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42 - Special Report from Training Director's Forum, Florida

1. Lotus Moves to Sametime Collaboration with Acquisitions. Lotus dramatically increased its presence in the real-time collaboration marketplace with the announcement of their Sametime services and the purchase of two distance learning and collaboration technology companies.

As we have been predicting in TechLearn Trends, the real-time collaboration capability of learning via technology will become a vital and critical component of corporate training models. Lotus has purchased DataBeam and Ubique. They will add these capabilities to their Learning Space product line. In addition, Lotus inked a deal with AOL to embed these capabilities into that network. Here are the details from the Lotus announcement:

"DataBeam has led a number of key international standards initiatives to ensure that real-time technology can be applied widely and interoperably across the Internet. Today, DataBeam is the leading provider of conferencing technology based on the International Telecommunications Union's T.120 and H.323 standards and the developer of the award-winning neT.120 Conference Server software product. The neT.120 conference server allows users of standard Web browsers and T.120 clients such as Microsoft's NetMeeting and DataBeam's own FarSite client to share documents in real-time, brainstorm ideas, and deliver presentations and product demonstrations to people in remote locations."

"Ubique, headquartered in Rehovot, Israel, developed patented technology in the area of document-based awareness, which allows users to be aware of which other users in an online environment are working in the same "virtual place" (e.g., same Web page). Ubique's current "Virtual Places" server provides an infrastructure for developing and deploying real-time collaboration applications. Ubique used this server capability to develop its own chat, buddy and instant messaging products. Ubique has been actively involved in the IETF standards setting process for real-time applications. "

2. A Driving Experience with Performance Support. For the past five days there has been an extra passenger in our Hertz Rental Car. Actually, more like a co-driver. We have been conducting an experiment with the new location system, Never-Lost. This is a small screen, to the right of the driver wheel, with a voice that we have named "Joe", which has been guiding us around Florida. At the start of each drive I punch in the name of a hotel, a street address or an intersection of two roads. In a few seconds, the on-board computer and GPS system calculates the best or fastest route and begins to provide visual and voice prompts every step of the way. Here are a few of our early learning's about the human/machine relationship:

* Trust was the first issue. Did we trust "Joe" to get us to our destination. We did a lot of face validity testing, by looking at printed maps to see if Joe was as smart as Hertz claimed. As the validity proved basically true, the trust factor went up.
* Voice was important. We can turn the voice on and off. I tried both modes. With the voice on, "Joe" provided warnings about 1/2 mile before a turn, prompts when I went astray from his directions and a nice beep to thank me for following a direction. The performance support element was significantly important in his silence when we didn't need him and presence for coaching and even some praise.
* Personification helped. My mom, 88 year old Dorothy, was in the back seat for much of the journey and gave the Hertz system the name "Joe". It was a great trick to help us all accept this interruptions and to have a sense of humor about his weakness. When we couldn't find a remote address, Dorothy said it was OK, Joe never visited this out of the way location.
* Driving in a strange place changed! It really did reduce the LEARNING aspect of directions. Rather than go through a long pre-driving learning event, with immediate memory loss, the system provided just in time support and focused on performance rather than training. It worked and we only got lost once in 5 days. Pretty cool.
* Risk taking went up. We got pretty adventurous with Joe as time went on. We would scan for a location and try a new restaurant location or tourist site that was in Joe's memory bank. With Joe at our side we were ready to tackle a new and unknown turf.
* Joe would eventually get a lot smarter. We started a collection in the car to send Joe to college. Mom wants to have Joe hooked up to a review database on restaurants, include a listing of where the nearest public toilet is and have a link to the traffic control system to route around traffic jams. All on the drawing board already according to Joe's parents at Rockwell.

Try one of these systems the next time to rent a Hertz car. Send an email to with your experience.

3. Manager Concerns About Technology and Learning. Over 300 training directors and managers gathered at Lakewood's annual event for training supervisors in Florida. After presenting one of the keynote speeches, I was part of a data collection process about the top questions on the radar screens of these managers. Here were some of the top concerns:

* Deciding IF and WHEN to use technology for learning.
* Creating rapid content for training
* Increasing the speed of delivery and scaling up for large scale training efforts
* The role of outsourcing in training efforts
* Moving towards performance consulting while continuing to deliver large quantities of training
* Building an ROI model for learning
* Adding business skills to the training staff
* Evaluating vendor claims and promises
* Integrating technology and classroom training

4. On-Line Learning LAB Scheduled for July in Saratoga. The MASIE Center is proud to announce the next session of our popular event: The Road to On-Line Learning LAB and Seminar. This 2 day, hands-on briefing for training managers and senior trainers will be held in Saratoga Springs in July. We will take people through the steps needed to plan and implement effective and appropriate on-line learning and technology oriented training programs. This is a vendor-neutral event, with frank discussions of product and service alternatives. Go to for details.

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