Friday, January 11, 2002

I was doing some looking around on the ASTD's Online Community Web page, and came across the transcript of a chat on e-leanring resources that took place on November 13, 2001. The chat was hosted by Wendy Collins, Director of Multimedia Development at Films for the Humanities & Sciences (FFH). Click here to view the transcript of the chat. Lots of good information and links were included in the chat.

On the question of delivery, Wendy advocates "blended" learning. This means that e-learning should be supplemented with face to face (F2F) learning in instructor-led classroom sessions. The following model was advocated as an example of how this approach might be implemented.

  1. The "Introductory" or "Baseline" learning is broken out as an asynchronous online course.
  2. Next learners are brought together for an instructor-led, F2F session.
  3. Finally a follow-up, asynchronous online session is offered to reinforce learning.

It was also suggested that each of these parts be offered in order and that completion of each step be the prerequisite for involvement in the next.

The following links were offered as resources by those participating in the chat:
Elliot Masie is a legend in the training and development world and his site is a great resource. Jay Cross of calls Elliot "larger than life."

The points raised in this chat echoed those of yesterday's chat hosted by Thomas Toth--online training developers are well advised to incorporate a F2F component in their learning solutions. Many online institutions (Capella and Royal Roads, for instance) include a residency requirement as part of the courses they offer.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Today I participated in an online chat hosted by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). The chat--The E-Learning Developer's Toolbox--featured Thomas Toth of as a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Today's chat was run using software from eShare Technologies and lasted for an hour and involved 50 participants. The session contained some great information. For instance, Toth recommends that Authorware NOT be used for developing Web-based Training (WBT) unless the following three conditions can be met:

  1. Learners have a VERY fast connection to the Web.
  2. You're positive that all potential users can access and download a BIG plug-in.
  3. Potential users are PC savvy and able to deal with the plug-in's interface.

Authorware is better suited for developing Computer-based (i.e., CD-ROM-based) Training (CBT).

For WBT Toth recommends using the Coursebuilder add-on for Dreamweaver. He also said that WBT should be produced in "good ol'" HTML and that "out of the box" applications on the market typically attempt to include DHTML, XML or other solutions in an attempt to overcome browser-specific delivery issues.

We were told that today's session will be archived on the ASTD's site next week. Once the transcript is posted, I'll add a link to this post.

Back to the topic of Learning Objects...
I think that one of the major problems with Knowledge Objects/Learning Objects as an area of study is one of semantics. Just what is a Learning Object?

This and other topics are addressed in a threaded group discussion at the elearning forum. This forum contains more great resources on this topic--I found the archives to be especially valuable.Go to this link and navigate to Jay's entry from August 13, 2001 for Jay's take on the notion of "size" and Learning Objects.

The forum is moderated by Jay Cross, CEO of
NOTE: Jay's site is a *FANTASTIC* reource for information on eLearning.

The What are Learning Objects is another great resource on this topic.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Today I got to sit in on--"in person" as opposed to online--a presentation on "Conferencing" by my good friend, and co-worker, Dan McMahon. Dan's audience was the Remote Sales staff of our company, SMART Technologies, Inc.

Dan touched on all aspects of conferencing:

  • conference types (audio, data and video)
  • integration (many vendors use NetMeeting on the client side)
  • technical issues (firewalls, bandwidth, Virtual Private Networks (VPN))
  • connections (dial-up, DSL/Cable, ISDN,....)

Dan also talked about integration of our product line--SMART RoomwareTM--with the conferencing products of several vendors. Dan also pointed us to the SMART Conferencing Resource Center for those looking for integrated conferencing solutions.

Just as I was about to post this message, I received this week's edition of the Wainhouse Research Bulletin, by Wainhouse Research, in my inbox. Access the issue, as a PDF, from the archive at Vol 3 #2. Topics in this issue include:

  • They're Back! (8x8)
  • Avistar Shrinks Camera
  • InView hosts Free Video Program
  • Macintosh Meetings
  • Deals: RADVISION & VisionNex, Genesys, WebEx, Brinckmann &
  • Masergy, PUG & PGC united, IP Unity, Spracht & Genesys
  • Dollars: Investcorp acquires ECI, Market Cap Index, Polycom, Wire One
  • Codec Moments (redux): The Donkey & The Carrot

The WR Bulletin is a great resource for information on "the technologies, products, vendors, applications, and market trends in the visual collaboration and rich media communications marketplace." Click here to subscribe.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

Today I attended an online educational seminar -- Best Practices -- Leading a Live, Online Session hosted by Jo-Ann Driscoll of Centra.

