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Online Learning News – 30 November issue


A news and idea service of Bill Communications Inc. (Lakewood)
Tuesday, Nov. 30, 1999 Vol. 2, No. 36


For leadership, customer loyalty, sales performance and teamwork
training, turn to AchieveGlobal at


1. Can you foil online cheaters?
2. K-12 solution: Linux plus used Pentiums
3. When consultants don't know
4. Showdown at Gender Gulch
5. Cries for help: Hot spots? Cheap software training?
6. Window shopping: Gloria's notes, working wounded



How can you tell if online test-takers are cheating -- say,
getting help from a buddy, or having someone else out-and-out take
the test for them?

If you use tutors who know the students, and support them over an
extended time -- "then cheating is no more likely than with live
testing," says George Edwards ([email protected]),
development director with the Institute for Supervision and
Management ( in Netherstowe, UK.

Be that as it may, Edwards suggests software that tracks the start
score, module quizzes, and end score, and gives a time scale for
the training.

"That way," he explains, "the graph would show a spike when, for
example, an 'expert' was brought into the equation, or where the
modules were completed in an unrealistic time -- perhaps BY the

Concludes Edwards: "At the end of the day, even with face-to-face,
you can never be sure without seeing their ID that the person
doing the test is really the person they say they are."

Matthew M. Singerman ([email protected]), instructional
project manager at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, says:

"Although you can deliver training almost anytime and anywhere,
you may have to take a step back when it comes to administering

"Consider using a test proctor," Singerman continues. "The proctor
can be someone from the user's area who, using a password or some
other convention, makes the test available for the user under
restricted conditions."

Singerman suggests -- for example, giving the test in a specified
location, during a specified time, under observation. "Of course,"
he concedes, "the process still falls on its face if the proctor
helps the user cheat."


Eric Malone ([email protected]), senior instructional designer
with Sun Microsystems, the Palo Alto, CA, workstation maker, says
the only way to assure that online test-takers are doing their own
work is to admit them with a photo ID, and then have a proctor
present in person.

Once the test administrator accepts the IDs, a proctor watches to
prevent cheating from an open book or another test-taker. And
beware of cheating by cell phone, radio, portable TV, portable
tape player, or laptop computer, warns Malone, who says he has
been working with online testing for five years.

Sun has tried biometric authentication -- identifying someone
using fingerprinting, video, or retinal scan. "With every system
we tried," Malone says, "we have found that there is no way to
stop people from finding a way to cheat, no matter how draconian
your security methods might be in delivering online testing."

Malone adds this twist: In performance testing to see what a
person can do as opposed to what a person knows, cheating becomes
less of a concern.

"For a valid and reliable performance test, if test-takers can
perform the required tasks, then they are also capable of actually
performing the job as well," says Malone.

"You would still need to ensure that the person is doing their own
work, but it's almost impossible to cheat on a performance test."



Someone came away from last month's OnLine Learning '99 show in
Los Angeles with this question: How can K-12 schools afford online

Garvey Pyke, a former high-school teacher who now is doctoral
student in instructional systems technology at Indiana University
in Bloomington, suggests older, Pentium-class machines and the
Linux operating system.

The Linux OS requires less random-access memory and hard-drive
space, Pyke argues -- requirements which older Pentium machines
can accommodate.

Meanwhile, older Pentium machines cost as little as $100 -- or
schools might invite business to donate old computers after an

"Linux is free, and many Linux applications are also free, such as
Netscape and office applications such as word processing," says
Pyke. "Research shows that most schools are using only Internet
and office software at this point, with other applications largely
being ignored.

"In addition, there are thousands of Linux developers who create
new, free applications every day. Schools could use Linux to run
an entire network -- Web servers, mail servers, you name it."

Concludes Pyke: "Students could get involved in developing
software for Linux, since the code is open and freely available.
Multimedia? MP3? Games and simulations? Yeah, those all are freely
available for the Linux OS."

OLL NEWS ASKS: Another option is financial aid from business.
Readers, can you suggest corporate or other Web sites at which
K-12 schools can apply for assistance in acquiring learning

E-mail your ideas to [email protected]. Please include your
name, title, organization, where it is, what it does, and a phone
number at which we can reach you just in case. No attachments,
please. Your subject line: K-12 Tech Aid.



Is it OK for a consultant to take an assignment when the
consultant doesn't have all the skills the job requires?

That question emerged innocently enough when a consultant asked
readers about learning to transfer classroom training online.

One reader had a sharp response. "In my opinion, consultants who
take on projects and learn about it at the clients' expense don't
do the field a service," Curt Crandall ([email protected]),
scolded earlier this month ("Don't know how? Own up," Nov. 19).

