Online Learning News - 15 February issue

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17th Feb 2000
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A news and idea service of Bill Communications Inc. (Lakewood)
Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2000 Vol. 2, No. 47

_________________________________________________________________

Centra is the #1 choice of business professionals for live
eLearning. Attend a free online briefing at http://www.centra.com
_________________________________________________________________

THIS WEEK:

1. When learning isn't training
2. Getting started online
3. Exams via the Internet
4. Who needs media?
5. For managers who don't get it
6. Make us an offer -- but hurry up
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WHEN LEARNING ISN'T TRAINING

Just popping information on a Web site doesn't constitute
training -- but Web-based information surely contributes to
learning.

That's a key point as trainers adapt to a knowledge-management
environment, argues Marc J. Rosenberg ( [email protected] ).

Rosenberg, a principal with Diamond Technology Partners Inc. of
Bridgewater, NJ, makes the point in response to Patti Shank's list
of trainers' misconceptions about online learning ("Four ways you
get online learning wrong," Jan. 18).

Rosenberg says he disagrees with Shank on her second point, which
she entitled: "Look, instant online learning!"

"Just because it's on a Web page somewhere," Shank said last
month in OLL News, "doesn't make it training. Your human-resources
department posts benefits information each year. Is that
training?"

Rosenberg acknowledges that "there's nothing instant about
creating high-quality Web-based learning."

But, he adds, does it have to be training for learning to happen?

"Patti suggests that a company's benefits Web site is not training
and I agree," says Rosenberg. "But we read the information and we
learn."

People who go to public libraries don't take courses, but they
do learn, notes Rosenberg. "And," he adds, "millions of people
surf the Web for information. Again, they may not take training,
but no one can doubt that learning takes place."

BETTER THAN TRAINING?

"And perhaps it's more powerful than training," he muses, "because
people seek out these sites -- they want the information."

Trainers must escape their training-only fixation, Rosenberg
reasons. "We're not going anywhere if we continue to assume that
the only way people learn is through a course, online or
otherwise," he says.

"There's a growing realization that training is necessary
sometimes -- and information is necessary at other times."

That's where trainers come in. "The key -- and the value we
add -- is to know the difference," Rosenberg concludes.

"When we build well-structured information Web sites, for our
sales force, our technicians, our programmers, our executives,
our suppliers and our customers, we are building a knowledge-
management capability that may not be a training solution --
but it sure is a learning solution!"

Rosenberg's pre-conference session at TRAINING 2000 in Atlanta
is "Building a Digital Learning Strategy" on Sunday, Feb. 20.

Web registration for the show is closed, but you can still
register by calling 888-200-5078 or 703-318-0300.
_____________

GETTING STARTED WITH ONLINE DELIVERY

What's a beginner to do when it comes to creating computer-based
training?

"I have material I would like to put into CBT format," a
reader asked. "The problem: I'm not a computer whiz. Some
everyday folks have told me there are programs that let you
program even though a neophyte. Are there?"

Yes -- but beware of those that are too simple and too cheap.

An off-the-shelf start for the beginner is at
http://www.blackboard.com, says Karen Kanne Ngowe
( [email protected] ), a grad student at Michigan State University
in Lansing.

"The site allows you to design and put up a course for free,
an expanded course for $100," Ngowe says. "Or get their software
package, CourseInfo, if you like their format and plan to
institute it organization-wide.

"Like any pre-fab solution, it is a bit boxy -- but at least
it's user-friendly."

Ngowe also suggests a look at Macromedia's CourseBuilder
extension software for Dreamweaver 3, a Web-authoring tool. Free
trial downloads are at http://www.macromedia.com.

Ngowe, a research assistant on a Web-based instruction project
(see http://www.learnntc.com), adds this warning:

"Web design from scratch, even with authoring tools such as MS
FrontPage or Dreamweaver, can be VERY time consuming and
frustrating for the newbie.

"It might be best to try and find a flexible pre-fab solution
that can be modified to suit your clients' needs -- as opposed
to reinventing the wheel."

DUMPING ON SHOVELWARE

Another take: Corrie Bergeron Jr. ( [email protected] ) cautions
against authoring systems that let you dump existing content
into page-turner computer-based training "with plain-vanilla
multiple-choice quizzes, without writing a line of code," says
Bergeron. "In the CBT business we call this 'shovelware.' "

Bergeron, learning-systems architect at Walden University in
Bonita Springs, FL ( http://www.waldenu.edu), suggests these
questions for starters:

o Is the content suited to CBT delivery?

o Are the learning activities designed to take advantage of
the computer's ability to track user performance and
provide practice and feedback at varying levels of difficulty?

