Subscribe: Learning TRENDS


Special TechLearn Trends Report

On August 27th, the following question was posted to TechLearn Trends:
I'm a training specialist with a software subsidiary of AG Communication Systems in Phoenix. We make an information management product used by crime labs across the country.

Typically, my training sessions consist of both lecture and hands-on computer training and delivery lasts about three days. We are about to release a new version of our software and a number of our clients are opting out of this full training; they want me to provide a one-day training session without any hands-on work.

I'd like some suggestions on how to make this one-day refresh-training more engaging and enjoyable for the participants. I don't want to lecture about a piece of software for a whole day, but without the hands-on training exercises, I'm stumped. Thanks for your help!

Paul Tracy - JusticeTrax( Training Specialist)

Here is a list of the fabulous replies we received:


Gail Pentz:
Find an analogy you can work with, and use it to liven up the class. I train several control record classes for a software development firm that can last from 1.5 to 2 days each. Since control record classes focus on setting parameters, there is no user portion. To give folks the big picture of how the system works, I do an activity with little plastic army men. My analogy is that accounts are sent to our collections product and are treated and prioritized the same way wounded troops in a M*A*S*H unit would be treated. We walk through what happens in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and then I explain how our product works. I leave the army men and a couple of plastic jeeps on the table for the duration of class to serve as a reminder of the analogy and to add a bit of playfulness to the class. Participants tell me it's helpful. I also let them take a toy soldier with them as a souvenir.

Jeff Defren (Benchmark Computer Learning, Training Advisor):
Perhaps you could develop role playing exercises outlining problems that come up/or may come up, and have solutions delivered through role playing also. Then have a discussion of the how's and whys the solution fits the problem! I would think something that actively engages the students will help to make the ideas stick. Just a thought.

Dennis DiLorenzo (Usertech Multimedia):
Have users solve a crime. Make sure that the crime demands that they use the key features of the software. Work in groups and give a real prize to the first group to solve the crime.

ROBERT M. DUFF: (Visual Information Directorate - Naval School of Health Sciences, Head, Training Technology Department)
This is in response to your request for suggestions on how to cram "hands-on" training into a one-day refresh-training episode.

I would suggest combining your past experience for the most informative FAQ's. Do as much answering of these as you can on a CD-ROM (quick, cheap). Choose the most difficult hands-on to describe in words and illustrate that with live action AND words (voice-over) on the CD. Before duplicating the CD, beta test it with the lowest common denominators and modify accordingly. Provide a HELP line number and/or URL.

It will take some real skull work to review the 3-day course to weed out what can be taught/demonstrated on CD-ROM and what DEMANDS live, on-site, hands-on contact, but it can be done ... and it seems keenly in your interests to do it. The One day can be devoted to the most salient points that require on-site, hands-on contact and it should include a brief "How To Use This CD-ROM we're going to hand out."

Big advantage to the CD-ROM (which I suspect you've already considered) is that they can take it home and use it for its immediate purpose and - if planning is good - for reference in future. Interactivity would be SUPER if you have the time and money. Also of some importance is the cost saving of a one-day over a three-day training. Cost avoidance could pay for the CD-ROM effort if you have very many students. Another hidden advantage is: I need (so-and-so) and I need it by close of business. Only "FRED" can do that. Great! Where's Fred? Gone for three days. Awk !! Hope this helps.

Christine Rennie:
I have a question:
Are your clients looking for a transition to the new version class? If so, my thought is that you may not need an instructor-led class at all. What about a video showing the differences in the software? Or a CD/CBT/book where on the left hand side of the page shows how the software used to work for a particular function and on the right hand side how the new version works.

If there is additional functionality, the self-study could explain through an example what the new functionality is and then give instructions on how to use it. What about a web-based tutorial with you available as an on-line tutor?

Sheri Enault (Franklin Templeton Training & Development):
Since your information management product is used by crime labs, perhaps you could build on that theme (sort of a Dick Tracy style). You could introduce a hypothetical case about a recent crime that occurred. Perhaps you could even develop fictional characters, like the evil Dr. Know Z. Body. Your training could show how the software unravels the case. NOTE: Themes can be beneficial for learners by allowing them to practice the material mentally while you are presenting. However, using themes can be harmful if the learner cannot see how it applies to the content or the theme overshadows the content.

Bob Wincentsen (Cubic Applications, Inc.):
Regarding the new version of crime lab software, we have found that the 3 day seminars are wasted effort for many actual users. A better approach is to spend development time in the software on site maps, search engines in the helps areas and addition of a glossary. Users want to learn only what pertains to the immediate task at hand. Another area that is well accepted is to have situational tutorials- harder to build but it demonstrates the product and gets the users in an exploratory mode. Then the trainer needs to emphasize these areas in the one day sessions. We have incorporated these ideas in a series of instructional CD-ROMs and it seems to be satisfying the users. Best wishes on success.

Patti Combs (Management and Technical Training):
When there is no hands on computers for your participants...
* Plan to break up your day long presentation with small group interaction. For instance, after showcasing a new feature, say take 2 minutes and discuss with your neighbor how/when you plan on using the feature. Like, dislike, etc. Just getting them to talk about it will help them to retain it.
* Plan games. Incorporate the new skills you are teaching into the games.
* Ask for volunteer drivers of your computer. Incorporate this into your games. To answer the question regarding a skill you taught, a team member must demonstrate or find the answer at your computer.

Phyllis Aniello:
If they know the old software, how about the old Socratic method. Identify the critical procedures and ask "How did you do this task in the old version?", just to keep them awake and thinking. Then teach them the new procedure. Of course, document all procedures. Tell a couple of jokes, tap dance a little and you've got it made. Good Luck!!!

Marjorie Osborne (Training Specialist - Polmar Technologies):
I have had that similar situation happen to me and what we did was to have a "What's new in ...." class. I wrote a short tips and tricks manual and just showed (with the aid of a system and an LCD panel) the "new" features of the software. At the end of the "class" I let the students come up and experiment with the software and answered their questions. The day went well, to my surprise. I am a firm believer in hands on training. I would not let my child drive by just reading a book or going to a lecture.

FYI, 6 weeks after the "class", I held a full fledge class with at least half of the students attending from the original class. "Go figure!"

Gene Wood (Training and Applications Manager - Zomba Recording Corporation:
I'm not sure how much time you have or what equipment your training facility has, but maybe a PowerPoint presentation with screens showing the differences and enhancements the new version has over the old version. If any of the windows or dialog boxes look different, capture those windows and put them in the slides. This way they can visualize and be an active part of the learning process rather than just passively sitting there, falling asleep.

David Grebow (Director, Educational Services - PeopleSoft):
Since Time has become the Number One scarce resource, I've been faced with the same problem on numerous occasions during the last few years. Here are some of the ways I've been able to say "Honey, I Shrunk the Course!"

For starters, let the Learners become the Teachers ... take the modules from the 3-day (or break the three day into modules), add the time it takes to present them, and let each class determine the mix of modules they need and want for the 7-8 hour lecture. Building your own course is a great way to get to know what your Learners really need and want and makes the training truly relevant.

Show-and-Tell the hands-on part. Choose the key pieces of learning that you think really need hands-on training - maybe the key differences in versions, new logon procedures, new functions and pathways. Use the Preview-View-Review approach and lecture about what they need to know; demo to show what they need to know how to do; and use the graphical pop-quiz approach for review. The graphical pop-quiz is "Watch me do it again and tell me if it was done correctly or if not, why not?"

