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Online Learning News – 25 January 2000


A news and idea service of Bill Communications Inc. (Lakewood)
Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2000 Vol. 2, No. 44


What next? Find out at TRAINING 2000, with Nobelist Desmond Tutu
and 225 breakout sessions. Register at


1. Classroom or online? Neither, alone
2. Another good vent: 'Training' must go!
3. Yellow light on insourcing
4. Better than chat?
5. A long look at leadership
6. Cries for help: Neophyte CBT?


"So Alan Lord thinks classroom lecture training works, does he?"
fumes Florence R. Webb ( [email protected] ), a San Rafael, CA,
training consultant.

Lord ( [email protected] ) innocently suggested last week that good
self-paced learners were also good candidates for online learning
("Why classroom still works -- but online is tempting," Jan. 18).

Most learners function better in a structured environment,
explained Lord, systems analyst and corporate information-systems
trainer with Hadco Corp., a Salem, NH, circuit-board maker.

For all the benefits of classroom, however, Lord acknowledged that
online delivery can bring an alluring game-like overlay to
learning that students find compelling.

Consultant Webb, however, looking at the big picture,is determined
to fight drift into either-or, classroom-vs.-online thinking.

"It's not that computers are better than lectures or lectures are
better than computers," contends Webb. "Neither one is adequate as
a one-shot deal."

"The trouble," she adds, "is that our quick-fix society demands a
one-shot training solution to problems that may not even be based
in lack of skills or knowledge."

When training is in fact the right answer, Webb says, effecting
behavior change requires presentation of information with ongoing
coaching and feedback over a period of time -- in both protected
and real-life environment.

"Provide a one-shot training in any medium and the measurable
success rate is around 5%," she adds. "Provide the coaching and
feedback, and success rates -- measured as improved performance on
the job -- rise into the 90% range."


Q Does online learning ever effect behavior change by itself?

Q Are you adding in-person coaching and feedback elements to your
online learning?

Q How do the in-person elements bear on effecting behavior

Please respond to [email protected] . Include your name,
title, organization, where it is, what it does, and a phone number
at which we can reach you. Your subject line: Online Only.


Here's another good rant, this one from Alan Harper
( [email protected] ), instruction and information-technology
services manager at Gestalt Systems Inc. in Vienna, VA.

Harper responds, sort of, to Patti Shank ([email protected]),
who spouted off last week about trainers and online learning ("How
trainers get online learning wrong," Jan. 18).

Brother Harper lays his ax to the root of the training profession.
"What you all get wrong," Harper thunders, "is that it shouldn't
be called 'training.' It's all about learning something.

"Most training programs are about exposing someone to a technical
topic. Most of the trainees can't perform the work after they've
been exposed.

"The best education is one that combines the theory with the
practical applications and includes lots of practice.EOnline
training works for some, but is not as effective as instructor-
led, practice-lab based classes."

In sum, Harper wishes trainers "would strike the word 'training'
from their vocabulary."



If you're considering bringing development of Web-based training
in house after initially having it done by outside designers --
think carefully, warns Dave Rogers ( [email protected] ).

Rogers is science-course coordinator with Open Learning Agency in
Victoria, British Columbia, which develops Web-based courses for
senior high schools.

He responds to a reader who asks about bringing development of
Web-based training for customer-service reps in house.

If development of your courses requires programmers and
programming, Rogers' warning goes double. "The market for
programmers is extremely tight these days," he cautions, "and your
in-house effort could become dependent on staff you cannot hire."

Programmer-dependent training might involve use of complex
Java applets, or XML tags, or connections to a database of
training objects.

"Any training which has the learner interacting with a server
computer," says Rogers, "will require a programmer or
programmer/analyst to keep it running.

"If that describes what you want to develop, there is good reason
to keep farming it out to development vendors," he continues. "The
cost will be steep, since programming is expensive -- but the cost
of not being able to hire rare staff will be steeper."

Instructional design at Rogers' agency is still in house, and the
agency once used in-house programmers as well. But now it hires
outside programmers.

Why the change to outsourcing programmers, instead of keeping
them in house? The agency, says Rodgers, "couldn't pay
'em enough to keep 'em!"



