Subscribe: Learning TRENDS


40 - Money Back Guarantee on Driver's Education Via Technology; Content Capturing....The Alternative to Content Authoring; Knowledge Management Readiness Test

1. Money Back Guarantee on Driver's Education Via Technology. Learning via technology is taking a great step forward in a new product aimed at teenagers and new drivers. Sierra's new Driver Education '98 provides great simulations, content customized by geography and even a money back guarantee if you fail to pass the driver's exam. We have been using a previous version of this product in our Road to On-Line Learning Lab, as an example of effective instruction. Sierra has bumped the new version way up the sophistication chain. They have even bundled in a steering wheel in the $100 version of the product, to allow hands-on driving experience. We were very impressed with the ability for a teenager to select the "driving after alcohol" option and see how the car response decreases with intoxication. Thumbs up to Sierra. If you want to check out their web site it is

2. Content Capturing....The Alternative to Content Authoring. Business units will be demanding more and more content for learning! There just will not be enough time, resources or skilled designers to use an authoring model for all of the content. Knowledge Management will create enormous demand for rapid creation and dissemination of information that can be used to improve skills and performance. The MASIE Center believes that we are about to enter the era of Content Capture.

Content capture is focused on "extracting" small chunks of knowledge from subject matter experts, using video, audio or even text. In the Capture world, we will be focusing on the "Cycle Times" needed to launch a learning program, with as few hurdles to rapid deployment. We still need to make sure that the content is accurate, logical and of value for the learning objective, but the assumption is that there may not be an AUTHOR in the process. The role of the author may become more of an editor, reviewer or template builder.

Watch for new products and services aimed at content capture in the months ahead.

3. Knowledge Management Readiness Test. Knowledge management is all about the ability of organizations to leverage the intellectual assets quickly and accurately. Here are a few questions from a Knowledge Management Survey being developed by The MASIE Center. Check to see how your organization would rate on these questions:

How would your organization go about finding these knowledge assets. How long would it take? How difficult would it be? What would be your success rate? At what cost of time and money?

- A salesperson is visiting a major prospect. Who in our company has ever done business with the prospect in their current or former job? Did anyone ever work there?
- Last year five key managers left the company. What knowledge did they take with them that we have not replaced?
- Karen is heading over to Singapore for a business meeting. Who are the best people to coach her on doing business in that country.
- What were the most expensive government regulations for us to comply with last year?
- How long would it take us to retrain everyone in our organization on using a new travel expense form? What would be the cost of that training?
- How much did we spend on all types of learning last year, by department?

These questions are not meant to depress you! Rather, they are some of the key questions that should be on your mind as our organizations integrate Knowledge Management models into our business and training approaches. TechLearn '98 will feature key sessions and task forces to prepare training departments for the role of Knowledge Management.

Upcoming MASIE Center Events: ( Seminars:
- Skills for On-Line Trainers
- The Road to On-Line Learning LAB & Seminar

39 - Special Report from Paris France and London, England

1. Bubbles of Self-Absorption - A Cultural Challenge. In a recent Trends, we chatted about the need to create Bubbles of Concentration, to help learners focus in an interruption driven environment. However, there is a flip side to the user-technology relationship: Bubbles of Self-Absorption.

The best example of this is the behavior of a mobile cell phone owner in a public place, like an airport lounge or train car. I took the Eurostar Train yesterday, connecting Paris and London in just 3 hours. A man in my car placed and received a series of calls. He spoke in a loud voice, intruding on the experience of the other folks around him. It went on for the entire trip. It was amazing how technology placed him into an alpha zone, making him so self-absorbed that he didn't even have a clue. I finally said something to him. He went into denial and finally said that it was his "right" to use the technology.

We see lots of examples of how technology can change our pattern of behavior, often with ill effects on the human relationships that we are in at the moment. I am guilt of telling my wife that I will only be on the laptop for another few minutes, only to work for another 90.

One great piece of news in the London Times this morning was that British Air was setting up a no-cell phone area in the business lounge.

The moral of the story? It is not an easy issue. But, we need to deal with the impact and use of technology by our employees. How can we spend millions on customer service training if we don't look at how our customs for using technology may actually be dysfunctional. To paraphrase a political slogan... cell phones aren't rude, the owners of them can be...unconsciously.

2. Telephone Companies Enter Retail Market for On-Line Learning. The next big players in the on-line learning marketplace are the telephone companies. Check out the new site from Bell South's World Class Campus. Dozens of courses, starting with computer and IT training, using streamed multimedia, for as little as $9.95 for a week of usage. Bell South has 17 million customers. Large scale marketing efforts, with popular pricing like this, signals the next phase of on-line learning development. The technology and services are provide to Bell South by IBM and Street Technologies. Check it out at This is only the first of many efforts by phone companies into this marketplace.

3. Reader Suggestions for Ideal Trainers. We have received over 150 emails from folks that wanted to add to our list of the "ideal trainer". Here are a few:

* A trainer who is not afraid to say "I don't know (the answer), but I'll get back to you or let's see if we can figure it out". Jan De Buriatte, Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

* A trainer who knows how to best leverage the technology available today to train better and faster, with a higher rate of retention and a greater return on investment. Kirk Hine, International Learning Systems, Inc.

* A trainer who respects the value of a timely break. Julie Shepard, Arthur Andersen

* A trainer who is wise enough to know that the best part of the job is the part where she learns from the students, and lets them know it. Cheryl Mann, Sidley & Austin

More to follow. If you want to add to our growing list, send an email to:

(During this trip to Europe we are taking a look at how technology and learning are being supported by large scale government support and private industry consortium efforts. We'll send some follow-ups in the weeks ahead).

Upcoming MASIE Center Events: (
- Skills for On-Line Trainers
- The Road to On-Line Learning LAB & Seminar
- Fresh Look at Computer Training

And... TechLearn '98, November 15 to 18, 1998 - Orlando, Florida - Our Annual Conference

38 - Special Report from Appleton, Wisconsin - Higher Education Consortium Meeting

1. Learner's Wish Lists for the Perfect Trainer. I have been compiling a collection of wish lists that people have for their perfect trainer. Here are a few of the top items:

* A trainer who knows how to tell a great story without drifting from the learning objectives of the course.
* A trainer who remembers how difficult it is to be sitting in a classroom, while they walk around.
* A trainer who dramatically reduces my need to take notes.
* A trainer who asks us a question that keeps me thinking for the next week.
* A trainer who puts all of the resources on a web page.
* A trainer who actually did the tasks they are teaching.
* A trainer who smiles and shows their love of teaching.
* A trainer who is available during the breaks for contact and questions.
* A trainer who is a learner.

