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Online Learning News from Bill Communications – Aug 24 issue


A news and idea service of Bill Communications (Lakewood) Tuesday, Aug. 24, 1999 Vol. 2, No. 22

Go! OnLine Learning '99 and Performance Support '99 in Los Angeles Oct. 17-20



1. Teaching profs technology
2. More of your answers to reader questions
3. Cries for help: Webmaster vs. IE 5, voice attachments
4. Window shopping: Free collaboration, MS on VCampus



How do you bring college faculty up to speed on technology for teaching? Ameritech Corp. and the Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges in Milwaukee think they know how.

The Chicago phone company and WFIC, a network of four-year schools, have trained 2,000 college teachers in classroom technology over the past five years at various locations among the 21 participating campuses.

Courses are typically in-person and one or two days. But the network has also offered a four-week online course.

One key to teaching teachers tech is to acknowledge they're at different levels and to accommodate their own particular requirements, says Ameritech-WFIC summer student Judith Vander Woude (

Vander Woude, who teaches speech communication at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. Teachers of literature, religion and other disciplines have taken these courses as well.

Vander Woude says the summer tech course she took was valuable because it helped her pick up PowerPoint shortcuts.


That's crucial for pacing her classroom delivery. She uses Microsoft's slideshow software to depict, for example, anatomical anomalies in speech-pathology course. PowerPoint is a little zippier than overhead transparencies. "I'm finding that 18- to 21-year-olds really need to have that visual piece," says Vander Woude.

Learners also benefit in her acoustics class from sound-wave analysis software that creates a graph of how voices "look" in terms of loudness or pitch -- "concepts that I can't do just by stand-and-deliver lecture," says Vander Woude. "When we discuss the difference between voices, a class of 30 can see it at the same time."

When teaching teachers technology, give them a free hand in deciding how they'll use it, suggests Vander Woude. "The wrong way," she adds, "is to prescribe only one way for an educator to use technology."


Q What's your key to teaching tech to teachers?

Q What DOESN'T work?

Q What took you by surprise about the process, as a learner or as a teacher?

E-mail your response to Please include your name, title, organization, where it is, and what it does. Please also include a phone at which we can reach you to confirm information. Your subject line: Teaching Teachers Tech.

AND OLL NEWS SAYS: Rob Helmick, president and CEO with
college-level learning provider of Denver, will lead a session at OnLine Learning '99 called "Online Learning at Full Potential" in which he will cover the dilemma institutions of higher learning face in whether to move to online delivery of courses. Register for the show at



Let's catch up with your responses to readers' questions of recent weeks:


Someone asked about polling participants in online classes. You offer several options.

Rowan McVey (, LearningSpace specialist for online trainer United System Solutions Inc. of Toronto, says Lotus LearningSpace Anytime offers two ways to poll students:

o Students or teachers can create Vote documents in the CourseRoom, which functions asynchronously, like a newsgroup. Students can then cast their vote at any time, and anyone can see an up-to-date tally by clicking a button in the Vote document.

o Live polling is included as a function of the synchronous component of the program, which instructors would use to give live presentations over the Net. Instructors can send pre- written or spontaneous questions out to participants at any time. LearningSpace then tabulates responses on the fly, presenting the answers as a percentage, as raw numbers, as a bar graph, or listed next to individuals' names.

Gunnar Karl Nielsson ( with OZ Training in Reykjavik, Iceland, says Asymetrix Toolbook Assistant 7.0 and the Asymetrix Instructor 7.0 beta "have excellently simple interfaces" that allow polling.

"I built a short dummy seminar and had it online in just 50 minutes," says Nielsson. "With both programs you have the option of adding the Asymetrix Librarian, which is a tracking and management system."

Finally, Bill Communications Inc.'s own Steve Dahlberg, conference program developer, suggests a look at

For learner polling, still other readers suggest:


Someone asked about screen captures as a way to provide built-in training and performance support for software. TereLyn Eisma (, an instructional designer with SBC Communications Inc.'s Center for Learning in Farmer's Branch, TX, suggests SnagIt from TechSmith Corp. ( of East Lansing, MI.