Get creative. Have the Learners become teams and use the scenario approach to start time-based contests. The Learners need to "Develop the Dancecard" and list the steps involved in completing the situation the scenario calls for. Winning teams get a prize (TBD). If you have the course development budget make the scenarios video-based to add some additional teaching tools to the program. These days, it doesn't have to be extravagant anymore with digital video. A little sound and video can do wonders to wake them up and gives you a chance to breakaway from being a "talking head."

Take a lesson from Madison Avenue. We've all seen (especially those of us who spend too much time in airplanes and airports), the Visio thin laptop ads. In the User Guide or Student Materials, have a simulated keyboard, mouse and blank screen. Tell them to keep it in front of them as you do the demos and make sure they follow the keystroke sequence for commands. It will work to reinforce their eye hand coordination and nobody has to worry about setting up a classroom or a system crashing.

Finally, and most simply, don't lecture. Talk with them. Engage them. Use stories frequently to make teaching points. Set up the room when you can using non-academic lecture seating. A U-shape that allows you walk in and around and have people see each other works. Get rid of any podiums or other elements you can hide behind that block your self from the Learners. Use one of Elliott's reader's ideas and get a stool to sit on. Keep the dress business casual. Have a working system setup during breaks and invite people to play (aka hands-on learning) and hang-out by that machine as a ready and willing Mentor. Try and remember what made the 3-day program enjoyable, fun, interesting - use the Learner Evals for reference to reality check you memory and incorporate those moments.

And last but not least, leave them with a GREAT Users Guide or EPSS program or Reference Job Aid on a CD-ROM. Use it during the class to get them into the habit of looking for answers in those places. Have your website extend the training with Version X.2 Chats, FAQ's, Forums. The training program may only last one-day, but the real learning goes on forever!

John M. Cozzoli (Education Services - Computer Associates Int. Inc):
I think a PowerPoint presentation with screen shots (or live demos where appropriate), interspersed with QA segments to keep their concentration focused, may work well. You also may want to consider a little off the beaten path approach. For instance, write up a script (like a movie script with dialog) for one section of the presentation, and have a few volunteers read it. Keep it short (15 or 20 minutes) and humorous, and use it when you or your audience is starting to fade.

Diane M. Weldin (Director of Marketing - Business Works, Inc.):
I am a TechLearn Trends reader responding to another reader's dilemma: They ran a three-day training and hands-on program for their crime lab software product -- but clients now only want a one-day lecture with no hands-on. I have a solution that addresses both of these training issues.

Our company, BusinessWorks, develops multimedia interactive (and also entertaining!) training courses/business learning projects for companies. We can deliver your training project via a CD-ROM or over a Corporate
Internet or intranet.

A "virtual" presentation shows the trainer/speaker, in full-color, full-motion video and audio, with the speech text, and presentation slides -- all synchronized on-screen at the user's desktop. Additional features include, languages (for global training and distribution), menu driven glossaries, non-linear slide and text searches. We can even provide "software emulation" so the "hands-on" can still happen during the training-- they can try it as see actual examples of how your software works. If tracking, testing and reporting are necessary, that can also be included. We would be pleased to discuss these solutions with the reader directly if you would be so kind to connect us.

Doris AuYeung:
It sounds as though the "hands on" exercises are not stimulating for the learners. The perspective from the receiving side of computer training is that learners are often put through "the paces" geared for the slowest common denominator. I suspect those opting out are individuals who want advanced levels of usage in addition to basics, for whom the class is moving too slow.

Most learning takes place after the course is over anyway, in the context of the job. My suggestion is to give the learners enough to work with on the job, a few advanced tips, and things they can try on the job. Have the employers agree for you to conduct follow up a few weeks afterward to see how much learners picked up from the one day course (you might be surprised). Also, the instructor is far more valuable in engaging the learners than any hands-on exercises! Good luck!

Rich Michaels (Michaels McVinney, Inc.):
Concerning the above situation. From the information provided I assume that the "clients" who are making this request are already familiar with a former version of the program and are thus concerned that the new 3-day class will be covering information they already know. If that is a true assumption then you may want to consider just providing them with instruction on the new features of the software. If the new features require hands-on experience to understand/use them then you must explicitly state to your clients why they must attend a hands-on workshop. If understanding how to use and benefit from the new features is primarily a cognitive function (i.e. doesn't require practice) then give them what they are asking for - abbreviated instruction.

As to how to be creative in a non-hands-on instructional setting here is an idea which presuppose that the mind is the center of creativity and not just a persons fingers!

Using an interactive lecture format supported by of course "computer generated slides/overheads" describe a new feature of the software. Then through the art of human conversation and interaction ask the participate how/where in the software interface do they suppose this new feature is accessed. As added complexity to creative thinking and learning ask them why do they think this feature is included under this menu/pull down window/function key/etc. Engage the participants in a discussion of the purpose, rationale and reason for this feature. Let them tell you how it will benefit them. Continue in a similar manner until all new features are covered.

This process is guaranteed to not only teach the participants about the new software - it is also guaranteed to demonstrate the participant's current knowledge of how to use the software. As a summation activity in the training consider using a "Jeopardy" style game to assess their mastery knowledge of the software's usage and/or functionality.

The technique as outlined above can also be implemented without the need for an instructor. A properly designed CBT. Multi-media, or Web based application could also deliver the instruction in this manner. (Sans real-time human interaction and spontaneous dialog.) However, if the audience really doesn't understand how to effectively and efficiently use the current software, the self-paced training on the new features of the product will fail. This is also guaranteed!

Only a live instructor has a chance of saving a class when the wrong participants, with the wrong prerequisite knowledge and learning expectations are put into a forced learning situation by "clients" who are trying to save a buck by cutting out training days. On the other hand, feedback like this from your clients may be telling you more than you at first think. Is 3 days to learn your product necessary? Are you really providing meaningful adult oriented instruction? Are the hands-on activities of your current instruction instructionally challenging or instructionally demeaning? Do your clients love your software but hate how they have to learn it? Tough questions that need your honest and thoughtful contemplation.

David I. Stevens:
In reply to the request made by a reader regarding providing a one day training session without hands-on activities. A couple of things come to mind. First you have to ask why the clients do not want hands on activities. Is it because they are not needed? Is it because they are, dare I say it, bored? Or is it because the client does not need the activities to be able to use the product.

It might be a good idea to do a needs analysis. Develop a profile of what the client needs with respect to the product. Once that is done treatment can be assigned to the various parts of the profile and it might just be that hands on activities are not needed or can be reduced to a minimum.

You might also, in the interest of making learning fun or at least different, put the materials into an on-line learning environment. This way the client can "learn" the materials in their own way and in their time. This course should be a structured environment that takes the client through the materials in a systematic way. Use a Presentation Tutorial or a How-To or Choice Driven Tutorial. You may also want to consider burning the new materials onto a CD. Again the client can use the materials as and when they see fit.

If both you and the client really, really want to engage in a face-to-face session and in keeping with the idea of fun learning and providing "hooks" on which the client can put the learning consider integrating the materials into a "treasure hunt". The client has to "find" the new materials, manipulate in some way, use it and when they are finished they can collect their prize. In the same mode consider a "car rally". Look up the rules of a car rally and integrate your product into the rally idea or concept. Again offer prizes for the winners. Remember that when gaming with learners they are ALL WINNERS!!!!