Add to the list! Send me a note to

2. Two Types of Pilot Programs: On our recent TechLearn Collaborative call, our 40 corporate members discussed types of pilot programs for emerging learning technologies. Here is a key distinction in two types of pilots:

* The Learn It Pilot: The purpose of this pilot is to create a learning experience for their training professionals. The pilot's objectives are to test new technology and learning approaches. This pilot does not have an outcome target of learning accomplishments, but rather is focused on the learning of the group that is exploring this learning technology.

* The Prove It Pilot: The purpose of this pilot is to make a business and performance case for the effectiveness of the proposed learning approach. This pilot is focused on learner outcomes. Prove It pilots are deeply observed and should attempt to key as many of the variables constants (e.g.. content and audience) while testing the key new variable (learning technology).

It is critical that the organization agrees on which of these models is being implemented when conducting pilot programs!

3. Video-Conferencing at the Desktop for Learning! We have been testing a wide range of $100 to $120 cameras, that we are using in The MASIE Center lab at bandwidths from 28.8 to T1. The opportunities to enhance and expand our definitions of learning through continuous video-conferencing and collaboration are awesome. Grab your camera and get ready for an explosion of video conferencing at the desktop and in the classroom, using the LAN, WAN, Intranet and Internet.

In the next six months this field will gain dramatic brainshare as new technology and consumer acceptance focuses on low cost desktop videoconferencing. Learning will be one of the hot applications (after on-line retailing and X Rated content). Watch for major announcements later this summer on Desktop Videoconferencing Learning products and services. We are adding a Vidcon Learning component to TechLearn '98 ( At Vidcon Learning we will provide 60 desktop video units in our Exploratorium. These will provide a non-commercial opportunity to try teaching and learning over video conferencing. Stay tuned for details!

4. Free On-Line Learning Trials. We have another offer for TechLearn Trends Readers for a free trial to get personal experience with learning over the internet. Bill Rosenthal, Ziff Davis Education writes: "Training professionals can get a free, hands-on experience with on-line learning models by going to: " This site contains a wide range of IT training courses that will give you another look at the power of technology delivered learning. As trainers we have to experience this technology ourselves to gain perspective.

5. Colin Powell, Robert Reich and Don Tapscott to Keynote TechLearn '98. TechLearn '98 is pleased to announce a few of our keynote speakers. General Colin L. Powell, USA (Retired) will give the 1998 TechLearn Address on the critical tasks of developing our workforce for a new world. He will share his own experiences as a trainer in the Army and the challenge of training young people to work. General Powell is one of the most admired leaders in the world, identified as a strong role model of ethics and honesty.

Robert Reich, former Secretary of the Treasury, will provide the Skills Gap Keynote, focusing on the challenge of matching workers to jobs in the information age. Don Tapscott, author of the Digital Economy, will provide a view of the impact of technology on the roles of managers, trainers and knowledge brokers.

Over 575 managers and trainers have already registered for TechLearn '98. Go to for information and on-line registrations.

(I have been attending a meeting of higher education training and technology professionals in Appleton, Wisconsin. It is exciting to explore the role that technology will have in the changing nature of higher education. There are lots of powerful connections that we need to make between the corporate and education fields as we both tackle technology as a learning tool in the digital age.)

Upcoming MASIE Center Events: (
- Skills for On-Line Trainers
- The Road to On-Line Learning LAB & Seminar

37 - Special Report From Disney's Animal Kingdom Opening, Orlando, Florida

1. Three Trends That Are Around The Corner for Training & Learning. The MASIE Center has finished it's quarterly view of the three trends that are about to impact in the training, learning and technology fields:

a) Home Based On-Line Learning: Many of the technological advances have been boosted by home computing patters. For example, home PC use of CD's paved the way for their wide spread adoption at work. On-Line Learning will get a similar boost with the impending explosion of home base, personal interest learning and training programs. Retailers are gearing up to deliver classes that will go to the heart of your hobby interests, associations are targeting on-line learning as a new delivery channel, churches and temples are excited about building digital connections to their congregations and even health care groups are aiming at post-treatment courses to lower patient rebound levels.

b) Training Departments as Newsrooms: Let's imagine what the training department will look like in the near future. If we can move the bulk of the administrative side of training to the intranet and we see a continued use of outsourcing of instruction to external providers, what is the role of the internal training group. In addition to the management of the process and conducting needs analysis, we see a newsroom in their futures. Knowledge Management will bring a demand for instant publishing on a deeply narrowcast and personalized basis. We are working with a few training departments to build a newsroom model, where they will assemble and publish electronically delivered magazines and newsletters to the workforce, combining breaking news, professional development information and links to key on-line learning resources. "Stop the Presses" may be one of the chants we hear in the near future.

c) Skills Portfolios: The percentage of training and education that we receive AFTER completing our secondary and higher education is growing. In the future, we will have a need to provide workers with the ability to document and validate their training and skills. This is a challenge as organizations get gun-shy of lawsuits and cut back on what they can or will provide as details on a former employee's experience. Skills Portfolios may be kept by a professional association, a labor union or a third party body. We see a model for digitally validating experience, much the way we can digitally sign an email message. Organizations will be discussing skills portfolios and validation in the next 12 months.

2. Corporate PC's Below $600? Lots of conversation this week at COMDEX about low cost computers. Will prices drop below $600? Yes! MidWest Micro Corp. took the idea of the sub-$1,000 PC to a whole new level yesterday as the company announced a line of computers that will be tagged at less than $600. The Fletcher, Ohio-based firm said the NJ-200X Workstation PC is targeted at business users, is network-ready and is the first PC in its price range that is based on a 200-MHz Intel Corp. Pentium MMX processor. It costs $599.

