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Online Learning News – 14 September


A news and idea service of Bill Communications (Lakewood)
Tuesday, Sept. 14, 1999 Vol. 2, No. 25

Go! OnLine Learning '99 and Performance Support '99 in
Los Angeles Oct. 17-20 (


1. Slow training managers? Here's why
2. MS Office competency
3. Voice attachments again
4. About Gloria ...
5. Gooey sticks on your firewall
6. Window shopping: Fall courses, passing notes



Are training managers slow to adopt tech-delivered training? We've been following that debate. Here's more of what you have to say:

Joanna Whalley ([email protected]), manager of employee development and training with Westminster Savings Credit Union in New Westminster, British Columbia, offers this analysis:

o The cost of computer-based training is "prohibitive. We
need to find cheaper ways of producing the stuff!"
admonishes Whalley.

o "The time to produce CBT is far greater than producing
paper-based training," she adds. "This is in part due to
our inexperience with the software and our familiarity of
producing paper manuals, but also because of the nature
of CBT."

o Many trainers aren't sold on the benefits of CBT vs.
classroom training. Whalley surmises they look at CBT in
isolation, rather than seeing it as a tool to supplement
other deliveries.

o Many organizations aren't ready for the culture shift,
says Whalley. She blames leaders who "are not necessarily
as computer-literate as those who would be regularly
using the programs."

o CBT threatens the training department. "CBT and other
self-study programs drastically change the configuration
of a training department," Whalley says, "and threaten
the training manager's power base."


Another take: "I think that you've got to be careful not to label training managers as the 'slow' ones in an organization," cautions Tim O'Shea (Tim.O'[email protected]), a human-resources manager responsible for training with Fidelity Investments in Boston.

"Oftentimes, it's the technology that a company has in place that supports only the most basic of online learning. Even the most proactive, creative, and forward-thinking training manager can be hampered by an inconsistent, plodding intranet and doubting, insular infrastructure owners."

O'Shea says trainers and tech vendors must meet halfway. "It's been my experience that the training managers are ready to move quickly," he says, "but a company's infrastructure can't meet the trainer's vision."

Susan J. Solomon ([email protected]), manager of staff development and training for The College Board in New York City, says she's "very interested" in the prospect of tech-delivered training.

Solomon finds, however, that learners tend not to complete computer-based training. "It is anywhere, anytime," says Solomon, "but that can lead to nowhere, no time. It is more easily put off than scheduling yourself for a live training session."

Solomon says online training can work as pre-training, in which learners need certain computer skills before attending a live program.


Finally, this: "Having sat through very poorly designed training both online and in-person, online has a distinct advantage," deadpans T. C. Bunn ([email protected]), training coordinator with Cordant Technologies Inc.'s rocket- building Thiokol Propulsion unit in Brigham City, UT.

"I can turn it off with a click of a switch. Whereas it would be impolite to get up and leave a classroom."


How can online-learning practitioners help training managers:

Q Assess whether and how tech-delivered training best fits
into their mix?

Q Hurdle the logistical and cultural barriers to tech

E-mail your experience or idea to [email protected]. Please include your name, title, organization, where it is, what it does, and a phone number at which we can reach you just in case. Your subject line: Slow Training Managers?!?



OnLine Learning '99 has added a mobile computing expert as a keynote speaker. He is Robert Jecmen, vice president with Intel Corp.'s Architecture Business Group and general manager of Intel's Mobile/Handheld Products Group.

Jecmen will speak Monday morning, Oct. 18, as part of the show's multi-speaker State of the Industry presentation.

Register at http://www.onlinelearning99.comfor OnLine Learning '99 and at http://www.performancesupport.comfor Performance Support '99. The shows will run concurrently Oct.17-20 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.



Someone asked about resources for competency criteria on MS Office Suite products: "We're looking for the definition of the levels of competency, as well as a measurement tool," the reader said.

Norene Trondsen ([email protected]), manager of technical training and support with Frankel, a Chicago marketing firm, says: "We're using a tool called Pre-valuate, a product of a company called Presenting Solutions ( http:/ ).

"It allows participants to take skills evaluations on Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and is available for both MS Office 97 for Win and MS Office 98 for Mac (as well as a number of other applications and OS).

