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Online Learning News – 21 March issue


A news and idea service of Bill Communications Inc. (Lakewood)
Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2000 Vol. 2, No. 52


Boost knowledge and eliminate hassles -- Try top-rated e-learning
from DigitalThink:



1. Napster, training and you
2. A big step for online video?
3. Rising with your tide of content
4. Notes with Authorware and ToolBook? No
5. Cries for help: Selling them on e-learning?


What does Napster have to do with training? Maybe nothing. Or
maybe everything.

Music lovers have downloaded 5 million MP3 files from the Web
using Napster (, a free software that
searches for tunes. (MP3 is a Web audio-compression standard.)

Let's say you're on a serious Carly Simon jag. You download
Napster, install it, and request a search for songs by Simon, a
vocalist popular in the 1970s.

Napster quickly locates other Napster users who have Carly Simon
tunes on their drives and sends copies of their MP3 files to you.

Suddenly, you have your own Carly Simon collection to play on your
computer as you work on preparing your next Web-based course.

Alas, Napster is anathema for college computer-network
administrators and for the music business.

College administrators have blocked the software because students
downloading those massive music files are taking up 25% or more of
campus bandwidth.

Meanwhile, the music industry is up in arms because Napster users
don't pay for the music they share.

Here above the fray, what does Napster mean for trainers? Two

o You can find virtually any kind of music on the Web to go with
your own training programs. Of course, unless the music is
public domain, or unless you acquire rights to it, downloading
it may well be illegal.

o But think big for a moment. The Napster concept should work to
search for any kind of file: video, text, PowerPoint. Does
this mean that someone can design software to look for
particular files about how to fix a jet engine, or how
to work on a spreadsheet, or how to sell to XYZ Corp.?

If the Napster concept can function that way, the knowledge-
management implications are clear -- internally for your
organization, and Web-wide.


Q What's your take? Would the Napster concept work for sharing
knowledge within an organization, or over the Web?

Q Is your organization already doing something like this?

Q What software, if any, does for training what Napster does
for music?

Please send your response to [email protected] .

Very important: Include your name, title, phone number,
organization, its location, and what it does.

Your subject line: Napster and Training.


Video files are too big and too clunky. Forget video for online
learning. Right?

Maybe not. Application-service provider Emergent Technologies Inc.
( of Reston, VA, has launched what it
calls a "video service provider industry segment."

The service lets clients "of all sizes" view centrally hosted
streaming-video content "without the 'download and run'
limitations of current technologies," says Emergent.

Emergent claims it can host training video for delivery worldwide
via 28.8-kbs modems with "high clarity, true color, and full-
motion video."

Has Emergent removed a key roadblock for video use in e-learning?
"Delivery constraints for video are huge," notes Gloria Gery, a
Tolland, MA, performance-support consultant.

If Emergent's process works as claimed, the prospect of building
video into online training becomes more realistic, says Gery.

The concept isn't new. External hosting of unwieldy or expensive
software for corporate servers is the foundation of the fast-
growing application-service provider (ASP) sector.

Does the idea of a video-service provider mean you can end-run
your information-technology department? Probably not, says Gery.

Whatever the promise of VSP, it doesn't change two things, she
argues. Trainers:

o Must still build relations with their information-
technology departments.

o Must "continue to raise our voice about our needs."

OLL NEWS SAYS: Gery's presentation at Training Directors' Forum
( June 4 in Phoenix is
"Performance Support: A Model for Tomorrow."


Q When, if ever, is video crucial to delivery of online learning?

Q Can you deliver the same content some other way?

Q Or does video work well enough already, without the video
service provider idea?

Respond to [email protected] . Your subject line: Does Video

Very important: Please include your name, formal title,
your organization, where it is, what it does, and a phone number
at which we can reach you.



E-learning beach creatures, is the tide of online media reaching
your knees and tugging at your trunks?

IBM Corp. thinks so. Last week it shipped Content Manager,
software "for managing unstructured data."

Organizations wading in electronic documents, digital audio and
video and Internet content are driving the market for content-
management software at 20% growth annually, says Meta Group Inc.,
a Stamford, CT, research business.

