Subscribe: Learning TRENDS


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.

26 - Special Report From Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates States, Middle East

1. Continuous Collaboration Technologies. Imagine your desktop configured or continuous collaboration. A small box in the corner of the screen lists the names of key colleagues throughout the world. When any of these people are on-line, their name indicates their presence and you can immediately enter a chat, text or voice based, or send an immediate mail message. A number of technologies in this new category of Continuous Collaboration are hitting the internet. We've started to use a popular one, ICQ, to keep us connected with our office and colleagues as we are travelling in the Middle East. It creates a sense of connection that is unprecedented and far more real-time than email. Download a demo copy of this technology from

Training? Imagine using this technology to link the instructor to learners after a class (live or on-line). Imagine using this technology to create a virtual community of colleagues who are available throughout the day for short, chunks of advice or support. For example, starting in April, I will be on a continuous ICQ connection to the members of the TechLearn Collaborative (see story #4 below). It is a new model of consulting, to be available continuously. We imagine that this connection will allow organizations to share a much higher level of best practices and perspectives .

2. IP Based Telephone - Training & Connections. IP (or internet) Based Telephone usage will be a very hot and high impact vehicle in the near future. We are field testing one while on our trip. Using a technology called Net2Phone, we are making extremely low cost (15 cents per minute) calls from the Middle East to regular telephones at our office and family homes. The quality has been awesome. Using the microphone and speaker on my laptop, dialed into an ISP in Abu Dhabi at 28.8 kps, we type in a 800 number at our office or family and the phone rings in the US in about 10 seconds. We do need to press the mouse button to speak, but we have been using this technology for on-going office support and updates to the family on our travels.

Training? Once again, imagine using this technology, leveraging the existing network, for on-going collaboration without regard to the long-distance charges. We see this as a capacity that will also be built into future on-line learning technology to link learners, subject matter experts and facilitators. Download a copy from and search for Net2Phone. Watch for enormous investments and developments in IP based Telephone Technologies.

3. Salary Survey Response Enormous...A Couple More Please! We have had more than a thousand responses to the most recent TechLearn Salary Survey. Please add your input by going to We will be publishing the results next week. Thanks!

4. Wal-Mart, Ernst & Young, Chase Manhattan Join Collaborative. We are pleased to announce that Wal-Mart, Ernst & Young, Hewlett Packer and Chase Manhattan are amongst the charter members of the TechLearn Collaborative that is beginning on March 26th. These groups are working together to explore the implementation of technology and learning on a continuous basis for the next year. There are only 6 spaces left in the Collaborative, which costs $5,000 per charter organization. Check it out at

Abu Dhabi Impressions: The Middle East Human Resource Development Conference begins on Saturday morning, opened by the Shiek Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. Over 200 HR and Training managers from across the Middle East are gathering to look at the issues of national and regional productivity of the workforce. Technology is a key topic at the conference and I am going to be presenting a speech on Working and Learning in the Digital Age. The Skills Gap is core to their progress, as they attempt to leverage technology as a tool for economic development and knowledge expansion. The decision makers in national enterprises are very supportive of leveraging technology foe learning. We'll post some pictures and findings from the Conference later next week.

25 - Collaboration Marketplace to Reach $14 Billion by 2001; Train the Trainer Self Study Kit Launched by Friesen Kaye

1. Collaboration Marketplace to Reach $14 Billion by 2001. A recent study predicts steep growth in the collaboration marketplace, including groupware, internet meeting tools, audioconferencing and videoconferencing. The figure used is $15.7 billion in 2001, according to the study conducted for the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the MultiMedia Telecommunications Association (MMTA). The MASIE Center believes that the Collaboration Marketplace, which will either include or parallel the on-line learning marketplace, is an wider view of the role of technology in organizational learning and knowledge management. To obtain more information about the study, go to

The larger role of collaboration, linking of associates, clients and customers for transactions, work process and learning is a logical destination of computing. Most people don't compute with their desktop and laptop machines, they communicate and collaborate. We will need to build the skills of on-line collaboration, rather than just drop ship the technology into an organization and assume that individuals will change their work processes. It will take considerable training and coaching to make the leap to new models of on-line collaboration. We would suggest that the training and learning leaders in each organization grab the Collaboration label for their use and influence within the enterprise.

