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How to Hold a Great Technology Summer Camp
technology camp, summer technology camp, SmartSource Rentals
Apr 18, 2016 by DeDe Mulligan

When you think of summer camp, visions of campfires, outdoor activities and s’mores probably dance in your head. But when you think of technology camps, something different probably appears – which may include nerdy boys sitting in front of a computer screen all summer long.

While Technology Camps don’t usually encompass the great outdoors, they also are not targeted exclusively to programmers and gamers. In fact, they DO have many of the same objectives as your typical camping environment. Today’s blog will define exactly what a technology summer camp is, what goes on in one and the state-of-the-art technology your school or organization must have to attract the best participants.

What is a Technology Summer Camp?

This camp is an exploratory, collaborative, self-paced learning experience for children typically between 7-18 years of age. Students use technology tools to build apps (such as a gaming app from scratch) or items (such as a prototype on a 3D printer).

What Should Students Take Away from the Experience?

Tech camps to should provide students with:

  • Hands-on practical experience with technology
  • A baseline for creative thinking skills with digital tools and
  • An understanding of the value of collaboration.

How Does It Work?

Either a teacher or technology consultant gives each student an assignment or they can go to a website and select a challenge. If it is a team assignment, the team should be in place prior to selection of the assignment.

What Elements Make Up a Great Camp?

Relevant to the Grade Level

Ideally, the camp should help students with the things they will be learning about in the upcoming school year. It should mirror what the students know and challenge them for what is ahead.

Social and Supportive

It should not be all about work; part of the camp should be fun! Most of the time should be spent building the three “Cs” – curiosity, courage and collaboration. Ideally, the students will walk out of the camp with a better relationship with their fellow classmates.

In addition, there should be more than one camp counselor in the classroom able to help out the students when they experience challenges and roadblocks.

Ability to Work at Their Own Pace

Camp, while it may look like a technology lab and classroom setting, needs to be relaxed enough that students can work at a pace they are comfortable with. It is important that they accomplish their objectives, but it doesn’t have to be at the pace of a normal school year structure.

Student Diversity

Technology camps should not be tailored toward nerds and boys – it should allow every student to understand how technology works and how they can use what they learn in their everyday life.

 

What Tools Are Required?

 

Desktop and laptop rentals should be fast enough and have enough storage to handle the following applications:

  • Gaming
  • Coding
  • Robotics and
  • Engineering

3D printers

Printer rentals

Fast, Robust Wi-Fi

 

SmartSource Rentals is Your Tech Camp Partner

With 22 locations nationwide, SmartSource Rentals can offer you many different technology options for your summer camp! Please contact us if you have any questions or would like more information.

Are Your Events Lacking Innovation? Try These 10 Tricks
c2 Montreal, BizBash, Innovative tips, Microsoft Ignite, SmartSource Rentals
Mar 17, 2016 by DeDe Mulligan

From The Top 4 Meeting Innovators

 

Every year BizBash Magazine identifies the 15 most innovative meetings of the year. I always enjoy reading this article for two reasons: 1) To learn how far event organizers will push the envelope; and 2) To understand how technology improves the meeting experience.

Today’s blog post will focus on the top four events and the creative ways they engage attendees.

 

C2 Montreal

 

This 3-day Canadian conference has established itself as a laboratory of innovation. With over 5,000 attendees, their motto is “Attendees need to live it rather than just listen to it”.

Here is what they offered:

  1. In small groups of 4 attendees and one facilitator, they suspended individuals 18 feet in the air (sitting on chairs with netting below) to force them out of their comfort zone. The facilitator asked them a series of questions they needed to answer before they could be grounded.
  2. They booked celebrity speakers like Chelsea Clinton and Andre Agassi. This along with live entertainment and a theme park atmosphere made this conference entertainment focused with an educational twist.

Social Good Summit

 

This two-day event had 1,600 attendees and over 700 bloggers and journalists in attendance. It was held in New York City.

Here is what they did:

  1. Rather than going it alone, Mashable partnered with the United Nations Development Program, United Nations Foundation and 92|Y to create an event that would help determine how technology can help address world-wide issues such as poverty and climate change.
  2. They held this event during the week of the United Nations General Assembly, thus gaining momentum with individuals who would already be in NYC and talking about the issues the general assembly is wrestling with.
  3. Using online streaming, conference organizers could translate the content into 7 languages. They also encouraged social sharing with the hashtag #2030NOW and MeetUp events where groups could get together, in small groups, all over the world to discuss the issues after viewing the content.
  4. By incorporating a digital media lounge, reporters and blogger could view live content on a large video wall rental.

