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Online workshop report: Training Conference and Expo, Atlanta, USA


This is the transcript from the online workshop held on Tuesday 6 March live from the 24th annual Training Conference and Expo in Atlanta, USA.

Peter Cox Good morning from Atlanta, Georgia - it's 8am here but already people have been arriving for at least half an hour for the first sessions at Training 2001 which start at 8.30.
Stephanie Phillips Hi Peter!
Stephanie Phillips Hope everything is okay your end.
Peter Cox Good (bleary eyes) morning - everything okay.
Stephanie Phillips Sorry - forgot it was so early!
Stephanie Phillips How has the conference been for you so far?
Peter Cox The buses to the convention centre start at 6.30 - it's been a long conference so far.
Peter Cox Good morning Ken, how about a one-liner about you and your interests?
Ken I'm a training co-ordinator for the Army in Michigan. I work on training troops with new equipment.
Stephanie Phillips Hi Ken, sounds interesting.
Peter Cox Well, I didn't expect to have any US participants today, but welcome to cold Atlanta.
Robin Cox Hi, Peter. Great name.
Peter Cox Hello Robin namesake! How about a one-liner about you and your interests?
Paul Duxbury Good afternoon/morning all.
Robin Cox I'm an e-learning coach, interested in what's going on in this field stateside.
Stephanie Phillips Hi Paul, hi Robin.
Peter Cox Thanks Paul for acknowledging the time difference (yawn). how about a one-liner about you and your interests?
Paul Duxbury Hi Stephanie how's Atlanta?
Paul Duxbury Hi Robin!! Hi Peter.
Stephanie Phillips I wish I knew! I'm sitting here in Bristol, UK.
Robin Cox Hi, all.
Andy Waterworth Hello all.
Paul Duxbury Peter I work for an e-learning company and interested in what is new and upcoming.
Stephanie Phillips That's the great thing about this - no-one knows exactly who's where!
Paul Duxbury Stephanie aawww shucks LOL.
Peter Cox Hello Andy, can I encourage you to a one-liner about you and your interests?
Andy Waterworth Hi Peter. Yes, I work for an online learning company and I am interested in humour in learning and the new technologies.
Stephanie Phillips Peter, I think we could get going now there's a few of us here. Can I start off by thanking Peter for getting up early to do this session live from Atlanta today. Over to you, Peter!
Peter Cox OK. Good morning from Atlanta, Georgia - it's 8am here but already people have been arriving for at least half an hour for the first sessions at Training 2001 which start at 8.30. Yesterday was a typical convention day - 8.30 am start - keynotes, parallel sessions, the opening of the Expo, lots of sessions and then a reception followed by live 'Chat rooms' finishing at 9pm. Long days. A bit of colour just so you can appreciate the task: there are 9,000 attendees expected over five days, there are over 200 speakers at hundreds of parallel sessions, there is an exhibition (they call it an Expo) with over 400 stands. And all they are talking about is learning. I don't think there's any competition in the size stakes - this is big.
Robin Cox So the US is still a long hours culture, then?
Stephanie Phillips It sounds huge!
Paul Duxbury it certainly sounds big!
Stephanie Phillips Which of the sessions have you attended so far?
Peter Cox And a quite defeating one for me at least ... it's really hard to sustain the effort - especially for the 400 odd 'foreigners' with jet lag!
Andy Waterworth the Disneyland of the learning world by the sounds of it.
Peter Cox A bit ... more serious than Disney, but you get the idea.
Robin Cox How have you selected what to take in?
Paul Duxbury What are the big "ideas" so far Peter?
Peter Cox That's a real problem - the speaker list is published in November and I made my first list then. But when you get here there's a CD of all the papers so you can make informed choices. But it's guesses. Ok Paul. What I am going to do this morning is pick a couple of themes from the plethora that are winging around and encourage you to think about them - you know what they say 'if it's in the US today it'll be here tomorrow'. Except with the pace of e-business that tomorrow is often yesterday! The new issues that I have chosen: what is the role of the hr/trainer 'people person' in the new world?; are e-learning standards really here for the global learning community? The first seems to me important to keep our jobs; the second because it might inform what we have do in creating on-line learning objects. Both are BIG issues.
Let me give you some Headlines from Keynotes: Number one : Corporations became educators, now education is going to become a business. (Some even expect the traditional education providers to be beaten by profit making learning organisations). Two: Next wave of e-learning will be about connecting to your customers. Three: E-learning is about to enter the prime time. Four: (very US this one) E-learning is about to enter the prime time
Paul Duxbury Interested especially in number three/four Peter - what is going to differentiate the players who survive and succeed in prime time?
Peter Cox The challenge seems to be for the 'traditional providers' e.g. Universities, to survive against the commercial guys. Content is now less of an issue - delivery is all. For example - two web sites for you -Web sites: Schwab - the world's largest online stock trading company ( and Barnes and Noble ( offering online learning to build direct links with their customers.