Robin Seitz:
Just because YOUR CLIENTS don't want to have hands-on training exercises during the one day class doesn't mean that YOU can't demonstrate the new version in a hands-on manner. By this I mean setting up your laptop/PC and demonstrating a few specific performance-based scenarios (if you want to do XXX, you used to go to screen YYY and click on ZZZ) using the old software and then showing the same scenarios using the new software (NOW, with the new version, if you want to do XXX, go to screen AAA and click on BBB) .

You can use a product such as Lotus ScreenCam to capture the operations of the old software and the operations of the new version. Your demonstration can be supplemented with PowerPoint slides and/or paper handouts of the screens of the new version, along with the step-by-step instructions on the operation of the new software.

Kim Baker:
I'm intrigued with the possibilities offered by Microsoft's NetMeeting software. With it, a trainer can demonstrate other applications to individuals around the country who are sitting at their desks. The default is 20 participants at one time but I understand that this number can be increased to 50 or 60. The software will accommodate audio and video transmissions as well although bandwidth issues may suggest substituting the audio with a telephone conference call and foregoing video. The software can be downloaded from and can be installed on private servers if intranet use is preferred.

Eileen Licerio (Director, Education - IMA, Inc.):
In response to the one day course. This is where multimedia based training really pays off. I've found in the past that customers won't travel for a one day class, and it's too expensive to send an instructor cross country for one day. If the course is primarily lecture, multimedia is the answer. After my customers have attended my classroom training, I keep them updated with new features via MBT courses.

Rose M. Dorsey:
We created a system simulation demo model where the student watched the simulation of a computer system at work (via a cd-rom multimedia course). The audio talked the student through the process while arrows and labels walked them through visually. We even showed the appropriate buttons being pressed when we simulated a conversation between an employee and a customer. The purpose of this model was to give the students the big picture of how the system worked before getting into the nuts and bolts. If you could demonstrate your system this way via an LCD projector in front of the class that might be a good way to start.

Also, discovery type of learning within teams is another good way of engaging the students without actual hands-on. Give them pieces of information and have them figure it out in teams...then have a spokes-person from each team share their findings with the group.

Ron Nawojczyk:
I would suggest creating some Lotus ScreenCam demonstrations that can be shown and then distributed to the class attendees. ScreenCam allows you to capture any actions performed on a Windows computer screen. I use them frequently to send information to our remote sales offices so that the people there can go through some training examples without having to attend a class and can also view them on their own schedule. In your class, you can run through the ScreenCam examples once during class and then each person could view them as often as they wish on their own. When they are ready to do some hands-on work on their own, they would have a library of example to use as a reference. You can capture voice as you record the ScreenCam so that you have sound included in the examples or you can also use the built in text screens to overlay the examples with textual explanations.

Dave Quinlivan-Hall (Knowledge Navigators International):
We develop annotated screen shots or more elaborate screen cams for the demo part; then use assignments that have people work through the key components. With a project-based pedagogy perspective, divide the hands-on components into smaller, stand-alone deliverables. Determine assignments that will deliver these learning outcomes (assignments can be done individually or in groups). Depending on the complexity of material and dollars to invest in on-line design these assignments can be fully automated or instructor/navigator evaluated. These same modules can be used for quick reference and refresh training later. The data for assignments can be the participant's own stuff or you can create a training database to draw upon -- or you can use both. We do this type of design & development work from instructional design to appropriate multi-media build -- and all in Canadian dollars.

Carolyn Woodie (Woodie Computer Associates, LLC):
I have found this to be a common problem. Software has many new features to help with productivity, but companies want to cut the training time in half! Lecture does not work! Try to provide handouts with as many screen shots as possible for the user to take with them. Use the exercises that you might have used for the user in a hands-on class and walk through them demonstrating the software. If possible, have a couple of users come to the front to have some hands-on training on the demo machine that everyone can see. The users watching will then see some of the errors that they might do when they finally get to use the software and how you (the instructor) help the individual solve their problem.

Always provide quick reference cards for the common key/mouse strokes and a whole batch of shortcuts! I'm looking forward to seeing ideas from others and the whole question of cutting training time is something that I want to see addressed at TechLearn98 when I attend in the fall!

Doug Woodard (Manager of Learning & Communication - L.L. Bean):
I am responding to the August 27th edition of TechLearn trends e-newsletter regarding the request for help. The request centered around a reader looking to reduce overall re-fresher training time from three days to one. The problem as I understood it was the balance between hands-on and ILT learning.

My name is Doug Woodard and I am the manager of learning and communication for L. L. Bean's Customer Satisfaction business unit. I started in this brand new position back in January and I oversee all technical, customer service, product, leadership, team building, OD, (the list goes on!) training (as well as all communications) for all of L. L. Bean's call centers and CSRs. This includes our seasonal workforce which numbers in the thousands. Before coming to L. L. Bean I was a change management consultant for Andersen Consulting where I worked with Fortune 500 companies on planning, leading, and implementing wide-scale change programs. (This work included performance design and development consulting...)

When coming to L. L. Bean I brought with me an approach to learning that may help your reader. It is an approach that we are using here at Bean's to completely re-vamp our training programs: Business Simulation.

Business simulation is an approach whereby you look to replicate the learning participant's actual on the job work environment in the classroom. The learning design should focus on attempting to duplicate the actual characteristics, resources, limitations, and goals that participants face on their jobs. Business simulation is a non-directive learning approach that may typically combine ILT, structured discovery, job-focused activities, and even a little GBL (or goal-based learning).

It sounds like your reader may be able to combine her ILT and desire for hands-on training into a business simulation approach. How do the participants use the application on the job? What goals do they have when they engage the tool? What resources do they have? How could you simulate the job experience in the classroom such that you could highlight the differences/benefits of the new release? The answers to these questions may help to start drive her down the path of integrated business simulation.


64 - People Skills Grow in Importance for Technical Staff; Training Professionals Understanding Y2K Issues

1. People Skills Grow in Importance for Technical Staff: 97 percent of chief information officers (CIOs) polled recently said they look for well-developed soft skills -- such as communication abilities and business acumen -- when hiring information technology staff. This represents a
12-point increase from a 1996 survey in which CIOs were asked the same question.

The survey was developed by RHI Consulting ( and includes responses from 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 100 employees. The question was: "When evaluating a job candidate for an information technology position, how important are the individual's 'soft' skills, such as business acumen and interpersonal skills?" Their responses: Very important=(68%); Somewhat rtant=( 29%); Somewhat unimportant=(2%); Not at all important=(1%)

When asked what the single most important people skill for a job candidate to possess, the responses were:
* Interpersonal skills=33%
* Written or verbal communication skills=27%
* Ability to work under pressure=21%
* Overall business acumen=14%
* Professional image=2%

2. Training Professionals Understanding Y2K Issues: Y2K issues will touch the lives of many training professionals in the next 16 months. Most
training folks that I meet with don't have a very detailed understanding of the technical scope of these issues. Matt Frazer, our technical guru at The MASIE Center, sent me this article to read to build my own understanding. I would recommend it! It is called DANGEROUS DATES FOR SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS by Capers Jones. Here is the link to the article:

3. Creativity in One Day Classes: A Reader Request: Can you help out a fellow TechLearn Trends Reader with this question:

"We make an information management product used by crime labs across the country. Typically, my training sessions consist of both lecture and
hands-on computer training and delivery lasts about three days. We are about to release a new version of our software and a number of our clients are opting out of this full training; they want me to provide a one-day training session without any hands-on work.