2. Train the Trainer Self Study Kit Launched by Friesen Kaye. We recently field tested a new self-study product for trainers entitled "Trainer Certification Coach" from Friesen, Kaye and Associates. It is a very comprehensive and detailed train the trainer or refresh the trainer program. It provides video demonstration of key skills and techniques required for instructional excellence. A self-assessment guide included with the tool, gives you the opportunity to compare your instructional skills with the expert's example and to evaluate it against the certification standards required by The Certified Professional Development Trainer and The Certified Technical Trainer Programs. I was impressed with the depth and range of feedback and coaching that this program provides. The cost is $299 and details are available at their web site

3. The Stolen Laptop Saga Continues: Well, my stolen laptop was not found, but we have received over 100 messages of condolences from TechLearn Trends readers (even a set of condolence flowers from some colleagues at Microsoft.) My mailbox is loaded with tips and war stories for laptop users.

- There are several automatic, on-line backup services for laptop.
- Build a complete password protection of the entire unit at the systems level.
- Handcuff the laptop to your body (a bit extreme but I can understand the intent.)
- Watch laptops very carefully when going through airport security, at telephones and on planes.
- Don't leave key valuables in rental car trunks.
- Check out "sniffer" programs that dial back home when modems are used without passwords.
- Change from logo oriented laptop bags that announce your investment.

Thanks for your concern and tips.

4. MASIE Center Meetings in Middle East, Asia and Africa: The next several TechLearn Trends will come from Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Singapore, Melbourne and Hong Kong We are working in these areas with HR, Training and Technology groups to focus on the next stages of on-line learning, collaboration and technology in the workplace. We'll send along interviews and clips from these conferences and global leaders. If you are located in these areas and would like to meet up for a cup of coffee and chat, please send an email to Watch for TechLearn events and conferences in these countries in the near future.

24 - Laptop Theft and Lessons; Coopers & Lybrand Report on Skills Gap

1. Laptop Theft and Lessons: I had a traumatic experience this week. While visiting my mother in Miami, Florida, my rental car was robbed and all of my luggage, including my Micron Laptop was stolen. I live my by laptop. It had all of my key information, personal diary, email addresses and even photos of my family. While some of this is backed up, a good amount is not. Lesson One: tell your colleagues to back up laptops on a regular basis. Lesson Two: the loss really hurt on a personal level. In a digital age, a laptop can be repository of a great deal of personal history and information. The folks in Miami were pretty blase about the everyday nature of thefts, and even referred us to a Dial-A-Robbery Report. I was devastated and shaken for the next 24 hours. My mom told me that it was similar to the way in which people felt who lost a box with old photographs. Maybe it will turn up. If anyone offers you a black Micron laptop for cheap dollars, give me a call. And, remember, back up that data!

2. Skills for On-Line Trainers Seminars Announced: The MASIE Center is pleased to announce 4 sessions of our new seminar: Skills for On-Line Trainers. These will be taught in Spring 1998 in Atlanta, New Orleans, San Francisco and Chicago. I will be leading this 2 day in person and 10 hours on-line, intensive learning event. We will explore and practice new skills for facilitating learning over networks. Remember, learning is not about which tool to choose or porting information to HTML. It is all about engaging learners! For information about these courses (with seats limited in each class) go to or call 800-98-MASIE.

3. Coopers & Lybrand Report on Skills Gap: Coopers & Lybrand's "Trendsetter Barometer" interviewed CEOs of 441 product and service companies identified in the media as the fastest growing U.S. businesses over the last five years. The surveyed companies range in size from approximately $1 million to $50 million in revenue/sales. Half of these CEOs say their companies are recognized as high tech firms.

America's fastest-growing companies have made education their business. Spurred by the worker shortage and IT upgrades, more than half have adopted new programs for retraining or redeploying current employees. These firms are also demanding solid educational credentials from new entry-level hires, including advanced skills in technology, mathematics and problem-solving, according to Coopers & Lybrand's latest "Trendsetter Barometer" survey.

