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The TrainingZONE LearningWIRE - Issue 9

20th May 1998
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LearningWIRE - Issue 9
20 May 1998

A FREE electronic newsletter for net enabled people
engaged in training, learning, coaching and staff development.

Copyright (C) 1998 Sift plc. All rights reserved.
May be reproduced in any medium for non-commercial purposes as
long as attribution is given.

In this issue

  • From the Editor
  • Developments at TrainingZONE
  • Site review: Technologies for Training
  • Surf spots
  • A surf through Penbo's learning log
  • Web Watch: Are computers male or female?
  • About Sift
  • How to Subscribe

From the Editor

Welcome to the ninth in our regular series of update briefings.
We're aiming at a fortnightly mailing although this has been a bit
erratic in the past month. This issue reports some interesting
new developments, and the next issue should provide you with a
window into a whole new web field.

An error crept into the proofing of Issue 8: the email address for
Kevin McCarthy of the Re:membering Education team should have been
re:[email protected]. The colon is deliberate. Apologies to
anyone who tried using the wrong address.

Further to the feature on book-buying over the Internet in Issue
#6, news this month of further developments. The largest
bookseller online - has, until now, been severely
restricted in selling books to Europe because of the postage cost
that had to be added to each sale to ship the books from their
base in Seattle. Things are about to change however, as
has placed a foot into the UK by buying Bookpages this week - the
second largest UK specialist internet bookshop.

We're looking at carrying very short promotional advertising - for
products, jobs, events at the top of future issues. Just a couple
of lines to draw people's attention to what's available. Would
this be a useful feature? Would you be interested in featuring
something in the promotional or sponsorship area to reach our on-
line audience of trainers and managers?

As always, feedback, news items, reviews, product comments and
contributed features are always welcome for inclusion in
forthcoming issues.

Tim Pickles,
Editor, LearningWIRE and TrainingZONE
[email protected]

Developments at TrainingZONE

The first phase of our development was to successfully launch
LearningWIRE as a regular electronic update. The subscription
list is now expanding and we aim to use LearningWIRE as a handy
vehicle for keeping people informed of new developments.

However, the main focus has always been on the creation of a
highly relevant, focused, value-added website which would provide
training and development professionals it the UK with quick and
easy access to the information and resources they needed. Our
goal is to find the material for you and to save you time. It's
taken rather longer than originally anticipated to get to the
second phase, but the TrainingZONE website has now been active for
several weeks. Several new features have recently been added
including news monitors, discussion areas and a coaching zone. By
registering your name and email address with the site, not only
does the site automatically recognise who you are when next you
visit, but also you can configure the site to search for and
notify you of new postings related to topics which you prescribe.

If you feel confident about navigating web sites, please feel free
to browse. The next issue of LearningWIRE will contain more
detailed guidance about how to get the most from the site. The
site still has a few hiccups due to the complexity of the
underlying technology, so if you do discover a problem, we'd be
grateful to know.

In the coming weeks and months, we have plans for a range of new
features on the site. If there is content, links, directory
entries, key sites, etc. that you would like to see added to the
site, as always, please let me know.

Site review: Technologies for Training

Technologies for Training aims to provide information and advice
about technology-based training and computer-based training. It's
aimed mainly at businesses (of all sizes) but is equally relevant
to self-learners and small organisations wanting to explore the
sorts of training and learning resources which are increasingly
available electronically. The development of the site has been
funded by the Department for Education and Employment

As well as providing information through its website, Technologies
for Training aims to establish a network of information points and
demonstration centres through out the country. You should be able
to walk into these centres, view what is on offer, and give it a
hands-on trial. At this stage, the emphasis is upon England and
Wales, but negotiations are in hand to extend the service into
Scotland and Northern Ireland. Meanwhile Scottish users (and
anyone else) should look at the excellent resources developed by
the Scottish Council for Educational Technology.

The breadth of material covered by Technologies for Training is
considerable. They're interested in all forms of open and
flexible learning and guidance using a variety of mediums
including CD-ROM and the World Wide Web. (Interestingly, I read
recently of a University Business School which is piloting an MBA
programme for 60 students across the world using Internet
technology alone). The site offers helpful advice and support
about using such materials, points you at various sources, and
lists the demonstration centres.

There are an interesting series of ten briefing sheets covering a
range of topics which can be downloaded in HTML or Rich Text
Format. I checked out the sheets on 'Setting up a Learning
Resource Centre' which was particularly good, and also, 'Choosing
a Consultant' which had some solid and reliable advice.

The design of the site is primarily text-based, without graphical
or interactive features.
My overall ratings on a 1* to 5* range are:

  • Content ***
  • Design **

Surf spots

21 May 1998 has been designated as Learning at Work Day, to
encourage employers to celebrate learning in your workplace

The Institute of Personnel and Development has decided for a trial
period (until July 1999) to make it easier for members to upgrade
their membership class (Graduates to Members, Members to Fellows).
Those wishing to do so will require one sponsor (not two) and the
support of their immediate supervisor.

Forthcoming weekend courses for women to find support in making
changes in their lives, involving very small group workshops,
mentoring and support have now been scheduled in London. Also in
the pipeline is a pilot course for men, and the publication of a
new relaxation tape.

A surf through Penbo's learning log

Wednesday: A mate of mine who's well connected in Education has
tipped me off that there might be a role for me in Blunkett's new
stuff on Standards in schools. The White Paper said that 'various
educational interests' would unite to drive up standards - well
I'm an educationally-interested-person who loves to do prestigious
government contracts and of course to 'drive up standards' - so
I've e-mailed him to offer my services. There seems to be a Task
Force you can join so fingers crossed. E-mail to self 'Add words
to CV as follows 'Shortly to be invited to sit on the Standards
Task Force' Sounds great . .. nyet?'

Web Watch: Are computers male or female?

Brian Maule [email protected] recently wrote this
summary of the debate - which hardly follows politically-correct

As you are aware, ships have long been characterised as being
female (e.g. "Steady as she goes" or "She's listing to starboard,
Captain!"). Recently, a group of computer scientists (all males)
announced that computers should also be referred to as being
female. Their reasons for drawing this conclusion follow:

Five reasons to believe computers are female:

  1. No one but the Creator understands their internal logic.
  2. The native language they use to communicate with other
    computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.
  3. The message "Bad command or file name" is about as
    informative as, "If you don't know why I'm mad at you,
    then I'm certainly not going to tell you."
  4. Even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory
    for later retrieval.
  5. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself
    spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

However, another group of computer scientists (all female) think
that computers should be referred to as if they were male. Their
reasons follow:

Five reasons to believe computers are male:

  1. They have a lot of data, but are still clueless.
  2. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half
    the time they ARE the problem.
  3. As soon as you commit to one you realise that, if you
    had waited a little longer, you could have obtained a
    better model.
  4. In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.
  5. Big power surges knock them out for the rest of the night.

Time to make up your own mind?

About Sift

Sift plc is a leading developer of online communities. Based in
Bristol, Sift has developed AccountingWEB for professionals in the
accountancy profession. At the 1997 Online Information Exhibition
at Olympia, Sift were voted European Information Product of the
Year (and also runner up as Internet Product of 1997). You can
visit this site at

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Editor: Tim Pickles [email protected]
Sift plc., 33 Corn Street, Bristol BS1 1HT
Tel:+44 (0)117 930 8881 Fax:+44 (0)117 930 8887

Tim Pickles ***** Designing professional toolkits ***** The learning community


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