I'd like some suggestions on how to make this one-day refresh-training more engaging and enjoyable for the participants. I don't want to lecture about a piece of software for a whole day, but without the hands-on training exercises, I'm stumped." Would you send your suggestions to

4. Switching or Adding Browsers for On-Line Learning! Our most recent survey has received over 1,300 responses. The question focused on whether an organization would we willing and/or able to add a different browser to use the full features of a major on-line learning product. Early analysis showed that approximately 55% of folks were willing and able to add a new browser and the rest were either not willing or not able. The Netscape vs. Microsoft browser choice was a dead 50% - 50% photo finish. We would like to add more responses to this survey. If you have a few minutes, please go to We'll post complete results next week.

5. Re-Invent Training Job Descriptions @ TechLearn '98. We are pleased to announce that we will focus on the Training/Learning/Performance job description of the future at TechLearn '98 in November. Mike Nolan, President of Friesen Kaye, and I will run a series of activities throughout
the conference to allow each participant to think creatively about the evolution of their Job Description. As learning models, technology and organizational forces change, what happens to our jobs and roles. Each participant will complete a worksheet over several days, looking at the
changes that might be in store for learning professionals in the digital age. We now have 1,270 registrations for TechLearn '98. Register soon to avoid getting on the "wait list". On-line registration is available at

63 - New Federal Site for IT Skills Gap; Tips for Trainers: Comfortable Shoes and a Stool!

1. New Federal Site for IT Skills Gap! Check out a new site that has been launched by the United States Department of Commerce to focus national attention on the IT Industry skills gap. Called Go for IT!, the site contains listings of training, resource and other programs. Find it at

2. CBT Systems and Real Networks To Collaborate. CBT Systems, a major player in the IT training skills arena and Real Networks, a key developer of streamed multi-media, have inked a deal to collaborate. CBT Systems will standardize on the G2 System from Real to deliver streamed media to browsers. The details on today's press release can be found at:

This is a trend that is emerging as content companies are choosing a media streaming or other web media delivery process as their standard. Watch for lots of announcements like this in the coming 90 days.

3. Reader Suggests Book on Visionary Companies. Robb Kushner, a TechLearn Trends reader, suggested a book that he recently read. ""Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies" by James C. Collins & Jerry I. Porras HarperBusiness, a division of Harper-Collins Publishers. I picked it up and found it to be fascinating reading and a great guide to thinking about how to invent the future of our organizations. You can order it from by clicking here:

4. Tips for Trainers: Comfortable Shoes and a Stool! A TechLearn Trends reader wrote us to ask how to manage their energy over long days of classes. I picked up the phone and we chatted for almost an hour about her challenge. She was exhausted at the end of every day of training and totally bushed at the weekends. While training will always use up a good deal of energy, it should not leave us "wiped".

As we talked it became clear that she was standing on her feet for the 8 eight hours a day in fairly uncomfortable, corporate shoes. I had her measure how much she walked during a class and she was shocked to see that she put on a couple of miles a day, between pacing, visiting learners at their desks and moving around the classroom.

Our advice: Comfortable shoes and a stool. While it might not look exactly like your colleagues, go for comfortable and walking friendly shoes. And, go get a bar stool. I find that there are times when sitting on a stool and answering questions or chatting with the class is a relief for everyone, including the students eyes that have to follow you around the room.

Her result: She took our advice and has been using Comfort Shoes and a swivel stool for the last three weeks and says that it makes all the difference in the world. Her comment: "Wow! It really does make a difference in how the day feels. I can't give learners all of my energy if I am physically tired in class."

5. TechLearn '98 Industry Groupings to Convene in Orlando. We have scheduled over a dozen industry groupings at TechLearn '98 to bring you
together with your colleagues facing similar challenges. Here are a few of the structured sessions that are scheduled for TechLearn '98:

* Government, Military and Intelligence Community @ TechLearn '98
* Financial Services @ TechLearn '98
* Retailing @ TechLearn '98
* Higher Education @ TechLearn '98
* Associations and Not for Profits @ TechLearn '98
* Manufacturing @ TechLearn '98
* Medical, Health Care and Pharmaceutical @ TechLearn '98
* International Participants @ TechLearn '98
* Training and Learning Marketplace Vendors @ TechLearn '98
* On-Line Learning Coordinators @ TechLearn '98
* Computer Training Industry @ TechLearn '98
* Chief Learning Officers @ TechLearn '98
* Classroom Trainers @ TechLearn '98
* New to the Industry @ TechLearn '98

In addition, if you would like to add your industry to this list, please send an email to Each of these groupings will have a host, one or more sessions and networking resources. To reserve your space in TechLearn '98 (November 15 to 18 in Orlando), just go to There are already 1,151 colleagues registered. Space is limited and registrations will be closed this Fall.


62 - Low Cost Home Based Wireless Modem; Learners Are One Click Away From Leaving; Changes in IT Training Are Coming!

1. Low Cost Home Based Wireless Modem: In a few weeks, a new technology will be shipping that is a very cool capability for high usage home computer folks, like myself. HomeFree is a wireless network solution that connects a laptop or desktop to another computing device at distances up to 100 feet, at a cost of approximately $200. This will be a boom to on-line learning, allowing learners to work from the couch, the porch and other places in the home. Check this technology out at

2. Learners Are One Click Away From Leaving! There is no social pressure to "stay", when learning on-line. If you attend an instructor-led class and are bored or not pleased with the content, you will probably stick it out, at least until lunch or the end of the day. We have been conditioned to stay and tolerate less than optimal classes.

However, our social conditioning when on-line is the exact opposite. We are always one click away from departure! Our experience on the web is one of deeply personal choices. We use our mouse as a voting device and leave any site that doesn't match our expectations. No one notices. Here are some of the reasons folks will leave an on-line learning page:

* "Been there, done that!" - Learners depart as soon as they feel the content is something they already know.
* "I'll never use that knowledge!" - Learners depart as soon as they sense the content is not applicable to their situation.
* "This site is SO slow!" - Learners depart as soon as the site, or their web connection, slows down to a crawl.
* "I can't figure out what to do!" - Learners depart as soon as they get confused by the navigational commands or the technical aspects of the learning site.

We can create GREAT on-line learning programs by focusing on these realities and developing appropriate expectations. NEVER assume that the learner will stick it out. The mouse is both a tool of engagement and a tool for departure!

3. Changes in IT Training Are Coming! I am in San Francisco to present a keynote speech on IT and Computer Training. This is a field near and dear to my heart. It is amazing to think how well we (the extended training and learning field) have all done in bringing technology skills to the world's population. It is amazing to think of the tens of millions of users around the globe that have learned totally new sets of skills in the last 15 years.

