Reminder: Call for Papers SIGIR'95

"Scott W. Paisley 303-497-7691" <paisley@boulder.nist.gov> Fri, 09 December 1994 02:24 UTC

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From: "Scott W. Paisley 303-497-7691" <paisley@boulder.nist.gov>
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Subject: Reminder: Call for Papers SIGIR'95
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Precedence: list

Jill,

I said I would forward you the information about the computer-training
list, and here it is!  (for real, eh?)

Liked the talk in the trainmat about surgery over the net.  Very
interesting.  BTW, I'm very interested in training issues, and will
probably be able to assist in this area.  I'll work on sending you
info about the current trainmat doc, but keep me in mind for other
things you might have in the future.

CHeers,

-Scott Paisley			(paisley@boulder.nist.gov)
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Welcome & a First Reading:

Every day or two, you will receive a DIGEST of news and messages about the 
Computer Training field.  These will be contributed by The MASIE Center, Key 
Software Publishers, Training Professionals and other publications.

This is a MODERATED and INTERACTIVE medium.  We will attempt to keep the 
focus professional and the traffic level appropriate, so that you do not tire 
of endless messages of low value.

When you want to CONTRIBUTE a message, send it to:

	Computer-Training@Bilbo.Isu.Edu

One of our editors will review and digest the messages.

If you would like to communicate with Elliott Masie, just send a message 
directly to:

	emasie@masie.com

The Mailing List is a service of:

The MASIE Center, a think tank in the fields of computer training and 
technology learning.  Elliott Masie, President, 1-800-98-MASIE.

Server and facilitation services donated by:

Simplot Decision Support Center, Idaho State University, Corey Schou, 
Director

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Here is the first article that was sent out to the entire group.   It is a 
think piece that will get you started on the Computer Training Mailing List 
Dialogue:

The Future of Computer Training and Learning
Technology Learning and Competency Trends & Opportunities
By Elliott Masie, President, The MASIE Center


The incredible rate of change in the world of technology creates an even 
greater rate of change in the field of computer training.   Each change to 
a person's workplace technology results in a direct need for them to learn. 
 Think about this rate of change.

Each time you read 100 pages of magazines' articles about new technology, 
there are a hundred unwritten pages of stories about the struggle of 
workers to cope with these unending changes to their workplace environment. 
 Every release of a new software package, every upgrade to a suite, every 
migration to a new form of database access, every expansion of networking 
capacity, every consideration of a new operating system and every shift 
from mainframe to desktop focus yields a need for workers to LEARN new 
skills, procedures and even attitudes.

Some of these workers will be fortunate enough to be able to attend a 
formal training course at their company.  Some will be handed a manual or 
computer based training disk to assist them in learning.  Many will use the 
help desk as a personal and very expensive tutor.   A large majority will 
interrupt their daily work tasks (and those of their colleagues in the next 
cubicle or office) to cope with the changes in an informal On-The-Job 
learning method.   One way or another, the nation's organizations will be 
paying an additional cost for each new piece and version of technology that 
enters the workplace.

This is the foundation of the computer training and learning industry and 
field.  We have seen the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs, and 
thousands of businesses, products and services to support the technology 
learning needs of our society.  These same forces of change are also direct 
challenges to those jobs, businesses, products and services.

The past two decades have been the Wonder Bread years for the computer 
training industry.  The growth of mainframe end-user computing and then the 
launch of the personal computer created an immediate need for training and 
support services and birthed our new field.  Many of the first players in 
the computer training field got their by accident.  If you had one weeks 
more experience with Visicalc, the first spreadsheet, you could open the 
doors of a new training center.  If you were able to explain how to send a 
PROFS e-mail message, you were designated as the in-house guru and trainer. 
  Software publishers launched the first Authorized Training Centers as a 
way of assuring organizations that there were actual people available to 
teach them to use these new and daunting technologies.

We have come a long way in these past two decades.  As technology evolves 
into an everyday reality in our offices, homes and even briefcases, 
computer training is evolving to a more mature and diverse field.

1) Good-bye Mom and Pop: The days of the corner Mom and Pop Computer 
Learning Center are almost numbered.  In order to operate a full service 
training classroom, one needs high-end computers, with loads of memory, a 
high-speed network and instructors skilled with a depth of knowledge about 
various configurations and combinations of technology.  The capital 
required to maintain these classrooms and market effectively to major 
corporations is changing the landscape of the computer training industry.  
Each week I hear of at least two training companies that have merged, been 
acquired or joined a national franchise operation.   Expect to see larger 
players entering the training and support business.  Watch for the Baby 
Bells to develop help desk and support outsourcing businesses in the next 
18 months.


2) Outsourcing Rampant:  The forces of re-engineering and downsizing are 
driving a large percentage of computer training out of the corporate 
organizational chart.  Large scale and segment specific outsourcing of 
computer training is in vogue.  We have witnessed a shrinking of the number 
of full-time trainers on the headcount of major corporations.   It is not 
uncommon to see a computer training department servicing 10,000 users with 
a staff of only 3 or 4 people, primarily involved in the contracting and 
scheduling of training.