"The ethical thing to do," added Crandall, training manager with
Anaheim, CA, directory publisher Digital Graphics Advantage,
"would have been to tell your client you don't know anything about
distance learning and offer to decline to bid on that portion of
the contract."

Owen Miyamoto ([email protected]), lecturer at Honolulu
Community College, agrees with Crandall. In a former job, Miyamoto
says he was instructed by superiors to hire consultants who would
learn on the job.

"This inevitably led to higher costs and mediocre products," says
Miyamoto, "with a lot of unnecessary effort to correct the
shortcomings of the consultant who should have done the work."


But two readers have more patience. "If a consultant ever gets to
the point that he or she isn't learning with each new job, then
that's the consultant I don't ever want to work for me or with
me," says Mike Martin ([email protected]), instructional
designer and analyst with defense consultant Intelligent Decision
Systems Inc. in Alexandria, VA. "Don't you just get sick of know-

Another Martin -- Jeff Martin ([email protected]), senior
instructional technologist with Ernst & Young's Global Learning
Solutions unit in Cleveland, OH -- likewise urges tolerance for
consultants on a learning curve.

"It's easy to criticize an independent consultant when you are a
full-time employee who doesn't have to simultaneously pursue new
work and clients while fulfilling demanding engagements," says
Jeff Martin.

"Did you learn everything you know about training and management
during off hours when your employer wasn't paying you? Of course

"As learning professionals, we of all people should know by now
that the best learning occurs by doing, and that means on the

But E&Y's Martin concedes another Crandall point. The consultant
who is learning on the job should offer a lower fee. "That way,"
he says, "both client and consultant can benefit."



Consultant Pat Heim's Feb. 23 subject at TRAINING 2000 in Atlanta
is "She Said/He Said: Gender Differences in Work and Communication

Men and women, Heim argues, have learned different lessons about
teamwork, problem-solving and leadership. The sexes have grown up
together, but essentially in different cultures -- and those
differences are hard to perceive and manage.


o In your experience, during online learning and collaboration,
do gender communication differences diminish? Or get worse?

o What's your best practice in assuring good online
communication across gender lines?

Please send your response to [email protected]. Please
include your name, title, organization, where it is and what it
does, and a phone number at which we can reach you. No
attachments, please, but include a Web-site address if it has
useful resources. Your subject line: Online Gender Gulch.



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

You can also register for lodging at the site. Click Book Your
Hotel Online.



Can you help? Please e-mail [email protected] with your
idea. Please use the correct subject line, e.g. Hot Spots?

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.

No attachments, please. But include a Web-site address if it
will be instructive for readers.

HOT SPOTS? "I would like to start using 'hot spots' on
photographic material in online training. Can anyone recommend
software for implementing it on stills as well as video clips? Has
anyone tried to evaluate the use of this technique in training?"

CHEAP SOFTWARE-TRAINING SITES? "I am looking for free,
close to free, cheap, computer-software training sites people have
seen on the Internet."

CAREER PATH? "I have been doing instructor-led training
(ILT) for the past four years, specializing in technology training
in software products. I like my work, but agree with the general
prognosis that the future utilization of ILT will be reduced.

"I am considering other areas like instructional design, computer-
based training or Web-based training course development, and
technical writing. Can you recommend a book, an article, or a Web
site that deals with this broad issue?"



THE GERY FILES. Performance-support specialist Gloria
Gery's handouts from OnLine Learning '99 last month now are
available at this site. Gery, a Tolland, MA, consultant and OnLine
Learning '99 conference chair, presented on performance-centered
design at the Los Angeles show.

READY TO SNAP? Take the survey at this site to prepare for
Bob Rosner's presentation ("Are You One of the Working Wounded?")
at TRAINING 2000 in Atlanta. Syndicated columnist and author
Rosner says he can help you laugh your way past co-workers who
make you crazy or a boss who gives you too much to do. His Feb. 19
presentation costs $65 more than the regular conference rate.
Pre-registration ( is required.

THE EYES HAVE IT. Reader Tim Drapeau, vice president with a San
Diego firm called EyeTracking Inc., suggests a look at research at
this site by Sandra Marshall of the Cognitive Ergonomics Research
Facility at San Diego State University. Drapeau says research on
how the eye moves over a visual display can contribute to
cognitive learning.




Up next: TRAINING 2000 with Nobelist Desmond Tutu, MIT's Nicholas
Negroponte, anthropologist Jennifer James, Fortune's Tom Stewart
and TV's Ben Stein. Register at

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Copyright 1999
Bill Communications Inc.


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