ASTD's Learning Circuits Express - 7 September 2000

11th Sep 2000
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Learning Circuits Express is an information service provided by Learning Circuits, ASTD’s online magazine about e-learning.

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1. E-Learning Portals--Who Needs Them?
2. Speculation Swirls Over E-Learning Napster Notion
3. An Online Guide to IT Training Certification
4. Project Code Name: E-Learning
5. Make Mine Interactive!



Excitement over the potential of the Internet to transform traditional corporate training has inspired the creation of a flood of New Economy companies, all of which are rushing to claim territory on the electronic frontier. As these companies busy themselves creating a new e-learning industry, a subcategory of e-learning portals has emerged to aggregate these products. Last year, approximately 100 portals opened their doors claiming to be the primary destination for online learning.

Corporate buyers are enthusiastic about the emergence of e-learning portals, according to the Masie Center, ranking them second among all new e-learning implementations in corporate America. However, conversations with corporate buyers indicate that their understanding of the various players and offerings is remarkably unsophisticated. Limited product knowledge, low market transparency, and an overwhelming number of products and services offered by hundreds of small startups represent serious challenges for buyers. Adding to the problem are concerns that some e-learning vendors may not be around a year from now.

So-called e-learning gurus, analysts, and the press have created a huge amount of hype around e-learning portals, and that has fueled corporations' excitement about this emerging training segment. In their effort to categorize and divide portals into B2C, B2B, B2E, horizontal, vertical, or even diagonal portals, however, these industry watchers have often failed to raise the question of whether and how a portal might create value for an organization. A portal solution promises many benefits to corporate buyers, but a number of drawbacks should be taken into consideration before rushing in.




The idea of a Napster-type system for sharing e-learning has captured the imagination of training professionals, as evidenced by recent discussions on training listservs and in e-newsletters. But technology experts caution that there's a long road ahead in setting the standards that would allow for such freewheeling content exchanges.

The Napster application, used for exchanging music over the Internet, highlights the benefits of industry-wide interoperability standards. Music is encoded in a standardized format known as MP3 by various software tools that comply with that standard, and played using one of dozens of software applications that also adhere to the standard.

The e-learning field, in contrast, lacks universal standards that would allow e-learning courses authored by one system to be shared and "played" over all other systems. Of course, content designed to run on one e-learning platform could function over other systems made by the same vendor, raising the specter of proprietary Napster-type exchanges. No vendors have yet announced plans for such a system, though several are developing object-database type systems that would allow for content swapping within proprietary confines.

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The best and most sought-after information technology trainers have complementary skill sets: technical skills in individual technologies, and soft skills in educational theory and practice. If you're considering certifying those skills, here's where to find useful information online.

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Governments worldwide are still big players in Net initiatives, and that greatly affects progress in e-learning. Here's a look at global trends in and digital learning.

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Here’s what’s brewing this week in the FREE interactive tool areas of Learning Circuits online magazine. Join in!

* TRY IT! Trainers’ central for free software trials, presentation resources, ROI calculators, and other online workplace tools.
* VOTE THIS WEEK. What's the best feature of e-learning portals?
* QUIZ THE ANSWER GEEK. How can I find the best e-Iearning apps and services?
* SEARCH OUR JOB BANK. A free search by keyword, job title, geography, and area of practice.
* DISCOVER THE BEST OF TECH TOOLS. Learn more about DVD, Flash 4, Cold Fusion, XML, and learning portals


Copyright 2000 by ASTD. All rights reserved.


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