Richard German
Posted by Richard German

As General Manager of Lenovo Software, previously Stoneware Inc., Rick German is focused on pairing Lenovo’s hardware with world-class software solutions to help people solve everyday classroom, consumer, and corporate challenges. Rick co-founded Stoneware Inc., which was then acquired and rebranded as Lenovo Software, and has served as President and CEO since its inception in 2000. A pioneer of the digital workspace, Stoneware set out to help employees access internal networks from their browsers on any device. As one of the key architects for this webOS, Rick was heavily involved in the company's efforts to move Web Desktop Virtualization into the cloud computing space. With more than 30 years of software and technology leadership, Rick was the Vice President of System Engineering for Cornerstone Systems before co-founding Stoneware. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems from University of Iowa. Outside of Lenovo Software, Rick is a member of Carmel, Indiana’s prolific chicken farming community and believes his farmer’s passion for cultivation translates well in the fast-growing software world.

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled blog content for an exciting announcement.

There are some BIG changes happening in Lenovo AirClass.

As we prepare for our first major update to our flagship offering, we’re excited about the opportunities to innovate the virtual classroom experience for instructors and participants.

To date, virtual training has been driven by the needs of the video conferencing market. But we’re convinced that applying key learning concepts and best practices can completely transform the virtual classroom experience.

For example:

Through countless customer meetings and focus groups, it became clear that “engagement” in the virtual classroom was a growing concern for instructors.

In fact, I would argue that it’s the number one concern for instructors who are challenged with moving from traditional classrooms to the virtual classroom.

We know from lots of research that better engagement creates better outcomes.

We also know that during a typical classroom session, participants’ engagement tends to drop as the session progresses. To make matters even more challenging, not being able to see eyes or read body language in a virtual class setting can be its own distraction for the instructor. In fact, personally, this drives me a little crazy. Are people bored? Did they understand the content? Am I competing with the NCAA basketball tournament and reschedule?

Very little has been done to monitor engagement. Until now.

Typically, most virtual training solutions rate engagement by checking to see if the participant is focused on the screen being presented by the instructor. But as you probably already recognize, merely watching a screen is not a great indicator of engagement.

So we challenged the AirClass team to find a more effective way to monitor engagement— without asking a single participant to put on a blood pressure cuff or breath into a tube.

And you know what? We did it.

We started by gaining a deep understanding of the various ways a participant may engage in the virtual classroom. Beyond simply watching the screen, a participant can engage by chatting, drawing a concept using the whiteboard, answering a polling question, giving their own presentation or answering a direct question … and the list goes on. There are many, many ways participants can engage within the virtual classroom.

We then endeavored to score these various methods to reach a total engagement score for each participant and the virtual class as a whole. This is what we call the “Engagement Score,” and it can be monitored through the instructor console.

Engagement Score allows the trainer to see real-time if participants are engaged

A live Engagement Score is placed on each participant’s status card, allowing the instructor to better understand who is engaged and who is distracted during a virtual class session.
The information is dynamic, so the participant’s engagement score will change as the training session progresses.

In addition to seeing participants’ individual engagement scores, AirClass provides the instructor with a short list of the least engaged participants once a session has ended. That way, the Engagement Score does not become a distraction for the instructor. This list makes it much easier to know when it’s time to try different training techniques and re-engage. (AirClass can help with that as well, but that’s another story for another day.)

Engagement Score is just one example an AirClass feedback loop. This powerful learning technique is critical for instructors who wish to improve their outcomes in the virtual classroom and is one of many innovations that can truly change the virtual classroom experience.

Ready to see the Engagement Score in action? Head on over to to try it out.

Try It Out!

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