Collision

This 3-day conference attracted 7,500 attendees last year (an increase of 6,000 individuals) with a slogan of “Where the Tech World Meets”. How did they do it?

  1. They brought a mix of investors, start-up entrepreneurs and developers together for three days of networking, they heard from industry leaders and pitched their products and services.
  2. In order to make the most of the conference, event organizers completed data-based matchmaking, suggesting to investors the 10 most relevant start-ups. Then the organizers created a “speed dating” environment where each start-up and investor had 15 minutes to meet. At the end of this session, event organizers told the start-ups which investors were most interested in hearing more about their innovation.

 

Microsoft Ignite

This 5-day conference had one overarching goal: Show developers and IT staff the breadth and depth of the entire Microsoft product line.

  1. Rather than having several shorter silo conferences, Microsoft decided to expand the length of this conference to encompass all their specialties at one event. On their landing page, they created a “Why you should attend this event” video and even an email template to send to your boss for justification!
  2. Event organizers encouraged cross-talk between IT and developers by offering different sessions, trade show activities and networking options. The Microsoft Ignite team held receptions, ask-the-expert presentations, and mash-ups

SmartSource Rentals is Your Home for Conference Innovation

 

SmartSource Rentals is dedicated to making your summit very successful. Request a quote and one of our experienced Account Executives will turn around a quick response to you.

Onboarding Session Technology
onboardingsessionimage
Feb 02, 2016 by Anonymous

Many businesses recognize that it saves money to retain good employees. The costs of hiring can include advertising, recruitment, travel, relocation, and training—not to mention hours upon hours of time spent sorting through resumes, scheduling interviews, deliberating, following through, and negotiating salaries and benefits.

Indeed, studies show that many companies lose a significant amount of time and money in headhunting, hiring, and training new employees. Many companies realize—too late—that it’s worth the extra effort to try and retain current team members rather than to replace them.

Optimal ROI from Onboarding

A recent Aberdeen Report defines onboarding as an orientation process involving:

  1. Forms management
  2. Tasks management
  3. Socialization into the company culture

The report suggests that companies will achieve “optimal ROI” from their onboarding process by incorporating those three elements.  The research demonstrated that onboarding and socialization techniques lead to several positive outcomes for new employees, such as:

  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Better job performance
  • Greater organizational commitment
  • Reduced occupational stress

Onboarding Sessions Can Improve Employee Retention

Once hired, new employees benefit greatly from onboarding sessions. These informative presentations help bring employees on board with orientation and training that help to give them an appropriate view of their new work environment.

Onboarding sessions are a useful HR tool—incorporating both training and management to deliver the knowledge and skills that help individuals successfully join into a new team, project, branch, or company. The Wall Street Journal article, “Employee Retention – How to Retain Employees,” suggests the following tactics:

  • Explain the expectations
  • Communicate your business’s mission
  • Create open communication between employees and management
  • Outline your perks and benefits package
  • Coach employees
  • Foster employee development

Onboarding sessions may involve:

  • Formal orientations
  • Mentoring
  • Role clarification
  • Presentation of organizational culture
  • Skills practice
  • Development programs
  • Team building
  • User training
  • Case work
  • Exercises

Effective onboarding . . . can be one of the most important contributions any hiring manager, direct supervisor or human resources professional can make to long-term organizational success . . . onboarding done right can improve productivity and executive retention, and build shared corporate culture.(1)

Technology that Helps Incorporate Employees

Onboarding can include formal meetings, lectures, videos, printed materials, computer-based programs and group sessions. Smaller, more personal meetings are also a good technique for helping bring new employees into the team. Consider the following technology options as you create an ideal onboarding campaign:

Networked iPads, or laptop rentals, and presentation software are an excellent choice for onboarding sessions. With linked iPads, laptops, or tablets and the right software:

  • Event managers can distribute materials in a common presentation format
  • HR, management, and training session leaders can instantly capture each team member’s work
  • Presenters can quickly and easily adapt materials to suit the specific session members
  • Speakers can easily implement crowdsourced content, present surveys, and run Q&A sessions

A Mobile App is the ideal digital organizational tool—helping to connect your audience to exactly the materials they need. In the case of onboarding, use a customized mobile app to:

  • Present interactive maps for campus orientation
  • Offer an E-Literature library of digital documents
  • Connect to social networks for work teams, mentors, and support staff
  • Provide downloads of benefits information and employee handbooks

Projectors and Screens are a traditional foundation for delivering the videos, charts, graphics, and slide presentations that will help in orientations.

