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The TrainingZONE LearnignWIRE – Issue 5



LearningWIRE - Issue 5
16 March 1998

A FREE electronic newsletter for net enabled people engaged in training, learning, coaching and staff development.
Copyright (C) 1998 Sift plc. All rights reserved.
May be reproduced in any medium for non-commercial purposes as long as attribution is given.

In this issue

  • From the editor
  • The Learning Age
  • A surf through Penbo's learning log
  • Guest site review: Roger Greenaway's Guide to Practical
  • Reviewing and Debriefing
  • Tim's Top Tips
  • TrainingZONE
  • About Sift
  • How to Subscribe

From the Editor

This issue sees the launch of several new LearningWIRE features. We'll continue to provide you with reviews of web sites of particular interest to the staff and organisational development community; in addition we also want to make the newsletter entertaining, provocative, humourous and occasionally esoteric. So, what's in it this time?

As promised, the main review looks at the government's new (watered down) Green Paper on the Learning Age. Despite the general tones, it's important, and we all need to respond. I've praised the electronic awareness of the DfEE before, and to their credit, they've made it easy to respond on-line.

After that, you'll want some lighter stuff. An anonymous Contributor recently came across the scribbled jottings of an itinerant trainer, Penbo. His learning log offers an interesting interpretation of 'continuous professional development'. Do you detect any of his approach in your own?. I'm hoping my contributor will send me more of these secret musings.

Another guest contributor has been reviewing a personal website maintained by an experienced facilitator and trainer and has discovered some highly useful material. Could you recommend a site to review, or would you like to review one for us?

Finally, Tim's Top Tips brings you news of another creative site to point your browser at.

Loads of material held over for next time, including ... great new training products, buying books on the web, and the launch of downloadable training resources.

Tim Pickles
Editor, LearningWIRE [email protected]

The Learning Age

At the end of February, the government finally published its proposals for lifelong learning (as mentioned in Issue 4). At the same time, it published its response to the Dearing Committee on HE and the Kennedy Committee on FE. You can find all three papers at

The lifelong learning paper appeared as 'The Learning Age: A Renaissance for a new Britain'. Its publication is somewhat overdue and there has been considerable press speculation that the planned White Paper was scrapped at the very last minute due to policy disagreements at the highest levels about funding and priorities. In the end, 'The Learning Age' has appeared as a consultative Green Paper. This is an inauspicious start for an important document. The DfEE has an excellent record in making information freely available electronically. You can find the full text of the report, together with a downloadable summary version (in Adobe Acrobat, also downloadable) at

The Department welcomes responses from individual and organisations. These can be made on-line or in writing. The consultation period runs until 24 July 1998.

The Green Paper is well intentioned. David Blunkett, in his introduction, sets the visionary tone:

"Learning is the key to prosperity - for each of us as individuals, as well as for the nation as a whole. This is why the Government has put learning at the heart of its ambition.... Our Green Paper sets out for consultation how learning throughout life can build human capital by encouraging creativity, skill and imagination. The fostering of an enquiring mind and the love of learning are essential for our future success."

It's also difficult to disagree with the underlying principles:

  1. Invest in learning to benefit everyone
  2. Lifting the barriers to learning
  3. Putting people first
  4. Sharing responsibility with employers, employees and the community
  5. Achieving world class standards and value for money
  6. Working together on the key to success.

But it's the proposals for translating these principles into action which cause me concern. I welcome plans to provide a further 500,000 FE and HE places by 2002, and to create a flexible 'University for Industry' in local venues by the end of next year. The Learning Direct helpline (0800-100900) may be useful, it may degenerate into another Cones Hotline, or it may just pass people on to others. I still wait to see more details of the Individual Learning Accounts (ISAs) which will include the use of smart card technology to record people's learning; £150 million is promised or the first one million accounts. The rest of the proposals seem to be pretty much existing ideas re-presented: wider access, more post-school support for young people, more basic skills training, TECs to produce workforce development action plans, a national task force to tackle skills shortages, training targets, partnership working with employers, a new Training Standards Council, an integrated qualifications system.

This is an important document - but it is also an opportunity missed to really get on with this agenda. We should respond to the consultation if only to urge action.

