You are on page 1of 64

Volume 2, Issue 4 July/August 2000

The contents of this Issue do not necessarily reflect the policies or the views of the co-sponsors or their affiliates

5 Skill Training: Aiming at a Moving Target

Wadi D. Haddad, Editor

Skill Training is not what it used to be. Planning for it now has to happen under a constantly changing
environment. This leads to new rules of the game for economic success and for the role of technology.

7 Vocational and Technical Training: 7 Policies for the Effective Use of Technology
Laurence Wolff, Inter-American Development Bank

In order to use effectively technology to improve and strengthen technical and vocational training, it is
necessary to have the right public policies in place. This article summarizes recent thinking on this important

9 Vocational and Technical Education, the "American Way"

Sonia Jurich

The Tech-Prep and School to Work programs have been instrumental in bringing vocational education to the
center stage of a discussion on American education, in opening the lines of communication between
employers and schools and between secondary and post-secondary institutions, and in spreading the
premises of contextual learning.

13 TechKnowNews
♦ Online University Teams Up With Hopkins Library to Offer Digital Resources ♦ New University in Vietnam
Will Rely Heavily on Information Technology ♦ New System of Peer Review Rating Academic Websites ♦
President Clinton Appoints Advisory Committee on Expanding Training Opportunities ♦ Tech Companies
Lobby Congress for Improved Math and Science Education ♦ Barnes & to Offer Free Online

! 1 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

14 Getting the Most Out of Online Training: Integrating the Missing Ingredients
Raymond L. Vigil, Ph.D., Vice President, Lucent Technologies Enterprise Networks Group, Global
Learning Solutions

Imagine a highly interactive, synchronous, internet-managed learning experience between distant locations
over vast national and international networks, providing learners with an ability to obtain simultaneous
distance learning services from their geographically dispersed organizations, schools and other colleagues.
This article describes how a well designed, integrated system can provide effective e-Learning solutions.

20 Skills Training: Where Simulations Are At Home

Claudio de Moura Castro, Inter-American Development Bank

Simulation has been a tool used by trainers for a long while. This article describes how simulation is used for
training in various industries.

23 Low-Investment Internet-Based Distance Learning Solutions: Systems and Procedures

Jason Hughes, Lecturer, Centre for Labour Market Studies, Leicester University, United Kingdom

This article is a case study of the development of a low-investment, internet-based, conferencing software
solution implemented at a distance learning center within the University of Leicester, UK. It explores the
practical issues encountered in establishing an online learning community, and how these issues were
addressed and resolved.

28 High Tech/Grassroots Education: Community Learning Centers (CLCs) for Skill Building
Mary Fontaine, The LearnLink Project, Academy for Educational Development

This article is a description of two Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in Africa that provide training and
learning opportunities for trainees at the grassroots level. It illustrates design and implementation elements
that are proving effective for both the CLCs and their clients.

32 The Lowly Correspondence Courses for the Masses: Fraud or Redemption?

Claudio de Moura Castro, Inter-American Development Bank

Correspondence education remains a powerful means to reach modest clienteles with practical courses that
have positive impact in their lives. This article summarizes a survey that shatters conventional wisdom.

35 Computer Software Development: An Export Industry for Developing Countries

Gregg B. Jackson, Ph.D., George Washington University

Can a country with inefficient ports, unreliable trains, and intermittent electrical service ever hope to compete
with American and European firms in engineering networks, writing commercially distributed software, and
developing sophisticated web sites? Can a country with long history of trade restrictions think to do so? Can
a country with widespread illiteracy expect to do so?

39 What, No Lectures? The Francis Tuttle Vocational School

Claudio de Moura Castro and Norma Garcia, Inter-American Development Bank

The late Dr. Francis Tuttle and his staff were entrusted to develop a first rate vocational training system. That
system has evolved through the years to become so remarkable that it has been considered by educators

! 2 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

and industrialists to be one of the leading training systems in the U.S. and has been visited by groups from 47
countries worldwide. Can it be replicated?

43 Technology for Skill Training: A Medical Affair

Sonia Jurich

Physicians and medical researchers recognized the potential of Information and Communication
Technologies (ICT) for medical education and research. This article reviews the literature on the use of
complex simulators, virtual laboratories, and Internet-based tutorials for the training of medical personnel.

46 Training of Technical and Vocational Teachers: A Case Study of a Low Tech Alternative
John Bartram, The Commonwealth of Learning and Dr. Nancy George, University of Technology, Jamaica

While many in North America appear to equate distance learning with virtual or cyber-learning centered on
the computer and its networking capabilities to deliver learning packages and stimulate interaction with
students, there are significant groups with learning needs for whom this paradigm is an inappropriate
technology. This article presents a case study that describes the use of low tech for the training of Technical
and Vocational teachers in small island states.

48 Tertiary Occupational Skill Training on the Web: A Shopper's Guide

Gregg B. Jackson, Ph.D., George Washington University

The web can be used to find a wide range of skill training. To benefit from these opportunities, this article
helps prospective students to deal with four critical determinants: (1) whether distance education is well suited
to their needs and preferences: (2) in which occupational field should they take training; (3) how to find the
various providers of training in the selected field; and. (4) which program will best contribute to their career

51 On the Move
Upcoming Events: Conference, Seminars, Exhibits, Training Courses, etc.

53 What You Need to Know Before Buying a Computer

Rafael Chargel

Everybody seems to own, or intends to own a computer. The problem is, which computer is right for you?

! 3 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

55 Enhancing Vocational Skills: Interactive Media Training
Jelena Lewis

One of the most useful applications for multimedia (videos and CD-ROM) is skill enhancement and training.
This article reviews a sample of instructional/training CD-ROMs and videos in the areas of technical training,
medical training, and general skill training.

57 WorthWhileWebs
Gregg B. Jackson, Ph.D., George Washington University

There are thousands of sub-baccalaureate training programs, at the tertiary level, currently available through
the Web. There are also hundreds of web sites that are intended to help people find that training. This article
presents a few that appear most useful as well as several e-Learning web sites that offer technical, business
and other courses.