3. Animal Kingdom Opening Report & TechLearn '98 Special! I had the delightful honor of seeing the new Disney Park, Animal Kingdom on it's opening day yesterday. This is a $800 million dollar tribute to design and also training. The experience is both a fun and educational journey. Everything that we know about how to capture the learning imagination is embedded into the design of this new "land". Great attention has been paid to the comfort and health of the animals, contrary to the press reports. In discussions with several trainers (our animal counterparts), it was clear that there is an organizational and personal commitment to making this an awesome experience for the full range of creatures. Technology also plays a fascinating role in the structuring of the animal and human interaction.

We are proud to announce that TechLearn '98 (November 15 to 18th in Orlando), will offer special discount tickets to Animal Kingdom for participants and their families. In addition to being able to visit Animal Kingdom on the Saturday or Sunday prior to TechLearn, we will also have a presentation from one of the team members involved in the design of this enterprise. And, a few special elements from Animal Kingdom may pop up at the Conference. Over 500 of your colleagues have already registered for TechLearn '98. Reserve your spaces today by going to

36 - Special Report from Workplace Learning Conference, Wisconsin

1. Labor Unions Focus on Learning & Training in Workplace. I am writing this column from the Workplace Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There are over 1,000 international labor union leaders, along with representatives from business, educational institutions and government agencies. As I looked out at the crowd during my keynote address, I was impressed with the intensity of commitment shown by labor leaders to the skills and training component of work. Key research has been conducted on the nature of the changing workplace and the needs for a changing workforce. The labor leaders that I met with are looking at how technology can be leveraged as a force for lifelong and workplace learning. Continuous learning will allow workers in low-paying jobs to develop a pathway to higher-paying jobs. On-line learning is being developed as a benefit for both workers and their families, jointly administered by labor/management alliances.

We heard reports on Learning and the Economy from Canada, England, Mexico and the United States. The linkage between learning resources and economic development is a clear and clarion call from government and labor unions to build training infrastructures that will serve the next several decades. The United Kingdom is moving rapidly towards a national grid of technology resources that will jumpstart the availability of technology delivered learning.

The coalitions that are being developed for workplace learning...the siting of learning alongside work, focusing on both basic skills and technical skills, is a powerful development in our field. For details on the outcomes of the symposium, check their web site:

2. Tips for Trainers: In-Class Web Page for Running Items. Every trainer has used the running list technique. Write down follow-up items on a piece of poster paper. It is a great way to store open issues in a course and make sure that the trainer can address these later in the class. Add technology and it gets very cool and effective. I've been using a technique that involves the development of a web site as the class progresses. Using Microsoft Front Page, I add links, resources and items to the web page throughout the class. This is posted live on a server, so that learners can access it during class or on the breaks. It is then a perfect follow-up device to use for post-class learning. Training departments or vendors can add marketing of future events to the list. Check out the in-class web that we just used in our On-Line Learning Lab and Seminar:

3. Time to Try It! Experiment With Free Hybrid Training Model. There are lots of trainers that I meet whom have never taken an on-line learning module. And even a smaller percentage have never tried a hybrid offering, blending on-line content with access to a live instructor resource. We are pleased to point TechLearn Trends readers to the offer by

This course, which lasts for 2 weeks from when the person enrolls, is titled "Internet Concepts" and enables the person to take advantage of all the benefits of a regular Scholars course. These benefits include access through online chats, email and newsgroups to Learning Advisors who are online 24hrs a day, 7 days a week plus daily personalized email containing course related questions, supplemental information etc. Students also gain access to the Scholars' Community; several thousand students who are pursuing similar goals. The actual courseware can be downloaded from the Scholars web site. Enrollment is continuous so you can start anytime.

This is a free offer, which can be found at


35 - Spending on Internet Faster Than IT Spending; President Announces Support for IT Training for Dislocated Workers

1. Build Your Benchmarking Survey! This is an invitation to the readers of TechLearn Trends to contribute one or more questions to the 1998 TechLearn Benchmarking Survey. In early Fall, we will survey 1,000 organizations throughout the world on their current and planned activities in the technology and learning/training arena. This survey will be published at TechLearn '98 and will form the basis of a deep set of discussions about the critical factors (pro and con) in the implementation and evolution of new training models.

Each question will have a "host" who will help us draft the query, help test the answer options and then who will assist in the analysis of the results. We already have 14 questions from MASIE Center Members and are seeking approximately 50 to 80 additional questions. This will take about 5 to 10 hours of your time over the next several months. And, if you can attend TechLearn '98, we will have a special role for you in helping to facilitate a dialogue on these key questions and challenges.

An example, Wal-Mart submitted a question about the types of technologies that are being used to distribute learning to multiple sites. They would like to see current and planned uses of internet, intranet, satellite, CD Rom and other media for distribution of learning. Add your question to this.

Please send an email with you question, name, organization and contact information (including a non-PO Box for shipping materials) to As there will be a large overlap, we will ask folks or organizations to cooperate on these questions. This survey will be published, without charge, to the field in December 1998, following dialogues and validation at TechLearn '98. The survey will be coordinated by a committee from The MASIE Center's TechLearn Collaborative and the On-Line Learning Council.

2. Spending on Internet Faster Than IT Spending: Businesses are turning to Internet technologies to cut costs and raise productivity so often today that corporate spending on 'net-based technologies is outstripping spending on information technology in general, an International Data Corp. (IDC) analyst said the week at the company's annual Directions seminar, held in Tokyo.

"Internet spending is not synonymous with IT spending," said John Gantz, IDC's senior vice president of personal systems, peripherals, collaborative computing and services.

Gantz said that IT spending through 2002 in the services industry is expected to grow at an average compound annual rate of 20%. That industry is spending more than the retail segment, which has an expected annual growth rate of about 15%. Meanwhile, IT spending growth in the utilities, communications/media, banking and discrete manufacturing industries will grow on average of about 10% annually, and the insurance industry will see a 5% growth rate, Gantz said.

This trend is being seen in the use of intranet based front ends for computing. One group has developed a web based center that reflects every major change in the life of an employee. A single form will update dozens of required forms in paper format. The internet and intranet investment is pushing innovations such as these.

The MASIE Center believes that this is a strong sign of the growing support base for network delivered aspects of On-Line Learning and Training.

