Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Interview with Audrey Dalton from CodeBaby Part 1

I had the pleasure of meeting Audrey Dalton, Product Marketing Director at CodeBaby during the DevLearn 09 Conference and had a chance to sit down and talk to her about her role and the CodeBaby platform for eLearning.


BSF: Hello Audrey, can you share with us your position and tell us a little background information about CodeBaby and the company?

AD: Responsible for all product marketing functions for the eLearning product line: Product Release Planning and Marketing, Demand generation, MarCom, Tradeshow & Event Planning, Online Community Relations, Curriculum Design, and Corporate Marketing Activities. Essentially, I'm the jack of all trades for the eLearning product marketing line and additionally have oversight for the education sector. Since we're a growing company, I'm taking on a multitude of roles at this time. Most importantly, I enjoy working with clients, our eLearning developer partners and reseller in Australia, Symmetree, to showcase and promote new uses and ideas for using CodeBaby characters in eLearning programs. In this role, I leverage my prior eLearning project management experience to facilitate their success stories and understand the customer perspective when marketing and gathering research for future product releases.

CodeBaby's history is quite interesting. CodeBaby began as a incubation project within Bioware, a Canadian company based in Edmonton, Alberta. In creating memorable 3D characters for their story-driven games, Bioware founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk noticed that those interactive characters created a powerful digital engagement and emotional response with players. In 2001, CodeBaby officially spun off as a completely separate entity. Our web product consists of digital character-driven "Conversations" that are directed at engaging customers, while driving specific objectives such as lead capture, click-to-buy, up/cross-sell, and customer self service. This product is sold on a SaaS / monthly subscription model, and integrates with a customer's site via a single line of code.

The product that I'm responsible for is the eLearning product - CodeBaby Production Studio.
CodeBaby makes the creation of animated, 3D digital characters accessible to a variety of companies who want to make their training content come to life. CodeBaby Production Studio is a timeline-based, drag-and-drop production environment that puts the capabilities of a highly skilled, 3D artist in the hands of a eLearning/training content developer. Studio comes with a library of 20+ standard characters, and 400+ animation sequences. Lip synch to recorded audio files is driven programmatically by the software, condensing hundreds of hours of animation work into only about an hour per minute of finished content.


BSF: With the shift to eLearning happening in all kinds of markets how does CodeBaby fit into this move to online learning?

AD: Good question, CodeBaby Production Studio is a natural fit for online learning, informal learning, and easily exports into any cloud-based product. Since Production Studio exports your CodeBaby scenes as swf, flv and avi files, these can be used in virtually any learning delivery. If you want the CodeBaby character to introduce classroom instruction delivered from your cloud-based presentation tool, that's easily done. If you want to create up to the minute communication announcements for your company or school, just export the CodeBaby as a swf and export to your learning portal. If you want to create more complex scenario based scenes and export into a traditional rapid eLearning or authoring tool, it's perfectly suited. As long as the medium has to do with learning, and it's for internal use, CodeBaby interactive characters are a highly effective addition to any learning program.

BSF: What do you see are the benefits of developers using CodeBaby for their eLearning projects?

AD: Are you speaking from a technical aspect or instructional design aspect? If from a technical aspect, Studio is very rich in development possibilities. For a creative, experienced developer, they'll truly enjoy playing with the 400 animations and 24 stock characters, ability to create multiple scenes and stages and the capability of producing bulk renders and exports. We have developer options to create new outfits for the characters if they use graphics programs like Maya or 3ds Max. Just the other day, one of our eLearning partners said that they've explored the program so much and have extensively studied and utilized the gestures and animations that they are now incorporating neurolinguistic programming theory into the movements in order to enhance the learning transmission. Additionally, he said that he's really looking forward to the additional animations that will available in upcoming versions.

From an instructional design perspective, we have found from our own research, from customer experience, and from Byron Reeves at Stanford from his paper the "The Benefits of Interactive Online Characters", that character interfaces bring social intelligence to online interactions. Social intelligence determines engagement, attention in learning, and persistence in relationships. Compelling social interactions are as important in online transactions as they are to teachers in real life. Bottom line, socially intelligent, interactive characters foster learning and adoption of new information and behavioral skills. We consistently hear from customers that performance improved, attention increased and they saved money when comparing online instruction with CodeBaby characters to instructor-led training or using video production. Essentially, there are no limits with how CodeBaby characters are used: as peer instructors, experts, multiple character role plays in which students learn in a non-threatening environment, in immersive simulations, sales training, customer service training, organizational change, employee orientation, best practices, compliance training, etc.


To be continued.....

 
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