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Online Learning News – 23 May 2000 issue


FA news and idea service of Bill Communications Inc.

Tuesday, May 23, 2000 Vol. 3, No. 9

DigitalThink helps keep Adobe's sales team
current on product information, technologies
and soft skills. What can we help you learn?


1. Broadband wireless: In the wings
2. Ooops! What we meant to say ...
3. Swing online? No and yes
4. Blackboard, WebCT and eCollege
5. Cries for help: Moving beyond stand-up?
6. Window shopping: Computer crypt, quizzes



Should colleges plan for wireless computer-to-computer

The promise of broadband wireless seems to suggest
so -- but a reader wondered last week whether clustered
laptops and palmtops would wash out one another's signals
("Cries for help: Broadband wireless?," May 16).

It's "a familiar dilemma," responds Thomas W. Greaves
( ) -- but stay tuned for changes.

"Wireless LAN technology is in a stage of fairly
rapid transition, with short product-life cycles,"
says Greaves, vice chairman with NetSchools Corp.
(, a Mountain View, CA, K-12
wireless e-learning provider.

That means learning-institution planners should stay
flexible when it comes to wireless schemes. "The length
of time it takes to plan and build a facility," says
Greaves, "might be twice as long as a wireless LAN
product life cycle."


He offers these points to consider:

o "Copper or fiber will always be cheaper and faster
than wireless solutions," says Greaves. "They will
generally be the preferred LAN connection for
stationary computers in classrooms and labs. Even
if you deploy a 'wireless' solution, you will most
certainly still need copper or fiber between the
wiring closet and the wireless LAN access points."

o Existing wireless LAN solutions can provide
"acceptable performance," says Greaves, "in a
low-density environment" -- that is, with a limited
number of students using devices in a given area.

o The best measure for judging a solution in this
environment is total aggregate bandwidth.

o Wireless LANs must share a limited segment of the
radio-frequency spectrum with each other,
and with other radio-frequency sources such as
microwave ovens and library security systems.
Sharing "limits the total aggregate bandwidth
available to end users," says Greaves.

o Trade-offs are necessary in cost, aggregate
bandwidth, range, and power requirements -- the
last two particularly important for mobile users.
NetSchools' approach, which it calls "zoned
infrared," is "low-cost, low-power, and capable
of very high aggregate bandwidth," claims Greaves.
He also lists two drawbacks: limited range, and it
only works indoors.


Another take: Patti Shank ( ) says
that wireless broadband "is definitely on its way."

She suggests these sites for more information:

"Folks want the fastest connections possible," and
broadband "is one of the big contenders," says Shank,
an Aurora, CO, Web-based learning developer and regular
contributor to Technology for Learning Newsletter.


E-learning was just the beginning, we made it LIVE,
interactive, & engaging. Check it out & win $2K:


We misspoke last week in reporting the way IBM Corp.
learned that stand-alone online content wasn't as
effective as a combination of online and classroom
("IBM's Mindspan: Instant global e-learning?," May 16.)

IBM already knew it wanted a "blended solution" of
online and in-person classroom when it launched its Basic
Blue for Managers course, says James Sharpe, director of
e-learning with IBM Learning Services in Marietta, GA.

OLL News incorrectly said the realization came early in
Basic Blue's history. Wrong. OnLine Learning News regrets
the error.

Nevertheless the point is still well taken. IBM found
that wholly self-directed learning doesn't work well.

"Our 100% self-directed approach based on a
'content-only' roll-out was not as successful as we had
hoped for earlier programs -- not Basic Blue," Sharpe

"That led us to the conclusion that blended delivery
solutions, with comprehensive road maps and mentoring,
are more appropriate for many of our learning

Basic Blue, deployed worldwide in 1999 to train
first-line managers, "provides five times the learning at
one third the cost," IBM claims.

Distance learning delivers 75% of the content in the
12-month program for 30,000 managers. That cuts training
costs from $375 to $136 per day per manager, says IBM.