"CEOs from 70 percent of 'Trendsetter' firms tell us they face serious problems finding skilled, experienced workers," says James Lafond, mid-atlantic cluster managing partner, Coopers & Lybrand L.L.P. "This is caused by their ambitious hiring plans, as CEOs strive to increase their collective workforce by 22.4 percent over the next 12 months. With qualified workers in short supply, more than half -- 52 percent -- of 'Trendsetter' CEOs have been upgrading and retraining their existing workforce in efforts to retain existing employees and increase productivity. "

The Complete report is available at:

23 - Skills for On-Line Trainers: Expanding the View; Learning Update from The White House and Pentagon

1. Skills for On-Line Trainers: Expanding the View ---- Training people in a classroom and training them on-line are two similar, yet distinctly different skill sets. Over the past eight months, The MASIE Center has been developing an analysis of the evolving roles of On-Line Trainers. Here is an executive summary of the skills:

a) Engagement Strategies - engaging the learner in the content and process of the on-line class.
b) Content Delivery - skills for preparing and delivering learning content to the class, focusing on questions of When? What? What Style? How Much? and How?
c) Remediation Skills - when they are confused, how does the training know and respond.
d) Collaboration Strategies - building collaborative relationships amongst the learners and facilitators, including the difference between mediated and unmediated collaboration.
e) Linking - expanding the learning content collection through linkage to private and public collections of additional material.
f) Facilitation - "facil" means easy.. how to make the learning process easier or smoother for the learner. Strategies for intervention
g) Reflection - how to get the learner to internalize and "work" the content as part of their reflection process.
h) Accountability - strategies for providing accountability for the learner for workplace learning via on-line methods.
g) Assessment - building assessment processes into learning without demotivating the learner.
i) Contracting for Learning - articulating the roles and expectations of the on-line learning process.
j) Virtualization Decisions - what aspects of physical classrooms can and cannot be virtualized: doughnuts? supportive conversations? sidebar consulting?
k) Live vs. On-Demand - when should on-line learning be conducted in a live (synchronous) vs. on-demand (asynchronous) fashion.
l) High End vs. Fast Food Training - using ranges of content, from fully authored simulations to just-in-time content.
m) Appropriate and Inappropriate Content for On-Line: which topics are ideal and which topics are totally inappropriate for on-line delivery.
n) Typing vs. Talking - the differences of typing and talking, implications for "cognitive rehearsal" in each style.
o) Personality Issues - dealing with assumed roles and on-line "acting out"
p) Technical Support - strategies for low-overhead technical support, to avoid turning on-line trainers into technical help desks!
q) Trainer Development - processes to build and expand on-line trainer skills, including strategies for using non-classroom trainers in on-line teaching roles. Plus, staying current in a rapidly changing time.
r) Scalability - how large and how far reaching can on-line classes be, without sacrificing quality or overwhelming "digital" trainers.

In the next 2 weeks, The MASIE Center will announce a new 2 day course that I will be teaching entitled: Skills for On-Line Trainers. Sessions will be offered in cities across the United States and overseas, as well as offered on an in-house or licensed basis. If you would like an early announcement of this, please send a note to

2. Learning Update from The White House and Pentagon: Last week, we met with technology and learning leaders at both The White House and Pentagon. The President's memo on Technology & Learning has created great support within both Federal Agencies and Corporate Training Departments. The Pentagon's ADL efforts are most impressive and wide reaching. Check out their web site at: Their commitment to build collaborative efforts for the learning and technology fields will push our field forward in the months ahead. More to follow!

3. Coming Up! TechLearn Trends is going to provide Corporate Tours for its readers. We'll do a behind-the-scenes look at the training and learning operations of major organizations. The first one will be coming in our next edition, a look at IBM's Education & Training operation.

Correction: We made a mistake in our Early Glance! of DataBeam's new product in a recent TechLearn Trends report. It is called EventTools and can be found at

Tip: Readers can go directly to our Learning in the Digital Age video on-line by going to the Eloquent Page: Check out the Gallery for the 36 minute segment.

22 - Develop Once - Use Many: Approach and Request

(Dear Readers: We are packing up to head for a stop in Washington, IBM in Atlanta and then the Training '98 Conference. If you are in Atlanta at that show, please stop by our booth after my keynote on Sunday Night. Watch for several major announcements during the week of new products and services. We will summarize them in a TechLearn Trends. Warm regards, Elliott Masie)

1. Learning in the Digital Age: We decided to "walk-the-talk" and provide an on-line video presentation of "Learning in the Digital Age", our new book to be published this fall by Jossey Bass. Watch a unique presentation model, using the Eloquent technology, of the video, rolling transcript and slides from this speech. Just go to to see the presentation. This is a 36 minute, text searchable audio-video presentation.

2. Early Glance: Meeting Tools from a Service Provider: We take a look at DataBeam's new Meeting Tools products. These allow you to host an on-line event (from a class to a meeting) using a service provider, without making a large technology investment. Go to for screen shots and details.