59 The Bluetooth Connection: Saying Goodbye to Wires

Jelena Lewis

Wireless technology has been around for a few years now. The Bluetooth vision is to take the current wireless
a step further, by broadening the wireless range of interaction in order to incorporate more than just

61 "Virtualized Reality": The Future of Television?

Rafael Chargel

We've heard of virtual reality, but what about "virtualized reality"? How does it work and what implications
does it have for training?

62 Global Learning Solutions

Global Learning Solutions of Lucent Technologies has been recognized as one of the top eLearning
organizations in the corporate training industry. Its executive leadership team, its technical expertise, its
assets in intellectual property and its physical assets make it one of the world’s most experienced full service
eLearning service providers.

63 Inter-American Development Bank

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) lends approximately $400 million per year to education
projects. Read about what education and technology projects IDB is supporting in the Latin America

64 Peace Corps Moves Into Information Technology

The Peace Corps launches an e-initiative to address the increased demand for Information Technology
skills worldwide.

! 4 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Wadi D. Haddad, Editor

Skill Training: Aiming at a Moving Target ©Corel

There was a time when planning for vocational and technical

training was a straightforward exercise: manpower planners • Countries and firms can no longer rely on a low-wage
would map out needs of the different sectors of the economy edge; industry will have to develop and mature
with reasonable precision, classify corresponding jobs by technologically and managerially and will need to place
level, define skill requirements for each job and subsequently a greater emphasis on productivity, quality and
project the manpower needs. It was then fairly easy for flexibility in production.
educational planners to take this "dependable" information • Workers can no more be trained once for life. They need
and build on it technical and vocational education programs. to acquire flexible training to cope with the changing
nature of their existing tasks and the requirements of
The Moving Target new tasks.
Life is not that easy anymore. Everything is changing faster • Learning new skills required by emerging jobs
than the life cycle of a training program: sectoral needs, job necessitates a solid scientific and technological
definitions, skill requirements and training standards. foundation as well as an array of high order cognitive
Countries, firms and workers are all feeling the effects of the and social skills, such as, problem solving, flexibility,
changing patterns of trade and competition, technological agility, resourcefulness, collaboration and teamwork,
innovation and globalization of information. “how to learn”, and entrepreneurship.
• Everyday living is becoming technologically more and
First, producers of tradable goods and services now must more sophisticated. We need technical skills to cope
operate in a global marketplace. They will be more with home appliances, entertainment devices,
interdependent, more susceptible to external economic communication equipment and marketplace processes.
shocks, and more vulnerable to international changes in We need to continuously update and upgrade these
demand for types and quality of products and services. It also skills, otherwise, and in a very short time, we find
makes it hard to predict the skills that will be needed in the ourselves in a way "disabled" and outdated.
Three Arrows
Second, industrialized countries are moving away from mass
First, since both producers and consumers must be prepared
production toward high performance systems, and are
to respond immediately to changing markets and
compensating for high wages with improved productivity.
technologies, the general education of the ordinary public
The production of manufacturing and high-valued services
must provide a solid basis for trainability. In addition to
no longer filter down “naturally” from high-income to
contextual teaching of science and mathematics, many
middle- and low-income countries based on labor costs
countries are re-introducing the concept of "bridging" the
alone. The location of manufacturing and high-value service
worlds of work and school. The United States recently
depends on the producer’s ability to control quality, and
passed legislation known as “School to Work Opportunities
manage flexible, information-based systems.
Act,” which requires that classes from kindergarten through
high schools integrate discussion of the workplace into the
Third, the emerging economy will no longer be centrally
curriculum and provide opportunities for secondary students
created and controlled by national governments. As
to participate in the workforce. In the United Kingdom, all
countries become more open to international trade,
secondary schools are to provide, for all their students,
production will reflect international and not just national
periods of work experience, systematic and extended
demand. This environment, which will be dominated by
professional career guidance, and opportunities for
private sector and not government jobs, will place a premium
vocational study.
on entrepreneurship, or the ability of individuals to respond
to market changes through creating their own businesses. As
Second, while general education provides the foundation and
indicated above, secondary education is the most immediate
flexibility to acquire skills for new jobs, there needs to be a
venue to prepare young people for these opportunities.
training system in place to enhance the quality and efficiency
of product development, production and maintenance.
New Rules of the Game Ideally, enterprise training, based on sound general
These facts change the rules of the game for economic education, can be the more effective and efficient way to