Basic Blue combines e-learning, on-the-job coaching,
and classroom learning. Its three Web-based tiers are
available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, from
every manager's desktop or laptop.

o Tier 1 provides just-in-time information and
insights -- including "best-thinking briefs"
in 45 management topics such as retention,
managing remote workers, and team leadership.
It also offers printable worksheets and tools,
links to IBM and external Web resources, answers
to frequently asked questions about management
situations, a search feature for specific topics
or terms, a manager's glossary, and custom-
developed Harvard Business School materials.

o Tier 2 lets learners apply what they know.
The IBM Coaching Simulator's 15-minute
modules give feedback about learner's
simulated coaching decisions. Other units
include 14 human-resource simulations on IBM
policies and programs, and more than 300
interactive "culture clashes" on IBM's Going
Global intranet site.

o Tier 3 accommodates discussion and collaboration
via IBM's TeamRoom and Lotus LearningSpace.

o Tier 4 consists of in-person action-learning
workshops. Acquisition of knowledge, says IBM,
occurs mainly through the other three tiers.
The in-person "learning labs" emphasize
interactive, experiential learning, practice
and feedback. Participants earn the opportunity
to attend by showing mastery of material in the
other three tiers.



Can you teach swing dancing online? We posed that
question earlier. Here are two polar-opposite

"You can't teach dancing online," Kristi Davis
( ) says flatly. "I keep thinking about
it and challenging my doubt, but it doesn't go away."

Davis, lead PC systems administrator at Rochester (NY)
Institute of Technology, says she's an "avid lindy
hopper" (a swing dance variation).

"The most important part about dancing is the connection
between the leader and follower," says Davis. "You can
describe it a million different ways, but it cannot be
learned until it is felt. You can't feel things online
-- yet.


On the other hand, here's someone who thinks you CAN
teach swing online:

"Actually, if you have the right tools, teaching body
kinematics like swing dancing is quite simple," claims
Ken Goldstein ( ).

He points to Poser, a $249 animation tool from
MetaCreations Corp. of Carpinteria, CA -- which
sold its Poser business last month to a company called
Curious Labs Inc. ( of
Santa Cruz, CA.

Poser (
lets digital artists generate animations from still

Use Poser to create images of dancers, says Goldstein,
executive vice president with Computer-Aided Technologies
International Inc. ( of
Kaneohe, HI.

Then "walk" your figures through the various dance steps
in Poser, creating either an AVI file that you can output
to streaming video, or a series of stills.

Got that? Here's another approach from Goldstein
involving a $4,900 animation-software pair: 3D Studio Max
and Character Studio, both from Discreet, a Montreal firm
owned by Autodesk Inc. of Santa Monica, CA. Go to

With this software duo, you can create dancing
cyber-mannequins -- or you can import figures you have
already created in Poser.

"You can then use Max's Biped plug-in to set up the
dance steps," says Goldstein, "and the figures will
follow right along.

"This last process is used in advanced game creation, so
a simple dance would be no problem at all."


If you're not dizzy yet, go learn the Variation of the
Week at

What's our spin? Just this: The swing-dance party is on,
Monday evening, June 5, at Training Directors' Forum
Conference in Phoenix.

Register at



WebCT? Blackboard? Or something else?

Charles Shively ( ) prefers
something else.

The chief knowledge officer with CTS University Inc.
of Phoenix says he has used Blackboard, WebCT, Convene
and eCollege -- and prefers eCollege, which he selected
as the platform for his company's online university

He's responding to the debate here about learning
platforms, a discourse which began with a reader asking
last month for a comparison of Blackboard Inc. and

eCollege software lets trainers "mirror face-to-face
instruction success," says Shively.

Its tools for learning, multimedia, student activities,
assessment and feedback are "simple to implement even
with customization," he asserts.

"Course users find the delivery system easy to learn,
easy to navigate and predictable."

eCollege, Shively concludes, can show decision makers
"that performance-based instruction is possible and can
link training to corporate results."



A reader wants to partner with a minority-owned training
vendor for training in "programming languages,
Web-development tools, PC and Mac desktop tools, database

Other readers responded earlier, and here are still more
firms identifying themselves as minority- or women-owned
computer trainers:



Readers, here's a brace of related questions -- one
simple, direct, and probably on a lot of people's minds,
the other cutting to the heart of learning. Please offer
your guidance:

BEYOND STAND-UP? "My question is: How can I as a
stand-up instructor get involved in the e-learning,
e-training, e-teaching explosion? How can I become an

CRITICAL ISSUES? "If normal classroom courses
largely consist of spoon-feeding, are online courses
better at encouraging critical thinking in any course?

"If so, how do you ensure this? What are the
psychological and design issues? Where can I find
info on this?"