Content Server has search and rights-management capabilities and
supports more than 200 media-format standards, claims IBM.

The content-management system, bundled with IBM's Websphere
application server, DB2 database and Tivoli Storage manager,
costs $15,000 per workstation server plus $2,000 per concurrent

It's available now for IBM AIX and Windows NT platforms, with
versions for Sun Solaris, HP-UX, and Linux shipping later.



How do you decide which authoring tool to use when you want to
move some of your training online, complete with graphics, and

Ray Pitts ( [email protected] ), senior manager in educational
services technology with Deloitte Consulting in Seattle, says he
uses this analysis for his clients who have that question about
moving to Web-based training:

o How strong is the need for template approach? Do you have
multiple e-learning developers? Are they local or distributed?
Are there corporate requirements for look and feel, or use of
logos? Do you plan to do a series of related courses or
modules? Do you have a rapid-development timeframe?

o Where are your users and how will they access the e-learning?
Is bandwidth an issue? Can the WBT run off proprietary code
with client software?

o How and what will you track? What will you do with the data?
Where will it go and how will it be analyzed? Do you have an
existing learning-management system, or do you prefer to
purchase one that works with the WBT software? Are there
right-to-privacy issues? Will the users need custom reports
on their progress and test results?

Pitts' customers tend to prefer templates, with an easy-to-use
tool; a central server with no client software required on the
users' workstations; and maximum flexibility for tracking data.

Pitts says Inc.'s (
ToolBook II "has worked very well for our customers, as well as
for our worldwide internal training."

ToolBook II lets users share templates (called Catalogs), create
tests, output to dynamic HTML, run on a Web server that users
access with a standard browser, and pull data out to a SQL-server-
based proprietary learning-management system.

"We track all actions," Pitts explains, "including time spent on
each screen and question -- a key metric to capture when you hand
learning over to your users."


Q If you could improve one thing about your favorite authoring
tool, what would that be?

E-mail your answer to [email protected] . Your subject line:
In My Dreams.

Very important: Please include your name, title, organization,
where it is, what it does, and a phone number at which we can
reach you.



Will courses authored in Authorware and ToolBook run under Lotus

No, says training vendor Paul Della-Nebbia ( [email protected] ) in
response to that question from a reader.

Della-Nebbia is based in Hamilton, Ontario, as president of
Learning Continuum Company Ltd. (, a Boca
Raton, FL, firm that delivers training for Notes users and
developers in 35 countries. Notes, says Della-Nebbia, is "an
excellent delivery tool for distributed learning."

Notes' strength as a distributed-learning delivery platform "comes
from its replication services and its support for remote and
mobile client workstations," says Della-Nebbia.

To run on Notes, however, a course must use the proprietary Notes
database structure. "As far as I know, neither Authorware nor
ToolBook support the Notes database structure," says Della-Nebbia.
"There may be conversion tools, but I am not aware of these."

"If you want to run the course on distributed Notes systems," he
concludes, "your best bet is to develop and deliver the courses
using Lotus LearningSpace. Another approach is to develop your own
course-delivery environment for Notes."


Readers, can you guide your peers on these questions?

HOW TO SELL THEM ON E-LEARNING? "I'm working with half
a dozen companies, helping them sell the concept of e-learning.
Skeptical customers are asking for evidence that e-learning works.
Many have been burned by computer-based training that rapidly
morphed into shelfware.

"Real e-learning (by which I imply virtual interaction among
learners as well as Web-delivered CBT) has such a short history
that there's not much evidence to give them.

"I've already read the 'No Significant Difference' Web site and
several tons of vendor literature."

TECH-SUPPORT RATIO? "Does anyone have figures of the
ratio of tech support to number of computer stations in a college
environment? Industry environment? Tech support such as hardware
and software trouble-shooting, installation, network-conflicts
resolution, log-in problems, configuration of new equipment?"

OLL NEWS READERS: Can you offer guidance? Please send your
response to [email protected] .

Very important: Include your name, title, phone number,
organization, its location, and what it does.

Also important: Please use the appropriate subject line, e.g.
Selling Them on E-Learning.


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


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