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Online Learning News – 6 March issue


A news and idea service of Bill Communications Inc. (Lakewood)
Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2000 Vol. 2, No. 50


Move ahead faster with e-Learning. It's how you
build a smart force.


1. What you can -- and cannot -- assume
2. Does faster mean better?
3. Coach first, e-learn later
4. Answer fest! PowerPoint to the Web and more
5. Our meeting is your meeting
6. Window shopping: Training auction, show clips


What can you assume about moving to online delivery? A reader
asked other readers to respond to four assumptions about

Here's what you said:

o Assumption: Students in their 20s and 30s will have an easier
time regardless of content.

Don't assume. Laura Summers ( ),
managing partner for instructional design with Alva Learning
Systems in Westminster, CO, suggests a first-day-of-class
online pre-assessment to discern learners' tech backgrounds.
"Teaching a college technology course for undergraduates just
last fall opened my eyes to the fact that not all 20- and 30-
year-olds have a background in computer basics," says Summers.

Tech know-how matters more than age, agrees Robyn Grady
( ). Grady, a distance student at
Florida State University and computer-training manager for the
Florida Department of Children and Families in Tallahassee,
says: "For a lot of people in my classes, doing the assignment
wasn't nearly as hard as all the technical stuff they had to
do." Teach how to run the software separately within your
course, Grady suggests -- or set up a separate course.

o Assumption: Certain kinds of content lend themselves to an
online format -- information rather than interaction-based

Wrong, says says George T. W. Miller Jr.
( ), a faculty-training specialist
with the Utah State Office of Education in Salt Lake City, UT,
"If we want our students to become involved with the learning
and actually use new skills, then they have to interact with
the teacher, the other students, and the curriculum as much as
possible," argues Miller. "If all we had to do was read the
information about a particular skill, then just send the
students a book. Adult distance learners need interaction and

Build an interacting learner community, Alva's Summers urges.
"The best distance-based courses are facilitated by
instructors who involve all the class participants in the
online discussions," Summers says. Instructors must be aware
of all the students, "especially the ones who are not
communicating regularly online," Summers says. "They may be
lost or they may be be having technical difficulties and are
too embarrassed to say anything."

o Assumption: Have someone present to keep the technology running
so the instructor can focus on class material.

Yes, says Carol Olsen ( ). "To keep the
technology running you need to know your computer and how to
call and talk to a techie," says Olsen, a Chicago learning
consultant. "They will be your lifeline when all else fails.
By all means get to know your techies -- and be nice to

Establish a procedure for dealing with technical problems,
suggests Florida's Grady. To wit: "For chat," says Grady, "the
procedure may be: If you lock up or are logged out, just log
back in as soon as you can. Do not announce you are back, do
not apologize, do not ask for a recap. If you feel the need,
get a recap from a buddy after the chat."

But don't count on full tech support, cautions Utah's Miller.
"Having someone present to keep the technology running so the
instructor can focus on class material is a nice thing to wish
for," Miller says, "but rarely happens unless there are
considerable financial resources to put into the distance-
learning class." Instructors should get to know the system
at least as well as they expect students to know it.

o Assumption: You should offer students access to the instructor
between classes -- by phone, fax or e-mail.

Yes, say respondents. On the other hand: "It seems to me that
the type of student who decides to do distance learning is one
who is okay with the limited interaction," surmises Grady. "If
they feel the need to talk to the instructor a lot -- they
will opt out of distance learning."


"Faster Innovation? Try Rapid Prototyping" is the title of this
article by Michael Schrage from the December Harvard Management
Update at the Harvard Business School Publishing.

"Most excellent reading," assesses Gloria Gery, the Tolland,
MA, performance-support specialist who will preside at
Training Directors' Forum Conference in Phoenix June 4-7

Meanwhile, Tita Beal ( ), a New York City
training designer, points to Schrage's book with consultant Tom
Peters, "Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to
Innovate" (Harvard Business School Press, 1999, $28).

The book by Schrage -- a Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Media Lab fellow and Fortune magazine columnist -- is "a gold
mine," says Beal.

If, that is, "those of us in training," says Beal, "can figure
out how to learn from the people who develop prototypes and
simulations as a way to innovate."

Beal suggests this idea for trainers:

Develop learning simulations that improve performance -- AND
involve participants in creating effective performance strategies
that they can use on the job.

"That," muses Beal, "might result in improvements and innovations
in work processes because of trainees' new perspectives."


Q Readers, have you tried what Beal proposes? How did it go?

Q What signal successes -- and spectacular failures -- have you
had with fast-track development of your online learning?

