorded session of your class. That way, you can have students watch the recorded session and keep the class schedule you designed. You can use Google Drive or Microsoft Stream to share links to recorded classes if needed.

Keep Online Learning Accessible

Don’t forget to keep accessibility for visual and hearing impaired students in mind when preparing course documents and tools. Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft PowerPoint include tools to verify accessibility. Add captions to your videos if possible. YouTube and many LMSs include an auto-caption feature. Double-check that your captions are correct before sharing a video.

Ensure students know how to use the system

Once you prepare your online class, ensure participants know how to log on to the Learning Management System (LMS) or video conferencing platform you will use. Send an instructional email a few days before class. Most systems will include a link to help participants test their devices before the session. This will allow time for students to address any technical issues.  

To further encourage your students’ success, share our online learning best learning for students with your class . You can also share a beginner tutorial video like this one from Zoom:

Share a clear virtual class agenda

Once you have an outline, start the class by briefly reviewing your agenda. You can share a PowerPoint slide or Word document and talk through it.

Sending the agenda and supporting class materials prior to the online session will help overcome any technical issues with video too. Students can refer to their materials if they can’t see the video during class. Also, include in your email how students can contact you with comments and questions during live and recorded online learning sessions.

Check in regularly during live digital classes

For small classes, pause occasionally and ask if anyone has questions. When presenting to large classes, turning on everyone’s mics may not be feasible. Ask students to utilize the chat or Q&A features in the LMS or video meeting platform. It’s helpful to have an assistant or student volunteer moderate this for you.

Maintain engagement between virtual classes

Since you can’t connect with students in person, include ways to keep them engaged between the virtual classes in your lesson plan. Consider these steps to keep students connected with you and each other during the online course.

Hold regularly- scheduled virtual office hours

Allow students to drop-in to your virtual office during designated hours. Send out a recurring meeting link for the times when you’re available to chat with students. For large classes, have students ask for appointments by email, or use a tool like Calendly.

Use social media to build a student community

Social distancing prohibits students from meeting in person. To help your class participants connect with each other and boost engagement, create a private Facebook Group, or another discussion forum.  Classmates can interact with each other online after class at their convenience. Ask a teaching assistant to moderate the group and provide feedback to you about common questions or learning roadblocks.

Ideas to get students engaged in digital forums:

  • Ask specific questions on discussion boards to facilitate student responses
  • Post recorded videos with FAQs or follow-up info based on student questions
  • Present problems that can be solved by reading course materials, or students’ virtual class notes

Gamify your online class

Add a gaming element to your virtual class that can encourage ongoing student engagement. Consider a scavenger hunt based on pictures or answers to questions that you add to your video or slides for students to find. Have online class participants include answers in their assignments to earn points for extra credit. Delete points for missed or late assignments too.

For classes delivered through an LMS, check if the system can award badges as students complete each class or assignment. You can create some friendly competition to get the most badges in a certain period. Likewise, set up automated LMS email notifications when classes and assignments are not completed on time.

Post assignments that boost engagement after class

Consider how you can maintain engagement when creating virtual class assignments. Ideas to consider include:

  • Have students complete video or phone interviews with professionals or each other.
  • Share recorded “mini-class” audio or video files with assignment details. Assign groups and have students collaborate online and record their answers.
  • Ask students to search for video resources to share on the course topic from YouTube or other universities.

AVI-SPL is here to help

I hope your educators find these ideas to keep students engaged in online classes useful. Have other ideas to share? Post them in the comments. If you need assistance with your online learning platforms, contact us or call your local AVI-SPL office .

For more online learning information, check out AVI-SPL’s Together We Can online learning page for weekly updates.

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World Backup Day


Today is World Backup Day and we are celebrating and gently reminding IT organizations across the world, backup your data! Though we celebrate it once a year, it does not mean we backup data once a year. Let’s consider 3 reasons why backing up to protect your data is crucial to your organization: 

The Rising Tide of Data 

Managing data is becoming a challenge for many IT organizations. The continued rising volumes of data is putting pressure on backup strategies that were once effective. IT leaders need to find the latest, fastest, most cost-effective forms of backup solutions that can make sizeable backups manageable and easy to implement. IDC projects that there will be 79.4ZB of data created by connected IoT devices by 2025, growing from 13.6ZB. Unstructured content related to entertainment (creation, production, distribution and consumer consumption) continues to be the largest category of data.” This volume of data presents many challenges so backup methodologies and strategies need to be revisited often. Finding the right backup tools and methodology are an essential piece to finding the right recipe for your organization as is preparing your infrastructure for the vast amount of data that is being generated. 

Back Up Regularly to Avoid Disaster 

Why do you need to backup anyway? Because you never know. Infrastructure hardware will fail. Malware, such as ransomware will strike, and humans will make errors. There is no question IT Managers must be prepared for those moments when disaster strikes a blow when you least expect. Backing up your data regularly will ensure you can protect and recover data quickly and effectively. In addition, they should be done intelligently to address the hyper-growth and the requirement for hyper-availability. Part of finding the right solution requires an analysis to help determine the value of data to efficiently manage greater volumes that applications are generating. It is a necessity not a luxury to future-proof your infrastructure.  This exercise helps organizations acquire the correct tier of technology to not only manage but restore within the specified SLAs of the organization. 


Highlighting ransomware is important because of its prevalence in cyberspace. Threats and attacks are getting more aggressive and those ransomware-focused threat actors are using creative means to break into systems and deploy ransomware for the threat actor’s payday (Source: TechCrunch). There is a rule as old as time that has been proven true time and time again:

Keep 3 copies of your data, using 2 different storage media types (object, flash, HDD, tape) 1 offsite (physically separate from the building such as DR site), and 1 offline (completely disconnected from your network).

Keeping a clearly defined data copy offline and air-gapped to protect against malware attack will enable you to retrieve that data and get back up to speed faster and back to business sooner in the case where your network-connected copies are compromised. 


World Backup Day is not about backing up just one day of the year. Let today serve as an awareness day to remind enterprises and SMB’s that protecting data by backing it up regularly will prevent disasters that can come in any form. Restoring data from a backup copy will allow businesses to resume operations effectively. There is value in protecting your data. What is the value? In many cases, unquantified. Preserve and protecting your data, whether for the three factors mentioned or to simply provide the continuity of business operations. Learn more about our Enterprise Backup and Archive solutions .

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