"There's a big, big difference between shovelware, which is
usually pretty cheap and easy," says Bergeron, "and quality,
educationally sound, computer-delivered instruction -- which
is not."

Vendors, meanwhile, suggest http://www.click2learn.com,
http://www.learningbyte.comand http://www.unitech1.com.
_____________

EXAMS VIA THE INTERNET

A reader asked about delivering exams via the Internet. You have
these suggestions:

Brian Ward ( [email protected] ), instructional technologist in the
entomology department at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, recommends
his department's WhizQuiz ( http://whizquiz.isis.vt.edu).

Ward calls WhizQuiz "very flexible in the formatting of questions,
answer choices, and feedback. You can include images, sound clips,
movies, and links in each of those.

"While you do not need to know HTML to create a quiz, you can use
it to make your quizzes look like the rest of your Web site."

WhizQuiz "does an excellent job" for exams, concludes Ward, but
"its real strength is in practice quizzes" because of "the
detailed level of feedback it can provide."

Other reader ideas on Web-based exams:

o Fiaaz Walji ( [email protected] ) manager of the training and
certification program at Corel Corp. in Ottawa, Ontario,
recommends Prove It ( http://www.proveit.com/).

o Gary D. Mickle ( [email protected] ), training manager with
Southwest Marine Inc. in San Diego, suggests Test Generator
at http://www.faincompany.com.

o Margie Schulte ( [email protected] ), education
manager with SSM Health Care Information Center in St. Louis,
says she has "heard high praises" for Question Mark
( http://www.questionmark.com).

Vendors, meanwhile, invite a look at:

http://www.esatest.com
http://www.clearlearning.com
http://www.computerprep.com
http://www.pedagogue.com

_____________

WHO NEEDS MEDIA?

If you need rich media to keep learners' attention in self-paced
training, you may be in a bind. Media turns turgid in many Web
connections, slowing down your training.

Stephany Prodromides ( [email protected] ), however, argues
that you don't need big media files to rivet certain learners.

Prodromides, instructional trainer with Yipinet LLC in Marina
Del Rey, CA, says Web-based self-paced training needn't be
media-rich if, for example, you're delivering state-required
certification courses.

Online-course provider Yipinet designs its engines and courses
for delivery via 28.8-kbs modems, says Prodromides -- which
accommodates some multimedia elements such as animations and
audio.

But text and graphics alone should suffice in a course certifying
an accountant on GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles),
or in use of accounting software, says Prodromides.

Some self-paced training requires rich media, she concedes --
video to teach surgery, for example.

But "bandwidth-hogging media is not always instructionally
necessary," Prodromides says, "nor is it the rule anymore
with Internet-savvy training providers."

"It's up to designers and technicians," she concludes, "to avoid
burdening courses with unnecessary media that prevents widespread
online delivery."

_____________

FOR MANAGERS WHO DON'T GET IT

Do you feel as though you're speaking a foreign tongue when you
tell line managers or employees about training? Do supervisors'
eyes glaze over when you explain needs analysis, performance
objectives, evaluation, self-paced learning?

Invite your glazees to take a look at
http://www.mapnp.org/library/trng_dev/trng_dev.htm.

The Training Basics for Supervisors and Learners site explains
fundamentals of adult learning theory, requirements of supervisors
during the training process, the merits of classroom-based vs.
self-paced learning, needs analysis, design, and evaluation.

The Basics area is part of a site called the Free Management
Library ( http://www.mapnp.org/library/topics.htm). Developer
is Carter McNamara, a Minneapolis management-development and
coaching consultant.

_____________

MAKE US AN OFFER -- BUT HURRY UP

Time's almost up, but we're still taking your proposals for
breakout sessions at OnLine Learning 2000 and Performance Support
2000, concurrent shows Sept. 25-27 in Denver.

Go to http://www.lakewoodconferences.com/presenter.htmfor
information on how to submit a proposal. Our ruthless conference
programming screeners may, just may, still consider it.
_____________

... AND FINALLY

__________________________________________________________________

Register for a FREE, Live, Online Training Program!

Attend a Webcast titled "The Future of Online Learning,"
broadcasting LIVE from the TRAINING/PRESENTATIONS 2000 Conference
and Expo on Feb. 21 from 1-2 p.m. EST. The discussion will
include experts Jack Gordon, Saul Carliner, and Lance Dublin.
To participate, simply register at http://www.trainingsupersite.com/traininglive
48 hours in advance.

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