The next phase of IT and Computer Training is going to be challenging. Here are some of The MASIE Center's predictions:

Learners need to develop better information filtering and verification skills.
The majority of commercial transactions will migrate to intranet and extranet based front ends. Each business unit will require the skills to create and modify these formats on-the-fly.
Business level staff will need new levels of IT skills and background to be able to more deeply leverage technology for profit and productivity.
Managing high confidence computer users will be a challenge for organizations. The next generation of users will require a new model for managing computer usage on work goals.
The Y2K Problem is a warning for organizations. Computing strategies must be more deeply screened for organizational impacts. These skillsets will need to be driven throughout the organization.
The lines between IT Training and Organizational Training are getting fuzzier!
I will be addressing these topics at our TechLearn Conference in November.

4. TechLearn '98 Reaches 1,107 Participants - Training Decisions Simulations: We have been amazed at the rate of registrations for TechLearn
'98 (November 15 to 18, 1998 @ Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL). There are now 1,107 folks registered. Registrations are running 300% ahead of last year. And, there are 90 days to go. We will be setting a limit on registration for the conference!

If you are planning on attending, please reserve a space as soon as possible. We would encourage TechLearn readers to register early and also to reserve a hotel room at the Disney hotel. Complete information is available at

We are pleased to announce that one of our TechLearn Collaborative Members, Peter Jones, Vice President Chase Manhattan Bank, will lead the Training Decisions Simulations @ TechLearn. These will be exciting sessions to look at the difficult decisions that organizations face as they strategically implement next generation approaches to learning. Remember, it is not about is always about making learning and performance decisions!

61 - Microsoft Office 2000 Beta Ships - Collaborative Publishing Training Demand Ahead; 3Com Chairman Calls on Community Colleges to Fill Skills Gap; Teams as Learning Customers

1. Microsoft Office 2000 Beta Ships - Collaborative Publishing Training Demand Ahead. Microsoft shipped 20,000 beta copies of the next generation of Office 2000 Beta today. This new version of Microsoft Office is deeply integrated with intranet functionality and allows all users to create and publish content to the "web", while collaborating with team members on shared documents and data "stores".

Microsoft Office 2000 will also ship in an advanced format with FrontPage 2000. Organizational management of widespread creation and contribution to corporate websites is embedded directly into the application suite. The first 20,000 copies went to select customers and solution providers to provide a wide base of feedback on the next Office Suite.

The MASIE Center believes that tools such as Microsoft Office 2000 and FrontPage 2000 will create increased demand for training and learning in team collaboration on workflow and document creation.

2. 3Com Chairman Calls on Community Colleges to Fill Skills Gap. " Community colleges must move quickly to provide the programs and resources to help close the technology skills gap in the U.S. -- a gap that has left more than ten percent of all technology-related jobs unfilled, and is threatening our continued national economic vitality," 3Com (Chairman and CEO Eric Benhamou told leaders of California community colleges.

"The responsibility for meeting this challenge sits with community colleges because they are the ideal institutions to meet the growing demand for technology skills in our workforce," said Benhamou. "Community colleges offer the flexible schedules and curriculum that help students pursue
lifelong learning."

"Sixty percent of all new jobs created today require high level technological skills, and by 2015, the number will be 90 percent," Benhamou said. "Expanding the availability of IT programs in community colleges is not an option but an economic necessity."

3. Reader Thoughts About Continuous Development of On-Line Learning. Several editions ago, I chatted about the concept of Continuous
Instructional Design, Development and Improvement. Here is a comment from a reader, Doug Brockbank, in reaction to my ideas:

"An interesting question. To me, it's related to the issue of customizability at the point of use. If we design choices for the user to customize the online content and tools to better fit their situation, we could build in the technology to track such refinements and make core adjustments accordingly. Better yet: forget the core adjustments . .just let it evolve at the periphery. The result: a living, breathing learning process. Just a thought."

4. Teams as Learning Customers As we develop more technology facilitated learning experiences, the concept of team learning becomes ever more important. Rather than think of the learner as a single person, why not deliver learning services to a team. If the key unit of performance is the team, why not service the learning needs of the team. Imagine an on-line learning experience that is structured to use the team, in a variety of creative structures, as the customer/client. Team needs assessments, team contracting, group and individual learning contracts and team activities would leverage both individual and group learning activities. Collaboration becomes a core element in this model and we focus the activity on raising the overall performance of the team, with both training and support.

5. The Learning Jam!: Call for Musicians @ TechLearn '98. Training and technology professionals often have a musical side. We are starting a new tradition at TechLearn '98 in November. The Learning Jam will be comprised of participants at TechLearn '98 who play an instrument and would love to play in a free-wheeling jam session. The Learning Jam! will get a chance to play for a while at the Wednesday Night Disney Party. We'll supply a few instruments for those that can't bring theirs to Orlando. If you would like to play in The Learning Jam, please send an email (with a few words about your musical talents) to (Complete information on TechLearn '98 @

60 - Special Report from Saratoga Springs, NY

1. Details of Workforce Investment Act. The recently passed and signed Workforce Investment Act is now law. We had a large number of TechLearn Trends readers ask for more detail on this legislation, which includes Individual Training Accounts and other major new programs. We have posted a detailed summary of the act at

2. New VIDCON LEARNING Site and Newsletter Launched. We are pleased to announce a new free resource for learning professionals. This summer The MASIE Center has been building a new site that will focus on the exploding world of video-conferencing as it used in learning and training. Laura Tocco, from Cornell University, has done a summer project to create this new site. In addition, we are launching a twice monthly newsletter called vidcon.learning that will follow the format of TechLearn Trends. Please check out this new site and sign up for the newsletter if you are interested in vidcon. Details at

3. Saratoga Springs: Distributed Learning Center. As you can tell, I travel often. This newsletter originates from a wide range of places around the world as we track the exploding field of learning and technology. Well, home is pretty awesome as well. Today, Trends originates from our office in Saratoga Springs, NY. This region is rapidly becoming a center of Distributed Learning projects. In addition to housing The MASIE Center, Saratoga is also home to Empire State College's Center for Learning & Technology, a powerhouse in the world of higher education distance learning. In our region, we also have 6 other learning and technology projects, including ILINC and the SUNY Network. Let me put a small plug in for the recreational side of Saratoga Springs. We are the site of the Saratoga Racetrack, Saratoga Performing Arts Center and a wide range of historic homes and estates. Check out this cool town at

4. TechLearn '98 Spouse/Friend/Family Friendly. There are a wide set of options for the people in your life that might be coming to TechLearn '98 with you in November. They can attend several events at TechLearn '98 including Behind the Scene's Tours of Disney, Tuesday Night Party at Disney, special classes at Disney Institute. The Party is free, other events have a pass-thru charge. Note: Please make reservations for the event as soon as possible, registration is now at 1,007 colleagues. TechLearn '98 Site:

59 - One Million Citizens in Zambia Apply for Distance Education; Time May Be More Critical Than Distance

1. One Million Citizens in Zambia Apply for Distance Education . We file this in the "can this really be?" category of news. This item came across our desk yesterday:

"XINHUA, ZAMBIA - About one million Zambians have applied for the long-distance education program which was introduced last May in the country with about 9.5 million population.

Lawrency Shimba, the Zambian Minister of Science, Technology and Vocational Training, revealed this here Tuesday. "We have already received applications and processed them," the Post newspaper Wednesday quoted Shimba as saying. The minister said that the degree program is supposed to start before the end of this year. "

We made several calls to verify the numbers and it does appear that over 1/10 of the population has applied. They are now working thru the details. We'll track this one closely.

