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Online Learning News – 11 July 2000 issue


A news and idea service of Bill Communications Inc.

Tuesday, July 11, 2000 Vol. 3, No. 16


Move ahead faster with e-learning. It's how you
build a smart force.


1. Drop authoring? 'Good luck!'
2. Collaboration quest
3. Distance degrees
4. Canadian online learning
5. Cries for help: Does this register?
6. Window shopping: Free IT training
7. Pay no attention to this virus alert



Drop your authoring software in favor of programming
languages? "Good luck!" snaps Jacqueline D. Beck
( [email protected] ).

"I see the computer skills of the people in various
organizations that are required to develop online
learning," adds Beck, a computer-based training
consultant, developer and trainer at Internet design
firm Brookwood Media Arts of Lower Gwynedd, PA.

Beck joins the running debate over the relative merits
of using authoring tools vs. programming languages
to create online learning ("Authoring vs. programming,"
July 4).

It all began when a reader asked for advice on a good
beginning authoring tool.

Another reader suggested that programming languages such
as Java are better than authoring tools, contending that
authoring tools "add a thick layer of technology that
offers few benefits in exchange for the headaches of
supporting it."

A number of other readers have agreed, suggesting that
training departments would do better to find and hire
programmers instead of training people to use authoring


Those programmers, suggests Beck, likely won't be
trainers. "Trainers are not programmers," she says, "and
the thought of trying to teach Java and JavaScript to a
non-programmer is scary!"

Authoring software is a boon for trainers, Brooks
argues. "Programming is not enjoyable for most of us,"
she says, "grueling to troubleshoot and difficult to
master. The time saved by using an authoring package with
built-in features is well worth it."

Another take: James T. Cox ( [email protected] )
says his unit has been doing online-training
development using HTML with JavaScript.

HTML is the underlying code of the Web, JavaScript a
language that extends the capabilities of HTML.

Cox's unit, which once used authoring tools Authorware
and ToolBook, now is converting many of its
computer-based training programs to HTML.

HTML works better for network delivery of CBT, he
argues. It means "fewer bookmarks missed, faster screen
updates and fewer completion-record problems," contends
Cox, training specialist with Duke Energy, a Charlotte,
NC, utility.

A drawback with programming, he says, is "having to
develop routines in JavaScript to do what Authorware and
ToolBook do so easily." Among them: bookmarking, random
test generation, and pass-fail routines.

"The problems have not been insurmountable," he adds.
"They just take some thinking."

Finally, Anthony Zablocki ( [email protected] )
takes a middle position: "My response is simple," he
says. "Use the right tool for the right job.

Authoring software may well be the right tool in a
"rapid-development environment," notes Zablocki,
technical architect with Idea Integration in Dallas.
He creates training and performance support for the
e-business solutions provider, a unit of Modis Inc.

The right tool can cut Web-based training development
time, he says, and lets you use less-skilled developers
to create WBT instead of tying up your "high-end
programmers," Zablock notes.


The argument against authoring tools "has its roots in
technical snobbery," Zablocki claims.

"DOS people think that Windows just slows them down. C++
programmers think that Visual Basic is a waste of time.
Old-school HTML programmers swear that a text editor is
the only real tool for Web development, and that
FrontPage and Dreamweaver are for the technically

"We call these people geeks, propeller heads, bit
flippers, and the like," says Zablocki. "They can code
circles around most of us, so for them the argument
against tools is valid."

To be sure, for simple WBT -- text, graphics, no
tracking, simple interaction -- "programming HTML and
JavaScript with a text editor like Notepad can be a very
sensible approach," Zablocki agrees.

"The bottom line is that, in our business, we need to be
able to create WBT quickly, efficiently, and reliably. We
develop methods to do that.

"Whatever you call them -- templates, boilerplates --
they all serve the same purpose. We should examine each
project to ensure that we use the right combination of
these tools."



Does someone have a list of online-collaboration tools?

Yes, responds Nancy Bartlett ( [email protected] )
to that reader question.

Of the many digital-collaboration tools on the
market, some focus on project teams, with emphasis
on documents, schedules and budgets, says Bartlett,
based in Lexington, MA, as research analyst with (

Other collaboration tools have a broader scope
-- linking an organization's supply channels, or
serving as part of an e-learning initiative.

Most tools, says Bartlett, include discussion boards,
chats, and document-sharing ability.

You can find collaboration tools at:

o Centra (
o eGroups (
o eRoom (
o eshare (
o Lotus LearningSpace and QuickPlace
o Microsoft NetMeeting
o O'Reilly WebBoard (

Other places to look: "vendors who create learning
communities," says Bartlett. Among them:

o Pensare (
o Athenium (
o Communispace (



Q How have you used collaboration software?

Q What software did you use?

Q What did you like about it?

Q What would you improve about it?

Q Have you integrated videoconferencing?
How well does it work?

Please respond to [email protected] with this
subject line: Collaboration Quest.

Please include:

o Your name and title.
o Your organization's name.
o Your location -- what city, suburb or town?
o Briefly, what your organization does.
o A phone number at which we can reach you.