! 5 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

develop the skills of the workforce. It has the following
advantages: TechKnowLogia™
Published by
• Employers train workers as quickly as possible and
Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.
place them straight-away in jobs that use their skills;
• Enterprises usually have the technology and In editorial collaboration with
expertise to train their staff in both traditional and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
newly emerging skills. Organization (UNESCO )
Organization for Economic Co-operation
• Enterprises immediately reflect their response to the and Development (OECD )
market place into training content.
Wadi D. Haddad, President, Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.
Despite these advantages, it is unrealistic to limit all skill
development to enterprise training. The extent and quality of INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD:
private-sector enterprise training is constrained by the nature Gajaraj Dhanarajan, President & CEO,
of the economy and the level of enterprise development. The Commonwealth of Learning
Dee Dickenson, CEO, New Horizons for Learning
These constraints require a continuing presence on the part of Alexandra Draxler, Director, Task force on Education for
the government to ensure an adequate amount and quality of the Twenty-first Century (UNESCO)
training. Public training, however, has not had a consistently Jacques Hallak, Director, Int'l Bureau of Education
good record in efficiency and flexibility, and significant Pedro Paulo Poppovic, Secretary of Distance Education,
Federal Ministry of Education, Brazil
improvements need to be introduced. Nicholas Veliotes, President Emeritus,
Association of American Publishers
Third, ordinary individuals must have access to training
opportunities to learn skills necessary for them to lead active ADVISORY EDITORIAL COMMITTEE:
Joanne Capper, Sr. Education Specialist, World Bank
lives in modern society. The September/October issue of Claudio Castro, Chief Education Adviser, IDB
TechKnowLogia will deal with the broader theme of Life Dennis Foote, Director, LearnLinks, AED
Long Learning. Gregg Jackson, Assoc. Prof., George Washington Univ.
James Johnson, Deputy Director, GIIC
Frank Method, Dir., Washington Office, UNESCO
Technology: An Old Friend Laurence Wolff, Sr. Consultant, IDB
The Technical and Vocational Training sector has,
historically, been very innovative and daring in the use of CONTRIBUTING EDITORS:
technology for instruction, training and practice. In the face Jarl Bengtsson, Head, CERI, OEDC
Sonia Jurich, Consultant
of the emerging challenges facing countries, firms, producers Glenn Kleiman, VP, Education Development Center
and consumers, the advancements in information and Dan Wagner, Director, International Literacy Institute
communication technologies offer real hope to meet these
challenges in a timely, effective and sustainable manner. MANAGING EDITOR:
Sandra Haddad
Technology can be very powerful as an instructional and
distributional tool over the whole range of skill training: RESEARCH ASSISTANT:
basic and advanced; synchronous and asynchronous; Jelena Lewis
individual and group; residential and at a distance; virtual,
simulated and hands-on.
This Issue of TechknowLogia explores many of these
possibilities over a wide range of technologies including EDITORIAL MATTERS:
correspondence, simulations, Internet, and e-learning SPONSORSHIP AND ADVERTISING
superstructure. But no technology can be a substitute for
good policies and strategies. No matter how sharp the arrow
is, it will not hit a moving target without good aiming and a ADDRESS AND FAX
Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.
steady hand. P.O. Box 3027
Oakton, VA 22124
Fax: 703-242-2279
This issue is co-sponsored by:
Lucent Technologies
Inter-American Development Bank

! 6 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Vocational and Technical Training:

7 Policies for the Effective Use of Technology

by Laurence Wolff
Inter-American Development Bank

This issue of Techknowlogia describes a variety of ways of utilizing tech-

nology to improve and strengthen technical and vocational training. But to
effectively use technology for these purposes, it is necessary to have the
right public policies in place for the support of training. This article sum-
marizes recent thinking on this important subject in the form of seven criti-
cal points. It is based on two documents, Skills for Productivity, Vocational
Education and Training in Developing Countries, by John Middleton, Adrian
Ziderman, and Arvil van Adams, Oxford University Press, 1993, and “Voca-
tional and Technical Training: a Strategy for the Inter-American Develop-
ment Bank," by Claudio de Moura Castro, IDB, Washington, D.C. 2000.

create and develop a technological culture that benefits all of

1 Training (as well as general education) is society. Much training, especially of youths, cannot be left
solely to the private sector because individual firms may not
be able to capture the benefit of their trainees, who may
increasingly important for economic competi- choose to work elsewhere. In many cases, especially indus-
trial training, training is too expensive for youth or their
tiveness families to invest in. The poor especially may not be able to
afford good training.
The ongoing worldwide economic transformations have
made training at once more important and more difficult to
adjust to changing needs. Enterprises working at the leading
edge of technological change have become avid producers
and buyers of training. Traditional industries face the threat 3 General education and vocational and
of open borders, internationalization and fierce competition.
technical training are increasingly comple-
Without significant improvements in the quality of their
work force, which is required for modernization, these in- mentary and intertwined
dustries risk being wiped out of the market.
General education provides the basics in language, mathe-
matics, science, and communications, while by definition,

2 A public role in training is essential training is directed toward specific skill preparation. How-
ever, more and more the differences between the two are
blurred. Technical jobs increasingly require a mastery and
understanding of broad concepts and analysis in areas as di-
While the trainee obviously benefits from training, in the
verse as auto mechanics and construction. At the same time,
form of increased productivity and wages, there are public
good education that is meaningful to students must be em-
benefits that are also of great importance. Training helps to
bodied in the practical. Good education enables the learner

! 7 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

to apply his knowledge in real world problems and is there- training will hurt the economy.
fore the best preparation for a wide range of jobs. There is
therefore, ever more a need for longer periods of general
education and shorter periods of vocational and technical
training. Especially in industrialized countries, training is
6 Governments will have a variety of roles to
increasingly pushed to the post-secondary level. At the same play in vocational/technical training
time, since jobs increasingly demand strong cognitive skills,
then training programs need to increasingly incorporate This role will vary greatly depending on the nature of the
teaching of language, mathematics, and science in a practical benefits of the training provided. Governments could fully
environment. Integration of skills training with conceptual fund certain programs in some cases and provide subsidies
development is not only possible but also necessary. and assistance to students and employers in others. At the
least Government will need to regulate privately provided

