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104 - Blackboard Offers Free On-Line Authoring and Hosting; Audiographic Briefing Reflections

1. Blackboard Offers Free On-Line Authoring and Hosting. One of the best ways of understanding the evolving world of on-line learning is to try your hand at authoring and teaching. Here is a cool way to get started. Blackboard, an on-line teaching systems group, is offering 120 days of free hosting of a class. They have a great set of tools that you can use to create content, design assessments and manage all learner activity. Go to to access this offer. I pointed a group of training managers to this site and they built prototype classes and then took each others. It was a wonderful way for them to taste a range of on-line classes. Boardwalk sells a server version at $5,000.

2. Audiographic Briefing Reflections. Two days ago, I presented a briefing for MCI-Worldcom on the Human Dimensions of Y2K. They had about 300 senior IT managers and Y2K coordinators sign up for this one hour session. We used Lotus/Databeam's Far Site tool to provide the participants with a view of our PowerPoint slides. This tool allows for one to many viewing of slides. Here were some of the observations of this model:

- One to Many Model: We were not attempting to have a virtual classroom, with lots of learner interactions. Rather our model was a virtual lecturehall. This was actually a strength. The learners received the audio portion over a telephone conference call to an audio bridge at MCI-Worldcom. They had the option of hitting a website and viewing a window displaying a single PowerPoint slide. This model allowed the learner to participate with a range of settings. There was no learning curve for the user, since they did not need to master a wide range of functions. In addition, there wasn't a chat session that could distract the learners from the presentation.

I believe that virtual classrooms are very powerful, but they don't scale to more than 30 or 40. As we move up the size chain, we need to drop the features and shift the metaphor more to a lecture mode. Lectures work... if you have relevant content, good design, shorter segments and opportunities for questions.

- Talk Show Format: MCI added a host for the event. Having a host changes the feel to more of a talk-show. The host welcomed the audience, went over the agenda, introduced myself and another subject matter expert and hosted questions from the field. The talk show model allows you to use experts, regardless of their background as trainers.

- Length: Once again, as we move towards distributed learning, duration has to be challenged. My presentation was 25 minutes and if I were to make the same presentation again, I would have dropped it to 20 minutes. This leaves more time for questions from the audience and interaction between guests.

- Overall Impressions: Based on the dozens of emails that I received after the session, the format worked. About 60% of the participants used the slide viewing option. Quite a few had more than one person listening in a conference room, with the slide show projected for all to see. This was an easy to arrange and highly enjoyable to present in format.

Watch for this type of presentation to become commonplace. As we see more audiographic tools, as Microsoft's NetMeeting is integrated in Office 2000 and as telecom companies bundle conferencing with one to many graphical broadcasting, this model will be a familiar mode of training and knowledge transfer.

3. Request from a Korean TRENDS Reader: We have received this email from Wonyong Cha from Korea. If you can assist please send email to the address below:

"I am a Managing Director of SK Telecom (provides wireless services, PCS, paging, etc), Korea. We would like to do benchmarking study visit to one of AT&T Wireless, AT&T School of Management, Sprint Wireless, Airtouch, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Cisco, Sony in Japan, Singapore Airline, etc. Anyone who knows who is the right contact at those corporations, can you help me to do this visit one of them during 22nd Feb to 26 Feb 1999? The purpose of study visit would be to discuss and/or exchange the current or future training systems or training programs for internal staffs, sales staffs, and further for distributor's staffs or stakeholders staffs. Your help would be highly appreciated. Please contact "

4. Pathlore Releases Phoenix Networks: Pathlore has just announced a new integrated training system, PHOENIX NetWorks, featuring "active content" and rapid team authoring functions. This new version of PHOENIX builds on database architecture, streamlines course development, opens door to new knowledge sources. Check it out at

5. Busine$$ of On-Line Learning Conference Forecasts Training Futures: It is difficult to close our eyes and visualize what on-line learning will look like three years from now. We will facilitate a unique Future Forecasting dialogue with the executives of the leading learning and technology companies at our upcoming Busine$$ of On-Line Learning Conference to be held in Seattle on March 3 and 4, 1999. Using a blend of audience response systems and dialogues amongst the key executives, we will gather a healthy compilation of possible futures. If you would like to participate in this unique conference, go to (there are only 25 seats left). We will publish an abstract of the findings in early April.

Upcoming MASIE Center Events:
- Free TechLearn LIVE! Broadcast - March 17th - for details
- Skills for On-Line Trainers - April 26 and 27, 1999 - Chicago for details
- TechLearn '99 (912 Registered Already!) October 31 to November 3, 1999 - Orlando - for details

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