3. President Announces Support for IT Training for Dislocated Workers : Grants totaling $1.6 million are being provided to projects in four states to continue for another year highly successful programs to train dislocated workers for high paying jobs in information technology. The grants were announced this week by President Bill Clinton and Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman.

"We must be able to re-tool our workers to succeed in the technology-intensive jobs of the 21st century," the President said. "These grants, and others like them, will help our workers into high-wage, secure jobs, and keep America competitive in the global economy. "

"We must invest in workers' skills, so they have the tools to adapt to new technologies, and make change work for them, not against them," Secretary Herman added. "All Americans must have opportunities for lifelong learning, so that they can be equipped with the skills to find and hold good jobs with rising incomes and good benefits throughout their lives. "

These demonstration projects for High Wage Job Opportunities for Dislocated Workers are in Dallas, Texas; Clovis, Calif.; Waltham, Mass.; and Southfield, Mich. Each project will receive $400,000.

34 - Special Report from Federal Express Global Hub (3 AM) in Memphis

1. (Memphis, TN 3:00 AM) - Federal Express Hub - This is the first in a series of Behind The Scene Looks at technology and learning perspectives gleamed from the operations of MASIE Center's TechLearn Collaborative Members. I am just finishing up an early morning tour of the overnight processing hub at Federal Express Headquarters in Memphis, TN. Imagine more than 200 airplanes landing right before midnight, offloading more than a million packages and then sorting these all by 2:07 AM and putting them back on planes. This is what has just happened. It is a sight to see. 1.3 million packages, envelopes, large boxes, computer monitors and even an occasional horse or sports car come thru this hub every night. The training staff at FedEx gave us a VIP Tour this evening and it was intriguing from both a technology and training perspective.

This is an awesome blend of bytes and brawn. The thousands of staff on duty are given every possible technological assistance to help with the muscle task of unloading, sorting and reloading these two hundred large planes. You get a sense of this as employees enter the hub building at the Memphis Airport. There is a gauntlet of television monitors that line the hallway to the operations area, allowing the staff to see updates on incoming flights and also watch short update video segments as they walk. This is truly just in time and small chunk learning in action.

Even for a kid that grew up in New York City, this was a traffic sight to be seen. A thousand vehicles scurry about, moving people, packages and letters throughout the hub operation. These crews are deeply trained, from both a procedural and safety perspective. Teams work in a highly coordinated fashion, unloading most airplanes in less than 25 minutes. Metrics are gathered consistently and bonuses are linked to hitting performance goals and keeping the accidents and delays to a minimum.

Tonight the mantra was 2:07. It was posted in large letters on monitors throughout the complex. This was the target time for getting all the packages off the planes, scanned and into the hub for final sorting. You could feel the energy rise as we got closer to that time. Monitors posted information on delayed planes and a countdown to the target time. Teams seemed to compete with each other to beat the clock and to make the mark.

Repetitive, muscle based jobs were executed here with an upbeat feel that I have not seen at hundreds of plants that I have visited over the years. Large benefit packages, good selection and strong training are part of the answer. (Benefits for part time workers and the ability to fly on FedEx planes on off-time are part of the mix). Technology is applied in large doses to make this process continually improve and the investment in safety is universal throughout the operation.

My tour guide was one of the off-loaders here at the hub and was proud of their training process and in fact wanted to know how one became a trainer. Hat's off to FedEx on their operation. The next time you see one of their envelopes or packages heading out the door think of this 3 hour high tech, large muscle dance they will be part of at the hub later that night. (Special Thanks to the FedEx Team that hosted The MASIE Center!)

2. Internet Based Question Packages Grow. One of the fastest growing areas of technology and learning tools is the assessment marketplace. Organizations that are entering the world of on-line learning often make their first stop at the on-line assessment island. Using intranets or the external internet for the delivery of tests, pre-class assessments or surveys is a no-brainer for most organizations, even those that are leery of adding actual instruction to the internet. We just received a press release about a new version of an on-line testing package, Question Mark Perception. This tool adds deeper browser authoring, delivery and management of questions and responses. Their URL is

3. Another Vendor Screening Question: Year 2000? A TechLearn Trends Reader (Robyn Grady) has added another question to our list of 5 vendor screening questions. She always asks: "Is your application, equipment or technology Year 2000 compliant and in what manner?"

4. TechLearn '98 Participation Hits 500 Registrations...! With more than seven months to go, we more than 500 of our colleagues have registered for TechLearn '98. This year's event will be quite different than any other conference. First of all, NO TRADE SHOW! We believe that the needs of organizations facing the critical issues of how and if to use technology are best served in a non-commercial environment, where you are treated as a colleague rather than a sales prospect. Secondly, we are conducting the largest Benchmarking Program at TechLearn '98. We will conduct a confidential pre-conference benchmarking process for every organization that is registered and provide you with a detailed view of best practices, comparative expenditures and routes followed. Finally, TechLearn '98 is programmed by your colleagues, including the corporate members of our TechLearn Collaborative (representing over 12 million workers and learners) To make your reservation today, just go to or call 800-98-MASIE (518-587-3522)

33 - Five Questions to Ask a Vendor

1. Five Questions to Ask a Vendor. One of the most frequent requests that we receive at The MASIE Center is for help in understanding the difference between hype and reality in the claims of vendors. This is not an easy task. We have found very few vendors that are not telling the truth, but there are some that are deeply confused about what is doable NOW and in the FUTURE. Here are a few of the questions that we use to try to place vendor claims in perspective:

a) What are your commitments to standards? For instance, if you go out of business in two years, what industry wide standards are you using that would protect my investment in content or infrastructure?
b) When is your technology not appropriate? (Note: Any vendor that says it works ALL THE TIME is under a degree of delusion. It is critical that you are dealing with a vendor that understands the limitations of technology delivered learning, just as it is critical to understand the limitations of classroom delivery).
c) What is the largest installation of your technology that is now in place? And, can we talk to this client/customer. Also, what were the "soft" costs involved in implementing the technology.
d) What is the number one greatest competitive threat to this technology on the horizon?
e) How do you expect your technology to change in the next 6 months, 1 year, 3 years and beyond?

I would love to get additional questions from TechLearn Readers to add to this list. It is not meant to be vendor unfriendly, but rather to help us all evaluate the exciting new emerging learning technologies with a clear head.