Sound Systems are important for boosting the audio of your managers, speakers, and educators as they help orient your new team members.

In conclusion, the onboarding sessions that welcome recruits are a valuable technique in familiarizing new employees to the expectations and culture of their workplace—helping businesses increase their recruitment ROI and gain a more educated, acclimated, and successful workforce!

SmartSource Rentals has the experience and inventory  to help you create effective orientations, staffing events, or corporate training sessions, anywhere in the U.S.! Call us at 800.888.8686 or get a quick quote today!

 

Reference:

(1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onboarding

 

Thinking Outside the BOX for Trade Show Event Tech
thinkoutsidetheboximage
Jan 26, 2016 by Anonymous

Trade show exhibitors and event planners are perpetually looking for fresh ways to promote their business, products, services and ideas. Businesses are always in need of unique ways to distinguish themselves from the competition and help draw a crowd off the showroom floor. Industry professionals know that the success of trade show exhibits often relies on technology—from the basics of sound, lighting, and lead retrieval, and moving up to leading-edge event technology that sets new standards.

Create Connections before the Event

Use social media, games, and apps to extend your exhibit’s reach beyond the booth—building excitement for your exhibit beforehand and helping to create a virtual space to engage your customers and help them to interact with your brand.

One award-winning social media campaign used gamification, social media, smartphones and devices, interaction, and QR codes to create a remarkable promotion! Their campaign succeeded above others by incorporating the following aspects:

  1. Creating a custom-made app that introduced the company’s product.
  2. Encouraging guests to download the app and game before the event or allowing them to connect to it quickly through an eye-catching QR code station onsite.
  3. The app allowed guests to select and customize gaming personas, helping to create a fun and interactive community and networking potential.
  4. The app used a scavenger hunt that encouraged competitive teamwork.
  5. The scavenger hunt involved locations in the event’s host city, not just the event facility—creating a broader event experience for attendees (while also cleverly limiting the time that attendees wanted to spend at competing booths).

The company’s campaign opted for smart phones, social media, and Quick Response (QR) codes, believing that customers were most comfortable with these technologies. Backing up this concept, research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that:

  • 61% of online Americans now use social-networking sites daily
  • 62% of gamers engage in game play with others (either in person or online)
  • 33% of gamers play on their smart phones

Trade shows can be work—help to make them feel like fun!

Expand a trade show booth with sights, sounds, and a more tactile approach to exhibit display!

Every trade show exhibit revolves around a physical display area. While a successful exhibit should utilize social media and virtual engagement, the booth itself cannot fail to draw in guests and help form face-to-face interaction as well! Here are our top five suggestions for event technology that can help your business’s trade show booth expand beyond its footprint and reach out to guests!

  1. Beacons – if your trade show is offering an event app that enables Beacons, take advantage of this unique opportunity to connect directly to attendees through their own devices. Beacons can “enhance a visitor’s experience by delivering improved customer service and offering digital content through event-specific mobile apps.”(1) When an app enables Beacons, it can allow:
    • Check-ins
    • Contactless registration
    • Ticketing
    • Signups
    • Location-based services
    • Push notifications
    • Proximity marketing
    • Time-sensitive promotions
    • Personalized deals and offers
    • Rewards programs
    • In-app discussions and feedback
    • Content delivery
  • Virtual Reality – virtual reality displays and VR headsets add the elements of novelty and fun to your trade show booth’s promotional videos and demonstrations. At the low end of the pricing scale, Google Cardboard uses apps, smartphones, and a bit of cardboard origami to provide a 3D immersive viewing experience that can give visitors an excuse to stop, look, and linger for your sales demonstrations and content.
  • Sound Shower Directional Speakers – directional speakers mount from nearly any angle and offer highly-targeted sound directly to your guests. They offer an excellent opportunity to give visitors a uniquely layered and dimensional “surround sound” auditory experience, as well as being an ideal method for competing with the noise of the showroom floor!
  • Video Projection Mapping – similar to the searchlights used at grand openings and movie premiers, the right lighting can stimulate interest and intrigue! In the case of trade show booths, video projection mapping can break up the monotony of box after box of exhibitors—helping you extend your business’s appeal beyond the 10×10 foot “pre-defined area.” Video projection mapping can allow you to project images, logos, videos, or lighting effects over the walls, floor, and furnishings in your booth—including any wall surfaces, tabletop displays, fabric draping and panels, and rigid or semi-rigid substrates—distinguishing your display from your competitors.
  • Curved Screens – monitors are always a good choice for exhibits. Not only do they deliver valuable video content, but they fit easily into a trade show booth design. The latest 4K UHD curved screens are extremely useful for presenting crisp, eye-catching images, and the screens still possess the novelty that helps a booth make an impact!