Respond to . Include your name, title,
organization, its location, what it does, and a phone number at
which we can reach you. Your subject line: Faster!


Does online learning ever effect behavior change by itself? John
J. Dreer ( ) doubts it.

In fact, in-person coaching and instruction should come before
online learning, argues Dreer, senior technical instructor with
Fanuc Robotics N.A. in Rochester Hills, MI.

Dreer adds his voice to the question that some of you have been
debating: Whether online learning by itself effects behavior

Online learning, Dreer says, "is viewed as an extension to what
we as instructors do. However, it is not intended to take the
place of, or eliminate, in-person instructional activities.

"The instructor will always be needed to interpret the questions
of the students, as only a human can, in order to provide the
whole, complete answer."

How do in-person elements bear on effecting behavior change?

"I believe the greatest element supporting any behavioral effect
is the human intellect digesting, absorbing the immediate behavioral
element and understanding it," says Dreer.

First figure out the work environment and trainee attitudes, he
reasons. Then devise a training method that points the way to
behavioral change.

Dreer's organization is just getting started with online learning.
He is wary, he says, because visits to customers' facilities
suggest that "what is available online has about as much impact
as hard-copy reference manuals -- in short, not very much."


Is it training or is it an online manual? Gloria Gery, a Tolland,
MA, performance-support specialist, will address the distinction
between online learning and performance support at the Training
Directors' Forum Conference June 4-7 in Phoenix. Check



How do you link and/or post PowerPoint presentations to
a Web site? A reader posed that question earlier. Here are more of
your ideas:

Brian Lauer ( ), business analyst at
Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. in McLean, VA, says:

Upload the PowerPoint presentation to your Web server and add a
link to the .PPT file somewhere in the Web site. The browser
can be set to open .PPT files using the PowerPoint viewer. When
the user clicks the link, the presentation will begin.

Restrictions, says Lauer: The computer accessing the Web site
must have the PowerPoint viewer loaded, and the browser must be
configured to open the file.

You can also download the file and then use PowerPoint to view
the presentation.

Still another solution: Use the Pack and Go feature of PowerPoint
under the File menu. It packages the PowerPoint viewer and any
necessary files into an executable file you can download to
another computer from a Web site.

Experiment, says Lauer, to find out whether you can run the show
directly from the Web site.

Other ideas:

o TechSmith Corp. of East Lansing, MI, says its Camtasia tool
($150) records PowerPoint presentations as they play on your
monitor. You can add narration by using a companion product
called DubIt (free with Camtasia). An evaluation copy of
Camtasia is at the TechSmith site:

o Management Strategies Inc. of San Francisco
( says it converts existing
courses to Web courses for as little as $995.


Someone asked how to test test questions for validity. Jeff Martin
( ), senior instructional consultant in
Cleveland with Ernst & Young's Global Learning Solutions unit,

"I don't know of any software that can gather and analyze data
on validity and reliability of test items. But any decent
statistical software can do the analysis for you if you provide
the data."

Martin recommends "Criterion Referenced Test Development:
Technical and Legal Guidelines for Corporate Training and
Certification" by Sharon Schrock and William Coscarelli
(International Society for Performance Improvement, 1996, $25).


A reader asked about online tracking of continuing-education
courses. A vendor invites a look at


Someone asked about training for users of software from SAP AG,
the big Walldorf, Germany, software enterprise-software maker.

Vendors suggest: DazzlerMax) Info Pak)


Another reader asked about online evaluation tools. A vendor



Would you like to host your user group or company meeting at
OnLine Learning/Performance Support 2000 in Denver Sept. 25-27?

Conference planners are offering to set up meeting space for your
group and give you a discount on conference registration.

Contact Sandy Mack at or 508-429-2303
to discuss customized options.



GOING ONCE .... TrainingNet Inc. of Billerica, MA, launched
what it calls a "reverse-auction" feature at its site: Click RFP
eXchange to post a request for proposals from vendors who think
they can meet your training needs. The service is free to those
seeking training. Training providers pay $495 per year and $50 per
customer lead to which they respond.

RELIVING TRAINING 2000. This site has short video
and audio clips from presenters at TRAINING 2000 in Atlanta
last month. Among them: Verna Allee on knowledge management,
Bob Rosner on 'Working Wounded,' Jeanne Meister on corporate
universities, Bob Pike's '30 Lessons from 30 Years,' and Saul
Carliner on new careers in e-learning.




Who's up at TDF 2000? Gloria Gery, UNext President Don Norman,
and a panel of CLOs. See


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