Stephanie Phillips Peter - is the market there 'shaking out' at all - there's much talk about the number of e-learning providers being rationalised in the UK.
Paul Duxbury Ah I was expecting you to say something there about Communities of Application/Practice etc.?
Peter Cox These guys are cutting out the 'traditional providers' - in the UK they'd be competing with UfI - learn Connect for example
Paul Duxbury Stephanie there seems to be a lot of talk of that happening by high summer - listening to friends in the market
Stephanie Phillips Paul - yes, I've heard the same.
Peter Cox Stephanie - rather than shaking out the impression seems to be of more and more. The Expo this year is the biggest ever and while some look like startup ups (young and polo shirts) many have been here before
Robin Cox Peter, can you say more about issue 3 - connecting with customers?
Stephanie Phillips Peter - it's interesting to hear that content is being given less of an emphasis - is that because there's a move towards the technology for companies to do it themselves?
Peter Cox Stephanie - this is all about focussing on connections with who matters - the Scwab/BN examples are two of these.
Andy Waterworth Peter what would you say seems to be the key differentiator between e-learning providers over there?
Peter Cox Andy - it's becoming harder to tell! I have yet to re-do the Expo, but this is a real problem now for the intelligent customer
Peter Cox In the past it seemed to be size/content - that seems to not matter. Then there is so much technology convergence that that no longer differentiates clearly...
Andy Waterworth I agree, but does anything in particular stand out as different?
Peter Cox Not yet Andy. We got to the Law of Diminishing Astonishment.
Paul Duxbury Peter you said delivery is all - is it the delivery media or the way the content is presented?
Peter Cox Glad you asked that Paul - there was a really significant development yesterday from ADL, let me post some lines. There has been real progress in developing a world-wide standard for shareable content objects. The SCORM project has just released version 1.1 of the SCORM model.
Peter Cox This initiative is US government funded but has wide support in the e-business sector from major players in IT and academia, including the Open University. Although this is a US initiative, project director of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Co-Laboratory Paul Jesukiewicz told a press conference yesterday that worldwide recognition of the standards - including key EU projects - was coming fast. Implications for trainers, HRD personnel: you start to influence the generation of knowledge so that it meets the standards then you'll be able to share - even sell - components. Big issue? I think so when it means that the US Navy and the Army can now share each other's learning materials. So does that mean we now have a real standard for developing the components of online learning? Yes, and for probably more things as well as learning objects - manuals, operational notes, job vacancies could all use the same standard. Commercial implications? Yes. Use the SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) standards and anyone can prepare and distribute content as an object. The demand for objects will be international. Now anyone can do it. Do you all know about SCORM?
Stephanie Phillips I've heard of it briefly..
Ken I don't.
Paul Duxbury Right, that's great in terms of making the process of presenting material, knowledge objects but what is going to differentiate players is surely going to be how they interact with the learner and how they excite the Learner isn't it? What is happening there?
Paul Duxbury Yes I have read about it Peter.
Robin Cox So have I.
Peter Cox Ken - suggest that you should here's how: Look for the standards and more about SCORM on
Stephanie Phillips Peter - can you give us a quick summary of what SCORM standards will allow e-learning developers to do?
Peter Cox Paul - I think it's settling down to a fairly common screen - video - text - slides. There's no apparent move to standard interference. The SCORM model assumes everyone can build their own 'skin'. Stephanie - the biggest significance is sharing of content - for example presenting UfI's stuff as your own learning programme integrated with your own examples, work models.
Peter Cox This means that anyone can become a content provider - and sell learning in e-bytes. You could be the world's only Welsh provider for example...
Stephanie Phillips Thanks - I had heard that was the case, but thanks for clarifying.
Peter Cox It's a great achievement to get all the 'rival' standards in one package..
Robin Cox Peter, I can see how standards make it easier to mix what is available. But presumably source will not be free!
Peter Cox Sorry Robin it crossed - no they won't be free, and that opens a whole new commercial context. So many Universities think they should be providing courses online for example - suppose they just provide knowledge content and let others sell it?
Andy Waterworth Peter are there any rival standards? I wonder if we are standing on the brink of an e-learning VHS v Betamax?
Peter Cox Andy - no emphatically. (To be quoted back to me later!!). All continents, include EU have now signed up.
Paul Duxbury Peter, that's an interesting point is the market in the states splitting into "Knowledge providers" and "Learning providers"?
Peter Cox Paul - yes, it started last year and is now quite clear. Most try to do both but I think that SCORM for example allows the option to be one or the other.
Paul Duxbury ..and is that where the much heralded "shake out" is going to happen organisation will take one or other option and the fittest will survive?
Peter Cox Paul - I think the shakeout will be financial just like the consummer 'dot.coms' - The 'best' don't necessarily survive.
Paul Duxbury LOL Peter - that was why I used "fittest".
