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39 - Special Report from Paris France and London, England

1. Bubbles of Self-Absorption - A Cultural Challenge. In a recent Trends, we chatted about the need to create Bubbles of Concentration, to help learners focus in an interruption driven environment. However, there is a flip side to the user-technology relationship: Bubbles of Self-Absorption.

The best example of this is the behavior of a mobile cell phone owner in a public place, like an airport lounge or train car. I took the Eurostar Train yesterday, connecting Paris and London in just 3 hours. A man in my car placed and received a series of calls. He spoke in a loud voice, intruding on the experience of the other folks around him. It went on for the entire trip. It was amazing how technology placed him into an alpha zone, making him so self-absorbed that he didn't even have a clue. I finally said something to him. He went into denial and finally said that it was his "right" to use the technology.

We see lots of examples of how technology can change our pattern of behavior, often with ill effects on the human relationships that we are in at the moment. I am guilt of telling my wife that I will only be on the laptop for another few minutes, only to work for another 90.

One great piece of news in the London Times this morning was that British Air was setting up a no-cell phone area in the business lounge.

The moral of the story? It is not an easy issue. But, we need to deal with the impact and use of technology by our employees. How can we spend millions on customer service training if we don't look at how our customs for using technology may actually be dysfunctional. To paraphrase a political slogan... cell phones aren't rude, the owners of them can be...unconsciously.

2. Telephone Companies Enter Retail Market for On-Line Learning. The next big players in the on-line learning marketplace are the telephone companies. Check out the new site from Bell South's World Class Campus. Dozens of courses, starting with computer and IT training, using streamed multimedia, for as little as $9.95 for a week of usage. Bell South has 17 million customers. Large scale marketing efforts, with popular pricing like this, signals the next phase of on-line learning development. The technology and services are provide to Bell South by IBM and Street Technologies. Check it out at This is only the first of many efforts by phone companies into this marketplace.

3. Reader Suggestions for Ideal Trainers. We have received over 150 emails from folks that wanted to add to our list of the "ideal trainer". Here are a few:

* A trainer who is not afraid to say "I don't know (the answer), but I'll get back to you or let's see if we can figure it out". Jan De Buriatte, Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

* A trainer who knows how to best leverage the technology available today to train better and faster, with a higher rate of retention and a greater return on investment. Kirk Hine, International Learning Systems, Inc.

* A trainer who respects the value of a timely break. Julie Shepard, Arthur Andersen

* A trainer who is wise enough to know that the best part of the job is the part where she learns from the students, and lets them know it. Cheryl Mann, Sidley & Austin

More to follow. If you want to add to our growing list, send an email to:

(During this trip to Europe we are taking a look at how technology and learning are being supported by large scale government support and private industry consortium efforts. We'll send some follow-ups in the weeks ahead).

Upcoming MASIE Center Events: (
- Skills for On-Line Trainers
- The Road to On-Line Learning LAB & Seminar
- Fresh Look at Computer Training

And... TechLearn '98, November 15 to 18, 1998 - Orlando, Florida - Our Annual Conference

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