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54 - Special Report from ITFDO Conference, Dublin, Ireland

1. Training as a Political and Development Theme. I was honored to be presenting the keynote at the IFTDO (International Federation of Trainingn and Development Organizations) Conference in Dublin, Ireland. Last night and this morning the conference was treated to speeches by the Irish President and Irish Deputy Prime Minister as well as the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Bahrain, articulating clear messages on the political and economic role that training and development will play in the world. Newly elected Irish President, Mary McAleese gave a passionate call to action for Human Resource Development professionals around the world to address the employability needs of our current and future workforce through continuous lifelong learning. President McAleese pointed out the role of partnerships between government and private industry in building support for increased investments in training and development. She joins a number of other heads of state, including leaders from the U.S., U.K. and Bahrain in targeting training as a fundamental development issue for countries in the next few years.

Prime Minister (Tanaiste) Mary Harney drove home the economic returns on training investments in her case study of the upswing in the Irish economy in recent years. Ireland has become a major player in the technology fields, including the development of on-line learning and digital training. They have made a commitment to increase the percentage of GNP dedicated to learning and training. H.E. Abdul Nabi Al Sho'ala, Minister of Labour & Social Affairs of Bahrain followed my keynote with a picture of the role of training as a future development investment in the Middle East. Training is at the center of the radar screen of governments in their region as they prepare for the next stages of development. They know that learning must be continuous, technology assisted and aimed at closing the skills gap that confront their countries.

These political perspectives are important to the training and learning industry. It is easy to get wrapped up in our deliverables for tomorrow's class or project. But, if we take a step back, we can see the larger context for the key work that we are all doing in the fields of learning and technology. Prepare for these issues to become part of the conversation of future campaigns and legislation.

(Note: We are working on plans to connect digitally at TechLearn '98 with our colleagues in Bahrain, Netherlands and Canada to continue this dialogue. On-line registration is now open at

2. On-Line Role Play Technology Launched. Check out a new on-line role playing technology available from Method Software. It adds a multi-person simulation capability to on-line learning. Their web site is

3. Learning & Technology Briefing via Microsoft Seminar On-Line. I recently recorded a 30 minute briefing on learning and technology that is now playing on the Microsoft Seminar On-Line site. This is a demonstration of their combination Presentation and Streamed Audio model. The title is Learning in Internet Time and the url for the presentation is

4. Trainer Skill: Dealing with Time Compression. Trainers need to be prepared for compression. We often find ourselves in situations where the amount of time gets suddenly smaller. Sometimes the class arrives late, the previous speaker goes long or a question from the audience distracts us from our plan. A key trainer skill is the ability to compress content. Here are a few approaches:

* Cherrypick Topics: Don't cover it all. Take a few key topics and address those and be open with the learners that you are not going to get to these other topics. Link them to resources for self-paced learning on the stuff that you didn't address.
* Modularize Inside of Modules: I always have modules within modules. Drop the story, eliminate the second example, give a shorter demo. Be prepared for the inevitable pressure on time.
* Reverse the Order: I often give speeches in reverse. Start with the conclusion. Tell them the end and then work backwards...driven by theirquestions and absolute needs. You will be surprised on engaging this can befor learners.

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