2. Time May Be More Critical Than Distance I am in Wisconsin delivering the keynote address to Distance Learning '98, a gathering of over 1,000 higher education, government and corporate distance learning coordinators and faculty from around the world. In my speech, I drove home the idea of looking at TIME as much as DISTANCE in our new models of learning.

Time seems to be a very critical issue in the process of choosing to learn via a non-classroom modality. Most learners could find an instructor led classroom near them. The key question is timing. Learners report that they more often than not want the timing of the learning experience to be different than the classroom offering. Here are the categories of TIME Issues:

* TIME SHIFTING: Learners want to shift the timing of learning. Their desires include after work, in the early morning, during weekends and other shiftings of the clock. One colleague of ours is taking their Master's Program on-line and doing the majority of work in airplane seats during their 150 days of travel each year.

* TIME COMPRESSION: Learners want to learn faster and in more compression than a classroom allows. We are beginning to see the rise in demands for digital Boot Camps and other high compression formats that allow one to accelerate the learning. Major immediate needs yield desires for faster and more compressed learning delivery.

* TIME TRICKLE: We are hearing from people that would like to take a very long time to learn something. Imagine if you could take the concept of Oprah's Reading Club and turn it into a very slow, long-duration degree program. There are millions of people that would love to finish degree
programs or acquire new skills but can't dedicate more than an hour a week. Why not add trickle programs to our mix.

3. Corporate Learning & Training Staff Retreats @ TechLearn '98: Several major companies have decided to organize staff retreats and meetings in conjunction with the TechLearn '98 Conference. Groups like the trainers from the Federal Reserve Banks are scheduling meetings in conjunction with the conference to be held in Orlando from November 15 to 18th.

We can arrange for dedicated meeting space, special speakers and a wide range of retreat and team meeting activities. The entire program of Disney Institute offerings can also be blended into your program. This is a great way to leverage our keynote speakers and sessions, along with the Exploratorium Technology. If you are interested, send an email to Complete details about TechLearn '98 and on-line
registrations is available at

58 - Continuous Development Required for Continuous Learning; MetaData Update; United States Congress Passes Job Training Bill

1. Resources for Innovation: This morning we received a note from a TechLearn reader (Marla Newman), pointing us to a cool site with resources for innovation. It is directed byJoyce Wycoff, author of books on Mind Mapping and Transformation Thinking. The content is about life-long learning, with lots of resources and articles about corporate creativity and innovation. Check out

2. Continuous Development Required for Continuous Learning: This thought has been rummaging around my brain for the past week: "How do we create continuous development for continuous learning?" It all started as I was thinking about stories. A good story evolves. As one tells the same story over and over again it changes. It gets shorter or longer, funnier or more targeted. The telling of the story evolves it, or in training terms: continuous development. However, most courses, once they are developed, only evolve in the instructional dimension. Few organizations have a process for the continuous improvement of a course. As we move our instructional resources on-line, there are great opportunities for us to be able to keep the development process alive for the duration of the course. Anyone with ideas or comments on this, send me an email to

3. MetaData Update: In earlier TechLearn Trends we pointed readers to the work that is going on in the MetaData field. The core idea is to develop an industry wide standard for how we will label learning objects or chunks, so that they can be stored and deployed with greater ease and flexibility. Good work has been done by the IMS and the IEEE groups in this area. Wayne Hodgins has notified us that the latest paper on the MetaData project is now on-line. Warning...this is a technical paper and it drills down to the detail that a standard requires. However, it is worth checking out and supporting the process of building the equivalent of a Learning Nutritional Labeling System. The paper is online at:

4. United States Congress Passes Job Training Bill. The House passed a job-training bill on Friday that consolidates dozens of programs and gives states and local governments more flexibility in designing them. The bill passed the Senate Thursday night. President Clinton said he will
sign it into law. ``This bill will modernize job training to fit the needs of today's economy, and I appreciate the bipartisan spirit that prevailed in getting that done,'' Clinton said in a statement after House passage. Clinton said the bill was modeled after the ``G.I. Bill for American Workers'' he proposed three years ago.

Under the bill, states and local governments would be given more authority in carrying out job-training programs. At the same time, the bill calls for such programs to have performance standards,such as job placement and retention, so that a person considering a particular job-training program would know its track record. The federal government could cut off or reduce funding for unsuccessful programs.

The bill also calls for local businesses to get involved in training programs, and includes a $1 billion ``youth block'' to target at-risk 14- to 21-year-olds. Funding would remain at the current level of about $10 billion a year.

5. TechLearn Volunteers Sought and TechLearn Cruise Announced: This is an exciting week in the planning for TechLearn '98 (November 15 to 18th in Orlando, Florida). We will take our 1,000th registration for this unique conference in the next couple of days and we are announcing two high involvement aspects of the event:

- TechLearn '98 Cruise Announced: Continuing a tradition we started back in 1990, there will be a low-cost cruise immediately following the TechLearn '98 Conference. The cost is only $342 per person, for a 3 night. 4 day cruise to Nassau, sailing from Port Canaveral (1 hour from Disney) on the day after the Conference. This will be both a fun and learning filled 3 days. Join a collection of faculty, experts and colleagues for informal dialogues, discussions and non-stop networking aboard the Carnival's Fantasy. For details and to register for the conference go to

- TechLearn Volunteers Sought: TechLearn is built on the premise of action learning and high involvement. Last year, over 100 participants were volunteers helping out in a wide range of areas, including facilitating Problem/Solution Brainstorming Sessions, being docents in the Exploratorium Lab and helping with orientation. If you would like to volunteer at TechLearn, requiring just a few hours of your conference time, please send me an email to and let me know how you would like to be involved. Complete details about TechLearn '98 are available at

57 - Learning Service Providers (LSP) Grow; Alumni Learning to Provide Boost for Technology Delivered Training; Trainers' Tips for Summer Days

1. Learning Service Providers (LSP) Grow. A new segment of the learning marketplace is growing. LSPs are Learning Service Providers, organizations that will host and administer on-line learning for a company from an external site. There have been several LSPs that have been around for a while, however we are now seeing a new breed of players coming on the scene. Yesterday, we were visited at the MASIE Center Lab in Saratoga by folks from Cytation Corporation, a LSP that grew out of an ISP (Internet Service Provider) company. They have a range of services, including "Roll Call", that will provide turnkey hosting for on-line learning from their web servers. It is worth taking a look at this option, even at the pilot level, if internal politics or budgeting prevent you getting a rapid pilot up and running. We were impressed with their pricing structure for getting started in this field. Their url is:

2. Alumni Learning to Provide Boost for Technology Delivered Training. Imagine getting a note from the college that you attended with something
more than a fund raising request! Well, in the future, your alumni institution may be a core provider of life-long learning. The MASIE Center has been studying possible "break-out" applications for on-line learning and alumni relations has come up as a strong option.

Here is the scenario: The class of 1999 graduates from their college or university. Within weeks of graduation, they receive a life-long account which will enable them to get pull or push based learning resources. Either in their course of study or in the field that evolve to in the future, they are able to continue to receive a basic level of courses, on-line briefings and access to expertise. This first level might be provided without charge, while higher levels of access to faculty resources would be charged appropriately. There would be a life-long skills portfolio on line, access to breaking news in their field, alumni news, support groups for folks hitting a bump along the way and electronic access to the university
library. If I were the fundraiser for this college, my job would be deeply easier after supplying these resources to our alumni. In fact, the college might even be the prime "net portal" for the alumni with some degree of advertising revenue extracted from individualized ads.

