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The TrainingZONE LearningWIRE – Issue 6



LearningWIRE - Issue 6
31 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
  • Training product review: Facilicom <-------NEW FEATURE !
  • A surf through Penbo's learning log
  • WWW Analysis: Buying books on the web <-------NEW FEATURE !
  • TrainingZONE site news
  • New Deal news
  • About Sift
  • How to Subscribe

From the Editor

Following the success of last week's new features, we're able to Continue with a further instalment from Penbo's training log, and introduce a further two additional features which will make appearances from time-to-time in LearningWIRE. A periodic review of training products looks at new equipment and gadgets designed to aid trainers and learners. This week we look at the next generation of portable whiteboards and flipcharts created by Facilicom. Also starting this week is a new series examining different ways in which you can use the Web - beginning with a comparative survey of book-buying through the Internet.

From 31 March I'm visiting the IPD's 'Training Matters' exhibition at Olympia to see what's new and what's cool. This is the UK's largest conference and exhibition focusing on the world of training and staff development. I plan to check out those stands and products which are particularly Internet-savvy. I'll prepare a report on interesting finds for LearningWIRE Issue 7 due before Easter. If you're planning to visit Olympia as well, look out for Sift's logo on bright orange cards, and make yourself known.

Also I'd like to draw your attention to the advert for the Government's Enterprise Zone that you will see below. I think the online question time could be quite fun!

As always, if you know of websites, products or training issues which we should look at, please send me an email.

Tim Pickles
Editor, LearningWIRE and TrainingZONE
[email protected]

Training product review: Facilicom

First there were flipcharts ... then there was PowerPoint ... now there's Facilicom.

Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it demonstrates the evolution. PowerPoint makes for great-looking presentations but is pretty useless for any sort of interactive, work-with-your-audience, workshop. This, however, is Facilicom's strength: it can let you be creative, dynamic and colourfully engaging with training and workshop participants.

Facilicom produces a range of white plastic sheets that act just like whiteboards. They differ in that each sheet can be rolled up like wallpaper for very easy transport. Attach three or four sheets to a wall (with Blutack, pins or masking tape) and you have an instant whiteboard display surface in any room.

You can use Facilicom sheets as a projection screen, with conventional wet and dry markers, and as a display area. The text does not wipe off when you roll them up so you can work on ideas and then transport the sheets to another venue. Facilicom also produce a wide range of 'Posts' in different sizes, shapes and colours. These are like Post-It notes, only bigger. Also reusable, you write ideas onto the Posts and they automatically stick to the sheets adding colour and interest to your work. Posts can be lifted off and moved around on the sheets enabling you to work dynamically with ideas as they are generated. All the Posts are re-usable after wiping clean, just like the sheets. In my trials, people have commented favourable both on the professional look which Facilicom gives to the workshop, and on the colourful and memorable impact which it makes.

The only downside appears to be the cleaning. The sheets clean easily but the Posts are somewhat fiddly to wipe clear, particularly if the writing has dried on.

You can view the products at

Facilicom comes in a range of different sized kits from around 100 to 400. Most kits comprise sheets and Posts and come with a convenient carrying tube: much easier than carrying a flipchart stand around. There is also a lightweight portable flipchart version. The UK distributor sells a sample kit containing all you need to get you going for 99 which can later be upgraded to a larger kit. For full UK information contact [email protected]. If you're going to the IPD Training Matters exhibition, Facilicom are demonstrating their products on Stand 649 in the Activity Zone.

********************** Online Question Time *********************
Raise the issues that concern you and your business with Barbara Roche,
Small Firms Minister, live on-line,
Monday 6th April, 5.00-5.30pm on the Enterprise Zone.

Enterprise Zone
- essential information fast for UK small businesses -
********** **********

A surf through Penbo's learning log

Thursday: "First day of my course goes well I think. A funny bunch - a bit bolshie if you ask me - after all - they are asking me for my expert opinion, but then they seem not to want it. I'd only spoken for about an hour and I was just finishing my first input with OHP slides 17, 18 and 19 when some blonde geezer from the back asked whether it was time for questions. When I said of course, he said 'Have you ever seen the film 'An OHP too far' starring Stewart Granger?' Everyone fell about laughing but I just didn't get the joke - Stewart Granger was never any good in those Japanese war films.

