Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Web Conferencing made easy!

To meet online is increasingly becoming the norm. In fact, online meetings have been increasingly gaining popularity over the last several years, thanks to services like Google Hangouts. At the same time, there are commercial solutions that are available as well. 

We are happy to announce the availability of Techniq Meeting, a simple, easy to use, online web conferencing tool.  Participants can use webcams to see each other and their headsets to speak via VOIP. 

The presenter needs to install Java in order to screen share. Other than this no installs are required. The presenter can however, share docs, ppts etc. during the presentation rather easily.

The presenter can also record the session. For now, we allow up to 10 attendees per session. Registrants can manage their contacts and easily invite other attendees from their contacts.

And guess what,this service is free!

Give it a test drive, try it today and do send us your feedback!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Customizations & Workarounds

With the growth of online applications integrations between systems have become increasingly critical. We receive several requests for customization as would most software providers. We add these features on an ongoing basis depending on urgency and value to the overall system. The good news is that as long as new features are on "our platform" we have the flexibility to do what it takes to design and implement pretty much any feature. We also provide open APIs to our system so if any other application providers wish to integrate with our platform we provide them all the support they need. However, when customers want us to integrating our platform with other solutions it is important that other systems provide open APIs for us to integrate. When not  available, we have to jump through hoops and develop workarounds.

Recently, we had a prospect who had a need to integrate our platform with Live Meeting. Unfortunately, live meeting APIs don't lend themselves to integration with other web apps.  After discussions with the customer we devised a workable solutions. The end-user can register for a Live Meeting session or a Live Meeting series from our platform and get access to a link. On clicking this link the user is taken to a Live Meeting site where the user can join a live session after registration/logging in. This step is a manual process because APIs are unavailable. The Admin can generate reports about registrations for these live session from our platform. We also added the ability for the end user to pay for these registrations using credit cards.

The Admin can also generate payment reports for these sessions.  Then, we extended the Live Sessions feature to Live Series --essentially a grouping of  live sessions along with the associated reports. Unfortunately, this is the best we could provide given that the APIs simply aren't available for  us to do more. Nevertheless, we have happy customer with a solution that works! We'll admit, its not perfect, but it works.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Adobe Connect Integration

We are excited to announce that the Techniq University is now seamlessly integrated with Adobe's Adobe Connect service (in addition to Cisco WebEx and Citrix GoTo products). The Techniq Online University acts as the front-end to the end-user while communicating with Adobe Connect at the backend. This is completely transparent to the end-user.

An Admin will be able to schedule the session from within the system. Once it is scheduled then the registered user on our platform can sign up for a Adobe Training session and later join the session at the time of the session from the Techniq Online University.

These are just some of the key aspects of the integration. Using this integration helps training providers the ability to present a common front-end to its customers and allows their administrators manage the training site through one seamlessly integrated system. If you wish to test drive the integration please sign up for access to our demo site.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Customer interaction in the SaaS world

One big difference that often goes unnoticed between shrink wrapped software and the ubiquitous software as a service (SAAS) products is the significant difference in customer interaction between the software provider and the user. In the former case, once the product is sold the amount of customer support is likely  to decrease dramatically over time. When was the last time you called MS for support for MS Office?

In the SaaS business however it is an ongoing, dynamic  relationship with the end-user because at some level what you are selling or what someone is buying is software packaged as a service. Implicitly users are more inclined to ask for support, and for new features.  And very often we as vendors tend to turnaround and quickly address their feature requests. There is constant rich exchange of ideas  that can trigger some real innovation and creativity.

Over the years, it has been interesting to observe various user types -- how people work with software, how they react, etc. In fact, its very revealing of human natures and tendencies and their variations. Perhaps an ideal space for a scientist who study human behavior!

We thought we should share our observations with you. Here are a few.

The Enthusiastic

Always eager to get more and more features. The "Can we modify this flow so that it becomes easier?" Can we add some enhancements here?" type. Best to work with if you have a good rapport with them. Extremely useful for improving your system. They will literally shake up your system for the good.

The Curious

Someone who is always exploring untouched areas of the system. As the saying goes, curiosity kill the cat. Too much wandering, that too ignoring the clear cut danger signs, have often ended us in trouble (things like what happens if I click  this "delete" button here? Oops!)