We believe that uses of on-line learning like this will create a cultural comfort with the process and bring the industry forward. At TechLearn '98 we will develop a brainstormed list of similar applications across multiple aspects of daily life.

3. Trainers' Tips for Summer Days. Looking outside my window, I am reminded of the challenge of teaching classes on warm wonderful summer days. I dug into my old journals and found a few tips from a train-the-trainer meeting on this topic:

* Acknowledge the Weather: If everyone wants to be somewhere else, there is no point in ignoring it. But, don't become obsessed with it or transmit that you don't want to be there.
* Summer Breaks: We would often bring in a very summer like break in the afternoon. Ice cream. fruit or lemonade can be wonderful treats and are deeply appreciated.
* Occasional Outside Breakouts: If there is space available and you can have a short discussion or work task done outside, go for it. One insurance company had folks build their workplans in groups of three, but sent them to the park across the street for an hour to do the work.
* Heat Monitoring: Keep an eye on the temperature in the room. Don't trust the thermometer in the wall (I usually bring my own from Radio Shack) and remember that the seats or workstations near the windows may be the warmest.
* Turn off PCs: Sometimes the rooms really get warm and stuffy, be prepared to teach a segment without PC's on if it is a technical topic.
* Dress Appropriately: If you are a more formal business setting, invite folks to at least take off their jackets or get more comfortable in your class. Where it is appropriate a causal day everyday in summer classes can also work.
* Monitor the Pace: Sometimes people really do slow down in the summer. I found that my pace of teaching and the pace of the learners was about 10% slower in summer classes. If this is true for you, adjust your teaching plan appropriately.

4. TechTrainer's Forums @ TechLearn '98: Being a technical or computer trainer is not an easy task. There are key decisions to make about your career, your professional development and even your style of teaching. As new delivery technologies come to the marketplace, how do technology trainers react or adjust. We have been asked to schedule a series of meetings called TechTrainer Forums @ TechLearn '98. These will be held throughout the event for computer, technical, IT and other technology related trainers attending the event. To register for the Conference: (November 15 to 18, 1998 in Orlando, Florida).

56 - NETg and Gartner Learning Merge Operations; Palm Based Learning Goes Wireless

1. NETg and Gartner Learning Merge Operations. This morning we received a flash announcement about the merger of operations of two big players in the technology and learning world:

"NETg, a global leader in technology-based training, today announced that it will merge operations with GartnerLearning following that company's acquisition by NETg parent, Harcourt General. "

"This transaction brings together the brightest professionals, the strongest product offering and the most complete service capabilities of any training organization in the market today," said Gary Lopez, president and CEO of NETg. "The combination of NETg and GartnerLearning brings together the complementary strengths of two leading training industry powers to create a single formidable leader. Together, we will harness the qualities that have propelled the two companies separately and deliver a cohesive set of products and services that will create the standard for competitive performance."

"The company will operate under the NETg name and will offer over 800 training products to a worldwide customer base. The company's U.S.
headquarters will remain in Naperville, Illinois."

For more information:

2. Palm Based Learning Goes Wireless. Our experiments in Palm Based Learning, using the new Palm Pilot and Windows CE hand held computers took a step forward this weekend. I hooked up my Palm Pilot to a new wireless modem that allows for continuous connection to email and the internet via a datastreamed wireless connection. We used the GoAmerica configuration that cost $49 a month for unlimited wireless connection (in larger cities). I was able to hit web sites, our internal intranet and send/receive email. We are doing a test program of the impact of using this as a learning workstation. Very cool...stay tuned for results and impressions.

3. Learning Marketplace Sessions @ TechLearn '98. With ISA (Instructional Systems Association) and CEdMA (Computer Education Management Association) as co-sited conferences with our TechLearn event in November we have a unique opportunity to take a close up look at the state of the learning marketplace. We will be hosting a series of sessions at TechLearn that will confront the difficulties and opportunities in purchasing or selling learning products and services in the new digital marketplace. We will address key issues about how one finds the customers (or products), pricing issues and making concrete plans in a rapidly changing marketplace. To register for TechLearn '98 go to

Personal Note: Our trip to Ireland was awesome. That small country is really the leader in the exporting of on-line and CD ROM based IT content. We met with key players in that industry and also saw the level of commitment from all levels of their government. Ireland is an example of the ability of the impacts of partnerships between government and corporate sectors in pathing a way to a new economy. Very impressive.

55 - Special Report from Dublin, Ireland

1. Lucent Develops Cool Projects Including Persyst Classroom On-Line. Lucent Technologies, the high flying Bell Labs, has a number of very cool multimedia projects in the works. These projects include Persyst, a new player in the real-time on-line classroom technology market segment. Check out their various projects, including Persyst at:

2. Late Night Learning: Cricket Knowledge Via The Web & TV. It was 11:30 p.m. last night and we had just gotten back from a reception at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin. My wife and I turned on the TV to watch for a few minutes as I checked email (yes, I know, but I am a bit compulsive.) We found ourselves watching a match of Cricket on the television. It was fascinating, but neither of us knew anything about the rules. At first glance it looked a bit like baseball but the language, logic, rules, strategy and even pace of the game were big knowledge gaps for both of us.

In times past, we would have been stuck there. Clearly a TV sports broadcaster does not explain the sport each time they cover a game. Who
would tolerate a basic lesson of football or golf during the each Sunday's game? So, we had to map our own pathway to knowledge. Ah, I was already on the web, so let's do a bit of on-line learning.

Success! After a quick search on Excite.Com, we found a master web site for the sport of cricket: For the next 60 minutes, using their on-line briefing, the real-time game on the television, numerous links to graphics and a collaborative approach to learning, we got it. In fact, we both felt after one hour that we had made it across the finish line of Cricket 101. Not fans, couldn't hit a ball or understand the strategy, but we had eliminated the sense of ignorance. In fact, we both turned to the Cricket news in the Times at breakfast.

Lessons learned? On-line learning works when the learners are motivated, have access to multiple sources and styles of information and have a
collaborative learning partner. If either of us had this strange learning urge while alone, we probably would not have finished. If we didn't have the combination of the text and graphics of the web combined with the active stimulation of a live game, we would not have completed our task. It really was a true learning moment of the new world of knowledge access. If you ever stumble on a cricket match on one of your higher numbered cable stations look in the stands, you might find 2 people with MASIE Center sitting with the fans.

3. Get The Manager Involved! During the recent IFTDO meeting, one of the conversations that I had over and over again was about the role of the learner's manager. This is a person that has to be in the middle of our radar screens as learning professionals. The engaged manager makes all the difference in the world. Here were some of the strategies that people were using around the world to bring the manager actively into the learning process:

* Learning contracts before training! Some organizations require a manager and the worker to sign a learning contract prior to any training (classroom or on-line). This focuses both parties on the performance outcomes and makes the learning a sponsored event.
* Manager assigned practice! Rather than using invented exercises in class, one alternative is to provide the learner with a real assignment created by their manager. It changes the class from a theory oriented session to a support process for a real task. The learner gets evaluated not on their activities in class but rather on the performance on the task.
* Manager debriefing upon return! Cut the learner off at the pass, said one senior trainer from Finland. If the manager immediately debriefs the
learner as they return to the workplace, it creates an opportunity to direct the newly acquired knowledge to the job. Manager debriefing is a real
reflection of the organization's interest in the application of training.