2. TechLearn LIVE! Video Available for Cost. We have had an enormous number of requests for videotapes of our recent TechLearn LIVE! video. So, we will make this available to you at our cost of duplication, handling and shipping. The 3 hour video will be duplicated and sent to you in VHS format for the cost of $19. We cannot handle billing requests, so please plan on paying with either a check or credit card. Go to to order this tape.

3. Here is a great reply to the TechLearn Trends article on learner interruption. Jennifer Stone Gonzalez, writes:

We had the same problem with interruptions at US WEST when we were doing our Lotus Notes training. Members of the Strategic Marketing Department received Lotus Notes training at their own desktops via conference calls. It was a fabulous online/interactive training method, but it meant that the students were very vulnerable to interruptions. After one frustrating training round, we decided to proactively protect all future students' training time, and used a threefold strategy:

(1) A week before the training, we distributed a paper memo to everyone in the department asking for cooperation in the online training initiative. The memo included an explanation about why the training was being offered (i.e the business need for the Lotus Notes training), the training dates and times, and the students' names.

(2) We printed special 8 1/2 x 11 signs on very bright yellow card stock that read "Lotus Notes Training in Progress. Please Do Not Interrupt" and distributed them to our students. Each student hung the sign on their office door or cubicle about a half hour before training began. People told us that the signs themselves offered a great deal of protection from interruptions. Times when other people ignored the signs and just barged in during online training, the students were able to point at the signs, and their quick, silent gesture sent the intruders away.

(3) Last, we asked the students to turn off their pagers and to program their voice mail for auto answer. (Most students had wanted to do this, but were waiting for someone to "give them permission.")

The strategy worked at all levels (from VP to administrative assistant). In fact, it was very interesting how the training symbols became integrated into the organizational culture. For example, people would say things like "Jane? I know she's busy right now. She's got a yellow Notes sign up." One manager asked me to lend him a yellow sign on a permanent basis so that he'd have more time that would be free from interruptions. I had thought that he was joking, but he was dead serious.

Our three-part strategy to protect our students from interruptions had an interesting secondary consequence: it demonstrated that we were taking the training initiative very seriously, and consequently others did as well

32 - Bubble of Concentration: Desktop Distractions; Tips for Trainers: Semi-Random Access

1. Bubble of Concentration: Desktop Distractions. One of the key factors that we are currently studying is the ability of people to concentrate at their desktops. In an ever increasingly distraction driven work setting,
there is a paradox about the desktop. More and more people want their workers to be able to learn at their desks rather than in the classroom. Yet, the office or cubicle is often structured to be interrupt driven. In one of our recent surveys, we found that most employees get interrupted at least once every 15 to 20 minutes, with some reporting rates of once every five to ten minutes. Can people stay focused enough to learn? The challenge is to build a "Bubble of Concentration". Imagine this as a sphere of concentration that is created by either the engagement levels of the learner or by management intervention. The latter is accomplished at a
number of companies by designating a Do Not Disturb Period of two hours per day. In that period, the telephones don't ring and the culture is set to discourage visits from colleagues to your workstation. In other
environments, there are signs or even balloons that signal a person in a learning mode, thus broadcasting their desire to stay concentrated.

However, the bulk of the building of the "Bubble of Concentration" will be on the shoulders of both the learner and the instructional designer. Learners who are deeply engaged in meaningful programs will often have the ability to build their own virtual bubble. And, instructional designers need to both design for concentration and allow for interruption.

2. Tips for Trainers: Semi-Random Access. A quick tip for trainers in classroom settings. More and more of your students are getting used to having a mouse, to use to click to the segment or content of their choice. : Lately, I've been issuing a virtual mouse to learners in classroom settings. For example, list seven topics on the board in the front of the room and give folks the opportunity to call out the order and sequence they want. I know that this is difficult in very sequential content, but it does work. I even list 3 commands on the side of the board: More, Less or Stop! They can request those too as the class proceeds. This takes a big breath as a trainer, but can create an enormous level of energy and attention from your learners. And, it works!

3. 17,000 Training & Technology Viewers for TechLearn LIVE! Next Broadcast Scheduled! We were delighted that 17,000 of your colleagues participated in the first ever global broadcast for training and technology professionals on April 1st. Via satellite, video-conferencing and the internet, these 17,000 people watched a 3 hour talk show featuring: Tom Kalil (White House), Mike Parmentier (ADL Project - Dept of Defense), Nancy Lewis (Microsoft), Klaus Andersen (Oracle), John Prokop (Lotus), James Sharpe (IBM), Harvey Ollis (Dept of Labor), Steve Allen (Allen Communications) and Andy Fox (Real Networks). If you would like to see an archived copy of the broadcast go to

We are pleased to announce the date of the next TechLearn LIVE! It will be broadcast on Thursday, September 10th, 1998 from Noon to 3 PM (Eastern Time) There will be regional gatherings built around this broadcast. If you would like to volunteer as a host site, go to

4. A Fresh Look at Computer Training Event! There is a new program on The MASIE Center schedule. We will be offering a 2 day seminar focusing on the changing world of computer training. A Fresh Look at Computer Training will be offered in Washington, DC on June 22 and 23rd. Go to for details.

31 - Asymetrix Files Public Offering

1. TechLearn LIVE! Today on Real Video: 15,000 training, learning and technology professionals will be gathering today, digitally, for TechLearn LIVE! This broadcast will include senior executives from The White House, Department of Defense, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Department of Labor, Allen Communications, CEdMA and other key organizations. Hosted by Elliott Masie, the 3 hour broadcast will focus on the key issues created when learning and technology meet. You can view this broadcast LIVE on the internet, via Real Video. Just go to for the links to this free broadcast. You will need to download the Real Player free from this site and you can start viewing at 9:15 AM Pacific Time, 12:15 PM Eastern Time. There will also be an archive of the broadcast for future viewing.

2. Asymetrix Files Public Offering. Asymetrix Learning Services filed for an IPO, pubic offering, yesterday. This was announced at our Business of On-Line Learning. The actual release of the shares is still another 30 to 60 days away after SEC review. Asymetrix's investors include Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft. In recent months, Asymetrix has expanded beyond it's authoring tools, Toolbook, into the services side of on-line learning industry. This is one of several new public offerings that are coming to the market this year from the learning and training industry.