The session used Symposium by Centra and included Voice over IP (VOIP), application sharing and chat -- all on a synchronous basis and, as the title suggests, outlined concepts, issues and strategies for trainers interested in delivering training online.

Symposium is Centra's "virtual classroom" software. Participants need to install "client" software in order to be able to access online sessions. Part of the installation process includes a wizard which assesses your Web browser, network connection and audio (headphone/speakers and microphone) settings. I found the software easy to install and use.

Once the client software is loaded on your computer, you'll need to enter your username and password in the spaces provided to access a given session. Your username and password are e-mailed to you once you complete registration for a given seminar.

Today's session included more than 200 participants and dealt with all aspects of planning and conducting an online seminar. Feedback was solicited from participants during the seminar in the form of multiple-choice and yes/no questionnaires.

All mannner of topics were covered during the session--from characteristics of "new" versus "experienced" learners, through technical issues regarding audio connections and microphones and considerations for managing small and large groups, to dealing with technical difficulties.

Another nice feature of Symposium is that session content is archived and available to participants following the seminar. The Centra Content Manager can be downloaded to help you maintain content from a series of seminars.

I am impressed by the technology Centra has to offer and believe it is a valuable tool for synchronous online training.

Monday, January 07, 2002

The Daily Links newsletter produced by is a resource I find very valuable. Today's links include a reference to a whitepaper produced by the The Pew Learning and Technology Program.

Innovations in Online Learning: Moving Beyond No Significant Difference, is the result of a symposium held "on December 8 and 9, 2000, in Phoenix, Arizona, [that] gathered a group of faculty and administrators--those who were already 'moving the ATMs outside the bank,' so to speak--to consider the question of how to move online learning beyond being 'as good as' traditional education."

Prior to meeting for the symposium in Phoenix, we are told, "participants [were asked] to think about how information technology can be used specifically to address the major challenges of higher education: improving quality, increasing access, and reducing costs."

The paper also contains a series of case studies of innovations in online learning.

The "no significant difference" of the title refers to the research that indicates that there isn't any "significant difference" when it comes to knowledge transfer in online courses as compared with that of "traditional" courses.

The paper closes with suggestions for reducing the costs associated with online education and prescriptions for "sustaining innovation" when developing and delivering online education.

Sunday, January 06, 2002

This entry is related to assigned readings for the week of 07 January, 2002 for CTL1602 at OISE/UT

Peter Drucker's article from the Atlantic Monthly (Oct/99)
Beyond the Information Revolution tells us that the information revolution is actually a knowledge revolution. This revolution means more and more organizations rely on knowledge workers to be successful.

Attracting and keeping these workers is crucial for successful knowledge-based organizations. Furthermore, Drucker tells us, attempting to bribe the knowledge worker will "simply not work." Drucker closes his article with a prescription for motivating those within knowledge-based industries:

Increasingly, performance in these new knowledge-based industries will come to depend on running the institution so as to attract, hold, and motivate knowledge workers. When this can no longer be done by satisfying knowledge workers' greed, as we are now trying to do, it will have to be done by satisfying their values, and by giving them social recognition and social power. It will have to be done by turning them from subordinates into fellow executives, and from employees, however well paid, into partners.

Internet Paradox: A Social Technology That Reduces Social Involvement and Psychological Well-Being?
Robert Kraut and Vicki Lundmark; Michael Patterson and Sara Kiesler; Tridas Mukopadhyay; William Scherlis
Carnegie Mellon University

This paper is ripe with references and graphs relating the outcomes of measures and experiments, and I need more time with it. So far, I've been struck by what may be contradictions -- maybe this can be attributed to the paradoxical nature of the Internet;)
ADDED: 09Jan02
I'm finally getting back to the paradox.

The paper's abstract closes with:

"In this sample, the Internet was used extensively for communication. Nonetheless, greater use of the Internet was associated with declines in participants' communication with family members in the household, declines in the size of their social circle, and increases in their depression and loneliness. These findings have implications for research, for public policy, and for the design of technology."

I'll be back with a post regarding the "implications" listed.