"It scores results based on basic, intermediate and advanced questions answered correctly, and further breaks down results by category, such as documents, graphics, tables, text and tools. It also lists explanations for different score ranges so you can determine the individual's skill level.

"The printout lists all of the above, plus providing a detailed list of questions missed with the participant's answer and the correct answer -- very helpful for just-in- time learning and for constructing a targeted, personalized skill development plan.

"I've used this product to assess MS Word skills for 30 administrative assistants to identify skill gaps and areas of proficiency for the purposes of individual development and to develop a baseline on current skill level."

One drawback, Trondsen notes: "I've had to do the calculations on my own, as the product only supplies the raw data. You do the analysis."


Greg Smith ([email protected]), vice president for creative service at Interactive Labs Inc., a Richardson, TX, online- training design firm, suggests another resource:

"An easy way to determine MS Office competency is to leverage the measurement tools already available from Microsoft," says Smith. "There is a certification track for Office users that clearly defines the competencies needed, and includes levels for a 'Proficient User' and 'Expert User.' Try the link"

Helen Clark ([email protected]), an information- technology trainer with Ladner-Downs Barristers & Solicitors in Vancouver, recommends the same site. It has, she says, "a list of criteria for each of the Office products at proficiency and expert levels.

"I compared the list to the tasks completed by the users in our firm, and used it as a basis to generate our own criteria," says Clark. "We may use the certification process for all our secretaries as a means of recognizing their competence, as well as ensuring that they are all at a specific standard."

Finally, Rhonda I. Tamulonis ([email protected]), president of MBR Consulting Inc. in Indianapolis, offers this:

"How should levels of competency be defined and measured? Focus on the particular job, not the software application.

"The MS Office applications each have hundreds of features and functions. Knowing the features most useful for one type of business is no guarantee of competency for another type of business. What is basic, intermediate and advanced within a particular application usually varies by job description within a business.

"A high-speed typist in a large law office needs to master Word's keyboard shortcuts and outline functions to be highly competent. Partners and accounting staff probably need neither."



Someone asked about voice attachments for a Web-based course on English as a second language. Readers suggested ideas last week.

James A. Kimble ([email protected]), coordinator for instructional development at the Bowling Green (Ohio) State University Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology, adds this:

"A relatively good file format for voice attachments is Qualcomm's PureVoice Application. It maintains audio quality well and is available as a free download.

"The application acts as both a player and an authoring tool."




We jumped the gun last week announcing the new organization for technology-based learning vendors. or DLO, which will launch officially at OnLine Learning '99 ( in Los Angeles next month, now has its Web site up at Last week we provided the URL, but the site wasn't ready.

The new organization allies companies involved in online learning, satellite delivery and interactive-multimedia education.



When we listed sponsors last week of the upcoming Performance Support '99 show Oct. 17-20 in Los Angeles, co-sited with OnLine Learning '99, we held out on you. We didn't mention that Gloria Gery ([email protected]) is also a sponsor -- as well as host of both Performance Support '99 and OnLine Learning '99.

Gery, a Tolland, MA, consultant and performance-support specialist, draws your attention to these Web sites to help you prepare especially for the Performance Support show:



Two readers reported difficulty with Gooey ("Getting Gooey on
the Web," Aug. 10). The freeware from Hypernix Technologies Ltd. ( of Tel Aviv, Israel, allows visitors at a site to conduct text chats with one another.

Hypernix acknowledges that Gooey will have trouble breaching your firewall. The firm is "working diligently on this matter," e-mails Hypernix marketer Leeron Kuller ([email protected]).



AUTUMN COURSES. New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies says it offers 45 courses through its Virtual College this fall. Courses are master's, certification and undergraduate programs. A course demo is at the site.

PASSING NOTES. Notes from classes at 62 universities will be posted online this semester. A business called says it is hiring students at the universities to record and post notes from core courses. The site hopes to make a profit from advertising, reports The New York Times.



Exhibitors! Show your stuff at OnLine Learning '99 Oct. 17-20
in Los Angeles. See

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Copyright 1999
Bill Communications Inc.


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