Lunch was fun with me eating a three course meal while the rest of them ran about outside in the rain trying to construct a 30ft bridge out of paper, pencil sharpenings, two glasses and some blutak. A good tip to remember - divide the group into two teams with the two most macho blokes as team leaders (blonde geezer was my first choice) and they won't give up on the task even if it means camping out. I got this exercise from a course I was on - I love it because I'm the only person I know who's ever managed to make the bridge a full 30ft long - even if it did take me two days and I had to finish it on my own."

WWW Analysis: Buying books on the Web

Electronic commerce is reportedly one of the major growth areas for business. If you're a book collector - and most trainers and consultant that I know seem to beg, borrow and steal a personal library of books and resources - you will probably want to know whether the Internet can help your habit.

Few Internet users can have missed on-line advertising for the Amazon site which describes itself as 'The Earth's biggest bookstore'. This is an American site listing 2.5 million titles, mostly in English. Catching up fast is 'Europe's largest on-line bookshop called simply the Bookshop. This UK-based service currently lists 1.2 million titles with around 10% in stock. You can find them at

As a book enthusiast, I have to say that Internet browsing for books is nothing like as satisfying as spending an hour or two in Waterstones or Dillons. You miss the crisp smell of a freshly printed book, the delight of holding the book and flicking through the pages, the satisfaction of finding interesting pictures or discovering well-known references. None-the-less, if you're in a hurry, Internet book-buying can be a whole lot quicker and the sophisticated search engines on both these sites will turn up many more relevant titles than your average bookshop could ever stock.

Electronic commerce is also increasingly secure. True, you will need to give a credit card number to order on-line but both these sites offer supplementary guarantees against fraud. Both operate a kind of 'shopping trolley' which collects books you have selected as you search for more. When you want to finish the transaction you are presented with a list of your chosen titles and you enter your details. Amazon has a clever 1-click procedure which remembers your details for future purchasing use.

Both electronic retailers claim to be able to offer books at a Discount although the price differential may be wiped out by the shipping costs, particularly on small orders.

There have been recent complaints by UK book retailers about the predatory practices of Amazon selling UK published books cheaper via the Internet. It just goes to show how the Internet is making the world a smaller place. There's nothing to stop the UK retailers offering a similar service - as the Bookshop appears to be doing.

How do these two services compare, and which will be of most use to UK trainers wanting to search for suitable resources and buy reliably on the Internet?

To test them out I entered my own details as an author into their Search engines. Amazon found just two matches: the UK and US editions of 'Toolkit for Trainers'. The US edition was available from stock. The UK ringbinder edition price is presently 65; the US paperback edition is currently $30. Amazon offered the US edition for $22.36 and the UK edition for a remarkably cheap $66.46.

On top of these prices you would need to add Amazon's shipping costs from the US which are (surface mail) $4 per consignment plus $1.95 per book, or (airmail) $7 per consignment plus $5.95 per book.

The Bookshop found nine of my titles in its search engine. It offered the UK edition of 'Toolkit for Trainers' for 55 (this may not have been updated to the current 1998 publisher's pricing) and the US edition for 19.27. Both editions were available within 14 days. The Bookshop correctly listed a range of my other training and management titles all with their current retail pricing for 14 days delivery. Postage costs are waived on orders over 50, with a 15% levy on smaller orders.

Neither site offered other language editions of these titles.

I also checked out a second UK on-line book retailer at

This service is very similar to the Bookshop. They too claim access to 1.2 million UK published books. However, the interface was not as friendly and the search facility was less comprehensive unless you went to the advanced level; there were no overseas editions listed at all.

This simple test would suggest that for UK readers, the Bookshop is likely to offer you a greater range of European related titles. Amazon offers better discounts but these may not be worthwhile due to the shipping costs on small orders. Both sites offer a speedy service, and have various useful refinements. For example, if you want to be informed when Charles Handy (for example) publishes his next book, you can opt to receive an automatic notification.

TrainingZONE site news

Access to a limited beta-test version is now available at

although this has very few features as yet. However, you can find back issues of LearningWIRE posted here and you can also subscribe on-line free for more information. An initial library of downloadable resources is currently available at

New Deal news

The DfEE has recently launched a new website for all information about the New Deal initiative. You can find details at

The site carries information about training and employment initiatives for young people, early experiences of the programme, and frequently asked questions. You can order printed information on-line. We'll carry a review in a later issue.

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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