About SmartSource Rentals

SmartSource Rentals has over 30 years of experience in trade show technology and technology rentals. With our coast-to-coast network of branch locations and our multi-million dollar inventory, SmartSource is ready and able to provide any rental technology your business or corporate event requires—all backed by the support of our expert technicians! Give us a call today at 800.888.8686 or contact us for a quick quote!

 

Reference:

(1)http://blog.beaconstac.com/2014/08/how-beacons-can-transform-event-management-and-trade-shows/

Getting the Most Out of Audience Response Systems
ARSimage
Jan 19, 2016 by Karen Daniels

With Today’s technology, everything is about “instant.” We access information instantly, communicate in a flash anywhere in the world, and we can find out in real time what our audience is thinking and what they care about.

Tapping into that “instant” ability is part of creating and running a successful trade show, conference, or corporate event. If you are running or presenting at an event, you are always looking for ways to boost attendee engagement and audience participation. Audience response systems can do all that.

At their best, audience response systems (ARS) promote live interaction, engagement and feedback. They can take an already good presentation to the next level and alert trade show managers to areas that are weak during an event.

The New ARS – Mobile Event Applications

With advances in smart phone and tablet technology, audience response systems for events are now often run right through attendees’ mobile devices. This makes ARS more affordable and easier to deploy, since most people attending an event have one or both of these devices with them (Plus, you can always rent iPads for those attendees who need them).

A mobile event application designed to allow attendees to respond to, and comment on, presentations and other event activities, not only helps boost participation and engagement, it provides you with priceless information that you can use to improve this event, and future events.

However, like all technology, if not used properly, ARS can fall- short of your expectations. That’s why it’s important to understand how you can best use an ARS, especially during a presentation when you’re trying to connect with an audience. Here are some tips to get you started.

17 Audience Response System Tips

  1. Like all technology, it’s good practice to test the equipment prior to live use.
  2. Make sure that everyone running the presentation knows how to use the equipment. For example, the presenters and/or moderators.
  3. Consider using two screens during the presentation, one for the presentation and the other for the ARS.
  4. If you’re using an ARS during a presentation, take the time early on to draw everyone in and demonstrate how to use the ARS. Keep it simple, such as asking them to sign in. Or, you might ask them for some simple demographics questions. This helps them feel comfortable with the technology and can give you valuable information.
  5. Always let participants know if the responses are going to be anonymous or are going to be tracked.
  6. You can generate engagement by polling them early on and letting them know that you will reveal the results at the end of the presentation.
  7. Don’t over use the technology. You don’t want to present them with dozens of questions they need to voice their opinion on. A good average number is about 5 questions for every hour of presentation.
  8. Make it as easy as possible. For example, number each of the answers to match a number on the keypad.
  9. Ask questions that are useful and relevant.
  10. Avoid questions that are worded confusingly. As an example, don’t use double negatives.
  11. Make sure to include some opinion-style questions.
  12. People want to be heard. If at all possible, use the responses you are receiving to change the course of the presentation. Or, at least, talk about the responses. No one has continued engagement in a vacuum.
  13. Keep the questions short and use questions that only require brief opinions. However, brief does not mean that you don’t want to ask challenging questions. Controversial questions can be good for generating discussion.
  14. Gameshow style questions or running a competition can help generate responses.
  15. If the presentation is designed to actively teach the audience something, use your ARS to find out what they know about the topic at the beginning and then again at the end. It’s good to know if how you are teaching them actually works.
  16. Let everyone know that the equipment must be returned at the end.
  17. Don’t be afraid to have a call to action at the end, such as having them sign up for something or, ask a question that you will respond to personally.

These tips will help your effectiveness no matter what type of ARS you are using. Technology is only effective when you use it to engage your target audience.

Get the Most from Your ARS and all Your Technology

With our extensive cutting-edge inventory and highly-trained professional staff, we will set you up for success. Every time.

