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45 - The Quiet Bandwidth Revolution & Learning; Training Warning: Highlight Hotel Charges for Connectivity; Let's "SIM" It

1. The Quiet Bandwidth Revolution & Learning. Bandwidth is becoming less of an issue! Over the past year, the issue of bandwidth has quietly become less of a hurdle for the delivery of on-line learning. At work, bandwidth is steadily increasing. Organizations are stepping up to the bandwidth challenge by adding more access to the Internet, using proxy servers and smartly managing intranet based content collections. Mobile and home based workers are also experiencing greater bandwidth through the rise of services like Sprint's new Integrated On-Demand Network and cable modem technology. Even 56K service over dial up connections is more available with cleaner lines and fewer busy signals.

Combine this with ever increasing competencies in the compression arena and new formats for predictive or planned downloads, and the issue of bandwidth isn't as much of a hurdle as it was a year ago. We still don't have full motion video quality available and there are some dark spots on the bandwidth map, but let's appreciate how far and fast we are moving in this area.

2. Training Warning: Highlight Hotel Charges for Connectivity. Training departments need to warm their travelling employees about the risks of being "scammed" by hotels charging outrageous rates for local calls by laptop users logging in to corporate networks or the internet. While in San Francisco, I recently stayed at the Holiday Inn on California Street. I dialed up a local access number for 96 minutes of network access. Upon checkout, there was a $111 charge on my bill. The hotel charges for local access, which costs them 9/10 of a cent per minute, more than $1.00 a minute. There is a small type warning on a card in the room about local charges being billed at current rates plus a surcharge, but this is outrageous! Training departments should add this as an item for their orientation for mobile workers. From now on, all MASIE Center employees will ask for the specific charges for the local access number when checking in. And, we won't be staying at that hotel for a long time. Buyers beware!

3. Let's "SIM" It .. Predictive Simulation for Learning. Soon, we will add the phrase "let me SIM it" to our jargon. Imagine having the ability to simulate a decision, task or approach PRIOR to implementation. For example, a manager is about to have a difficult conversation with an employee. What if they could "SIM" it, either by calling a SIM desk at the HR department or running a simulation program on their desktop. Imagine a worker having access to hundreds of simulations that would allow them to see the varied predictive consequences of different actions. Spreadsheets, with pivot tables, to allow for easy mixtures of numerical "what if's" would be one form of a "SIM". Procedural or behavioral simulations would allow employees to practice an action prior to taking a risk. Pilots could take a couple of quick "SIM" sessions for landing at an unfamiliar airport on a cockpit computer, to build their knowledge and confidence base. Simulations can also provide a wonderful portal for learning. We are predicting that the predicative simulation market will be a major arena for development in the next 24 to 36 months.

4. ASTD Report: Asking Key Technology & Learning Questions. The ASTD Conference in San Francisco has just finished. Over 7,000 training professionals from around the world gathered for an intense week of seminars, workshops, expo walking and coffee pot dialogue. Here are some observations gleamed from conversations with colleagues:

* They are almost overwhelmed by the number of new technology offerings being targeted at the training community. More than 80% of the booths in the expo were offering technology solutions or products. A key question on the minds of managers I spoke with was: How do we make a LEARNING decision about using technology.
* The international marketplace for learning and training is HOT! Thousands of the participants were from overseas. Training is alive and well in the international community and core learning programs and technologies are being invented for export from places like Israel, India and Ireland.
* Computer training is being integrated into mainstream training. A good number of the computer trainers that we have known for years are now housed within their core corporate training departments. As a large majority of the teaching of computer courses is outsourced, the coordination of IT training is being driven into mainstream organizations.
* "How do we blend approaches?" While there is a great interest in the use of on-line learning and other learning technology, a big question on the minds of attendees was how to blend diverse methods into a unified learning offering. The conversation was not about authoring processes as much as it was about creating new models including both classroom and technology mediated learning.
* Evaluation and ROI were hot topics. Training departments are being asked to develop clear metrics for the evaluation of the impact of learning investments. Knowledge Management projects are increasing the pressure for these numbers. It was one of the hottest, best attended set of sessions at the event.

5. TechLearn '98 To Being Early with On-Line Learning Class. In a desire to "walk the talk" of multi-method learning, TechLearn '98, our annual conference, will begin several months earlier, in the form of an on-line class. "Key Decisions for the Future of Learning" is an on-line, interactive learning experience, that will be taught by Elliott Masie, starting the week of July 13th. It will contain dozens of hours of content, including benchmarking surveys and multi-media streamed seminars. The course is free to registered participants in TechLearn '98, which will be held in November in Orlando. A second class on "New Roles for Training Professionals" will also be provided to TechLearn registrants, starting in October. For information and registration: (Note: attendance is limited, over 700 participants are already signed up.)

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