ThinkTank Session Preparation Best Practices

ThinkTank Session Preparation Best Practices

This document provides an overview of ThinkTank Session preparation guidelines and best practices. ThinkTank has identified several factors, individually or in combination with others, that may contribute to the overall success of ThinkTank Sessions.

Session Best Practices

See What Your Thinkers See: Use two screens when running an iPad Session. In addition to the Leader screen for Session navigation, use an iPad to log in as a Guest to see the Thinker view.

Perform a Dry-Run: If possible, test your Session. Schedule and execute a Session dry-run with co-leaders and clients.

Plan for Devices: Minimize the total number of ThinkTank activities. In addition to the limited processing power, the iPad's screen viewing area is considerably less than laptops, and participants may become overwhelmed navigating through a long Session.

Image Overload: Minimize the total number of PowerPoint slides and images, especially photographs, which can place a burden on networks and decrease performance. Focus on quantity of images and slides. Do not be concerned with the file size. If the file size is too big, the ThinkTank application will prompt with a message.

NOTE: Before the Session begins, test the network capacity. For details, see the section on Network Recommendations & Testing.

Avoid the Connection Failure: Before the Session begins, ensure laptops & devices can connect to the dedicated (not public) Wifi network.

Test Log In: Before the Session begins, ensure Account Holders and Guests can log in successfully and the Session loads in a timely manner. If possible, stagger participant log-ins to maximize performance.

Pace Yourself: Spend at least 30 seconds on each PowerPoint slide to allow the next 3 slides to pre-cache.

Follow the Path: Since PowerPoint slides are pre-cached, present slides in sequential order. Do not jump around and present non-consecutive slides during a PowerPoint presentation.

iPads are Thinkers Only: Lead ThinkTank Session from a desktop or laptop, not from an iPad, tablet, or other mobile device.

iPad Preparation

Close Applications: Close all open applications on the iPad to free up device resources for the use of ThinkTank.

Soft Reset: Clear the devices memory of all old cached items by holding down the "Home" button & the "Power" button until the device restarts and the Apple icon id visible.

Disable Blue-tooth: Turn off all unused features in the iPad settings to free up resources for the use of ThinkTank.

Storage Space: Check the device to ensure there is enough storage space for application to function as intended. The iPad should have a minimum of 2 GB of free space.

iOS Update: Ensure the device is on the latest iOS that contains the latest hardware and software fixes from Apple. This will also prevent the device from prompting or attempting to update unintentionally.

ThinkTank Launcher App: If the ThinkTank Launcher App is desired, make sure the proper app version is installed and updated from the iTunes store.

iCloud, No Thank You: Disable the iCloud services to avoid untimely sync actions and pop-ups.

Keeping Scrolling in Mind: Minimize the total number of Matrix rows and columns. Remember that participants must two-finger scroll across columns and down rows when they do not fit in the screen's viewing area.

Network Capacity

Network Speed: This is kind of a misnomer in the sense that it often does not really refer to the speed that information is traveling. It is a legacy term from when we all had to deal with dial up connection and in fact the actual speed of information was a variable to consider. Now the term bandwidth is more commonly used.

Bandwidth: This references the amount of information that can be sent at one time. A good example of this is considering your network like a water pipe. Only so much water can fit through the pipe at one time and thus limiting the flow. Same thing with network bandwidth. A little network traffic will be fast and reliable, while a lot of traffic will result in latency. If network traffic exceeds the capacity of the bandwidth performance will be impacted.

Network Latency: This refers to the amount of information lost or dropped due to lack of capacity in the pipe and\or general connectivity issues. The lost or slow to received information has to be resent many times, which results in a longer wait time until the network can catch up. Typical culprits of network latency are bandwidth limitations and local computer problems. Note, if everyone is having the issue, then it is most likely not related to local computer issues. There are many network devices and services that can lead to latency. Warning technical jargon: Proxy servers, anti-virus real time scanning, firewalls and network limitations set by the administrator are common causes.

Upload & Download Speed: You may hear these terms often, even when deciding on home internet options. These terms are based on network bandwidth as discussed above. They are more detailed in nature than bandwidth is in general and looks into how much of the pipe is used when information is pulled down to the computer, and when information is pushed up from the computer. Think of this as two pipes. One coming in (download) and one going out (upload). For ThinkTank both are important because your Thinkers will be uploading comments and responses while also downloading presentations, pictures and general activity information. It is important to note, commonly found that the upload speed are generally much lower than download speeds. So when looking into a network it is important to note both upload and download speeds.

