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Online Learning News – 15 August issue


A news and idea service of Bill Communications Inc.

Tuesday, August 15, 2000 Vol. 3, No. 21

Novell delivers two key pieces of Net Services:
NDS eDirectory for Windows 2000, NDS eDirectory
for Linux:


1. Storytelling online
2. What's your learning style?
3. E-course completion rates -- meaningless?
4. No-authoring sites
5. Loops? Yes
6. Cries for help: CBT or WBT?
7. Window shopping: Who's on exhibit?


Can storytelling work for online learning?

Yes, says Lisa Neal ( [email protected] ) -- though at
first it feels like talking to yourself.

"Storytelling is one of the most effective techniques in
the classroom for conveying information in a compelling
and memorable way," says Neal, senior research engineer
with Electronic Data Systems Inc. in Lexington, MA.

"It's also more fun for the presenter and for the
students, since stories tend to be entertaining -- even
when they are about rather dry topics."

It's a challenge, however, to tell a good story via
synchronous distance-learning technologies. Even with
everybody online at the same time, visual cues from the
story teller are missing.

Needless to say, it's even harder with asynchronous
technologies. Will learners get the point of the anecdote
when they skim it in a discussion group or e-mail?

Asynchronous storytelling means a certain lack of
spontaneity, says Neal. And participants have a "tendency
to sanitize stories" when passing them along.


Here's what Neal suggests for storytelling at a

o Audio is best. You can use your voice "to convey
more than words alone, even without facial
expressions and gestures," she says. It does take
some getting used to. "I feel foolish talking to
my computer," quips Neal. Positive feedback from
students eventually made it easier.

o Text is tough for storytelling. Here's how to
make it work: Dictate your story to a tape
recorder. Then transcribe it. That prompts you
to "think more about the message and less about
the wording," Neal says.

o Make yourself the butt of your jokes. Be sensitive
to language and cultural issues. Self-deprecating
humor is better than risking offending another

o Pace yourself. "I tell more stories at the start of
a class as a way to get students comfortable and
establish credibility and rapport," says Neal. "I
also encourage students to tell stories so that
they can learn from each other. This is easiest
during synchronous sessions, but also works in
threaded discussions."

Check a
storytelling site, says Neal. The IBM Corp. area
describes the company's Knowledge Socialization Project,
including stories about IBM from "various sources."



Q How do you use stories in e-learning?

Q When does it work? For what content? Using
what medium? With what kind of learner?

Q When DOESN'T storytelling work?

Tell us about it in a mailto:[email protected]
under the subject line Storytelling.

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.


Neal's session at OnLine Learning 2000 in Denver
is "Storytelling at a Distance" on Sept. 25. Go to
http://www.onlinelearning2000.comfor information
about the show.


Training Providers -- looking to expand your business
from B2C to B2B? Offer your business customers
a true learning solution:


Where can you go to assess learning styles? Here are
responses to that reader question:

Patti Whitehouse ( [email protected] ) suggests
Whitehouse, procurement training and development manager
with pharmaceuticals maker SmithKline Beecham Corp. in
Philadelphia, suggests these two products:
The Honey-Mumford Learning Styles Assessment for the Web
(per user, 6 pounds British with an annual license, or 10
pounds without an annual license -- about $9 and $15
respectively in U.S. dollars).
Hay/McBer Learning Style Inventory ($10 U.S. per use).

Whitehouse uses both tools for her learners. The
Honey-Mumford application is installed on her
organization's intranet. The Hay/McBer tool is

"Both companies e-mail learners custom reports on their
preferred learning style," says Whitehouse, "but each
classifies the styles a bit differently."

Reports include suggestions for the types of learning
activities an individual should seek.

Jennifer Jozwiak ( [email protected] ) suggests the
learning-styles survey at this site:

Jozwiak uses the tool at the beginning of the
semester for courses in reading, writing, and
a "nursing boot camp."

"I find the feedback to be very detailed and specific
for each learner," says Jozwiak, a basic-skills and
English as a second language instructor at Santa Ana (CA)
College and California State University in Long Beach.



How many learners complete online learning compared with
classroom learning?

Mark Galgsdies ( [email protected] ) has a
problem with that reader question.

Completion rates? "Almost meaningless on their own,"
says Galgsdies, based in Sydney as distance-learning
manager for Fuji Xerox Australia.

"Even more meaningless," he says, is comparing online
with with face-to-face completion rates.

Here's why: Sometimes completion is required, concedes
Galgsdies. But completing e-learning isn't the only way
to use online modules.

Galgsdies calls on trainers "to move our thinking away
from" the notion that training means a course and a
course means a classroom.

Think of your e-learning units as part of your company's
knowledge base -- as another file that a worker can open,
he suggests.

That shifts the measure of value from completion, says
Galgsdies -- to access.


Finishing a full course is overrated, he contends: Just
enough, just in time, is where it's at.

To find out the gross domestic product of Singapore, you
look it up in an encyclopedia. Do you read all 25
volumes? "No, of course not," says Galgsdies.

"If I want to know how to do mail merge using Word 2000,
then I learn about that when I need it," he explains. "I
don't need to do the whole course."

At times, he repeats, learners should complete and pass
full courses -- on medical procedures, safety, law, for

Completion rates by themselves, however, provide very
little meaningful information, he claims.

"Would you not be more concerned about what impact the
training has had?" he asks.

"Why, I'm sure that there are people who've attended
face-to-face training and workshops who have either not
learned anything on the course, or have not taken
anything about which they did learn back to work with

In short, don't track completion, says Galgsdies. Track
conversion -- what they convert from their learning
experience into performance back on the job.