Note.. Today's TechLearn Trends is brief, as we are in Seattle, preparing for the TechLearn LIVE! Broadcast in a few hours. More to follow on Friday. Hope to see you on the broadcast. Regards, Elliott Masie

30 - Industry Groups Announce Consensus on Labeling of Education Materials on Internet

1. Industry Groups Announce Consensus on Labeling of Education Materials on Internet. As we predicted in an earlier TechLearn Trends, a growing consensus is building towards a standard for publishing learning and training content on the internet and corporate intranets. Educom released today the specification for the technology that software companies and publishers can use to label educational resources on the Internet. The "metadata" technology makes it easier for people to find educational resources, to individualize learning experiences, and to manage the resources within an electronic marketplace. Educom's Instructional Management Systems (IMS) project, an industry, academic and government cooperative, has been working with experts in software, publishing, digital libraries, teaching, training, and all phases of learning to refine the specification.

A wide range of software publishers have either endorsed this standard or hailed it as a good first step towards an industry wide consensus on how to "mark" content so that it is easily usable in a variety of technologies. Think of this as a bar coding system for learning, similar to the ones used within the grocery industry. Until there was a standard for marking grocery products there could not be a universal approach to adding technology to the retailing process. Complete details about this project is available under the metadata section of the IMS website: at

The standards issues will be discussed in depth at the upcoming Business of On-Line Learning event next week in Seattle. see:

2. Daily News Article about Michael Milken's Role in Training & Learning Marketplace. There was an in-depth article on the efforts of Knowledge Universe, a major player in the learning marketplace, funded by investments of Michael Milken. This is a new, one billion dollar (and growing) venture that will touch every aspect of learning from cradle to grave. If you are interested in reading the complete text on line, go to the Daily News Site today at then, select News and Views, followed by a selection of Media & Business. After March 23rd, you will need to use the SEARCH feature on their site to find this article.

3. Question from a Reader About Culture and Learning. Here is a note from Martha Ullrich, Program Manager of Distance Learning at HP: "We are currently prototyping on-line learning products throughout the world. We are finding disparity between countries in their ability to adopt on-line learning from outside their firewall. We are also finding various organizational cultures are not ready to adopt on-line learning, or learning at the desktop. We have found that the employees are interrupt driven and when they are at their desk, whether "attending training" or not, they are interrupted with the latest emergency. This makes on-line learning difficult to say the least. Have you come across this issue?"

If you have any comments to share with Martha and the other readers of TechLearn Trends, just send a note to Thanks!

Personal Note: We are back in the United States after our 3 week tour of international efforts in learning and technology. You will be seeing several new projects from The MASIE Center involving the global perspectives of training, learning and the culture of technology.

29 - Special Report from Hong Kong & Guangzhou, China

1. $10 Game Used for Year 2000 Problem Simulation & Training. At first glance it looks just like one of those dragon chasing, text based simulations that teenagers play. But, look closer. We have been experimenting with Uh-Oh, from Future Media, a $10 game that will bring the Year 2000 Problem into closer and lively perspective. This really is a TRAINING tool, with a totally different spin.

The program gives you simple instructions via text messages. For example, at the start you sit at your desk, surrounded by piles of paperwork. Your task is to see if the computers in your group are Year 2000 Ready. From there you will get hooked. Hundreds of information segments about Y2000 will be presented. Hard choices will be made. Uh-Oh quotes more than 50 real-life lawmakers, corporate officials and information technology professionals on the scope of the software crisis. One official, for example, complains that he had been interrupted during a speech by audience members at a trade show who called the year 2000 problem "hype."

This is a text style program, no glitz. Free to download and try. $10 to buy. Get it! The URL is

2. U.S. Navy Decides to Allow Fullest Use of Internet. A joint message issued late last month by the Pacific and Atlantic fleets established an Internet policy promoting the widest permissible use of systems to access the Internet, surf the World Wide Web and communicate through Internet e-mail. The Navy until recently restricted the use of government information systems to official business only. But under the new guidelines, even personal use is OK. Federal rules also ban pornographic, racist and subversive materials from government systems.

The Navy has placed itself on the forefront of open usage. Officials hope that providing widespread use of internet access will allow them to operate a global enterprise with greater effectiveness, keep morale higher and develop the knowledge workers needed to succeed in the Information Age. One example of the use of the internet is as a connection vehicle for ship based staff. Email and access to family web pages will provide closer connections between Navy staff and their families back home.

"We all must become proficient in accessing and transferring information in an automated environment, including the Internet," the joint fleet message said. "To that end, we recognize that the best way to develop your information technology skills is to get on the Net and make it your preferred and routine choice to access, develop and exchange information."

3. A Tip for Trainers: Course Web Pages. As soon as you announce a class, start a unique web page on your intranet (or internet for external classes). This web page can grow and evolve over the history of the class. At first, it might just contain the objectives, content and targets for the course. As people register, it could contain a list of other attendees and suggested reading or pre-class preparation. During the class, the page could grow with additional references and content from the instructors. The handouts could be added to the page. Any topics not in the scope of the class might be referenced from this page. After the class, the page could grow with additional content from the group. The page becomes a dynamic element that extends the duration of the learning experience.

4. European Perspectives on the Skills Gap: There are 600,000 unfilled jobs in the information technology industry worldwide, according to Bernard Rohleder, managing director of the European Information Technology Observatory, a research group in Frankfurt, Germany. He warns that Western Europe will lose its IT and telecommunications jobs to Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe unless the region tackles its serious shortage of skilled technologists. With the year 2000 and the European Monetary Union bearing down on these countries, they'd better get moving. Rohleder recommends reversing the "negative public image of the IT industry among students." He'd also like to see schools immediately begin requiring computer-related classes in addition to courses of study in science, business and the arts.

5. China Report on Training: We are in the final days of our international trip. Over the past three weeks, The MASIE Center has held or attended meetings in six countries, focusing on human resource, training and technology. Today we find ourselves in China, both in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China. One gets a very different perspective on the challenges of training when you look at the sheer numbers of people that will need technology skills, business skills and career guidance.