4 No demand, no training
training to ensure truth in advertising. But even full Gov-
ernment funding does not necessarily mean government op-
eration. With the right incentives, publicly subsidized but
privately operated training institutions can serve public
A critical issue, especially in publicly provided or supported
goals. While public institutions are often characterized by
training, is the potential mismatch between training and jobs.
inflexibility and lack of market responses, changing the rules
Training by itself cannot create jobs. In a period of high un-
of the game can make these institutions act more like private
employment, especially of youths, governments are tempted
ones—responding more quickly to demands, marketing their
to spend large amounts of sums on training programs since
product, and keeping costs low. A wide variety of financing
students and parents think that they will have a better chance
models is also available. In addition to the fully supported
at getting jobs. But if the economic environment is not pro-
vocational/technical-training schools, in many cases, espe-
ducing jobs, then this investment will be wasted and it would
cially Latin America, earmarked payroll taxes go to support
be better to provide general education rather than the often
autonomous training agencies, often with heavy industry
more costly vocational training. The rules of vocational
representation. In other cases, rebates and other tax incen-
training should therefore be simple—no demand, no training.
tives are provided directly to firms that undertake training.
This is easier to do for training centers outside the formal
Governments also need to play a major role in labor market
systems, since they have the flexibility to change their pro-
intermediation (e.g., unemployment insurance, re-training of
grams, market their products, and convince employers of the
laid off workers and provision of employment services to
value of their product. It is much more difficult when voca-
link workers and jobs).
tional/technical-training institutions are in the formal public
system. These programs are often marred by lack of flexibil-
ity, low salaries, and inadequate interchanges with business.
7 Training can help in poverty reduction
5 Financing of training should be shared by Skills training in the rural and urban informal sector may
contribute more to the alleviation of poverty than training for
all those who benefit modern sector wage employment. Many of the poor and
women are self-employed. They combine small amounts of
As noted above, the benefits of training are both public and capital with their labor, low general education, and mostly
private and accrue to individuals, industries, and society as a inadequate skills. Improving the earning power of the poor
whole. Therefore, to the extent possible, trainees, industry, and of women is, in the first instance, a matter of creating a
and government should share in financing. The relative supportive economic environment. Increased access to basic
share of each beneficiary will vary with the type of training education is fundamental, followed by access to credit. But
offered. Industry can be expected to pay all of “firm- training can be an important complement to these other in-
specific training.” Middle class students taking short puts, providing a variety of elements: introduction of new
courses geared to the service sector (secretarial, computing) and appropriate technology; understanding basic accounting,
typically can pay a significant part of costs. Potential blue- management, and bookkeeping; guidance on how to effec-
collar workers taking long courses in industrial arts typically tively use micro-credit, etc. For this type of training it is
cannot afford to pay and industry will not pay if it cannot usually most effective for Governments to utilize non-
capture and hold the trainees. The aim is to raise school governmental agencies or private institutions rather than to
revenues as much as permitted by the financial means of the provide the training itself.
clientele but not beyond the level where the reduction of

! 8 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Vocational and Technical Education,
the "American Way"

By Sonia Jurich

Learning to work: an old tradition in local businesses in exchange for school tuition. The first
high schools with a vocational focus were founded in the
U.S. at the end of the nineteenth century. In these schools,
Societies, throughout history, have educated their younger
the youth, mostly from low-income backgrounds, spent half
generations for the workplace, no matter what type of work
a day studying academic subjects and the other half working
was to be done. The Masai children from Eastern Africa
in the schools' facilities and laboratories.
accompany their older brothers to tend the herds until they
are old enough to care for the herds themselves. Five-year
Despite these experiments, vocational education was never
old Nambikwara boys from Central Brazil play with little
popular in the U.S. Even at its peak, enrollment in voca-
bows and arrows in preparation for the days when they will
tional education courses rarely exceeded 20% of all high
hunt for the tribe. As work becomes more complex, so does
school students per school year. Moreover, vocational edu-
the education for work.
cation was mostly seen as a dumping ground for low-
achieving and poor students who were unlikely to pursue a
Written approximately four thousand years ago, the Code of
college education. The courses were geared toward low-
Hamurabi already regulated the responsibilities between the
skilled, low-paid occupations and offered as isolated credits,
teacher and the learner in an apprenticeship system. In this
rather than as planned career-preparatory programs.
system, a child moves in with an artisan (the master) who
provides the child with house, food, clothing, and most of all,
the learning of a craft. In exchange, the child (the appren-
tice) works for the master and his family. According to the The 1980's panic:
Code, the teaching of the craft was such an essential part of A new look at vocational education
the arrangement that, if the artisan taught the child his craft,
the child could not return to his father’s house. However, if
By the late 1970’s, the rapid economic expansion of Japan
no craft was taught, the apprentice could leave the master
and Germany threatened the U.S. hegemony in the interna-
without paying restitution. The apprenticeship system spread
tional market. Rather than re-evaluating their economic and
through Europe during Medieval times. From there, English
fiscal policies and practices, politicians and economists
colonists transported it to the New World. In the system
looked elsewhere for the reasons of that apparently failing
adopted in the United States, the apprentices moved in with
dominance. A presidential commission was appointed to
the master when they were about 14 years old and lived in
evaluate the state of American schools, the most probable
the master’s house until age 21. During these long years, the
culprit. The commission’s conclusion was quite simple: if
apprentice learned from the master and paid for the learning
the U.S. was losing the economic war, the schools were at
with his work and loyalty.
fault. They claimed that the school situation was so bad that
it should be considered a threat to national security.1
The Industrial Revolution shifted the focus of work from
quality to quantity. The lengthy and intimate work of the
Educators and politicians alike began to scrutinize their com-
artisan was replaced by the speed and anonymity of ma-
petitors' systems, just to discover that they could not import
chines. Time became a valuable commodity, and the process
models. Education in Europe and Japan is highly centralized
of preparation to work gradually moved away from home
and, in many of these countries, students are evaluated by a
and into the school system. In the early 1800’s, charitable
system of national examinations. Education in the U.S. is the
organizations used to send orphans and poor children to work

