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US Air Force Academy Debriefs in the Field With Morae

Instant Video Debriefing of Team Exercises Using a Portable Lab

The Behavioral Sciences and Leadership Department at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) conducted field testing using Morae as an advanced debriefing tool for the Leadership Reaction Course (LRC).

The LRC is a field environment at USAFA consisting of team-building obstacle courses. To strengthen planning, communication, and teamwork skills, teams of cadets and faculty complete the course, then are debriefed by expert facilitators. Facilitators provide an external feedback source to point out strong and weak points of the team when accomplishing the obstacle.

The USAFA used Morae to videotape one of the obstacle courses with a camcorder and microphone, identifying “critical incidents” as the team attempted to accomplish the obstacle. A critical incident is something good or bad the facilitator wants to highlight for the team during the debriefing session.

Using Morae, the facilitator could insert a marker for each critical incident that would later be available for viewing on the digital video recording for debriefing. The intent of using Morae in this way was to provide a memory help to the facilitator and allow the team to see and hear the actual incident that contributed to either good or poor performance at that particular point.

Setting Up the Portable Lab

To implement this field test, the Morae software was installed on a laptop computer and connected to a video camcorder via a FireWire (IEEE 1394) cable. The laptop and camcorder were positioned on an elevated walkway above one of the obstacle courses in the LRC as shown in Figure 1.

The camcorder was positioned to capture the team's planning and execution that was occurring below in the obstacle course as shown in Figure 2.

Once the session was complete, the laptop computer was set up in the back of a vehicle where a large monitor could be used for the debriefing. The facilitator and the team of faculty members gathered around so they could see and hear the debriefing session as shown in Figure 3.

 Figure 1  Figure 2  Figure 3
Figure 1. Setup of laptop
computer with Morae
software and camcorder
for video recording.
Figure 2. A team of new faculty
members planning how to
accomplish a particular obstacle.
Figure 3. Computer setup for
debriefing session.

The facilitator was able to see the markers inserted during the recording session and quickly go to that exact point on the video to discuss each example of either good or poor execution by the team (see Figure 4).

 Figure 4
 Figure 4. Example screen shot of video debrief and markers used by facilitator.

For this test scenario, Morae recorded audio and camera video only...instead of desktop activity (see Figure 5).

 Figure 5
 Figure 5. High-resolution video makes it easy to see the debriefing session.

Instant, Visual Debrief Thanks to Morae

Cadets and faculty found it helpful to visually review their planning and execution while on the obstacle course. Many also found it humorous and educational to listen to their communication and see their planning go wrong at times.

Morae's capability to mark events during recording that are easy to access after an event provides a quick debriefing tool for facilitators who want to have the team see and hear specific events in a teambuilding exercise. Although a simple video recording of a teambuilding exercise could also capture the required video/audio, the ability to click on a marker saves the facilitator and the team from watching the entire session when time is short.

This test shows how easy it is to set up a portable lab in the field using Morae, a laptop, and a camera. The same techniques used here for video debriefing could be applied to any kind of field research, focus groups, or interviews.