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52 - Degree of Confidence: Is the Information True & Accurate?; A Few Questions For Reviewing Learning Programs

1. Degree of Confidence: Is the Information True & Accurate? Your workforce has never had more access to more sources of information. Are they ready for the evaluation and assessment of the accuracy of the information? Probably not!

A recent survey by The MASIE Center showed that fewer than 2% of organizations are doing any form of information accuracy training. While
organizations are supplying most workers with more and more access to information, there are few, if any, programs to help them check the accuracy of information.

Some information is poor because it is old and outdated. Web pages get posted with a push of a button but often linger for days, weeks or years after their relevance has ended. Some information is just wrong, intentionally or not. And, many sources of information are not easily
discovered. I recently found a study on learning effectiveness on the net, yet the sponsor of the study, the manufacturer of a specific training
technology, was totally not identified.

My colleagues in the military often use the term: "Degree of Confidence". Imagine if your colleagues had a mental calculation of their degree of
confidence in the information (accuracy, relevance, currency and source). I would trust a link to a web site a lot more if you told me that you had a Degree of Confidence of 98% in the information. On the other hand, I still might want to get linked to a site that had a rating of 12%, but I would handle and process the information quite differently.

It would be great if we could add the "Degree of Confidence" model to search engines, corporate intranet information posting and even courseware for training courses. We need to train our learners to be active and AWARE users of information. A comment by a colleague in the intelligence community still rings in my ears: "Our greatest fear in the cyber-terrorism is not database penetration, it is intentional disinformation. People are too trusting of the information they see on graphically pleasing web pages.
We need to build a healthy dose of information user smarts in the population."

2. Another Media Selection Tool On-Line. We are starting to get a regular flow of tools to help organizations select the appropriate media format for a specific type of learning program. Here is the most recent entry, thanks to a Eric Snyder, a colleague in Canada. This url uses an interesting Java applet. This tool was developed by Brett Bixler. Check out their concepts and value ratings behind their media selection advice:

3. A Few Questions For Reviewing Learning Programs. While there is a lot of buzz about the development of rapid authoring models, we will still be buying a large percentage of our training programs. As trainers we will faced with evaluating new learning programs on specific topics. Here are a few questions that we use at The MASIE Center to evaluate the constant stream of programs that we receive in our Lab:

a) What actions or activities will this program elicit from a learner? This question focuses on the action side of learning. We want to look at how active the learner will be. Are they just watching or reading? If a learner used this program, what would their activities be. Focus more on
the actions of the learner rather than the action on the computer screen.

b) How rapidly does this program get to the main action? This gets at the old, "Where's the beef?" question. We see a large percentage of learners jumping ship if the program doesn't engage them in the first few seconds. How rapidly is the learner learning, rather than being prepped for learning?

c) Does the program drive forward? Is there a forward motion to the program. Does the learner feel propelled forward and bonded to the learning activity? With learners often being ONE MOUSE CLICK AWAY FROM LEAVING, how does the program keep them engaged and forward moving.

d) Do the knowledge resources linger? When the program is over, is the information still available to the learner as a performance support tool. Does the learner need to take notes? Does the learner get job tools and artifacts from the learning experience?

e) Why would the learner trust the information? Is the information source credible? When an instructor tells you to use a specific process for
delegation, you have a sense of context and credibility. Does the on-line learning program offer a similar path for trusting and valuing the advice.

f) Relevancy to our organizational setting? Is the look and feel of the organizational settings discussed in the program appropriate to our

g) What are the technical support requirements of a new user? How intuitive or familiar are the interfaces and user navigational commands? If the learner needs help in using the learning program, who do they call? We call this Total Cost of Ownership of Learning Technology. This can be a real hidden cost

h) What is the degree of learner and coaching control? Can a manager "assign" this program and point a learner to a specific section? Does a learner feel in control of the navigational commands?

i) How will it work in an interrupt driven setting? If the phone rings, what happens? Can I use it without the headsets or speakers? Can I return
to where I was? Can I take it on the road without a network connection.

Add to this list. Send me a few additional review questions to and we will add your questions to a future Trends.

4. Reinventing Training @ TechLearn '98. Almost every training manager or supervisor that I meet talks about their need to reinvent the training function. Some are moving towards performance consulting. Others are moving towards learning technology. Others are considering outsourcing. And others are shifting the focus to the business units. We had added a highly interactive SIMULATION called Reinventing Training @ TechLearn '98. This program will take you and your colleagues through a set of activities to look at how one would reinvent the training function in several different organizations. It will use the TechLearn Benchmarking Data to make this simulation a great activity for you to plan and outline the next several years in the history of your training function. We will distribute the findings from the Reinventing Training @ TechLearn '98 to all conference attendees. To register for TechLearn '98, to be held at Walt Disney World in Orlando in November, just go to

5) On a personal note. We are heading to Ireland in a few days for the IFTDO (International Federation of Training and Development Organizations) Conference. I am presenting the keynote at this gathering of international training and development professionals. We will be in Dublin for the week and would love to get together with any readers that are attending the conference. Send me an email and we will find a place to get together (do I hear the word PUB?). Just drop me a line at We will send an update from the Conference next week.

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