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Tuesday
Mar171998

28 - Special Report From Singapore - Organizing TechLearn Asia

1. Warning Signs From Singapore - A recent study on information addiction pointed towards a growing problem that some aggressive users of technology are facing. With information everywhere, how does one set limits. Dr. Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University in England suggests several warning signs that high volume computer users can be on the alert for:
* You realize that you have spent several hours looking for a piece of information when you only intended to spend a few minutes.
* You lie to your colleagues (or spouse) about the total amount of time that you are spending on a PC at work and/or home.
* You are constantly anticipating your next on-line session or access to your email.
* You find it easier to talk to someone by email than in person or by phone.
* You skip meals in order to continue working on your PC.

As someone who often worries about this syndrome hitting home, I'd add to this list three warning signs:

* Turning on your machine before getting your coat off in the morning.
* Telling your spouse that you will only be another 5 minutes and spending 2 more hours online.
* Trying to do at least 3 on-line tasks at once.

2. Confusing On-Line Publishing with On-Line Learning - We have had a number of calls lately from managers who are troubled by the lack of clarity about the distinction between on-line publishing and on-line training and learning. One senior manager called and ranted on for 30 minutes about this issue. They had been quite excited to adopt an on-line learning program for their IT department. When this manager actually took the first class, she was deeply disappointed. "It was just a bunch of text, formatted in HTML, and delivered over the web. There was no interactivity or collaboration. Why would I want to spend all this money to just put in on the screen. If text alone worked, we would have just sent people books, rather than spend millions on classes."

She has a great point! There has been a rush to define on-line learning as an easy thing to do, with simple processes to "convert courses to internet format". But, if we are only converting the lectures, we don't have a very robust learning model. In the next several months the on-line industry will be challenged to model a wide range of added-value learning activities, beyond the publishing of information. This manager has put a hold on her department's adoption of on-line learning UNTIL she sees interaction, remediation, collaboration, and high levels of learner engagement built into the programs being offered.

3. Asia Looks at Technology & Learning - We are now in Singapore, on our 3 week tour of international sites adopting technology and learning models. Asia is very interested in on-line learning. There is great interest throughout this region in finding ways of extending the reach of education and instruction to the entire population. The strong ethic of learning is motivating a number of government and corporate groups, as well as higher education institutions, to start experimenting with on-line learning. Singapore, even in the current Asian financial crunch, is deeply committed to leveraging technology for the development of the economy, and that includes learning. We have met with colleagues from high technology companies as well as training organizations and there is a strong sense of support for the exploration of on-line learning.

The next challenge is to integrate this into the culture of each nation. Merely exporting distance learning programs from UK or US colleges will not work. Each area must create its own models for how learning, facilitated by technology, will succeed. (We are planning a TechLearn Asia event and invite our colleagues in this region to participate in the planning. Send an email to emasie@masie.com)

4. Productivity Point Forms Relationship with Vanstar and GE Capital - Productivity Point, a major player in the IT Training arena announced a strategic relationship with Vanstar, a major distributor and integrator of IT Technology and GE Capital for the delivery of training in Canada. For information: http://www.propoint.com

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