The $40 package "is thankfully a simple and user-friendly screen-capture program," says Eisma, "and it easily records browser-friendly AVI (a video format -- Editor) demonstrations of anything you do and see on the screen.

With sister program DubIt, you can record voice instructions to the AVI audio track, says Eisma. DubIt is $20. Both programs are downloadable at the site.


Someone asked about using online learning as a refresher for trainees who have been through classroom training already. Kirsten Mucha (, online-media specialist with DuPont's Learning Alliance, says:

"I find Ziff-Davis University ( to be a great resource for learning how to use computer applications, from basic courses to advanced. The cost is $69.95 per year or $7.95 a month (which may be more economical, if people just need a refresher).

"Online tutorials can be run with or without audio. Higher- level courses may be instructor-led."

Concludes Mucha: "We have evaluated online Ziff-Davis products against other providers for specific end-user applications (primarily Lotus Notes), and have found their courseware to be instructionally sound and easy to use."

ZDU, adds Foster Fowler (, director of multimedia software development with Bianco Hopkins & Associates in Norcross, GA, "offers a good variety of online courses. We use ZDU as a part of our internal training program to bring team members up to speed for projects. We've also found that it provides a good venue for employees seeking to learn new skills they can use on future projects."


Louisville, KY, computer consultant Daniel Light (, suggests Austin, TX, computer seller Hand Technologies' Learning Center ( "There are more than 270 online courses available," says Light. "Most of them include a skills-assessment test so that one can quickly zero in on the particular segment of training most needed.

"Each course includes a hyperlinked outline so that the student can jump to any specific section of the training and skip any part that isn't needed.

"I have used these courses extensively and am really thrilled with them. The pricing is more than reasonable, and the quality is top-notch. Many of the courses are Microsoft- approved as official study guides for various Microsoft certifications."

Susan J. Solomon (, manager of staff development and training for The College Board in New York City, suggests Harcourt Inc. unit NETg (

Finally, vendors propose a look at:


Someone asked about showing slides on the Web with a live audio link. Add these sites to last week's story: Patti Shank (, an Aurora, CO, Web-based training developer, suggests these sites:

OLL NEWS SAYS: Shank will lead several sessions at OnLine
Learning '99 ( in Los Angeles Oct. 17-20, including one on skills that developers of Web- based training need.



Can you help? Please e-mail Use the subject line of the particular question to which you're responding (e.g., I.E. 5 vs. Webmaster).

Please include your name, title, organization, where it is, and what it does. Please also include a phone at which we can reach you to confirm information.


"I am a Webmaster for a medium-sized company. I have just launched our site. I have accepted files in their native format -- e.g., MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint. Naturally, I am having no problems with HTML files I load. However, ever since we went up on Internet Explorer 5, the
Microsoft files either won't load at all, or load in a new window despite my targeting. I called Microsoft. 'What problem?' they asked. So now I am asking other working professionals. Any help would be appreciated."


"A very large international Silicon Valley company we do contract training for has asked us to put our English- pronunciation course up on their training site. They have asked us to use a voice attachment. Has anyone had any experience in using voice attachments? If so, can you give us some information on quality, ease or complexity of use for the learner and/or the trainer, successes, challenges or shortcomings?"



FREE COLLABORATION. Inc. of Seattle released the latest version of eProject express, its free Web-based collaboration software. Since its initial release in February, 3,000 customers have signed up to use the application, says eProject.

NIIT AND UOL ALLY. UOL Publishing Inc. of McLean, VA, and NIIT USA Inc. will distribute Microsoft-certified NIIT courses via UOL's VCampus learning platform. NIIT, with 269 multimedia software titles, employs 4,000 in 31 countries. UOL hosts Internet-based training for corporate clients.

Jones International University of Denver, which bills itself as "the first fully accredited university to operate wholly on the Internet," offers a course demo at this site.


Exhibitors! Show your stuff at Performance Support '99 Oct. 17-20 in Los Angeles. See

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Copyright 1999
Bill Communications Inc.


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