The report relates specifically to England but "the underlying issues are relevant to all parts of the UK". Ministers will publish separate (broadly similar) proposals for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A surf through Penbo's learning log

Wednesday:~ "Leading a new course today called 'Getting It Done'. In fact, I'm billed as Course Director - very Coopers and Lybrand. It's a sort of advanced view of time management and I'm rather pleased with my materials. Gathered quite a bit from four free books I got through the post when I joined Executive World Book Club, and I always feel that throwing in a few of Prince Charles's homespun philosophies (pulled from his website) helps this type of event.

Spouse shuffles in to ask me what-the-hell-I'm-doing? and what- time-did-I-think-it-was? (you'd think I'd been surfing again), then notices title of course on my flip chart paper. 'Pah' Spouse exclaims 'well, you've certainly not got yours done have you?' Before I have time even to make a facilitative comment, Spouse exits mumbling something about 'medicine' and 'me taking some of my own'. Well, it is four o'clock in the morning and I'm still struggling to get the handout 'How to be well prepared' copied on to an overhead. My final try leads to the smell of burning plastic coming from my photocopier and I'm forced to abandon the whole thing."

Guest site review: Roger Greenaway's Guide to Active Reviewing and Debriefing

It is well worth taking the time to work your way through the Complex homepage on this site. What lies behind it is a valuable source of ideas and practical tools for trainers who are particularly interested in the process of reviewing.

Roger Greenaway provides a diverse and accessible site. He has included a wide range of information and tools. Whether you are familiar with the process of reviewing experiential learning or coming to it for the first time, this site has something to catch your imagination. My favourite bits were the detailed lists of reviewing activities. These are extensive and provide new angles for approaching old tricks. There was a significant amount that I wanted to download for future reference. There were some nice touches of inspiration too. This site is a treasure trove.

If you have any interest in the development of people get down to this site. Roger Greenaway provides a wide array of information, ideas, practical tools and inspiration. The slightly fussy homepage gives ready access to a range of useful materials and thought provoking statements.

I found the initial homepage a little crowded. Once I was inside the site it was easy to find my way around and get back to the main index. After two pages I made sure I added it to my favourites.

The guest reviewer is Ian Cook. His overall ratings are:

Content *****
Design ****

--- oOo ---

+++ Suggestions for future sites to review [large or small, commercial or personal] are always welcome. Please send your suggestions to the Editor at [email protected] +++

Tim's Top Tips

We brought you Clinton's Scandals. We brought you Railtrack. Now, don't miss a quick visit to

Just type in your postcode and up comes a full colour map centred on your house! You can even place a link on the map to your own website, or check out the local restaurants. Great!


+++ People + Events + Venues + News + Coaching + Products + Resources + Links + Views + Directories + Forums + Build-your-own-website + Libraries + LearningWIRE + Archives + Newswire + Travel + Publishers +++

  • FREE
  • UK related
  • Fully searchable
  • Enter and amend your own information on-line
  • Local area search engine guarantees high quality matches

... coming soon

Site Review: Railtrack
Not the most obvious web site for the training community - but Incredibly useful. As a green-conscious traveller, I try to use the train whenever possible. The railway line does pass the end of our garden and the local station is three minutes walk away. The whole Railtrack site is an impressive example of clear, simple, effective design:

In a recent poll conducted by Net magazine of around 40 movers and shakers in the UK internet world, over a quarter said this was their most useful site. The bit you really want is at

You are presented with a simple form. Type in your start point, your destination, date of travel and preferred time either for departure or arrival, and within seconds you get the quickest recommended route and times together with options for earlier and later trains. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Worth my monthly dial-up fee on its own.

I shall never use the dreadful National Rail Enquiry Service again.

The only improvement would be if you could book tickets on line as well. My overall ratings are the best yet for any site:

Content ****
Design *****

About Sift

Sift plc is a leading developer of online communities. Based in Bristol, Sift has developed AccountingWEB for professionals in the accountancy profession. At the 1997 Online Information Exhibition at Olympia, Sift were voted European Information Product of the Year (and also runner up as Internet Product of 1997). You can visit this site at

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Editor: Tim Pickles [email protected]
Sift plc., 33 Corn Street, Bristol BS1 1HT
Tel:+44 (0)117 930 8881 Fax:+44 (0)117 930 8887
Tim Pickles ***** Designing professional toolkits ***** The learning community


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