Much of this outsourcing is happening right on the property of major 
organizations.  Corporate classrooms are more likely to have an external 
trainer at the overhead projector and some classrooms are even being leased 
out to external training centers for total management.  

3) Can I See Your Certification Please?:   The days of self-certification 
are over.  Software publishers, following the strong lead of Novell, have 
taken to the certification bandwagon.  Every major software publisher has 
created or is about to launch a testing and certification program aimed at 
the technical population of their user community. 

Certification of support staff, trainers, developers, programmers and even 
end-users is a goal of the software industry, in order to protect the image 
of their product.  If you have a problem with our database or network and 
can't get good support from your MIS department, you might end up blaming 
the product.  Certification programs are aiming to develop an envelope of 
competency and support surrounding each major system and application suite. 
 Expect to see more tests and greater emphasis on career track testing (eg. 
Client Server Certified Programmer).  

4) Planned Expenditures:  This point is based more on hope and need than a 
perceived trend.   One of the my major frustrations is the lack of reality 
budgeting for computer training.  Most companies do not link the 
acquisition of technology with the totally certain need for increased 
computer training and support.  The majority of training requests are 
triggered by immediate needs, rather than a planned approach to technology 
skill investment.

A perfect example is the upcoming release of Microsoft's Windows 95.  The 
MASIE Center has been surveying planning for this upgrade, which will be 
the largest single upgrade in the history of automation.  Fewer than 1% of 
organizations surveyed in August 1994 have made any plans for the training 
and support of this product scheduled for release in early 1995.  It does 
not live in the budgets of computer training departments, help desks or the 
business units that await its ship date.   Can you imagine an airline 
awaiting the arrival of a new model plane from Boeing and not budgeting for 
the retraining of their pilots?

Organizations must face the reality that the full cost of each new 
technology includes the cost of formal and informal computer learning and 
support.   As planning for learning is added to the technology migration 
process it will allow for longer-term deals with training vendors and will 
also lead to more strategic decisions about investing in employee skills.

 5) I Want It NOW and I Want it HERE!   A good percentage of computer 
training comes at the wrong time.  It is either scheduled for two months 
after an employee starts.  Or, it is on the calendar for 6 weeks before 
they have a real need for the application.

Another large percentage of computer training takes place at the wrong 
location.   Workers away from the home office receive less training then 
their colleagues back at headquarters.  Night shift workers are rarely on 
the rolls for computer classes.  And, mobile and commissioned sales staff 
are the most frequent no-shows in computer training programs.

 "I want my workers to be able to sit at their desks and learn what they 
need to do their jobs today.  Tomorrow, let them learn what they need 
tomorrow.  I can't afford to have my people going to training every time a 
new package hits the network."  That sentiment was expressed recently by a 
manager of 35 banking professionals.  She wants her people to learn the new 
technology, but only when they need the information and with as few trips 
to classroom as possible.   Here are some of the trends that are emerging 
to meet this demand.

Just-In-Time Training:  Upgrades will be taught in shorter classes, perhaps 
only a one-hour live session with a take away CBT learning disk.   One 
training vendor now has a one-day Microsoft Suite class, where they teach 
how to self-learn 4 or 5 products in six hours.  The trainer is just 
providing the motivation, context and overview, with the focus on the 
learner doing the bulk of work on their own back at their desktop.    

Integrating Computer Training & Job Training:  Most companies still have 
separate offerings for computer training and job functions.  Bank officers 
go to one training department to learn how to approve loans and then go to 
the technology education center to learn how to use Excel or 1-2-3.  The 
melding of these two learning tasks is underway in corporate America.   
Progressive training departments of melding the curriculum from the Human 
Resource and Technical Training departments to provide single offerings 
that will teach someone how to issue a loan and use the spreadsheet as a 
work tool.   Courseware developers are stepping up to this task with new 
technology that allow customers to edit, re-sequence and integrate computer 
courses with internal content.

The Wandering Trainer:  Organizations are starting to place trainers in the 
workplace rather than the front of the classroom.  By spending their day 
working at the desktop with users they can often deliver the critical 
element of training that is needed to keep them productive.  One company 
dispatched their trainers to provide "Sneaker Based Learning", with each 
teacher spending two days a week in the workplace.   In addition to holding 
impromptu classes, they also were able to tweak the configurations of 
worker's computers and write a couple of simple but value macros to 
simplify a task.  When these wandering trainers returned to the classroom 
they often dramatically changed the focus of their classes to match 
workplace reality.

Scheduled Help Desk Based Training:  Some applications can be taught by 
phone through a scheduled training event.  When I hooked up our 
organization to the Internet, I was given a time to call the help desk, 
along with a set of reading materials.  The technician broke from his 
stream of assistance calls to spend 90 minutes walking me through a complex 
set of new programs.  It was a perfect and very cost-effective way to get 
me up and running.   Blend that with a computer-based training or demo and 
it becomes a viable alternative to classroom training for certain users and 
applications.