Wireless B, G, N: You may hear terms about the wireless connection in regards to the type of signal (b, g, n). These letters indicate the strength of the signal and the speed at which information can travel across that signal. The preferred and best is wireless-N, due to it having a power signal produced (5 GHZ) and that it can handle more information at once (bandwidth). While not ideal, older wireless cards can compound network performance when pushed to its limits.

LAN (Ethernet): This refers to the physical cable that is used to connect to a network. In some cases it can be the preferred choice because it eliminates many things that can interfere with a wireless network signal. Things like microwaves, competing wireless signals on the same channel and so on. Additionally, a physical cable can handle much more information at once without the concerns of wireless bandwidth considerations on top of overall network bandwidth considerations.

Network Recommendations & Testing

When considering an environment to host a ThinkTank Session, it is advantageous to know the network in question and specifically the limitations. That information & understanding can assist with Session design decisions and predict Thinker experience.

Co-Location: The Leader and all Session participants are in the building, room and network.

For a Session containing one Leader, one Co-Leader and twenty-five Session participants, ThinkTank recommends the following network specifications.

  • Bandwidth: High capacity for real-time collaboration.
  • Upload & Download: 5 MB minimum, with best practice is 10 MB or more.
  • Network Speed: 32ms to 64ms response times.
  • Wireless Signal: Wireless-N at 5 GHz or better.

Disbursed-Location: Leader and all Session participants are in different locations and using completely independent networks. As a result, the only network specifications are per individual participants.

  • Bandwidth: Standard high-speed Internet access.
  • Upload & Download: 2 MB minimum, with best practice is 4 MB or more.
  • Network Speed: 32ms to 64ms response times.
  • Wireless Signal: Wireless-G at 2.5 GHz or better.

Testing Network: The following are tools that can be used to gain network information.

Bandwidth Testers: Web based tools used by business' and Internet Service Providers to determine network bandwidth and speed.

SpeakEasy: http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/

Tool Summary: This is a good tool that is straight forward and allows to test multiple servers across the United States.

SpeedTest: http://www.speedtest.net/

Tool Summary: Slightly more complex tester that can test servers all over the world.

General Tool Usage Hints:

  • It is wise to test by selecting servers at all four corners of the country. Often Internet Service Providers (ISP) have localized outages that result in dark areas of the country or region. The ISP typically do a good job of re-routing, but it is known to affect overall performance.
  • Write down the Upload & Download speeds. This information may need to be referred to by local IT staff. For example, if you are hosting a session in a hotel, this can tell the hotel's IT team to open up the network so that you can have greater bandwidth.

Test Often: Test often and it will ensure that you have the latest information in the chance of an ISP issue. For example, you did the right thing and tested the conference room’s wireless network the day before. However that night someone hit the green box outside the building with their truck and as a result the network conditions changed. Testing again before a session will give you a heads up and predict the impact on your Session’s experience.

We here at ThinkTank appreciate that you have chosen to use the best collective intelligence tool in the world. We are continually improving our technology and practices to streamline the setup and delivery of a world-class Session.

Parting Note: Please do not hesitate to reach out to your ThinkTank Account Manger and ThinkTank Support if you have any questions, comments or concerns about your ThinkTank experience. We love our community and take the feedback in very careful consideration.

When should you reach out to ThinkTank Support?

  • If you predict 100 Session participants or more.
  • When multiple engagements are required to achieve desired outcome.
  • Uncertain network or location that is being considered for a ThinkTank Session.
  • If you experience a less than desirable experience, please capture as much information as possible so that we can take decisive and quick action.
  • Have suggestions on improvements or new features.

When should you reach out to your ThinkTank Account Manager?

  • When you want to learn more about ThinkTank and becoming a Master facilitator.
  • Pricing and renewal questions.
  • Notify of upcoming high impact ThinkTank Sessions.
  • Have an idea for a ThinkTank use case, share your story.

 

ThinkTank Support Contact Information

Phone: Option 2

US: +1 800-368-6338 | South Africa: +27 10 500 9078 

Europe: +44 20 3318 4791 | Australia: +61 02 8320 6371

E-mail: support@thinktank.net

 

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