7 reasons you should “trip the web fantastic”


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Wherever you are– flicking through the TV spotting a super-cool graphic logo, idly scanning the cork-board announcements at your local coffee spot– if you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking “How can I use this for my classes?”

But what about those idle Saturdays at Joe’s Buzz Coffee spent flitting from interesting link to link, following the “web rabbit hole” and seeing where it goes?

It’s a virtual (pun intended!) goldmine for your classroom—you’d be smart to put it to work for you.

My own light bulb moment: http://snapshot.trulia.com/.

Trulia Snaphot ApplicationTrulia Snaphot Application

It’s a real estate website with an unusual twist- I’ll let Trulia themselves explain it:

“…search for any city in the U.S., can click around the map, scroll the slider through the most expensive/least expensive homes in your neighborhood, or just hit the big play button on the left to sit back and let your dream home find you.”

Trulia Blog about Trulia Snapshot

In case you’re curious, Trulia used the firm Stamen Design to produce this super fun (and totally addictive) interface.

Immediately I was entranced with the application.

I knew right away that I was going to use it—it mixed the playful feeling of exploring a “quest” video game with (almost) everyone’s natural voyeuristic streak (“Wow, what does the inside of a 4 million dollar home look like, anyway?”)

The site was launched on its “maiden voyage” the very next week in a retention training class, as part of a series on housing costs and how most Americans’ money gets spent.

I was teaching in the Philippines, in a relatively provincial area, where a two story, two bedroom townhouse (with furniture!) only cost about 140$ a month to rent- we needed a frame of reference and a visual anchor to really drive the point home.

How did the website benefit us? (Spoiler– those 7 reasons are dead ahead!)

1: It gave the class a visual portrait of housing costs in the US—much more concretely than a list of figures or even a snappy graph would have done

2: It engaged tactile and visual learners (I let the class try the site one by one), rather than just aural and verbal learners, as lecture based classes did

3: It can be used flexibly—I had them try to guess how much the “estimated monthly payment” would be on each house we chose to look at

4: It helped trainees sound sincere when they sympathized with customers calling in to cancel because of rising living expenses—they’d seen those expenses with their own eyes, after all

5: It was fun! There is a gaping hole in most training classes, and that’s genuine fun combined with learning. Not the manufactured “fun” of those awful ‘sales games’ you see in well-intentioned workbooks for sale in the business section of your local Book Emporium, but the kind of fun most people are having in their real life outside of class

6: It made the trainees feel that the trainers were going the extra mile to engage them, resulting in 100% throughput rates for 8 out of 9 classes

7:Screen shots from the tool itself could be used to create presentations for non- web-enabled classrooms, doubling the uses of the site.

Okay, fine. So that one great website helped me. What if you don’t run a retention or sales class (or other culture-centric class)?

I humbly proffer this website (or other fashion sites)…

Ralph Lauren Online ShoppingRalph Lauren Online Shopping

…as a great way to do the following:

1: Engage visual and aural learners

2: Break up the monotony of a lecture/ raise the energy level and get people talking

3: Demonstrate lessons about data use and how it can rapidly add up without the customer knowing or intending (great for tech, customer service, or even billing queues)

Your turn:

Here’s a list of links to get you started on your own Alice in Inter-land Adventure:

Cutting edge visuals:


For engaging, relevant US Culture content:


For an “inside look” at unfiltered customer service from the other end:



Happy trails, dude!

Naomi Kelsey
Naomi Kelsey has 10+ years of progressive responsibilities in the customer service industry, and 3 in the BPO training field, with an Instructional Design focus. She specializes in creating custom-tailored training programs in Language, Customer Service, and US Culture for both internal and external call center clients. Her vision is to bring "supernaturally human" customer service to all customers through innovative training methods and materials, great coaching tips, and true expert advice.


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