Peter Cox The really big players are flexing their muscles - just look at the way IBM has consolidated its activities into the Mindspan Brand.
Peter Cox Want to talk about our job - 'cos this seems a big issue here now and may herald the end of the e-learning honeymoon period.
Stephanie Phillips Peter - this e-learning discussion is really informative, but we've only around 10 minutes left - do you want to talk briefly about the other key theme, the role of the HR/trainer 'people person'?
Paul Duxbury Peter can I ask about the movements in partnering e.g. with Gurus etc - is that having an impact on how companies are perceived?
Stephanie Phillips you beat me to it :-)
Paul Duxbury Sorry, I hadn't realised time was flying - LOL
Peter Cox OK Paul - in the past three years Covey and Co have made big impacts here. But none of the management gurus is headlining and fewer of their businesses have a big representation here. You may have picked up something I hadn't quite noticed.
Paul Duxbury Okay, thanks Peter.
Peter Cox e (training, HRD people) do not now control how people learn - Cisco Tom Kelly - what HRD should be doing is today's things excellently, while (stealthily) building what's next. From Laura Saunders IBM - much focus on the way in which learning is to be integrated into the business. 'Businesses no longer buy learning because they should - learning has got to be part of the mission critical competitive advantage.' Trainers have to be integrated into the business model.' Learning, training, knowledge management are all about improving time to performance.'
Peter Cox So everyone is trying to reposition the trainer's/hrd person's role. Gloria Gery - doyenne of EPSS (electronic performance support systems) see web site Quotes from Gloria: 'Stop thinking of ourselves as trainers - we must focus on performance and the generation of performance'. 'Don't keep polishing a turd, don't keep returning to the old model', 'The goal has to be to institutionalise best practice and achieve good performance all the time, by the least good performer.'
Robin Cox Hallelujah!
Peter Cox So some are arguing that the e-learning bandwagon has to be tamed - we mustn't just rework the old into a new wine bottle (mixed metaphors abound).
Andy Waterworth This has been the mantra of the big/new players for years is there any sign of this filtering to the more traditional companies
Peter Cox What do you mean Andy by the 'more traditional' companies?
Andy Waterworth The Compaq's and Cisco's of this world understand but what about the financial houses, manufacturers, and service industries.
Peter Cox They are all here (must be with 9000!!) - and there were lots of nodding heads so the message seems clear enough.
Peter Cox You timed my next quote also: We (training, HRD people) do not now control how people learn - Cisco Tom Kelly - what HRD should be doing is today's things excellently, while (stealthily) building what's next.
Paul Duxbury Thank God for that!
Peter Cox And the IBM big hitter From Laura Saunders IBM - much focus on the way in which learning is to be integrated into the business. 'Businesses no longer buy learning because they should - learning has got to be part of the mission critical competitive advantage.' Trainers have to be integrated into the business model.'
Peter Cox And I am not sure most of the in-house trainers I know can do this - sorry guys/girls
Peter Cox And the hard one --Learning, training, knowledge management are all about improving time to performance.'
Andy Waterworth Hasn't that always been the way Peter?
Peter Cox Any last minute questions/comments?
Paul Duxbury I think you are right there Peter and what we need to do is to open training up as a credible profession within companies and one which is seen as having the same validity as any other function.
Peter Cox Probably, sadly Andy, Yes.
Robin Cox Thanks for the insights, Peter.
Stephanie Phillips Thanks all - it's been a great session but we need to wind up and let Peter get back in with those 9,000 delegates!
Peter Cox Hope you've enjoyed the flavour - see you all here next year!!
Paul Duxbury Yes thanks Peter and hope the day goes well - will you be doing a full report back for Training Zone?
Stephanie Phillips Peter, thanks again for taking the time to impart some of the 'breaking news' from Atlanta..
Peter Cox Paul, not been asked .... yet ...
Andy Waterworth I disagree Peter it's not sad, or tough that training & learning within an organisation are the vehicle to get people to perform better quicker.
Stephanie Phillips Peter - yes please!
Paul Duxbury LOL and my fee is 10% Peter!!
Peter Cox Done Stephanie - Paul, you mean she pays???
Paul Duxbury LOL
Stephanie Phillips Any final thoughts / responses?
Stephanie Phillips No money involved, I'm afraid - only street cred!!!
Peter Cox Bye for now, and thanks to the guys in the press room here.
Paul Duxbury Thanks Peter.
Stephanie Phillips Okay all, thanks for coming along.
Stephanie Phillips Hope to speak to you all virtually again some time.
Paul Duxbury Thanks Stephanie as always.
Andy Waterworth Thanks all.
Robin Cox Cheers Stephanie.
Stephanie Phillips Bye all - enjoy the rest of Atlanta Peter!
Stephanie Phillips Logging off now...
Andy Waterworth bye Robin bye Paul.
Paul Duxbury Okay Guys catch you later!!!
Robin Cox I'm gone. Cheers, chaps.


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