4. Forbes Covers On-Line Learning for IT Certification. Today's Forbes Magazine On-Line includes an article on the role of on-line learning in the IT Training and Certification. We were used as one of many sources for this article that looks at the economic impact of the IT certification received via on-line or mixed media format. If interested, go to

5. 25 Free TechLearn Dollars Available Until 9/1/98. We have had a mind-boggling early registration for TechLearn '98, with over 916 people
registered prior to even mailing the brochure. We are extending our offer of 25 Free TechLearn Dollars to everyone that registers prior to September 1st. These TechLearn Dollars can be used for audio tapes, books, Behind The Scene's Tours of Disney, drinks at the TechLearn Disney Party or other materials. You don't need to pay when registering, we can send you an invoice for corporate processing. But, to receive your TechLearn Dollars please register prior to September 1st. Just go to

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.

We got some great suggestions for reading from TechLearn Trends readers. If you have not responded to our latest survey, take a few minutes and go to Thanks!

53 - Another Entry Into the On-Line Learning Management Systems World; The Role of Search Engines in Training

1. Take Our Reading Survey and Suggestion Poll. Take 3 minutes and participate in our most recent TechLearn Trends Poll. This one is focused on Reading Patterns and Suggestions. We are polling our readers to find out how often they read books related to their work. We are also asking for reading list suggestions for work and personal topics. The results and suggested reading lists will be published in 10 days on TechLearn Trends. We will also have some reading book sessions at TechLearn '98 in November. Go ahead... Take our survey:

2. Another Entry Into the On-Line Learning Management Systems World. We are hearing about several new companies that are building and marketing learning management systems for on-line learning and training delivery. We just checked out a new player: Generation 21. Check out their site at: As you look at these systems, be sure to ask key questions about the interface of the systems with your HR databases and the portability of content in and out of the application.

3. The Role of Search Engines in Training. Search engines like Inkatomi and Yahoo are coming up in classroom discussions. Learners are using them to do a quick skim of content. A few warnings that are helpful to learners using these engines include (semi-obvious but important) warnings:

* Only on-line content is on-line. One person asked my why there was so little material about the origin of television available after getting slim
results from an on-line search. Well, there is a ton available, but it is in libraries and other non-searchable formats. * Engines are selling position. Several of the engines are now selling special positioning so that for a fee your listing pops to the top of the list and is bannered. They look neutral but many of these lists are biased by the economic model of the list sponsor. It would be great to build a mini-module on learning to use and trust search engines.

4. Behind The Scenes Tours of Disney @ TechLearn '98. Take a half-day tour of the belly of Disney. See how the parks run below the surface. Maybe even get a glimpse of a character as they get ready to go into the park. Check out the training approach that Disney uses for cast development. These are some of the topics on the tours that we will be running at TechLearn '98 in Orlando, Florida. These tours are available for a fee (approximately $85 per person) on Sunday before the Conference. Complete details will be sent to all registered attendees (now over 905 people have signed up). Just go to our web site for on-line registration:

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.

51 - Microsoft Launches New Streaming & Content Delivery Technologies; Talk About the PAIN or GAIN Rather Than Learning Process; Growth of On-Line Registrations for Training & Conferences

1. Microsoft Launches New Streaming & Content Delivery Technologies. This week, Microsoft launched a new set of technologies and solutions aimed at the delivery of content via streaming over the intranet or internet. The Microsoft New Windows Media Technologies include a new Media Player and 2 Media Streaming Servers. These technologies, when used with a wide variety of authoring tools and content development tools being launched by other vendors, expand the abilities of an organization to deliver learning and training events in an on-line fashion.

The player is available as a free download and the NetShow Server is also available as a free add-in to NT. The higher end server product has a per user license fee. There is a robust integration with tools like Macromedia Flash, to allow for higher degrees of interactivity and linking.

Check out the demo of this technology at .

2. Talk About the PAIN or GAIN Rather Than Learning Process. The training industry doesn't always talk about its product in a compelling way. When you ask learners why they would want to take a piece of training, they will usually talk about 2 reasons:

PAIN: They want to get skills, information or processes that will LOWER THE PAIN they are experiencing. This pain could be the inability to do a function on their computer program, the difficulty they are having with the team members, the poor performance review they fear they may get or the recent quality control rejection of a product. When we address and affiliate with PAIN REDUCTION, we are closer to the nerve of learners.

GAIN: They wan to get skills, information or processes that will INCREASE THE GAIN. This gain could be a higher sales commission or salary, a greater satisfaction with customer interaction, a career opportunity, or a better performance review. When we address and affiliate with GAIN, we are closer to the nerve of learners.

Yet, so much of our training dialogue is about courses, events, and curriculum. When we talk about "putting our courses on-line" this doesn't always get a great response from the workforce. However, if we talk about giving them access to PAIN REDUCTION at their desktops (eg. Immediate Problem Solutions on Your Laptop) or GAIN at their workstations (eg. Examples of Successful Selling Pitches On-Line), we get a different reaction. Remember, stay focused on PAIN or GAIN.

3. Growth of On-Line Registrations for Training & Conferences. We have seen an enormous movement towards the use of on-line registrations for learning events. This phase of e-commerce, focused on doing our core transactions for registration for learning events has been soaring in the past few months. Learners as customers are getting comfortable with the idea of conducting their registration transactions on-line. New tools for on-line registrations are hitting the market and organizations are adding it to their internal and external sites. We have been amazed at The MASIE Center with the rate of shift in this area. Every day we get about 10 to 12 registrations for TechLearn over the internet. The key to a good on-line registration process includes:

* Provide as much information as possible for the learner. Expand the content way beyond what they might get in those all too often mailed brochures. Consider adding audio or video segments, handouts from the events and deeper lists of previous attendees and benefits.

* Provide people with multiple options about payment, if this is applicable. Some folks do not want to give credit card information over the phone. We offer an option to register and then we call for your credit card numbers. Include the widest set of billing and bill-back options.
* Confirm with multiple methods. We now use an email response, a fax confirmation and a follow-up physical packet.
* Experiment and get user feedback. We just added the email response based on comments from a few colleagues who wanted to get the information in a printable format.
* Target multiple decision makers. Use the flexible nature of the web site to offer more than just marketing information. Be generous with content and also address the different levels of decision making, including the information needs of the approving managers.

Even though we haven't sent out a brochure, we already have 872 registrations for our TechLearn '98 November Conference ( . About 63% of our registrations are now coming via on-line format and the percentage grows every week. Why, we might even save some trees and cut back on the normal deluge of conference brochure mailing. Wouldn't that be nice?

4. Help! Input for New Free Resources on Vidcon Learning. In a few weeks, we will be launching a new web site and free on-line newsletter called VICON LEARNING. This site and newsletter will focus on the technologies of conducting video conferencing for learning. We have an intern from Cornell, Laura Tocco, who is reseaching and developing this site. She would love to get any ideas for content and Frequently Asked Questions that you would like to see on this site. If you could send her a quick note with your ideas and feedback for resources that would better help you understand and implement video-conferencing for learning, email it to Thanks for your help. We will make an announcement of the url in about 15 days.