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65 - Pricing On-Line Learning: A Moving Target

1. Speaking A Column: Comments on Voice Recognition Software. I recently wrote my first column for a magazine without typing. Using voice recognition software, I "spoke" the column. If you haven't rechecked the voice recognition software genre, give it another try. To read the column and our perspectives on the training issues related to voice recognition go to:

2. Designer's Edge Releases New Edition: Allen Communications, the maker of Designer's Edge, a pre-authoring tool that assists developers with the process of creating learning programs, sent us the following press release on Friday:

"Allen Communication today announced Designer's Edge 3.0, the latest version of its popular training design and planning tool. Version 3.0 incorporates significant enhancements for developers of training applications, including the ability to do task analysis and report customization, as well as combined interfaces throughout the tool to increase user productivity and encourage the creation of reusable elements. "

"The tool's Enterprise version will include the desktop capabilities as wel as enterprise database support through ODBC connectivity, security features and the functionality for exporting training titles directly to HTML and Java through Allen Communication's Net Synergy." Their web site for more information is:

3. Report on Internet Caused Depression and Friend Shrinkage. A recent story on the front page of the New York Times caused deep conversation in our office. The story covered a recent study reporting that surfing the Internet causes increased depression. A two-year study found that one Internet hour per week made participants one percent more depressed. In addition, their circle of friends shrank by an average of 2.7 people.

Without commenting on the validity of the study, it did get a few of us chuckling and a few worrying. If I were to apply this to my own internet usage, I would be 300% more depressed and would have lost over 950 friends. Luckily, not true for this user.

4. Pricing On-Line Learning: A Moving Target. What to charge for a one hour class or a five week course delivered over the internet? The economics of e-commerce are flirting with the pricing matrix for on-line learning

Some vendors are taking a "Delivery Method Is Irrelevant" position. They are pricing all learning for a specific set of objectives at the same price, regardless of the delivery system. CD-ROM's, Video's and Web Delivered versions of the same modules have the same costs.

Other vendors are playing to the "Web Delivery is Cheaper" model. We are seeing several organizations offer wide libraries of on-line courses that are priced at dollars a module. Most of these don't have an incremental cost to the supplier, as there is little faculty support offered. Some pricing models are based on site licenses that have a low cost per user, but a significant organization wide price tag.

A few brave vendors are getting ready to launch "Price for Outcome or Performance" rather than usage. For example, an organization would pay for each employee that passes the certification exam, without reference to how much resources (if any) they used from the learning services vendor.

Watch for a lot of experimentation in this arena. The pricing question is also being raised in terms of the charge back process between centralized training departments and their business units. A good number of our readers report that charging back for on-line learning programs has met with resistance from units that do not pay for other intranet based programs. Comments? Send them to

5. Trips to NASA and Behind the Scenes Disney Tours Added to TechLearn '98. Participants arriving in Orlando for our TechLearn '98 Conference will have a wide range of low-cost tours they (and their families) can take on Sunday, November 15th. We are building one day tours to Kennedy Space Center and will offer at least 4 different Behind the Scenes Disney Tours. Complete information will be sent to all TechLearn '98 participants in approximately 2 weeks. To register (we now have 1,290 participants), just go to

(Personal Note: We are in the Adirondack Mountains for the week, at our deep woods cabin (with a modem connection). Cathy and I own a piece of the original J.P. Morgan Great Camp in the village of Raquette Lake, NY and get to retreat here for recharging, writing and reflection. Since we still seem to think of the year as running from Sept to Sept, this is our week before "back to school". If we are a bit slower on email responses this week, blame it on the lakes and woods of the Adirondacks.)

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