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Friday
Mar201998

29 - Special Report from Hong Kong & Guangzhou, China

1. $10 Game Used for Year 2000 Problem Simulation & Training. At first glance it looks just like one of those dragon chasing, text based simulations that teenagers play. But, look closer. We have been experimenting with Uh-Oh, from Future Media, a $10 game that will bring the Year 2000 Problem into closer and lively perspective. This really is a TRAINING tool, with a totally different spin.

The program gives you simple instructions via text messages. For example, at the start you sit at your desk, surrounded by piles of paperwork. Your task is to see if the computers in your group are Year 2000 Ready. From there you will get hooked. Hundreds of information segments about Y2000 will be presented. Hard choices will be made. Uh-Oh quotes more than 50 real-life lawmakers, corporate officials and information technology professionals on the scope of the software crisis. One official, for example, complains that he had been interrupted during a speech by audience members at a trade show who called the year 2000 problem "hype."

This is a text style program, no glitz. Free to download and try. $10 to buy. Get it! The URL is http://www.successinformation.com/game.htm

2. U.S. Navy Decides to Allow Fullest Use of Internet. A joint message issued late last month by the Pacific and Atlantic fleets established an Internet policy promoting the widest permissible use of systems to access the Internet, surf the World Wide Web and communicate through Internet e-mail. The Navy until recently restricted the use of government information systems to official business only. But under the new guidelines, even personal use is OK. Federal rules also ban pornographic, racist and subversive materials from government systems.

The Navy has placed itself on the forefront of open usage. Officials hope that providing widespread use of internet access will allow them to operate a global enterprise with greater effectiveness, keep morale higher and develop the knowledge workers needed to succeed in the Information Age. One example of the use of the internet is as a connection vehicle for ship based staff. Email and access to family web pages will provide closer connections between Navy staff and their families back home.

"We all must become proficient in accessing and transferring information in an automated environment, including the Internet," the joint fleet message said. "To that end, we recognize that the best way to develop your information technology skills is to get on the Net and make it your preferred and routine choice to access, develop and exchange information."

3. A Tip for Trainers: Course Web Pages. As soon as you announce a class, start a unique web page on your intranet (or internet for external classes). This web page can grow and evolve over the history of the class. At first, it might just contain the objectives, content and targets for the course. As people register, it could contain a list of other attendees and suggested reading or pre-class preparation. During the class, the page could grow with additional references and content from the instructors. The handouts could be added to the page. Any topics not in the scope of the class might be referenced from this page. After the class, the page could grow with additional content from the group. The page becomes a dynamic element that extends the duration of the learning experience.

4. European Perspectives on the Skills Gap: There are 600,000 unfilled jobs in the information technology industry worldwide, according to Bernard Rohleder, managing director of the European Information Technology Observatory, a research group in Frankfurt, Germany. He warns that Western Europe will lose its IT and telecommunications jobs to Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe unless the region tackles its serious shortage of skilled technologists. With the year 2000 and the European Monetary Union bearing down on these countries, they'd better get moving. Rohleder recommends reversing the "negative public image of the IT industry among students." He'd also like to see schools immediately begin requiring computer-related classes in addition to courses of study in science, business and the arts.

5. China Report on Training: We are in the final days of our international trip. Over the past three weeks, The MASIE Center has held or attended meetings in six countries, focusing on human resource, training and technology. Today we find ourselves in China, both in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China. One gets a very different perspective on the challenges of training when you look at the sheer numbers of people that will need technology skills, business skills and career guidance.

In China, the government is pursuing a One Country, Many Systems model. Hong Kong, maintaining it's special status since the takeover, has a thriving training marketplace, with great focus on IT skills for employment and even emigration. Shenzen, a special economic area, across the border in China, is focusing deeply on the manufacturing of IT technology. The government is sponsoring a wide range of fast track training efforts. Farther into China, in Guangzhou training is more integrated into the higher education system. One comes away with a strong sense of the Digital Worker of the future. Able to handle multiple technologies, speaking multiple languages, yet working at home, for foreign companies without ever passing a border. These Digital Aliens, as soon are calling them, will create whole new challenges for our labor and learning balances.

We return to Saratoga Springs in a few days, but are proud to announce that a series of TechLearn events will be scheduled around the world in the next 10 months. We have met with groups in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and the Middle East who will be assisting in creating regional TechLearn events, focusing on the point where technology meets learning.

(Update: There are 10 spaces left in the Road to On-Line Learning Lab to be held in Saratoga Springs in April. See http://www.masie.com for details.)

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