! 9 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

responsibility of the state and localities. The federal pres- 4. Joint staff development for faculties in both secondary
ence, unwillingly accepted, is kept to a minimum. The sim- and postsecondary institutions to promote cooperation
ple mention of a national examination system would be seen and common understanding of objectives and ensure the
as an invasion of the states' and localities' rights, and a call to continuity of curriculum
arms (even if political arms). Apprenticeships and voca-
tional education programs in European countries are fre- 5. Training for school counselors to promote effective stu-
quently maintained by employers and organized labor. In dent recruitment, retention and placement in the pro-
Japan, employers have a close relationship with the schools grams
and tend to hire based on applicants’ academic achievement
and teachers' recommendations. U.S. employers were not 6. Measures to ensure access to the programs by special
used to invest in workforce training or maintain close rela- populations, such as students with disabilities, those with
tionships with the public school system. Fewer than one in limited English proficiency and low-income students
ten large American firms hire high school graduates for en-
try-level positions, and high school records are not part of the 7. Preparatory services, such as recruitment, counseling
hiring process (a movement is in place to change such prac- and assessment to help students understand their options
tices).2 Most of all, going to college plays such a role in and make informed decisions concerning programs,
growing up in the U.S., that any proposal bypassing college course selection and career goals
is doomed to fail.3
The legislation provides funds to the states, which redistrib-
Understanding that they had to come up with their own mod- ute the money as grants to Tech-Prep consortia. The “aver-
els, legislators got busy drafting proposals. The result was age” consortium includes eight school districts (with about
the 1990’s frenzy of federal legislation focusing on reform- 11 high school each) and at least three postsecondary institu-
ing public education, from increased support for vocational tions, 2/3 of which are two-year colleges, and the remaining
and technical education to requirements for raising academic third, proprietary schools and apprenticeship programs.
standards. Two of these legislations proposed a new ap- Some consortia involve employers in the development of
proach to vocational education and are worthy of a brief re- curricula to provide working opportunities for the students,
view. although work-based experiences are not required in the
original model. The legislation does not require the consor-
tia to provide all components in the model, nor does it spec-
Tech-Prep legislation ify how these components must be articulated. Therefore,
consortia vary significantly. Findings from the national
evaluation show that 40 percent of the consortia surveyed
The Tech-Prep Education Act, approved in 1990, responded
had developed only one element of the model, mostly the
to two important criticisms: vocational education courses
articulation agreements between high schools and colleges,
were geared mostly, or solely, to low-skilled, low-paying
or changes in curriculum to provide academic classes with
jobs, and were held to low academic standards. The legisla-
more hands-on, reality-on activities. Only ten percent had
tion also catered to the college dream by formalizing the
implemented all Tech-Prep elements to create structured,
connection between high schools and postsecondary institu-
career-focused programs geared toward high-skill occupa-
tions.4 Seven elements characterize the Tech-Prep model:
1. Articulation agreements between secondary and post-
Participation in Tech-Prep programs is still limited. In 1995
secondary institutions as a framework for creating
(the last year national data were collected), 70 percent of all
seamless, career-focused programs that lead to advanced
school districts in the country were involved in Tech-Prep
(Associate’s) degrees
consortia, but their programs enrolled fewer than 10 percent
of all high school students. The demographic characteristics
2. A design in which the common core of math, science,
of students going to Tech-Prep programs were similar to the
communications and technology is implemented in the
overall public school population, although academically, they
last two years of high school and serves as basis for two
were more likely to be placed in the middle to lower quartiles
years more of advanced courses at the postsecondary
of their classes. Despite their initial academic shortcomings,
level (called 2+2 design)5
a large number of Tech-Prep students were entering post-
secondary institutions: 50 percent to 58 percent were enrolled
3. A specific curriculum that makes full use of the schools’
in two-year institutions that offer Associate’s degrees, while
resources while taking into account student needs; the
20 percent to 36 percent were going to four-year colleges
curriculum is expected to be contextually integrated and
offering Bachelor’s degrees.6
geared toward high-skilled careers

! 10 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

learning occurs when the students can make sense of the in-
School-to-Work formation transmitted by establishing relationships between
what they are learning at school and how they can use this
knowledge in their everyday life. The teaching/learning pro-
In 1994, another federal legislation, the School-to-Work Op-
cess occurs mostly through the use of project-based activities
portunities Act, proposed a broad educational reform that
that require the students to work together to plan, design the
aimed to: (1) eliminate the traditional division between aca-
activity, conduct the research, solve problems, and synthesize
demic and vocational curriculum, (2) bring education to
their findings or develop a product. The projects have an
work to the early years of school, and (3) include employers
interdisciplinary nature, so that students learn how to associ-
in the educational process. The legislation provided funding
ate different types of information. Some projects can be as-
to School-to-Work (STW) partnerships, composed of edu-
sociated with activities that will be developed in workplace
cators, employers, organized labor, public and private agen-
cies. These partnerships were in charge of creating a system
based on three core components:
For instance, in a lesson on thermal conductivity, a teacher
using contextual learning theory may request the students to
1. Work-based learning, including instruction in workplace
evaluate how the quality and amount of the school’s insula-
competencies, job training and workplace experience
tion material affect the amount of energy required to keep the
(different from Tech-Prep, STW emphasizes on-site,
building heated/cooled. Students can interview experts in the
preferentially paid, job experiences)
field, and research different materials to propose ways to
improve the school’s energy requirements. The physics
2. School-based learning, focusing on integrating academic
class can be integrated with the mathematics program, and
and vocational education, and requiring high standards
students can calculate the costs for the school to keep the
at all courses (also different from Tech-Prep, the model
current cooling system or change to a new system. In the
is not limited to high school years and covers K-12)
English class, the students will learn how to prepare and pre-
sent a report that explains their findings and propose recom-
3. Connecting activities to develop partnerships between
schools and the workplace

In a process similar to what happened to Tech-Prep, STW

partnerships have spread across the country, but few students What lies ahead for
participate in programs that incorporate the three STW com- vocational/technical education in the US?
ponents (3% for the 1998 graduates).7 Recruiting employers
to STW partnerships and maintaining their participation has
The 1990’s flurry of educational legislation was character-
proved to be a time-consuming and expensive activity for the
ized by two trends. One, briefly summarized here, empha-
schools. As a result, part of the STW funding has been di-
sized the preparation to work through integration of voca-
rected toward creating intermediary organizations that spe-
tional and academic subjects and the connection between
cialize in connecting activities. A National Employer Survey
school and workplace as continuous loci of education. A
shows an increase in employer participation in formal STW
parallel legislative trend focused on school accountability
partnerships, from 25 percent in 1997 to 37 percent in 1998,
measured by high stakes, standardized tests. Schools where
with an average retention of 69 percent. An interesting
the majority of students do not pass the tests are threatened
finding is that participating employers are less likely to fire
with sanctions, such as staff’s dismissal or loss of creden-
their young workers than employers not involved with the
tials. This second trend has spread more rapidly and most
partnerships.8 Among the careers offered by STW partner-
states are now using standardized tests for performance
ships, Health Care Services has been the fastest growing,
evaluation and graduation requirements. These tests tend to
while Engineering/Industrial Technology is the most fre-
be multiple-choice and based on more traditional type of
quently offered. Surprisingly enough, due to the widespread
knowledge, a trend that may hurt the movement toward proj-
search for computer-related occupations, Computer and In-
ect-based activities and curriculum integration.10
formation Technology programs are not at the top of the list.9
The Tech-Prep and STW legislations have been instrumental
in bringing vocational education to the center stage of a dis-
Integrating academics and cussion on American education, in opening the lines of
vocational/technical education communication between employers and schools and between
secondary and postsecondary institutions, and in spreading
the premises of contextual learning. The Tech-Prep legisla-
Both Tech-Prep and STW promote teaching strategies based
tion was again incorporated into the most recent amendment
on contextual learning theory. According to this theory, the

