More than 10 million people in the greater New York metropolitan region rely on Con Edison (ConEd) to keep the lights blazing, the gas burning in their furnaces, and the steam running through their pipes. But who empowers the employees of ConEd when it comes to ensuring that this sprawling service and delivery infrastructure is operating properly? That’s the job of educators working at the ConEd Learning Center.
Now, those instructors are using an audience response system (ARS) from Meridia Interactive Solutions to gain real-time insights into what students know coming into a class, as well as what they have learned after completing a class.
Using the EZ-VOTE solution and clickers from Meridia Interactive, ConEd instructors can begin a training program with a short assessment of topic knowledge. A series of questions embedded in a PowerPoint deck appears on a screen in the front of a classroom, and students answer the questions as best they can using clickers that ConEd acquired as part of the EZ-VOTE solution. EZ-VOTE captures all student responses and presents a tally on the screen of how many students answered the question correctly. ConEd presents the score summaries anonymously on the screen so as not to humiliate any student who did not answer a question correctly. These summaries are helpful for students, too, because they then all have a sense of their depth of knowledge at the start of a course.
During the course, instructors use EZ-VOTE and the clickers to perform intermediary assessments, which helps the instructor understand whether students have mastered the material presented to date. These intermediary assessments take only moments of classroom time to complete and virtually no time to score. The responses from the clickers are tallied and presented to the instructor in seconds.
“We wanted to make these assessments interactive and fun,” says Joseph Magaldi, an instructor at the ConEd Learning Center. “The audience response system provides a great way for us to do this. It can be entertaining for the people involved, and at the same time it enables us to capture the information quickly that we want to capture.”
“Many of the people who come to the Learning Center are coming here to learn skills that they need to pass a test and get a promotion, so it’s not just for fun that we do this. It can be financially rewarding for attendees if they pass their exams, so the more we can test them along the way and help ensure that they’re learning what they need to know, the better for them.”
Indeed, the more effectively students can learn the materials and can take on new challenges and responsibilities in ensuring the delivery of power to millions of homes, the better for everyone.
Meridia Interactive is not the first ARS provider with which Magaldi has worked, but shortcomings in the system he was previously using prompted him to look for another solution. In advance of a seminar at the Learning Center that would have had more than 200 attendees, Magaldi learned that ConEd did not have enough clickers and wireless receivers to support the seminar. Moreover, when he looked into acquiring more clickers—and discovered how many more wireless receivers he would also have to acquire—the cost was shocking. Another group in ConEd was already using Meridia Interactive’s EZ-VOTE, and when Magaldi learned that he could connect all 200 Meridia clickers to a single receiver, he was keen to give EZ-VOTE and Meridia a try.
“The fact that we could connect 200 clickers to one receiver was impressive. We’d have needed to configure 25 receivers to support 200 clickers in our old system.”
Also impressive was the ease with which Magaldi could pull together PowerPoint slides for use with EZ-VOTE. “EZ-VOTE provides a plug-in to PowerPoint,” he explains, “so you can create a new PowerPoint presentation—or convert an existing presentation—for use with EZ-VOTE easily. None of this was as easy in our previous solution, so the decision to go with Meridia and EZ-VOTE was a no-brainer.”
As an energy provider, ConEd knows all about the importance of customer service. Its personnel know how important it is to deliver good service, and they have high standards when it comes to the customer service they themselves receive.
“The quality of the support we receive from Meridia Interactive is exceptional,” says Magaldi. “When we’ve needed help or instruction, the team at Meridia is always available and always responsive. They’ll help in any way they can. That’s just the kind of people they are.”