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81 - Robert Reich on The Company of the Future; Taking the Distance Out of Distance and On-Line Learning

1. Robert Reich on The Company of the Future: Robert Reich, the former U.S. Labor Secretary and one of the TechLearn '98 Keynoters, has just published a great article entitled: The Company of the Future. Secretary Reich has asked that TechLearn '98 participants read the on-line version of the article as a prep for his keynote speech. The article makes a series of persuasive points about the role of learning in a knowledge economy and the impact of technology on learning. The complete article can be found at I would love to collect some comments about the article to share with Secretary Reich before his speech on Tuesday, November 16th. Send them to and we will pass them along to him.

2. Taking the Distance Out of Distance and On-Line Learning: We are pleased to announce that we have just added two free 2 and 1/2 hour pre-conference workshops at TechLearn '98 on Sunday, November 15th. David Arch, from Bob Pike's Creative Training Techniques group, will be presenting a new seminar called: Taking the Distance Out of Distance and On-Line Learning. David will address strategies to make sure that distance learning isn't as boring as some of our worst fears. Creative training techniques can be applied to alternative delivery, so we can focus on learning processes rather than the experience of the technology. If you are attending the TechLearn '98 Conference, just go to the convention center at either 10 am or 2 pm. No need to pre-register for this free session. If you would like to attend TechLearn, info is at We will provide a summary of this skills workshop in a future edition of Trends.

3. Response to USA Today Article Hitting Training: Readers will probably remember the note in Trends about an USA Today article that took a big slam at the world of training. I received about 100 emails from readers that ranged from anger to support for the position. Clearly, there are lots of training programs that are way off base from a performance and effectiveness position. But, most readers were alarmed at the tone of the article and wanted access to the original researcher's study. We recently received a note from John Mailin at Owens Corning, that shed some light on the article. DDI, a training vendor, did an extensive follow-up to the article and John quoted their message:

DDI contacted the Rutgers researcher cited in the article, Cary Cherniss. His response was as follows: "The point we wished to make (and that we make in the technical report, is that training, including training in the "soft skills," can be extremely effective if it is done well. The core of our report is 22 guidelines for effective training, based on an extensive review of the research literature. I also should add that we have identified 14 'models' that incorporate many of the guidelines and that have a strong research base, and DDI's Interaction Management program is one of them!"

More information about the report can be found at Cherniss also agrees that the tone of the article was alarmist. Rather than focusing on factors affecting training success, the article emphasized the results of poor choices and implementations. As always, research can be quoted strangely.

4. TechLearn '98 Exploratorium Unveiled: We are putting the final touches on the TechLearn '98 Exploratorium in the next several days. We are excited to announce that this year, conference participants will have 200 PC's to use in this unique hands-on vendor-neutral learning lab. Each workstation will be hooked up to a multiple server network and have T1 access to external sites. The TechLearn intranet will have dozens of examples of on-line and technology delivered learning for attendees to take as learners (since we rarely have time at our desks to be learners of the products we choose). In addition, there will be full functioning editions of major authoring tools and real time on-line learning systems. In addition, 73 TechLearn Sponsors will have resource pages that link to their services and products. Finally, the participants will be getting text and video summaries of sessions as they occur as well as real time streamed editions of the keynote sessions. We are also experimenting with business television and will broadcast several of the sessions to each hotel room at our Disney hotels, including a morning television show: TechLearn TV. To register for this event, just go to There are 150
spaces available. See you in Orlando (November 15 to 18th)

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