! 11 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

of the Perkins Act and will continue to fund new and existing the economy in full speed, and unemployment at extremely
consortia. The goal of the STW legislation was to plant the low rates, the pressure on the schools has moved away from
seeds of a new system. The legislation (and its funding) ex- “preparing to work” and back to “basics” (that is, academic
pires in 2001. The partnerships created with STW money courses). The expansion of information and communication
must find other revenue sources to continue functioning, and technologies, characterized by continuously changing knowl-
until now, commitments from the state or private sources edge, may bring a new paradigm to how society prepares its
have been weak. However, some of the STW concerns, such younger generation to work; a paradigm that relies less on
as employer involvement and work-based learning, have the information being transmitted and more on how informa-
been incorporated into the Perkins 1998 Amendment. tion is processed. In addition, with the availability of com-
puters, the Internet and multimedia applications in people’s
The recent and prolonged economic expansion in the U.S. is home, such preparation may change loci once more: from
forcing a change in the hiring process. Reports of youth be- home to school, and back to home again?
ing hired for high-paid positions soon after high school
graduation, or still while in high school, are multiplying,
although these reports are mostly anecdotal at this time. With

National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983). A nation at risk: the imperative for educational reform.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.
Bailey, T. & Merritt, D. (1993). The school-to-work transition and youth apprenticeship: lessons from the U.S. experi-
ence. New York. NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation; Council of Chief State School Officers (1991).
European lessons from school and the workplace. Washington, DC.: U.S. General Accounting Office (1991). Transition
from school to work: linking education and worksite training. Washington, DC
For instance, Revitalizing high schools: What the school-to-career movement can contribute, by Susan Goldberg and
Richard Kazis (2000), p.2-3. It is interesting to observe that although the “college dream” is widespread, an average ¾ of
high school graduates never finish college.
In 1994, the legislation was incorporated into the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act
(amended in 1998), a major source of federal funds for vocational education to U.S. schools.
Variations of this design include 3+2 (the core Tech-Prep courses start in the second year of high school) and 4+2 (the
program starts in the first year of high school)
Hershey, A.M., Silverberg, M.K., Owens, T., & Hulsey, L.K. (1998). Focus for the future: The final report of the na-
tional Tech-Prep evaluation. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Hershey A., Silverberg, M., Haimson, J., Hudis, P., and Jackson, R. (1999). Expanding options for students: Report to
Congress on the national evaluation of school-to-work implementation. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Shapiro, D. & Goetz, M.E. (1998). Connecting work and school: Findings from the 1997 National Employers Survey.
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.
Hershey, A., Hudis, P., Silverberg, M., & Haimson, J. (1997). Partners in progress: Early steps in creating school-to-work
systems. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
A reliance on tests may also jeopardize the focus on project-based performance emphasized by both legislations. See, for
instance, Hershey et al, 1999, p. 76

! 12 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Online University Teams Up With post-secondary education needed to upgrade skills and gain
Hopkins Library to Offer Digital new knowledge, including grants, tax incentives, and low-
interest loans. The co-chairs are Ms. Christine Hemrick from
Resources Cisco and Ms. Hilary C. Pennington, Jobs for the Future.
Members include Dr. Anthony P. Carnevale, Educational
REGENTS COLLEGE, a distance-education institution, has Testing Service and Jerry J. Jasinowski, National Association
teamed up with the Johns Hopkins University library to of Manufacturers.
create an online library that allows students and faculty
members to search for books and periodicals that have been
digitized and put onto databases. Tech Companies Lobby Congress
for Improved Math and Science
New University in Vietnam Will Education
Rely Heavily on Information
"Among the many high-tech issues before this Congress,
Technology none carries greater importance for our future economic
vitality than education," Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told
AN AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITY will establish a House and Senate lawmakers last week. As part of high-
university in Vietnam that will rely extensively on online tech's annual visit to the Capitol, Gates, and Intel's chairman,
technology, both for distance learning and for traditional Andrew Grove, told a special technology meeting organized
classroom instruction. by Congress's Joint Economic Committee that lawmakers should focus on education as a long-term solution to the
industry's current shortage of skilled workers. Nearly
New System of Peer Review 346,000 technology jobs are unfilled because of a shortage of
Rating Academic Websites domestic workers with the math and science skills needed by
information technology companies, according to industry
estimates. The federal government provides only about 7
IF YOUR PEERS reviewed your course Web site, how percent of the total dollars for elementary and secondary
would it rate on a scale of 1 to 5? You might soon find out, education, but makes up nearly 25 percent of the investment
thanks to a new guide to online teaching materials that is in technology for schools.
systematically rating academic Web sites and allowing users
to add their own comments. 14education.html
Barnes & to Offer Free
President Clinton Appoints Online University
Advisory Committee on
Expanding Training Opportunities Barnes & announced its purchase of a minority
stake in, an eduCommerce company.
President Clinton appointed an advisory committee to Together the companies will make available a free online
provide an independent assessment of how the federal university offering thousands of online learning courses
government can encourage the effective use of learning beginning this summer. Courses will begin mid-July and
technology to provide more accessible and cost-training for will range from one-day seminars to 12-week courses.
all Americans. It will study the progress made by the Barnes & hopes to boost traffic to its site through
Federal government in its use of technology in training this venture.
programs. The Committee will also provide an analysis of
options for helping adult Americans finance the training and