In China, the government is pursuing a One Country, Many Systems model. Hong Kong, maintaining it's special status since the takeover, has a thriving training marketplace, with great focus on IT skills for employment and even emigration. Shenzen, a special economic area, across the border in China, is focusing deeply on the manufacturing of IT technology. The government is sponsoring a wide range of fast track training efforts. Farther into China, in Guangzhou training is more integrated into the higher education system. One comes away with a strong sense of the Digital Worker of the future. Able to handle multiple technologies, speaking multiple languages, yet working at home, for foreign companies without ever passing a border. These Digital Aliens, as soon are calling them, will create whole new challenges for our labor and learning balances.

We return to Saratoga Springs in a few days, but are proud to announce that a series of TechLearn events will be scheduled around the world in the next 10 months. We have met with groups in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and the Middle East who will be assisting in creating regional TechLearn events, focusing on the point where technology meets learning.

(Update: There are 10 spaces left in the Road to On-Line Learning Lab to be held in Saratoga Springs in April. See for details.)

28 - Special Report From Singapore - Organizing TechLearn Asia

1. Warning Signs From Singapore - A recent study on information addiction pointed towards a growing problem that some aggressive users of technology are facing. With information everywhere, how does one set limits. Dr. Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University in England suggests several warning signs that high volume computer users can be on the alert for:
* You realize that you have spent several hours looking for a piece of information when you only intended to spend a few minutes.
* You lie to your colleagues (or spouse) about the total amount of time that you are spending on a PC at work and/or home.
* You are constantly anticipating your next on-line session or access to your email.
* You find it easier to talk to someone by email than in person or by phone.
* You skip meals in order to continue working on your PC.

As someone who often worries about this syndrome hitting home, I'd add to this list three warning signs:

* Turning on your machine before getting your coat off in the morning.
* Telling your spouse that you will only be another 5 minutes and spending 2 more hours online.
* Trying to do at least 3 on-line tasks at once.

2. Confusing On-Line Publishing with On-Line Learning - We have had a number of calls lately from managers who are troubled by the lack of clarity about the distinction between on-line publishing and on-line training and learning. One senior manager called and ranted on for 30 minutes about this issue. They had been quite excited to adopt an on-line learning program for their IT department. When this manager actually took the first class, she was deeply disappointed. "It was just a bunch of text, formatted in HTML, and delivered over the web. There was no interactivity or collaboration. Why would I want to spend all this money to just put in on the screen. If text alone worked, we would have just sent people books, rather than spend millions on classes."

She has a great point! There has been a rush to define on-line learning as an easy thing to do, with simple processes to "convert courses to internet format". But, if we are only converting the lectures, we don't have a very robust learning model. In the next several months the on-line industry will be challenged to model a wide range of added-value learning activities, beyond the publishing of information. This manager has put a hold on her department's adoption of on-line learning UNTIL she sees interaction, remediation, collaboration, and high levels of learner engagement built into the programs being offered.

3. Asia Looks at Technology & Learning - We are now in Singapore, on our 3 week tour of international sites adopting technology and learning models. Asia is very interested in on-line learning. There is great interest throughout this region in finding ways of extending the reach of education and instruction to the entire population. The strong ethic of learning is motivating a number of government and corporate groups, as well as higher education institutions, to start experimenting with on-line learning. Singapore, even in the current Asian financial crunch, is deeply committed to leveraging technology for the development of the economy, and that includes learning. We have met with colleagues from high technology companies as well as training organizations and there is a strong sense of support for the exploration of on-line learning.

The next challenge is to integrate this into the culture of each nation. Merely exporting distance learning programs from UK or US colleges will not work. Each area must create its own models for how learning, facilitated by technology, will succeed. (We are planning a TechLearn Asia event and invite our colleagues in this region to participate in the planning. Send an email to

4. Productivity Point Forms Relationship with Vanstar and GE Capital - Productivity Point, a major player in the IT Training arena announced a strategic relationship with Vanstar, a major distributor and integrator of IT Technology and GE Capital for the delivery of training in Canada. For information:

27 - Special Report From Melbourne, Australia - AITD Conference

1. A Great Digital Camera for Trainers. Most folks have waited to buy a digital camera until they got better, cheaper and more functional. Your wait may be over. We have been testing the new SONY Digital Mavica Camera on our international tour this month. It is an awesome piece of equipment that could be used quite nicely by training departments. It has several features that we found to be a big plus. Zoom: It includes a zoom lens that will go up to 10x magnification. Pictures on a Disk: The camera uses a standard 3 1/2 diskette to store pictures in the popular JPEG format. You can take the disk out of the camera, pop it into a desktop or laptop and transfer the photos with a simple click. Long Life Battery: We got more than 200 photo's on a single charge the battery, and it recharges quickly. Macro: It has a macro feature that lets you get very upclose to take a picture. Cost: Street cost is under $675.

Training Departments can use a camera like this to take lots and lots of pictures in the workplace that can be easily integrated into presentations, learning materials and brochures. It has been wonderful to use the camera on this trip and send back photos for our staff, colleagues and families to view over the web. It could be used in a safety class by having learners work in teams and take 10 pictures of at risk sites on a factory floor. Then, bring the disks back, project them on the screen and chat about real time safety procedures. This is a super camera and great bargain. Check out their web site at:

2. Barrons Focuses on Training Marketplace. Barrons, the financial magazine published by Dow Jones, featured a cover story on the Learning Marketplace. The copyrighted story, written by Eric Savitz, is the most comprehensive coverage to date of the training marketplace by a mass media publication. The story focused on the economics of both classroom and on-line learning. It paid close attention to how stocks in the learning sector have fared on Wall Street, including CBT Systems and Learning Tree. The writer also delved into the interests of high profile investors like Michael Milken, Larry Ellison and Paul Allen in the training marketplace. It was the presence of these high profile investors as a vote of confidence in the power of the learning industry in the years to come. I was interviewed for this article and a similar one about to run in the Daily News, and had a
sense of the journalists' intrigue with the world of learning from a financial perspective. Check out a copy at your library or at the paid subscription site of the Wall Street Journal. (Note: Our Business of On-Line Learning Conference will be held in Seattle on March 30 and 31st:

