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Online Learning News – 21 September issue



A news and idea service of Bill Communications (Lakewood)
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 1999 Vol. 2, No. 26

Need to manage your Web-based training? PHOENIX Web is here!
See us in booth #413 at OLL '99 (


1. Getting learners to finish
2. Cognitive Web site: A big job?
3. Up against the firewall
4. Comparing authoring tools
5. Carpenter math
6. Cries for help: Architecture U?



Tech-delivered training practitioners are encountering a new challenge: learners who start, but don't finish, online- learning modules.

About 50% don't finish, says Eric Parks (, a Fair Oaks, CA, Web-based training designer. "Many trainees just never start at all," he adds.

Why? Work requirements pull them away from the training, or make it hard to begin.

How to respond? Create "a compelling instructional design," says Parks. Effective design can reduce dropout about 20%, he claims.

And know how to engage your learner. "Training that is designed to delight the learner, not just provide information," he says, will cut your dropout rate.

Parks suggests case studies, games, role plays, discovery learning, story-telling, mentors, mixed pacing and interactivity every two screens.

What else works to get learners to finish? Parks suggests:
o Chunk the material so learners can do a unit in a few

o Build in the ability to set multiple bookmarks in the
online-learning program.

o Require the training. Make it part of a training plan
against which the employee is evaluated.

o Be sure the learner has a clear understanding of how the
training will result in a positive outcome for both the
trainee and organization.

o Customize individual learners' training portals to their
unique needs. Link learning to qualification testing
or certification testing as a motivator, says Parks.

What trainers and designers are missing, says Parks, is this: "We forget why classroom training is so popular," he says. "It forces the trainee to set aside time and focus. It allows the trainee to ask questions and feel a part of a learning community with other classmates.

"Online learning may be effective and flexible. But does it nourish the human spirit?"

OLL NEWS SAYS: Parks' Oct. 17 session at OnLine Learning '99 is called "Why Online Learners Drop Out." Register at http://www.onlinelearning99.comfor the Oct. 17-20 show in Los Angeles.

AND OLL NEWS ASKS READERS: How do you prod online learners to finish their modules? E-mail your little secrets to us via Please include your name, title, organization, what it does, where it is, and a phone number at which we can reach you. Your subject line: Getting Them to Finish.



A reader who is building an intranet site that will be a managers' online information-support system asked for guidance.

"This is cognitive, not skill-based, learning," says the reader. "We will use this as a platform to channel managers into online and Web-based training, if that's what they choose.

"Has anyone been down this road yet? I'm looking for partners to share experiences and resources."

Stephany Prodromides (, instructional trainer with Yipinet LLC in Marina Del Rey, CA, says: "Boy, do I have feedback. This person is asking for a lot of work if she or he wants to improve thinking, not just behavioral skills, of managers.

"When you talk about improving an adult's cognitive skills, you're really talking about improving their critical thinking, or metacognitive, skills. This is tricky business.

"Metacognitive skills include: planning, selecting, monitoring, tuning and evaluating, to name a few. 'Smart' people use these skills in many areas of their life, from home to work to leisure."

Prodromides continues: "What intelligent people learn in one domain can usually be transferred and applied to another, different domain.

"Research shows that these skills can be taught (e.g., you can teach someone how to monitor their feedback skills).


"However, there is no guarantee that the skills will transfer to other areas -- e.g., those monitoring skills may not extend to being able to monitor your feedback skills with friends, or there may be a failure to monitor other aspects of work."

"Whether metacognitive skills transfer to other areas is debatable. More intelligent or experienced managers may succeed in transferring some of these skills.

"But that," she concludes, "is more a function of their abilities than of the training this site would provide."

Prodromides suggests "Teaching Intelligence," a 1997 article by D.N. Perkins and T.A. Grotzer) in the journal American Psychologist ( http://www.apa.orgmay offer back issues).


Another response: Candice Kramer, a Washington, DC, consultant working on a book about cognitive development, suggests first defining the cognitive areas in which managers should develop.

Kramer, a 20-year veteran of adult education, suggests Daniel Goleman's "Working with Emotional Intelligence" as a resource.

Kramer's advice: "Set guidelines, train the managers to support each other and themselves, and make collaborative discussion sessions available."

Peter Z. Orton, director with IBM Corp.'s Global Curriculum Technology program in Armonk, NY, suggests this site:

And a vendor offers

OLL NEWS ASKS: Any other strong reactions about cognitive sites for managers?? E-mail Please include your name, title, organization, what it does, where it is and a phone number at which we can reach you just in case. Your subject line: Cognitive Site for Managers.



Some of you encountered difficulty with Gooey ("Gooey Sticks on Your Firewall," Sept. 14). Hypernix Technologies Ltd. (, the Tel Aviv, Israel, firm that created Gooey, says it is working to make the Web-chat enabler work with corporate firewalls. While we wait ...


Q Readers, tell us about a case in which trainers and
information-technology pros have worked together (cue the
violins) to open the corporate firewall so Web sites
running Shockwave or another application that most
firewalls won't admit became available for training.

Q What specifically did you change in the firewall to
enable the application?

Q What specifically convinced your IT stalwarts that
everything would be OK?

Q Was it? Please be candid.

E-mail your experience to Please include your name, title, organization, where it is, what it does, and a phone number at which we can reach you. Your subject line: Up Against the Firewall.



Someone asked about comparing authoring tools. Patricia Platt (, a training specialist based in Chicago with Grant Thornton LLP, suggests these articles from an OLL News sibling, Inside Technology Training magazine:



An instructor at a Navy vo-tech school asked for your suggestions about a program to teach "some fairly basic math as it relates to carpentry and masonry skills, preferably computer-based."

Gary Probst (, a professor at Prince George's Community College in Largo, MD, suggests Addison Wesley's ( "Basic Mathematics," eighth edition. "Included at no charge when you have the students purchase the textbook are excellent VCR lectures on each chapter," says Probst -- as well as a CD-ROM with graphics, animations, and audio.

Paul McCreery (WETRAIN@AOL.COM), senior instructional designer with Industrial Development Corp. in Inman, SC, suggests publications of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Wheels of Learning series. "They have a number of programs covering the construction trades including a four-level carpentry program," says McCreery. "These materials are part of a program that leads to a certificate recognized nationwide."

John Newman ( with AssessTech Inc. of Lexington, MA, suggests QuestGen ( "It offers full variable substitution, expression support, and support for over 35 common functions. For complex math problems, it offers full MathML support as well."

Vendors and others who offer such a course include:



Can you help? Please e-mail Use the subject line of the particular question to which you're responding (e.g., Architecture U).

Please include your name, title, organization, where it is, and what it does. Please also include a phone number at which we can reach you to confirm information.


A reader asks: "We plan to establish an enterprise online- university that deals with architecture. Therefore we are looking for a distance-learning software and server that fulfill all needs in course and student administration, user tracking, statistics, etc. Does anyone know some enterprises that offer this kind of software?"



Training is way down the list of perks chief information officers dangle before their information-technology workers to keep them around.

Only 4% of CIOs see training as a way to keep IT pros. At the top of the perk list are flexible hours and personal days, says a survey by RHI Consulting of Menlo Park, CA (, a tech-temp service that sponsored the survey of 1,400 CIOs from U.S. companies with more than 100 employees.

How to keep your IT pros happy? Here's the share of CIOs affirming each of these ploys:

Flexible hours......................... 73%
Paid time off (personal days).......... 72%
Part-time work......................... 38%
Telecommuting.......................... 34%
Job-sharing............................ 27%
Sabbaticals............................ 12%
Training................................ 4%



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

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