Satellite, a leading presentation company in the Middle East, based at Dubai Media City, has announced that it will offer Group Audience Response Systems (GARS) technology to education and training providers in the region.
GARS is currently used by leading international institutes to make training and development programmes more interactive, and to enhance participants' retention value.
GARS utilises small individual wireless keypads, similar to those used by the audience in the television show "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" The use of these keypads allows each participant to respond to questions anonymously, and to see a real-time display of all participants' responses. The questions themselves are created with software that directly adds into MS PowerPoint, thus making the system very easy to use by anyone already familiar with creating PowerPoint slides.
'GARS is an exciting new tool that gives a new edge to teaching and training methodologies," said John Quinn, General Manager, Satellite. "Its key feature is that it allows the audience to interact with the content on screen, instead of staring at it passively. Lecturers and trainers who have already embraced this technology have found that participants are more open to interaction with each other as they discuss the various alternatives. The trainer is thus creating a conversation with the group, as opposed to lecturing at the group. Research has shown that actively engaging the audience in this way significantly increases memory retention."
Satellite, which focuses on next-generation digital media, services and solutions to enhance or create presentations for clients, is pioneering the use of this technology in conferences, education and training. GARS is being used by conference organisers, secondary schools, universities and organisations such as Deloitte to realise their education, training and development goals.
"Training and development is an essential component for most businesses, whether it be for internal staff, upper management or external training of clients," said Quinn. "The challenge trainers face is to ensure the group or audience derive maximum benefit from the training session and retain the information conveyed to them. Tools like PowerPoint have been used by trainers and presenters all over the world for many years, however recent research has shown that more innovative tools are needed in order for deep learning to occur over surface learning. GARS lets participants be more actively engaged and involved in the learning process.
"An added advantage of the use of GARS is the ability to automatically track and collate individual's responses and the overall data, saving valuable time once wasted on the administrative task of manually entering data. Accurate data can be accessed at the click of a button and Excel spreadsheets can be created which can allow for cross-tabulation of results, that is, tracking different demographic groups and their responses," said Quinn.
Research has shown the benefits of utilising a group audience response system in education and training include encouraging participation, improving understanding, increasing retention and adding excitement and enthusiasm to traditional education and training methods.
Group Audience Response Systems have been available for some time now but have previously been prohibitive in their cost, ease of use and portability. This has all changed, with small, affordable, plug-and-play systems now available. Education and training providers in the UK and US have embraced this technology for some time, with positive results.
The Queensland University of Technology recently conducted a two semester long trial using GARS with promising results. Nearly 90% of the students agreed or strongly agreed that they experienced deeper learning as a consequence of the discussion that followed the questions, and 90% agreed or strongly agreed that it facilitated critical thinking.