3. TechLearn Trends Goes LIVE on April 1st @ 1,500 Sites. On April 1st, TechLearn LIVE! will be broadcast via satellite, video-conference and Real Video to over 1,500 sites. The free three hour show will be hosted by The MASIE Center and will contain content from a wide range of organizations and leaders in the training, learning and technology industry. Guests will be interviewed by myself and respond to questions from the audience and viewers around the world. Topics to include: Learning in the Digital Age, The Skills Gap, Roles of Instructional Design, Learning and Technology, The President's Focus on Training via Technology and the Pentagon's ADL Efforts. The satellite broadcast can be received via KU Band, C Band, Armed Forces Satellite Networks and the TEN Network. Videoconference equipped sites can receive a bridged feed. Any individual with an internet connection can also hook up via a live feed by Real Video. A good number of these sites are opening their doors to colleagues in their communities for this free broadcast. Complete information is available at our web site:

Report from Australia's AITD Conference: There were 250 training professionals from across this continent at the recent training and development conference. I was joined by keynoters Curtis Plott via ASTD, John Prokop from Lotus and colleagues from the Philippines and other countries. It is clear that the training profession in this country is focusing deeply on the appropriate use of technology. Some of the most provocative conversations were about how to use technology without losing the personal interactions and relationships that are so highly valued by trainers. There were also heated conversations about the need to create localization and regionalization of training materials to avoid focusing learners on the spelling of color as colour. The organizers of this event did a great job in bringing a global perspective to the field of training and also threw a wonderful event and party. If you ever are headed over here, send me an email and I will hook you up to some wonderful colleagues in this part of the world.

42 - Special Report from Training Director's Forum, Florida

1. Lotus Moves to Sametime Collaboration with Acquisitions. Lotus dramatically increased its presence in the real-time collaboration marketplace with the announcement of their Sametime services and the purchase of two distance learning and collaboration technology companies.

As we have been predicting in TechLearn Trends, the real-time collaboration capability of learning via technology will become a vital and critical component of corporate training models. Lotus has purchased DataBeam and Ubique. They will add these capabilities to their Learning Space product line. In addition, Lotus inked a deal with AOL to embed these capabilities into that network. Here are the details from the Lotus announcement:

"DataBeam has led a number of key international standards initiatives to ensure that real-time technology can be applied widely and interoperably across the Internet. Today, DataBeam is the leading provider of conferencing technology based on the International Telecommunications Union's T.120 and H.323 standards and the developer of the award-winning neT.120 Conference Server software product. The neT.120 conference server allows users of standard Web browsers and T.120 clients such as Microsoft's NetMeeting and DataBeam's own FarSite client to share documents in real-time, brainstorm ideas, and deliver presentations and product demonstrations to people in remote locations."

"Ubique, headquartered in Rehovot, Israel, developed patented technology in the area of document-based awareness, which allows users to be aware of which other users in an online environment are working in the same "virtual place" (e.g., same Web page). Ubique's current "Virtual Places" server provides an infrastructure for developing and deploying real-time collaboration applications. Ubique used this server capability to develop its own chat, buddy and instant messaging products. Ubique has been actively involved in the IETF standards setting process for real-time applications. "

2. A Driving Experience with Performance Support. For the past five days there has been an extra passenger in our Hertz Rental Car. Actually, more like a co-driver. We have been conducting an experiment with the new location system, Never-Lost. This is a small screen, to the right of the driver wheel, with a voice that we have named "Joe", which has been guiding us around Florida. At the start of each drive I punch in the name of a hotel, a street address or an intersection of two roads. In a few seconds, the on-board computer and GPS system calculates the best or fastest route and begins to provide visual and voice prompts every step of the way. Here are a few of our early learning's about the human/machine relationship:

* Trust was the first issue. Did we trust "Joe" to get us to our destination. We did a lot of face validity testing, by looking at printed maps to see if Joe was as smart as Hertz claimed. As the validity proved basically true, the trust factor went up.
* Voice was important. We can turn the voice on and off. I tried both modes. With the voice on, "Joe" provided warnings about 1/2 mile before a turn, prompts when I went astray from his directions and a nice beep to thank me for following a direction. The performance support element was significantly important in his silence when we didn't need him and presence for coaching and even some praise.
* Personification helped. My mom, 88 year old Dorothy, was in the back seat for much of the journey and gave the Hertz system the name "Joe". It was a great trick to help us all accept this interruptions and to have a sense of humor about his weakness. When we couldn't find a remote address, Dorothy said it was OK, Joe never visited this out of the way location.
* Driving in a strange place changed! It really did reduce the LEARNING aspect of directions. Rather than go through a long pre-driving learning event, with immediate memory loss, the system provided just in time support and focused on performance rather than training. It worked and we only got lost once in 5 days. Pretty cool.
* Risk taking went up. We got pretty adventurous with Joe as time went on. We would scan for a location and try a new restaurant location or tourist site that was in Joe's memory bank. With Joe at our side we were ready to tackle a new and unknown turf.
* Joe would eventually get a lot smarter. We started a collection in the car to send Joe to college. Mom wants to have Joe hooked up to a review database on restaurants, include a listing of where the nearest public toilet is and have a link to the traffic control system to route around traffic jams. All on the drawing board already according to Joe's parents at Rockwell.

Try one of these systems the next time to rent a Hertz car. Send an email to with your experience.

3. Manager Concerns About Technology and Learning. Over 300 training directors and managers gathered at Lakewood's annual event for training supervisors in Florida. After presenting one of the keynote speeches, I was part of a data collection process about the top questions on the radar screens of these managers. Here were some of the top concerns:

* Deciding IF and WHEN to use technology for learning.
* Creating rapid content for training
* Increasing the speed of delivery and scaling up for large scale training efforts
* The role of outsourcing in training efforts
* Moving towards performance consulting while continuing to deliver large quantities of training
* Building an ROI model for learning
* Adding business skills to the training staff
* Evaluating vendor claims and promises
* Integrating technology and classroom training

4. On-Line Learning LAB Scheduled for July in Saratoga. The MASIE Center is proud to announce the next session of our popular event: The Road to On-Line Learning LAB and Seminar. This 2 day, hands-on briefing for training managers and senior trainers will be held in Saratoga Springs in July. We will take people through the steps needed to plan and implement effective and appropriate on-line learning and technology oriented training programs. This is a vendor-neutral event, with frank discussions of product and service alternatives. Go to for details.