Want to get the most out of your ARS? Call us at 800.888.8686 or request a quote today so that we can help you get the most from your trade show or corporate event technology.

Tech to Tweak your Corporate Culture
TechtoTweakimage
Jan 14, 2016 by Anonymous

Corporate culture helps define a business, and employee habits and attitudes are at the heart of every work environment. For businesses, new technology can be used to bring fresh mindsets into a work community—helping to keep employees engaged, energized, and effective!

Tech Initiatives to Keep your Work Community Modern and Dynamic!

According to an interview with Molly Graham at Facebook, “a new philosophy is emerging in business and today’s young workers are driving a change in corporate culture . . . challenging our thinking about company codes of conduct and business philosophy.”(1)

A company may need to adopt new techniques in order to stay current and relevant, and although technology may bring a learning curve for business teams, it’s important to incorporate the technology that helps your brand connect with your team members.

Using Data to Keep your Business Culture Active and Relevant

While there’s a lot of focus now on Big Data and its insights about customers and markets, gathering information internally can help to:

  • Streamline operations
  • Increase productivity
  • Expedite supply-lines
  • Improve employee morale
  • Increase employee retention

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the digital age, it’s that there’s simply no excuse for being out of touch.

“When employees are provided with ways to make suggestions that could improve the productivity or the general working environment of the company, it can be said that the environment is inclusive, as it allows for free communication between everyone employed by the business.”(2)

Businesses should offer frequent (perhaps even continual) opportunities for feedback—both anonymous and in forums. In meetings, training sessions, and presentations, audience response systems are an excellent way to gauge the feelings, opinions, and wishes of your team—helping managers and administrators make decisions that reflect the overall attitudes of employees and improve the corporate culture.

According to the SmartMeetings article (3), “Generation Tech: Leverage leading-edge technology to engage millennials,” written by SmartSource Rentals Vice President of Sales, Jeffrey Byrne:

Audience response systems give millennials another way to share their voices in real time. They’re perfect for audience polling about the event, exhibits attendees are enjoying, the winner of a prize drawing at a sponsor’s booth, reactions to speakers and more. They promote a highly interactive event while helping planners stay abreast of attendees’ opinions regarding various aspects of it. Exhibitors can use audience response systems to gain better insight into how their display, sales presentations and promotions are being received—valuable on-the-spot information to have if they want to make any adjustments.

Real-Time, Streaming, and Fresh Communication Techniques

Is your team using Slack? Millions of users are claiming that the instant messaging service has cleared out their inboxes and made team communication lightning-fast. Real-time streaming video services are also becoming more and more popular. According to Wired.com, we’re “approaching the point where people get annoyed if certain things aren’t streamed.”(4)

Communication (both within an organization and in a business’s external contacts as well) will become increasingly dependent upon newer, faster, real-time options for written and visual interaction. These applications and services make work-life better by:

  • Making communication easy and instant
  • Reducing time spent in physical meetings
  • Helping projects move faster
  • Reducing the time-drain of email
  • Improving overall productivity and satisfaction
  • Increasing teamwork and collaboration
  • Allowing for more flexible work schedules and remote offices
  • Building more positive relationships

Collaboration that comes out of personal connections is amplified.(1)

Offer a Technology or Gaming Lounge in the Office

Obviously, businesses focus a great deal of time and energy on events and technology that help engage customers and create profitable B2B relationships, but many of the techniques that our SmartSource Blog discusses in relation to business events can be applied to your corporate culture.

For instance, we’ve discussed the benefits of offering a technology lounge at events, but the advantages of a tech lounge apply equally for your work teams! Yes, your employees have access to desktops, printers, and charging stations in their work areas, but a workplace tech lounge is a common area which serves as a place to:

  • Gather
  • Exchange ideas
  • Enhance creativity through play
  • Recharge mentally and socially
  • Build stronger work relationships

All of these benefits help to create a better work/life balance—one of the most important qualities that today’s employees want from their job!

 

References:

(1) http://i-sight.com/resources/millennials-turn-corporate-culture-on-head/

(2) http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-corporate-culture.htm

(3) Byrne, Jeffrey C. “Generation Tech: Leverage leading-edge technology to engage millennials.” SmartMeetings Nov. 2015: 34. http://pubs.royle.com/publication/?i=278186&pre=1

(4) http://www.wired.com/2012/03/opinion-levy-backchannel-video/

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