Readers, [email protected] and tell us about
the time in your experience when learners really had to
finish -- or should have. Your subject line: If Only
They'd Finished.

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.


Sessions that address course completion at OnLine
Learning 2000 in Denver include:

o Gary Dickelman of Guru Inc. will host the
performance-support and knowledge-management
community room Sept. 24-27.

o "Why Online Learners Drop Out -- And What to Do
About It" is a breakout session with Eric Parks
of ASK International, Sept. 27.

o "Moving Performance Support away from the Desktop"
is another breakout with James Roach of
Intelliworxx Inc. and a representative of the
British Royal Navy, Sept. 27.

Go to http://www.onlinelearning2000.comfor more.



In our debate over whether to author or program
your e-learning ("On authoring: Authorware's Allen,"
Aug. 1), a reader asked:

Where can we get a look at an e-learning course created
using Java, HTML, or JavaScript -- but no authoring

Other readers responded with these sites:
This site features the same training content created
both with HTML and with Macromedia Inc.'s Flash.

An Authorware example "will be up soon," says Liz
Crawbuck ( [email protected] ), director
of sales and marketing with Final Copy Group Inc.,
a Temecula, CA, training firm.
Follow the online-demo link.
Mark Lemon ( [email protected] ) offers this example
of online training developed using HTML and Java.

"Our tool is the architecture and process, not the
programming language," says Lemon, senior instructional
designer at LetterPress Software Inc., a North Logan, UT,
computer-based instruction firm.

This example teaches sales associates and resellers
features and benefits of a series of items -- in this
case Hewlett-Packard's storage media.
This site features a short training unit on how to tune
an electronic device, and a tutorial on creating the
course using HTML.

Skip Welles ( [email protected] ), the Wildomar,
CA, training consultant who created the site, says that
it's "for trainers who know absolutely nothing about HTML
except how to spell it."

The instructional program is a few Web pages, each with
text on the left and a frame with sequenced images on the

The sequenced images simulate video while minimizing the
download waiting time. The image sequence repeats if the
viewer clicks on the image.

The program uses the features of your browser. "Clever
linking can provide whatever interactivity you can
imagine," he adds.



Do JavaScript and HTML accommodate "conditional
statements, loops, and variables?" asked a reader.

If so, the reader continued, maybe it's OK to drop
authoring tools.

Carolyn Krafka ( [email protected] ) says, "Yes,
there are conditional statements, loops and variables in

Krafka, systems-training specialist with Allied
Insurance in Des Moines, IA, teaches basic skills to
programming staff who work on Internet development.

She isn't taking sides on dropping authoring tools
-- but knowing a little programming is good, Krafka

Among her students, she notes, have been technical
writers who develop online documentation "and want to
know some of the language behind the tool so they can
make modifications if necessary."


These sessions at OnLine Learning 2000 in Denver cover
authoring and programming:

o "Tips, Techniques and Tools for WBT Development
(Hands-on)" with Bryan Chapman, vice president
at Payback Training Systems. This two-day
pre-conference workshop (additional fee) is
Sept. 23-24. Bring your own laptop.

o "Improving e-Business Sites with Performance-
Centered Scripts and Designs" with Bill Miller,
user-interface design specialist at Edward Jones.
This one-day pre-conference workshop (additional
fee) is Sept.24.

In the show proper, these sessions address programming
and authoring:

o "e-Learning Design and Development" is a "community
home room" featuring interactive sessions Sept.
24-27. Your host will be Michael Allen, creator
of the Authorware authoring tool.

o "Successfully Designing for the Net," with
Authorware creator Allen, Sept. 25.

o Learning labs running throughout the show include
"Creating e-Learning Faster, Better & Easier" with inc.; and "Macromedia: Adding Life
to Web-Based Materials" with Macromedia Inc.

o "Using the Event/Action System in ToolBook II
Instructor," with Tim Barham, OpenScript
product-development manager with,
Sept. 26.

Check http://www.onlinelearning2000.comfor more.



C.B.T. OR W.B.T.? "I'm in a dilemma. For three years
our department has provided computer-based training
courses via the Internet to our customers.

"These proprietary programs (developed in ToolBook II
version 5) are downloaded as an executable and installed
on the user's PC.

"A built-in FTP client automatically sends our Web
server a delimited text file of the users' registration
information and test scores after they complete the

"The course prompts users to access the Internet with
their browser in order for this to work.

"The process works fairly well, except in situations
where there are intranet conflicts.

"The problem is, our management wants to pursue this
process with new clients. With all of the improvements in
Web-based training authoring tools and modem speeds since
1997, I feel that WBT is the viable option -- not CBT.
What do you think?"

Readers? If you can help, mailto:[email protected]
with your ideas under this subject line: CBT or WBT?

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 you. Please
mailto:[email protected] and describe your dilemma.
Include a distinctive subject line.


Click e-Learning Expo

EXHIBITOR LIST. If you're an e-learning
enthusiast, it's kid-in-a-candy-store time. New at
the OnLine Learning 2000 site is this list of more than
280 exhibitors at the Denver show. Log your must-visit
vendors into your conference planner. The expo will be
open Sept. 25-27.




Spark knowledge in your employees.
Element K, the knowledge catalyst.


Go in-depth on e-learning.
Register for pre- and post-conference
workshops at OnLine Learning 2000. Go to and
click Schedule-Program, then click Workshops.

To receive OnLine Learning News, go to
click Free Online Newsletters.

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

Please mailto:[email protected] with questions or

To advertise, mailto:[email protected] .


Copyright 2000
Bill Communications Inc.


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