Training becomes more animated
- By Dibya Sarkar
- May 17, 2002
Michigan Department of Community Health
Andrew Silver soon may have help training new staff members at the Michigan
Department of Community Health — Merlin the Magician and Peedy the Parrot.
Both are 3-D talking animated characters that Silver, director of training
for the department's Office of Recipient Rights, will use in a slide show
for training new hires.
Developed by Golden, Colo.-based Right Seat Software Inc., Vox Proxy
is a scripting program that features 17 animated characters that can move
and talk in Microsoft Corp. PowerPoint presentations. The program and its
characters have been used by teachers and other public-sector employees
to add a little zing to presentations.
At least that's what Silver is using it for.
"The first slide is one of the characters coming out and giving an introduction
about recipient rights...and all of that," he said. "So instead of seeing
a slide and seeing words and then clicking the button to go on to the next
slide, they're seeing a character talking to them. And to me that gives
it a little more animation. That gives it a little more interest to someone."
He said it's also pretty easy to use. "You can tell the characters to
move across the slide, right, left, up, down, you can tell them to disappear,
you can tell them to wave their arms. There are several gestures associated
with each character. It's really cool. It's almost like making a movie,"
Silver said his office deals with learning about state laws, which can
be a little dry. "Our laws are talking about what constitutes abuse of patients
so it's kind of important to us [that] they get this and they get it right,"
Although the computer-based training won't replace face-to-face training,
Silver said he believed it might help people pay more attention to a 20-minute
presentation. He said he would assess whether such individualized computer
training would better help retention of information.
Once Silver finishes scripting the presentation — in about three months
— it will be available on the agency's network for new staff members to
"We'll come up with some way of ascertaining whether they've logged
in and gone through with the thing, and we may do some questions afterwards
so I know they got the concept," he said, adding that it can be used for
annual training updates.
In addition to a general presentation, Silver may develop in-depth presentations
covering issues such as abuse and confidentiality.
The software starts at about $200, works with PowerPoint 2000 or 2002,
requires minimum 64M of RAM and an Intel Corp. Pentium II processor or better.