These sessions at OnLine Learning 2000 will cover

o "Knowledge Architecture: Missing Element
in Knowledge Management," with consultant
Carl Binder, Sept. 25.

o "Tell Me Where it Hurts: Implementing Voice
Interactive Learning Over the Internet," with
Robert Jackson, director of continuing education,
University of Tennessee, Sept. 25.

o "Live Online Learning: Get on the SyncTrain!,"
with consultant Jennifer Hofmann, Sept. 25.

o "Designing and Implementing the e-Learning
Architectures," with consultant John Moxley,
Sept. 26.

o "The Whys and Hows of Building an Online
Community," with Randy Robinson and Jill
Podolsky of Pensare Inc., Sept. 26.

o "Pedagogical Tools of the Trade: Developing
Online Courses with a Focus on Learning," with
Curt Bonk of Indiana University and Vanessa Dennen
of the University at Buffalo (NY), Sept. 27.

Go to http://www.onlinelearning2000.comfor more
information about OnLine Learning 2000 and Performance
Support 2000 in Denver Sept. 24-27.



A reader asked for suggestions on distance master's
programs. Here are the degree programs you suggest:

James R. Grunwald ( [email protected] ) recommends
Nova Southeastern Universities' computing technology in
education doctoral program.

Most course work for the Fort Lauderdale, FL, school is
online -- though some programs require three-day weekends
in face-to-face meetings, says Grunwald, a 1999 NSU
graduate and director of academic computing at Martin
Luther College in New Ulm, MN.

"The nice thing about NSU was that they did not expect
you to drop everything else in order to attend their
classes," he adds, "but assumed that you already had a
full-time job that you could direct much of the course
work towards.

"Many assignments and projects were general enough so
that you could direct them towards something you needed
to get done for your current employer."

Gary O. Groff ( [email protected] )just completed
coursework for a masters of science in computing
technology in education from NSU.

The program "allowed me to complete the masters
degree program in about 18 months," says Groff,
a multimedia instructional designer with AmSouth Bank
in Birmingham, AL.

Norene H. Trondsen ( [email protected] )
recommends Athabasca (Alberta ) University, where she is
enrolled in the master's-level Advanced Graduate Degree
in Distance Education Technologies (AGDDE) program. (See
also "Canada-based online learning" below.)

Athabasca courses are all distance learning, and so
model what students are learning, says Trondsen.

She starts her fourth course in September. "I've found
the quality of the education and interaction with peers
and instructors to be excellent," Trondsen concludes.

Jodi Servatius ( [email protected] ) suggests
the masters of science in education degree through
California State University at Hayward. "The program
emphasizes teaching and learning in the online
environment, and can be completed entirely at a
distance," says Servatius, director of CalStateTEACH
in Oakland, a California distance-learning program for
elementary teachers.

Mary Irwin ( [email protected] ), technology
curriculum writer with Prudential Property & Casualty
Insurance Co. in Holmdel, NJ, started last week in a
master of arts program in instructional technology at
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona, NJ.



A reader asked about Canada-based online university
programs. Here's what you recommend:

Athabasca (Alberta) University is a distance-learning
university suggested by several readers. It "offers a
variety of courses from upgrading skills for acceptance
to traditional universities, to a full-blown masters
degrees, all taught entirely via distance education,"
says Amy Eyman-LeBlanc ( [email protected] ). The SAP
training consultant with IBM Canada in Ottawa says
she is preparing to enroll at Athabasca.

Jennifer Sheridan ( [email protected] ),
suggests Waterloo (Ontario ) University. Sheridan, a
student at the Georgia Institute of Technology in
Atlanta, describes herself as a former member of the
University of Waterloo's distance-education program
development team, and calls it "one of the best online
learning programs in the country." It offers accounting,
anthropology, English, kinesiology and more in courses
using text, graphics, Flash animations and sound files.

Carolyn Gisler ( [email protected] ), corporate
communications manager for Open Learning Agency, suggests
the Burnaby, BC, online-learning provider.



"Can anyone share insight into a training-registration
system they use and like? I need one that will accept
registration electronically or manually, create
confirmation letters, and track (for billing) who hits
our extranet training site."

Readers? If you can help, please send your response
to [email protected] .

Your subject line: Does This Register.

Please include:

o Your name and title.
o Your organization's name.
o Your location -- what city, suburb or town?
o Briefly, what your organization does.
o A phone number at which we can reach you.


Your colleagues may have some ideas for your
online-learning quandary. Please send your
question to [email protected] . Include
a distinctive subject line.



I.T. COMMUNITY., a Baltimore
certification-training and career management site for
information-technology professionals, says it offers free
IT training until December 31 to anyone who joins this
year. The business claims that 50,000 have registered
for more than 44,000 courses since its launch May 22.



Jay Cross, managing director with Berkeley,
CA, Web-consulting firm Internet Time Group, sends
this deadpan missive about a virus that works on the
honor system:

"Please forward this message to everyone you know,"
Cross's e-mail reads, "then delete all the files on your
hard disk. Thank you for your cooperation."



E-learning rocks! Burke, Gery, 230 breakouts, and
Little Richard!

IT'S WEEKLY. IT'S FREE! To receive OnLine Learning News,
go to http://www.lakewoodconferences.comand click
Free Online Newsletters.

The OnLine Learning News team: Becky Wilkinson, Steve
Dahlberg, Terrie Maley, Leah Nelson, Julie Groshens,
Gloria Gery, Brian Ruhl, Susan Rogers, Rich Alden, Ernie
Leidiger, Betsey Groshens, Phil Jones, Marc Hequet.

Please e-mail [email protected] with questions
or comments.

To inquire about advertising, please e-mail
[email protected] .

Copyright 2000
Bill Communications Inc.


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