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Efficient Learning – Learning on a Budget

August 7, 2011

This past week the annual Kansas Emergency Manager’s cadre meeting – along with Advanced Presentations, Briefings, and Facilitation Methodology – took place in Topeka. During the cadre meeting there was a brainstorming session. In that session I brought up the idea of utilizing technology to eliminate travel for the many meetings we emergency managers attend. My suggestion was met with astounding opposition from one participant – “It won’t work, we must meet face-to-face.”

Being one that dislikes absolute statements, I voiced that sentiment back to the opposing party – “I don’t believe you can make a blanket statement about the use of technology.” The conversation didn’t go much further than those two brief, tart comments. But, I didn’t forget.

The cadre meeting ended. And, the next two days were spent on Advanced Presentations, Briefings, and Facilitation Methodology. The finale to that portion of the training was a short presentation from each of the class participants. Remember about my not forgetting? My presentation was titled, “Efficient Learning – Learning on a Budget.”

The presentation began with a story about my two sons and baseball. Both of my sons played baseball at an early age. I’m a believer that if you’re going to do something, you do it the best you can. So, I found a baseball camp to send my boys to when they were very young. Unfortunately, I found out the primary focus of the camps was to make money for the camp organizer. So, I looked for other options. Being a man of little money, I had to look at low budget options. VHS tapes were the craze back in those days. I found that leaders in baseball had video tapes – and books. I bought both. And, the sons went on to be successful collegiate baseball players.

From baseball we moved to meetings – and back to the philosophy, “If you’re going to do something, you do it the best you can.” I posed the question, “Is it cost efficient to have 10-20 people drive three hours, spend two hours in a meeting, and then drive three hours to get home?” You can access numerous websites that have calculators for figuring the cost of a typical meeting. I showed one. And, then I posed the question – “Is there a more cost efficient method?”

That’s when I pulled out my Ipad. A double-click on the Facetime icon. And, then a double click on moody47@gmail.com. Within seconds Matt Moody – my son – appeared on the screen. I walked the Ipad around the room and introduced Matt to the instructor and the students.

Matt was at work in Salina where he takes care of a radio station’s websites. After the introductions, Matt gave the class an overview of how Facetime works. He then explained a new meeting product that Google is putting out. That product will allow bigger groups, from various locations, to meet. All of the participant’s pictures/video will be shown along the bottom of the screen. The person from the group who’s speaking the loudest will be portrayed as a large picture/video on the screen.

What’s the cost of Facetime and Google? Zero. Gas costs? Zero. Food costs? Zero. Motel costs? Zero

I finished my short presentation by stating the obvious, “Americans will be required to do more with less in the future.” Because, as we all know, Uncle Sam is stone broke.

The sad part is it shouldn’t have taken a crisis to do better – us or the federal government.

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