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CFA Enters New Dimension of Education

Yes, the Internet can be a rather intimidating arena for people looking for information and services to improve their businesses. Fortunately, there are opportunities that exist to help break down the many barriers and intimidating factors. This issue, we would like to introduce you to one of the newest ways we at CFA are working to improve the level of comfort and increase the opportunities you have to interact with our online services.

We know that providing online engineering software is quickly becoming a key benefit for CFA members and is also becoming increasingly attractive to many non-members. Between software designing basement walls and the newest addition for retaining walls, the CFA has created a suite of possibilities that greatly reduce the hardships of determining what is required for a given design. We also know, however, there is room for improvement and one of the leading issues detracting use of the software is the lack of comfort with the Internet and computer software environments. This is why the CFA has selected WebEx to begin establishing a higher level of comfort with our more technical resources.

WHY WEBEX

WebEx is one of many collaborative websites that exist in today’s highly-evolving on-demand delivery market. More and more companies and individuals are finding less time available to travel while wanting to control costs associated with education. In addition, the improvements in collaborative technology is allowing service-related providers to deliver content and education to a wider audience with less cost and more frequency. Therefore, it is a perfect fit for our industry where schedules are far too crammed with work to be performed and distances to travel still too great to effectively educate significant numbers.

The CFA WebEx Advantage, through joint partnership with the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA), the CFA has created a unique and custom online classroom environment where training can take place at any time and on any schedule. The WebEx interface is not only clean, it is very efficient and allows you to participate seamlessly with training that we provide. This training will expand to additional resources that we currently offer as well as those that are in the development process. Together with a CFA staff member, you will be taken through the aspects of the subject both visually and audibly. All you need is a comfortable chair next to a computer with an Internet connection (dial-up will do if you have at least two lines) and a telephone.

A schedule of seminars will be continually updated on the CFA Events Calendar describing the type of topic offered. From here, all you need to do is register for the event by calling CFA headquarters or emailing the staff liaison listed. The fee for the class will be described and can be invoiced to you or received through one of these contacts.

Once we determine the best way for processing, you will also be able to sign up for these and pay automatically through our standard transaction service. One thing to note is that the individual classrooms are limited to 14 people plus the moderator so be sure to register early to reserve your participation. You may sign up more than one station for the same fee to be paid by each connection.

The moment you open the link provided to you for the conference, you will notice the clean look and ease with which this education will be provided. Figure 1 shows the main screen that will delivered to your computer once you have successfully logged on. There are three main areas to this screen for your participation.

The first is the program area, displaying initially the agenda for the meeting along with a welcome message. Once the class starts, this screen will change to the application that your staff liaison is using for the class. Whether it is the CFA online engineering or a PowerPoint presentation on educating builders, you will see exactly what we are portraying with very little and likely no delay.

The next area for you to be aware of is the Participants List. This is kept current to show who is logged in and what their status is. You will also be able to select a particular person from this list to chat with directly or pose a follow-up question if one is asked that you feel would best be responded to without interrupting the class.

Finally, the last area of the screen is the chat zone. This is the area where questions can be asked through typed messages, materials can be cued for download to the participants and general nonverbal communication. Through these areas, you will receive a full education on the subject matter we provide and be able to interact effectively, preparing you for the next step on your own.

WHAT WILL YOU HEAR?

We certainly recognize that most people are able to communicate through the phone much more freely than through the computer. Therefore we have chosen a telecommunications system (the same one we use for all committee conference calls) to allow all of us to be connected at one time. Through this add-on, we will be able to very effectively communicate with each other, to ask and field questions and describe the visuals that will be in front of us.

Occasionally conversations can be dominated or the moderator can get on a roll. This is the advantage of the combined chat message on the computer side so that you can interrupt or cue a question without feeling like you are interrupting.

That’s a quick overview of what you really need to know about WebEx. As we find more details or perhaps items of importance that come from users as they interface with us, we may bring you some updates. However, with two classes under our belts now and with the promise of many more to come, we hope to see each one of you in a classroom soon. So check out the available times and subjects on our Calendar of Events. If you have suggestions on topics you would like to see added, please contact us. We know that the future will hold opportunities for Cold Weather, ACI 332 and Cast-In-Place Foundation seminars. Although this can’t begin to replace the interaction and significance of our Summer and Regional meetings (see Talia’s wrapup article of the Pittsburgh event) we do know that it will open the doors to more of you discovering the advantage of being a CFA member.

Jim Baty, Technical Director
jbaty@cfawalls.org

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us