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Online Learning News – 28 December issue


A news and idea service of Bill Communications Inc. (Lakewood)
Tuesday, Dec. 28, 1999 Vol. 2, No. 40


What next? TRAINING 2000 with Nobelist Desmond Tutu, Fortune's
Tom Stewart and TV's Ben Stein. Go to


1. Train vs. educate: The online version
2. Can K-12 schools support hardware gifts?
3. Schools: Raise funds locally
4. About that new trainer
5. Cries for help: Swamped instructors?


What's the difference between designing an online training course
and designing an online college course?

That reader question brings to mind a fine point over which
trainers love to dispute: The difference between training and
education. The long-running debate point may have a life of its
own online.

In preparing an online course,says Matthew Singerman
([email protected]), ask: "What do you want people to know,
feel, or do after they finish your course?"

A college course probably tries to instill knowledge, values, and
perhaps some skills, says Singerman, instructional project manager
at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Training, in contrast, tends to focus on skills, with knowledge as
an enabler for skills.

"So if you are going to do a training course, define your
objective tightly," suggests Singerman, "and then teach only the
knowledge that is absolutely necessary for trainees to acquire the

"People expect to get more information than they want when they
participate in education, but when they get trained, they want the
bare minimum needed to get the job done."


Another take: Patti Shank ([email protected]), an Aurora, CO,
Web-based training developer, says college courses and training
courses aren't "way different -- just a different audience and
time frame."

Shank, who works with corporate as well as university clients,
starts by asking these questions of both.

o Who are the learners?

o What are their learning needs?

o What technology capabilities do learners have?

o What technology capabilities and resources do trainers or
instructors have?

o What are the learning objectives and what's the best
way to assure them?

o How do we best support everyone?

In short, design is much the same for a training course and a
college course.Current practice, however, shows differences.


Many online higher-ed courses are instructor-led and group-paced,
says Shank. "This allows mentoring and lots of personal
interaction," she notes. Done right, that approach "works really,
really well."

In contrast, online training tends to be self-paced and not
instructor-led, says Shank.

The Web is flawed as a way to deliver such individualized, self-
paced training, Shank argues. Self-paced training tends to be
media-rich, and the Web still has bandwidth limits. Media-rich
training runs better off a CD-ROM.

The Web, however, is just fine for group sessions that require
asynchronous (not real-time) communication and collaboration.
"This is powerful," says Shank, "and online-training developers
and higher-ed developers can harness it immediately."

The trick, Shank concludes, "is to use what works well. And
looking to other audiences for what they're doing right is very,
very helpful."



We asked for your suggestions on where K-12 schools can turn for
funds to upgrade technology for online learning.

Randy Richardson ([email protected]) says we're missing
a key point.

Many classrooms already have the computers, printers and wiring
they need to do online learning, says Richardson, technology
consultant at Loess Hills AEA-13, a Council Bluffs, IA, agency
serving 32 school districts in southwest Iowa.

"The problem," says Richardson, "is not hardware." Rather, he
says, teachers lack staff-development time, quality online-
learning resources, administration support to shift from
traditional learning methods, and time to prepare for a transition
to this system.

Computers donated by corporations are a short-term fix at best,
Richardson contends. "Many of these computers bring with them
support issues that schools are not equipped to handle," he adds.
"In addition, many of our kids have new computers at home and
don't want to go back to the dinosaurs being donated to schools."


Richardson also has a concern about using old Pentium machines re-
loaded with the Linux operating system, as suggested by a reader
last month. ("Affordable for K-12: Linux plus used Pentiums?,"
Nov. 30.)

"This would work great -- in a perfect world," says Richardson.
"Unfortunately, computers operating the Linux system still need
support. Most of our district technology people are still
struggling with learning NT and Novell. They do not have the time
and ability to learn one more operating system and support it."



That said, here's some advice on where schools can turn for money
to upgrade to online learning.

David W. Kramer ([email protected]) suggests schools work with
local foundations, businesses and parent groups for technology

Schools will encounter less competition and more willingness to
invest in the local community than they will find at national or
regional funding sources, argues Kramer, assistant biology
professor at Ohio State University in Mansfield.

The problem with such local funders, Kramer says, is that they
want to see a demonstration of your project. How can teachers and
computer-support staff get the know-how if they don't have the

Kramer's solution: Ask a local college or university to let you
use its equipment to create a demonstration project to show to
local funders.


"Several groups of teachers and administrators have used our
campus in that way," says Kramer, "and their demos have resulted
in local funding for their local projects."

Administrators even brought school board members to the university
to show them the difference between CD and Web-delivered training,
says Kramer.

Finally, for K-12 schools interested in online learning, a reader

And on the ergonomics front, vendor, Starfield Group Inc.
( of Liberty, MO, says it's giving away
ergonomic-adjustment software to one public K-12 school in every

OLL NEWS ASKS: Could an employer approach a college or university
for help developing online training? Readers, what has been your

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. No attachments, please. Your subject



Sessions at TRAINING 2000 in Atlanta that cover the subject of the
changing role of trainers include:

o "Tips, Techniques and Tools for Web-based Training
Development" Feb. 20 is a pre-conference workshop with Bryan
Chapman, director of instructional design with Payback
Training Systems Inc. of Cedar Knolls, NJ.

o "Future Travels of the InfoWrangler: Career Survival for
Trainers in the Era of Online Learning" Feb. 21 is a talk by
Saul Carliner, professor of information design at Bentley
College in Waltham, MA.

o "Creating Killer Interactions for Online Learning," also Feb.
21, is a presentation by Sam Shmikler, president of the
Periscope Organization, a Redwood Shores, CA, distributed-
learning firm.

o "Demystifying Online Learning" Feb. 22 is a session with Dawn
Adams of Ernst & Young's education consulting unit.

You can register for the Feb. 21-23 TRAINING 2000 show at



How do you pop a survey onto the Web? That's what a reader wants
to know. Your ideas:

Jimm Crawford ([email protected]), suggests Zoomerang
(, a unit of Sausalito, CA,
applications-service provider MarketTools Inc.

"You can produce online surveys for free and e-mail the link to
your clients," says Crawford, based in Hilliard, OH, as a
technical-training coordinator with Internet firm UUNET
Technologies of Fairfax, VA.

Another approach: Vendor National Computer Systems Inc. of Eden
Prairie, MN, also says it offers Internet-based surveys. Check an overview
and a demo.



How will instructors cope with online learners during real-time
interaction? Won't the poor instructor be swamped? That's the
concern of one reader.

SWAMPED INSTRUCTORS. "My biggest remaining unanswered
question is how to reliably and effectively manage online
learning for several dozen remote participants, who will all
be sitting alone, participating in the training event.

"Many of them will ask the same question -- remotely, while typing
-- at the same time, swamping the instructor, and not listening to
what is being described in real time. How will we all manage this

TECH NEWBIE GUIDANCE? "Where can I go for informational interviews
for transitioning into the online-learning field? I have recently
gotten training from, but I don't quite know how
to make my way into view of a recruiter. I need to start in a work
setting that will allow me to learn as I go. Can you offer any

POWERPOINT TO WEB? "How do I link and/or post PowerPoint
presentations to an existing Web site? I'd like to demonstrate my
abilities in design."

If you can offer any wisdom, 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., Swamped Instructors?) as your
subject line, please.




Also at TRAINING 2000: Anthropologist Jennifer James, MIT's
Nicholas Negroponte, and improvisational humor with Player's
Workshop of The Second City. See


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