! 13 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Getting the Most Out of Online Training:
Integrating the Missing Ingredients

By Raymond L. Vigil, Ph.D

Vice President, Lucent Technologies Enterprise Networks Group,
Global Learning Solutions

A myriad of issues impact online learning or “eLearning” as the new millennium dawns. The global edu-
cational kingdom is alive with paupers, princesses, princes, and wizards, all on a quest for that holiest of
grails - eLearning that fulfills the dream of technology enabled learning. And let there be no doubt, tech-
nology is changing the very nature of the learning process and fundamentally changing the educational

This digest of emerging educational trends is presented for the purpose of assisting fellow educational
crusaders to discover the secrets that will enable long awaited technology-based educational break-
throughs, now and into the future.

DRIVING FORCES OF CHANGE tional and international networks, providing learners with an
ability to obtain simultaneous distance learning services from
According to Peter Drucker (1997), “Economic productivity their geographically dispersed organizations, schools and
will only be achieved through a steep and persistent growth in other colleagues. This is the domain of the “Virtual Private
the productivity of knowledge work and knowledge work- Learming Network” or VPLN. VPLN’s, while not exactly the
ers.” The opportunities for eLearning to impact business suc- Holy Grail, are definitely on the path.
cess via the acquisition and development of “knowledge” are
emerging with unimaginable speed and unparalleled critical- Technology is being used to make learning accessible any-
ity. time, anywhere, and better than ever. The question is not
about technology but rather about how to create content that
Knowledge is information put to productive use (Davis & is engaging, motivating and leads to successful performance
Botkin, 1994). Knowledge = data x information x applica- outcomes. Now we are getting closer to the Holy Grail.
tion. It is information made actionable (Maglitta, 1996).
“Knowledge” is then, in a business sense, the capability to Creating this magical content starts with having new concepts
act productively and profitably. about how to think about the learning experience. We call
this having a new architecture for learning which substan-
Workers, businesses and consumers in the 21st century will tially changes the way we design, deliver and measure the
be engaged in the process of “knowledge transfer.” learning experience.
Through learning, employees will use their knowledge to
generate knowledge capital for their organization. It is a THE GLOBAL LEARNING SOLUTIONS (GLS)
continuous “knowledge transfer” chain in which learning LEARNING ARCHITECTURE
fuels knowledge; and, knowledge fuels successful organ-
izational performance. The GLS Learning Architecture developed by Lucent Tech-
nologies New Enterprise Networks Group illustrates how a
This ability to master the knowledge transfer chain is pre- well designed, integrated system can provide effective
dicted to be THE competitive advantage for organizational eLearning solutions. This system combines independent
success in the new millennium. self-directed learning events (asynchronous) with a virtual
classroom in which the instructor and most of the learners are
IN SEARCH OF THE HOLY GRAIL at locations distant from each other. Within this model the
Instructor is central to the teaching process, though not the
Imagine a highly interactive, synchronous, internet-managed only provider of information. He or she manages/facilitates
learning experience between distant locations over vast na- the learning process by asking and answering questions, en-

! 14 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

suring that learning is taking place, and supplementing the
course materials to reflect the unique requirements of the Figure 1.
students and the organization. This live, interactive compo-
nent is referred to in the industry as synchronous experi- eLearning & Capacity
ences, facilitated by an instructor. Both types of learning
events take place where learning is most needed. Interactive Distance Learning
A Video Streaming
A typical course operates much like a college class. Learn- P
Web Enabled Tools Web Casting
ers meet for one to two hours for the live, facilitated part of C
Video NetWorks Gain
the course and then work on their own until current assign- I Technology Based
T Delivery CD-ROM
ments, exercises, and readings are complete. Often subse- Y CBT
quent live sessions are scheduled with the Instructor to fol-
low-up on assignments and discuss new material. The extent Traditional Delivery Classroom/Books One-to-one

to which this happens depends on the instructional design, TIME

however. In the subsequent live, interactive sessions (the
synchronous sessions), students can present results to the
class, have questions answered, pose new questions, partici- USING THE GLS LEARNING ARCHITECTURE
pate in group discussions, and receive their next assignment.
In between live, synchronous sessions, the learner still has
access to the Instructor and the other learners through chat GLS has a few key distance learning technologies that very
rooms, threaded news groups, e-mail, and Instructor web well support the GLS Learning Architecture for adult educa-
"office hours." These tolls are what we call the digital sur- tion and training. There is no one panacea for delivering
round. training but, when combined in the right mix, as determined
by the instructional design, these technologies can provide a
powerful approach to distance learning using the GLS
Learning Architecture. (see Figure 2)
The GLS Learning Architecture allows GLS to attain its
• LucentVision Interactive (LVI) is one of the key VPLNs
goals for training much larger populations faster and cheaper.
in use today. Built upon a business television infra-
It allows us to:
structure, LucentVision transformed itself into a true
learning environment. By combining the power of the
• Reach more learners quicker
Internet and the reliability of the voice network coupled
with a less expensive small-dish digital video technology
• Serve learners who have been too busy to travel to a we have created a VPLN that provides a high degree of
GLS training site interactivity to greatly expand the reach of experts to
audiences around the world.
• Reduce the time off the job
• BitRoom is a new Lucent-developed distance learning
• Compress actual learning time by as much as up to 35% product that delivers live, interactive lessons via the
and more in some cases Internet and/or Intranet. This product, developed by
Bell Labs is now among the very few premier web-based
• Provide training equally as good as traditional class- distance learning tools. Best news of all, it's owned by
room-based methods (assuming good instructional de- GLS.
sign in both instances)
• TestGen. A web-based test/quiz delivery tool used pri-
• Offer learners a high degree of flexibility in meeting marily during the asynchronous portion of the learning
both job demands and professional development goals program. Results are tabulated and reported to both stu-
dents and the Instructor before the start of the next syn-
• Reduce travel time and expense (usually comprises 45% chronous session. TestGen can also be used as the final
of the true cost of training when you add this element to culminating instructional activity, i.e., the final exam, so
the direct costs) to speak. Results are passed to the HRIS database.