Just the Disk, Mamm:  The thirst is growing for great computer based 
training.  The growth of the CD ROM technology, the exposure to children's 
software and the increased bundling of CBT with applications has 
pre-conditioned the marketplace for this category of product.  Watch for an 
explosion of new CBT and learning products in 1995.  The open question will 
be their effectiveness and full acceptance by users.  The simple porting of 
a curriculum from classroom training to disk will not be acceptable.  
Developers will need to hear the desire of users for these features in 
computer based training:
	* Freedom of sequence, segment and style.  Users want to be able to 
skip the stuff they know, bypass the stuff they don't want to know and 
learn without having to answer a test question on every screen.   They 
don't want to take the worst parts of a classroom and migrate it to the 
desktop.  They want to make CBT into Personal Learning, with choice and 
freedom.
	* Real work examples.  Users want to work with examples from their 
workplace rather than the ACME Company.  Developers will need to provide an 
ability for easy local customization.
	* Linkage to classroom learning.   Users will often use CBT before, 
during and after attending a class.  Organizations want to be able to 
purchase a training process that will integrate desktop learning with 
classroom offerings.  The use of in-class CBT for information transfer and 
remedial assistance can allow for larger and more cost-effective courses.
Prediction:  Watch for new players in the business CBT industry.  
Educational software and entertainment groups have been eyeing the business 
market as a natural extension for their artists, authors and marketers.

Over the Net:  Distance learning is here!  The amazing spread of the 
Internet is yielding a new medium for delivering learning.  I recently 
offered a pilot course on Training Skills for Teaching New Technology via 
the Internet.  I asked for a few interested folks to help us experiment 
with delivering content modules to their desktops via Internet delivered 
E-Mail.  A response of a few dozens would have been delightful.  We had 
over 4,000 people apply.

The economics are intriguing, as it really costs us just a few cents a 
student to distribute the content modules.   Several dozen technology 
organizations are monitoring this course to adapt the approach to their 
continuing education offerings.  As additional tools for network learning 
are developed and disseminated, watch for the rise of in-house and 
externally offered on-line courses.

In Your Face:   Desktop video-conferencing is about to hit in a big way.  
The cost of live two-way desktop video will be dropping to under $1,000 a 
desktop by the start of 1995.  ISDN capacity is blooming in most 
organizations and even in the home.  The ability to conduct a class with a 
live instructor at one site and the learners in many sites, with full 
instructor access to each desktop is currently available.   Organizations 
like Picture-Tel, AT&T and Intel are leading the way with the enabling 
technology.  The computer training industry will need to quickly adapt to 
this new channel of information.  Imagine a Pay Per View computer training 
course, delivered to your desktop via the cable with an ability to dialogue 
with live instructors during the discussion section.  It's coming!

	* Scattered Computer Training Buying:  We have watched a shift in 
the point of purchase of training materials and services from a central 
office to the business units of organizations.  Many corporations are 
giving their business units the ability to buy training from any source, 
including the internal training department.  There are more people, in more 
scattered locations, involved in computer training decisions and purchases.

	* Charge Back Confusion:  Companies are also struggling to develop 
models for assessing and recovering the costs of training and support.   
Thinking of these charges as a form of taxation yields some intriguing 
alternatives.  Why charge for learning and give support for free?  Or, 
perhaps provide an incentive for business units that develop a lower 
dependency on help desk services.

	* Employee Pay Thy Way:  A number of corporations are working on 
the concept of sharing the cost of learning investment with the employee.  
One beverage company requires all workers to have WordPerfect skills the 
day they start their employment.  They can attend free classes in the 
learning center, but must be able to pass the competency test before the 
report to work.  This shifts the salary costs of learning to the employee. 
 Other groups are considering employee contributions to CNE certification 
as an recognition of the impact on the worker's future earning and career 
potential.

	* Taxes at Work in Learning Labs:  The push on retraining is 
leading to proposals for tax dollar support for computer training.  This is 
reflected in proposed legislation before Congress and in local efforts to 
use community college training services as part of their economic 
development strategy to attract and support business growth.  

	* Bundled Models for Training Services:  Training vendors are also 
continuing their development of models for pricing classes and services.   
Watch for all-you-can-learn pricing plans as well as national contracts to 
provide complete training services on a per desktop annual cost.   The 
economics of the computer training business will evolve as the maturity of 
the field increases and as learning is recognized as a perpetual portion of 
the technology expense budget. 

Summary:

Change!  Computer training is not a field for the weak hearted or stability 
focused person or business.  In many ways, computer training is a change 
adaptation mechanism.  We have our jobs, we have our training centers and 
we have our learning products because technology has changed and people 
have to adapt to those changes.   To survive in the computer training 
field, as a corporate learning specialist, a freelance trainer or the 
manager of a applications training center, you will need to stay abreast of 
every change possible, experiment with every new technology and be an early 
and critical adapter of new models for providing learning to our workforce. 
  
Fasten your seat belt, we are in for an exciting ride.


The following article was adapted from the 2nd Edition of The Computer 
Training Handbook, by Elliott Masie.  For ordering information: 
800-707-7769