Live chat is a valuable tool for an online course, but it has its
place -- and this place is with a group of five or fewer online at
one time, says Robin Poncia ( [email protected] ).

"With a small group, the instructor can toss out a question and
the online students can respond," says Poncia, instructional
design manager with nNovation Learning Group Inc.
(, an online-course developer in
Victoria, British Columbia.

But the interchange must be tightly structured, Poncia adds --
just as a face-to-face conversation has protocol and structure.

Before sending your class to the chat room, ask yourself why you
want to use live chat. Is it to require attendance?

"There are better ways," argues Poncia, "to demonstrate learning
of material and to interact with other learners and the instructor


Q Readers, under what learning circumstances is chat most

Q What's an example of a better way, in Poncia's words, "to
demonstrate learning of material and to interact with other
learners and the instructor online?"

Respond to [email protected] s. Include your name, title,
organization, where it is, what it does, and a phone number at
which we can each you. Your subject line: Better Than Chat.



Honeywell International Inc. of Minneapolis brought in a brace of
futurists to train 600 top managers in taking the long view of
business prospects.

The Minneapolis control maker's Vision 2005 program prepares
managers for 2005 and beyond.

At least one of the managers focused on the Internet and how its
rapid flux of opportunity bears on her job.

The full story is in Training Directors' Forum Newsletter at



If leadership-development training is your focus at the moment,
TRAINING 2000 offers these sessions:

o "Assessing Behaviors with Psychometric Tests for Leadership and
Team Building Techniques" with consultant Will Schutz, Feb.

o "Communication Training For Leaders At All Levels" with
consultant Alison Davis, Feb. 21.

o "The Leader as Human Being: Three Keys to Authentic Leadership"
with consultants John Scherer and Mark Yeoell, Feb. 22.

o "The Human Face of Technological Change," a keynote by
anthropologist Jennifer James on Feb. 23, will cover emerging
demands on those who manage knowledge workers.

Register for the show at


Is motivation a key factor in the effectiveness of online

Yes, says Brian Lauer ( [email protected] ), business
analyst at Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. in McLean, VA. "I
believe it is up to the learner to want to learn," adds Lauer,
"but I also believe it is also up the designer and developer to
give the learner something valuable to learn."

So how do you motivate unmotivated online learners? "I guess if
you really split hairs, you could argue that there is no such
thing as an unmotivated online learner," muses Lauer. "Are you
learning if you are online but not motivated?

"I do believe you can motivate an online learner. The hard part is
knowing how to motivate a variety of learners within a single
online course. This is a very difficult thing to do."

Which leads to a tough question: "Should you," Lauer asks, "design
for an unmotivated learner?"

OLL NEWS SAYS: Very interesting. Readers?

Q Should you design courses to motivate slackers?

Q Or is it better to design with the presumption that your
learners will want to learn?

Q If you believe in designing training, online or otherwise, that
motivates the unmotivated -- how do you do it?

Please respond to [email protected] . Provide your name,
title, organization, where it is, what it does, and a phone number
at which we can reach you. Your subject line: Design for Slackers.



Someone asked about an authoring tool that doesn't require plug-
ins. Vendors suggest a look at:

o and click See a Demo for a free tool
called LeeLou that creates animated demonstrations of software
functions. (You need MS Internet Explore 4.5 or higher.)

o http://www.dazzler.netfor information on an authoring tool
called DazzlerMax, a standard version of which costs $295.

And someone else asked about computer-based training packages to
deliver information-technology skills via Lotus LearningSpace. A
vendor suggests



"I have material I would like to put into CBT format. The problem:
I'm not a computer whiz. Some everyday folks have told me there
are programs that let you program even though a neophyte. Are

OLL NEWS SAYS: Our own Leah Nelson, Bill Communications Inc.
conference program manager, suggests http://www.builder.comfor
Web-building guidance. The site is run by San Francisco new-media
firm CNET Inc. Other ideas, readers?

If you can offer guidance, please send your response to
[email protected] . Include your name, title, organization,
where it is, what it does, and a phone number at which we can
reach you. No attachments, please.

Use the appropriate headline (e.g., Neophyte CBT?) as your
subject line, please.

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




Also at TRAINING 2000: MIT's Nicholas Negroponte, Fortune's Tom
Stewart, TV's Ben Stein. Register at


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