OLL NEWS SAYS: Readers, if you can answer either
or both, please respond to .
Please use the appropriate subject line (e.g., Beyond

Here are more questions from readers:

SLIDE HUNT? "Like about a million companies,
we have lots of existing training using PowerPoint
presentations that every department wants to get up on
the Web or on a CD, with the time frame being -- you
guessed it -- yesterday.

"I found the PowerPoint object in ToolBook Assistant,
but now have a problem. If I make a hybrid with the
course running off the Web, and the PowerPoint slides are
on a CD which runs locally to try to overcome the
bandwidth issue in foreign countries, how do I ensure
that the course will find the CD?

"It looks like it is a hard path, rather than a relative
path. What if some users have their D-drive as the CD-ROM
drive, while others have their E-drive for CD-ROM? Can
this be overcome in some way?"

JUMPSTART? "I am researching software to
do a combined CD for a sales demo and a trade-show
presentation. I am looking at Windows Media Technologies
4 (JumpStart CD) in conjunction with PowerPoint to create
this CD.

"Will customers need Windows Media in order to run the
CD? How expensive can this media development be?

"I have two months to create this demo with limited
resources. I can have this demo created in Authorware by
a person who has limited capability, or I can use this
media and create it in-house with PowerPoint.

"Has anyone used this type of media for customers
without Internet access? If yes, how successful was it?"

instructional designers out there using Dreamweaver
CourseBuilder to author interactive Web-learning

"We are currently using our information-technology
department to do our Web-course programming -- which
is great except that we lose control over scheduling
and priorities.

"I need to assess the time required to do the authoring
myself in Dreamweaver, and if it would be worth it. Our
programs use some interactivity on about a third to half
of the pages.

"I am guessing that the authoring will take at least as
long as the design and writing of the lessons. Is this
close to being accurate?"

DREAMWEAVER SIMULATOR? "I am an instructional
designer and I am writing online training. We have
selected Dreamweaver to produce the online training, and
most of the training is geared toward teaching people how
to use the software. It is similar to teaching someone
how to use Word or PowerPoint.

"My question is this. The part of the online-development
process that is so complex and time-consuming is
simulating our software application, so that the students
can interact with it and have it act exactly like the
software application on their own PCs.

"In the past we have done the simulations by taking
tons of screenshots and layering in Dreamweaver. Does
someone know of a software product that would cut down
the development time for creating computer software
simulations in DHTML or HTML format with student

"I do not want a product that requires any type of
plug-in. We have users on slow modems so we have to
avoid plug-ins."

READERS? If you can help on one of the foregoing,
please send your advice to .

VERY IMPORTANT: Include your name and title, your
organization, its location, what it does, and a phone
at which we can reach you.


Your colleagues may have some ideas for your
online-learning quandary. Please send your question to . Please include a distinctive
subject line.



REST IN P.C. Here's the Museum of Dead, Gone
and Obsolete Computers, from the ABS Orb to the
Zenith/Heathkit Z 110, with photos, technical
specifications, and information-technology tidbits
of yesteryear. If this site looks like your IT
department, may we offer our heartfelt condolences.

COMPUTER JOB BANK. Another job site for your
graduate: The Computing Technology Industry
Association's "certification-based online job bank"
will let CompTIA member companies search and post free
through June 30.

QUIZ CENTER. The Texas Association of Community
Colleges announced that its 51 two-year schools would
test online using three resources: Question Mark Corp.'s
Perception, WebCT Inc., and Ed Tech Tools. Ed Tech Tools,
at the address above, are University of Hawaii e-testing
resources that are free to users connected with
educational institutions.


Yikes! You can still sign up for Training Directors'
Forum Conference June 4-7 in Phoenix -- but hurry! Go to

Register for a FREE, Live, Online Training Program!

Attend a live Webcast entitled "Recruiting and Retaining
Employees: Using Training and Education in the War for
Talent" at 2 p.m. ET on May 24. The one-hour discussion
will include experts Stacey A. Wagner, Team Leader of the
ASTD Benchmarking Forum; Steve Constantin, Global
Director of Human Resources Development and Work Force
Planning at Dow Chemical Company; Rita Bailey, Director
of Southwest Airlines' University for People; and Dr.
Beverly Kaye, President of Career Systems International,
Inc. To participate in this FREE web cast, simply
register at
at least 24 hours in advance.

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

Copyright 2000
Bill Communications Inc.


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