The Complaining

You guessed right. The toughest kid in the block. In most cases these will be someone who is familiar with a different but similar system before and therefore is hell-bent on changing our system so that it looks like the other one. Some has even asked for features that has absolutely no relevance to our system (think something like asking for a social sharing button in a private chat room) ... but then again we are trained to give them what they want  whether they use it or not :)

The Vanishing Type

This is a special category that deserves a mention. They are eager to understand the system, they understand what we say, they are happy with everything but guess what? They ask for a whole host of customization after frequent back and forth.They vanish a week before we plan the deployment (in majority of cases because of delays in getting some paper work done). Some re-appear after a couple of months with the same enthusiasm to start it all over again!

There are still many more customer types out there but we will reveal them slowly. And if any of our existing customers are reading this article please understand that this is NOT about you! ... :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Innovation in K-12 Education

Silicon valley is home to some of the richest and most innovative companies on the planet. Yet, the benefit of having them in our neck of the woods hasn't really helped the school system around these parts.  I heard through the grapevine that Microsoft has done a phenomenal job  helping schools in Seattle -- the quality of teachers and the facilities at the schools there are way ahead of Bay Area schools.

I am not suggesting that these major companies pour funds into schools (though that makes a lot of sense!). Even on the education innovation front, there has been very little, apart from Khan Academy, Coursera and others similar services.  

I was pleasantly surprised to read about AltSchool which is exploring a new, fundamentally different approach to K-12 education. This appears to be a refreshing change from the routine run of the mill education that is being served at the public schools and the more affordable "assembly line" style private schools in the area. 

I don't mean to say that there aren't good schools here. I just think the big bucks, the great technologists,  and everything else that this region has at its disposal have not come together to take a serious, fresh look at what can be key to the future of this country and perhaps the world at large. The folks at AltSchool deserve special kudos for taking on this long overdue challenge.

With the growth of the Internet, computers, online video, online meetings, mobile technology, etc., there simply should be a lot more happening on the education front in the world's innovation capital. Let's hope Altschool is the first of many more such efforts.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Bridging the gap: Combining self paced learning with live video chat

Every course ought to be an interactive learning experience. E-learning has always been one step behind the traditional classroom based learning in this respect. Rather than just act as a course delivery mechanism, the class room based training allowed for active interactions with the teachers and just as importantly, with fellow learners. The e-learning industry has always sought to close this gap. While virtual training sessions like GoTo services from Citrix and the WebEx products have always engaged the participants, self paced course delivery was still lacking the interactive environment.

We have done our fair share to address this issue. Our platform utilizes a course specific comment system so that users can write their feedback on courses and read other users feedback. We also have a discussion forum where users can engage in active discussions on a course. In this model, all users who are signed up for a course can get together in the discussion forum and engage in active discussions on various aspects of the course - all without leaving the system. Along with our course resource, related video, related links features, these interactive features like the comment system and discussion forum provide an interactive learning experience. 

Taking this one step further, we have implemented a course based video sharing system. Using this feature, users registered for a course can take part in a video conference/chat to discuss the course. This negates the need for the Admin to create a separate virtual training session for the same purpose. Users can access the virtual video system from the "Details" page for a course itself. Once the feature is released, Admins will be able to invite single or multiple users to a video chat, share files and discuss the self paced course in detail.

This feature can be utilized for a wide range of purposes, ranging from a Q&A with all the users registered for a course, to conducting a one on one with a single user in case the user needs special attention and guidance. The optional file sharing option will help users share notes while multiple users in the same video chat can simulate the class room environment by conducting a live group discussion. We hope the interactive course based video conference will help our customers achieve an immersive learning experience. Stay tuned!

Contributed by Vinod Rajendran, Vitalect Customer Support

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Webinar: Elearning Technology Platform integrated with Citrix GoTo Services

Elearning Technology Platform integrated with CitrixOnline GoTo Services

Date and Time
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 11:00 AM - 11:35 AM PST
Host and Presenter: Pran Kurup (Founder & CEO, Vitalect, Inc.)

Duration: 35 minutes 

Who should attend? 
  • Anyone looking for an affordable online platform with which you can train and certify your employees, customers, partners. 
  • Anyone looking for an integrated platform to manage self-paced, Instructor-led, Webinars 
  • Anyone with valuable online education material (recordings in various formats, YouTube videos etc.) that you want to publish to users. 
  • If you spend several manual hours for tracking your virtual sessions or in-person classroom data for accurate reporting and certification. 
  • If you are unhappy with the current system simply because it cannot handle all the various types of course materials/ offerings that you provide. 

Description: If any or all of the above issues are of concern to you then this half an hour session will be invaluable to you. 

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Happy New Year!

A BIG thank you to all our customers, partners and friends for the opportunity to work with you during this past year. We hope you all had a good year and we look forward to working with you in 2015!

 From all of us at Vitalect, we wish you a healthy and prosperous new year. All the best!'