3. Develop Once - Use Many: Approach and Request: One of the major trends that is underway is a movement towards joint and rapid development of learning material that can be deployed in both a classroom and technology delivered format. We are advocating a Develop Once and Use Many Model. This means that the Instructional Design process proceeds without reference to the delivery system. Then, the content is "coded" or "authored" in a fashion that can be used and deployed easily for both classroom, intranet and CD ROM content. We are looking for a few places that are currently using such a program as an example site for one of our readers. If you are doing this process of development, would you please send me an email at

4. People on the Move! John Farrell, General Manager of IBM Education and Training has announced the appointment of Tom Ruttkamp to Chief Executive Officer of Catapult, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM Corporation. Ruttkamp will also have global responsibility for the end-user training segment. Tom is one of the most experienced folks in the IT Training field and brings a strong IBM perspective to his new role at Catapult.

Carolyn Rose, has been appointed CEO of a new training and certification venture, USWeb Learning. Carolyn was the leader of Novell Education and a pioneer in the areas of training and certification. USWeb Learning will emphasize a vendor-neutral curriculum that focuses on professional Internet skills and knowledge

5. Wall Street Focuses on On-Line Learning! We are getting about 2 calls a day from Wall Street companies and publications focusing on the Learning Marketplace as a hot area for investment and expansion. The public success of several IPO's in this area (CBT Systems and Learning Tree) as well as the investments by Knowledge Universe in PPI have put the spotlight on the training marketplace, with special emphasis on the On-Line Learning segment. We will have the Wall Street perspective included in our upcoming Busine$$ of On-Line Learning Conference to be held in Seattle on March 30 and 31st. (See for details.)

6. The Softer Side of IT Training: My current column in Computer Reseller News points towards the opportunity to blend Business, "Softer" and IT Skills. Locate it on the CRN Site:

21 - Books on Tape Growing Rapidly as Learning Tool; Coping with No-Shows in Training Events

1. Books on Tape Growing Rapidly as Learning Tool: ABC News has reported a 20% growth in the books on tape marketplace. Commuters, travelers and others are gobbling up taped editions of books in all categories, from fiction to business topics. Tom Clancy has even written a new book that will ONLY be released on tape. Training departments should take note! This should be added to your menu of delivery systems. Off the shelf training topics as well as easy to produce in-house training tapes can be made available to your workforce. Consider sending a "pre-work on tape" to attendees of upcoming learning events. We have used this model for our conferences with great success. Also, keep an eye on the internet delivery option for books on tape. ( is a venture into this area.

2. Research on Training Trends From Hill Associates: Thanks for TechLearn Trends Reader Rob Lauer, for pointing us to a recent in-depth survey on training demand and delivery approaches. This study was conducted by Hill Associates and was conducted by telephone in late 1997. Hill Associates published the bulk of this study at

3. Coping with No-Shows in Training Events: This is a growing problem, even in times where the demand for training is rising. Organizations report no-show rates from 5% to 20%. In some organizations they have taken to over-booking to compensate for no-shows. Keep in mind that most no-shows are NOT the fault of the LEARNER. We have found that the bulk of no-shows are triggered by managers and supervisors, making a last minute decision that the cost of absence from the office is too great. Focus your no-show prevention efforts on the managers.

Some tactics that seem to work include: greater amounts of contact with managers prior to the course, focusing on learning objectives and benefits to the organizational; telephone confirmations to managers 2 weeks out, which can be combined with needs assessment; greater levels of tuition for repeat no-show departments; a one to one conversation raising the trends of no-shows issues. We have found that many managers are not aware of the true cost of no-shows. We would be interested in hearing readers's comments on no-shows.

4. 320 Attend TechLearn Announcement - Wednesday Session Still Open: We had an overwhelming turnout to our telephone conference announcement last week. The 25 minute telephone conference included a listener survey on change rates and a quick overview of the TechLearn program and process. If you missed this or would like to join us for the next call, it is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 11th at 2:04 PM (Eastern Time). Just go to and reserve a space on the call - instantly receive the dial-in instructions.

5. MASIE Center Trip to Middle East, Asia & Australia Planned: I am honored to be presenting keynote speeches at several international training, learning, technology and HR conferences in the month of March. We are interested in meeting up with TechLearn Readers as Cathy and I travel to United Arab Emirates, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. If you are in these regions and would like to get together for a chat about learning and technology send an email to The 2 conferences include: Abu Dhabi: and Australia AITD Conference (send email to for contacts)