• Exponentially increase capacity (see Figure 1) • The Web or CD-ROM. Either or both can be used to
deliver lesson material in a self-directed, asynchronous

! 15 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

• Videotape and workbooks. Often the inexpensive, time- be $17M per year when fully deployed, achieving a break-
honored approaches for asynchronous learning still work even-point after only 18 months.
fine. Again, it depends on what is called for in the in-
structional design. High-powered learning can still take CRISES IN CAMELOT
place with these more traditional approaches while still
using the Web for communication with the Instructor Launching eLearning programs takes on all the aura of a full-
and other learners during the self-directed portion of the blown crusade. The complexity of platforms, ISP’s, firewalls,
learning program. The Web is also used for download- media selection, asynchronous, synchronous and portals not
ing large technical documents. to mention performance tracking and coordination with other
curricula create a formidable challenge. It is an uphill battle.
• Voice and Video networks combines with Internet and One that requires a sophisticated management system to co-
CD-ROM content provide additional interactive distrib- ordinate, integrate and manage all the pieces that make up the
uted learning network options. learning system. (see Figure 3)

Have you ever found yourself half through a complicated

project only to find that if you had spent a little more time up
front you could have saved significantly on resources, lost
Figure 2.
time and considerable costs? Unfortunately, this is happen-
Multi-layer Approach to Content Delivery: ing with far too much frequency as organizations pursue their
eLearning dreams.
Level: Content Type: Distribution Channel:

I Advanced Live Classroom, Hands On Labs One answer to the puzzle lies in creating a design powerful
L Courseware Broadband Interactive Channels enough to carry the eLearning program though transitions it
e P
a II Basic Broadband Interactive Channels: will face in changing technologies, and innovations and up-
o Courseware “L Channel, LVI, BitRoom, Video
r r dates that are inevitable. In this scenario, front-end analysis
t III Knowledge Broadband Broadcasts: must include cycle management and systems thinking. Put-
a Sharing Multicasts, Videostreaming, BitRoom
n l ting all the pieces together in a coherent whole is the true
g challenge of eLearning. Are we getting closer to the Holy
IV Prerequisites Self Directed Learning:
Web, CD-ROM, CBT Grail? It’s too soon to tell.


& MARKETING UNIVERSITY Learning requirements are exploding due to the rapid pace of
technological change. It is estimated that change renders
In early 1999, LucentVision Interactive (LVI), a satellite and obsolete 50% of workers’ skills every 3 to 5 years (Davis &
Internet based VPLN, was deployed within the Enterprise Botkin, 1994). A 1998 U.S. Department of Labor study
Networks Group of Lucent reaching 9,357 direct and indirect stated that “change” would necessitate retraining 75% of the
sales personnel. The network was intended to significantly workforce by the year 2000.
increase the speed and amount of sales and technical training
while reducing travel costs and lost time on the job. LVI was Not only are learning requirements changing, but knowledge
an immediate success delivering over 150 hours of training bases are increasing. For example, a mechanic with a five
per month and equaling or exceeding the effectiveness of hundred-page repair manual in 1965 could fix almost any car
traditional leader led delivery while reducing the contact on the road. Today, that same mechanic, requires 500,000
hours by 35%. Later that year, a proposal was presented to a pages, or 50 New York City telephone books full of informa-
senior Lucent leadership team to expand LVI into a Lucent- tion, to do the same job (Davis & Botkin, 1994).
wide “Sales and Marketing University” extending the reach
to 22,470 direct and indirect sales, technical sales support, Additionally, business education requirements are enhanced
marketing and product marketing personnel. The proposal when public education systems are unable to prepare ade-
was approved and a $3.4M capital investment and $2M ex- quate skill bases for “knowledge workers” entering the work
pense budget was authorized to expand uplink portals in At- force. The U.S. Department of Education reports that 14% to
lanta, Chicago, Hilversum and Singapore and 120 additional 16% of American-born, college graduates are functionally
global downlinks. Savings on this investment are expected to illiterate in math and reading (Judy & D’Amico, 1997). Illit-
eracy is so great that it is estimated to cost U. S. business
$225 billion a year in lost productivity (Petrini, 1998).

! 16 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Corporate education has been booming for the past sev- required building 13 new Harvards (Davis & Botkin,
eral years. Just look back a few years to 1994. Employee 1994). These continuously expanding educational de-
education by corporations in 1994 was reported to be mands, against business’ limited capacity to accommodate
growing 10,000% faster than education of students by pub- them, are creating crises for corporate education in
lic and private educational systems (Davis & Botkin, Camelot. Yet, like any good crises, it is also creating new
1994). Just to handle the growth in corporate employee opportunity.
training hours in 1992 (126 million hours) would have

Figure 3.

THE LEARNING ROUNDTABLE expected to grow to 40% off all U.S. corporate training by
2003 (Hambrecht, 2000).
There is big money in championing corporate educational
needs. As the knights gather around the table, rewards are For those unafraid of the challenge, opportunities abound not
estimated at more than $600 billion annually, in today’s only to solve learning capacity shortages within businesses,
market potential, for a successful conquest (Savitz, 1998). but to exploit corporate education as a primary revenue
Their pennants carry familiar names earmarked with 1998 stream for businesses themselves. IBM Corporation, as an
market values: SmartForce ($1.7 billion); Knowledge Uni- example, already generates over $800 million annually in its
verse ($.7 billion); and, Learning Tree ($.6 billion) among customer training business alone.
others (Barrons Online, 1998). All stand ready to joust for a
share of the corporate education market, especially in the Two key strategic weapons have emerged in the tournament
burgeoning technology assisted distance learning niche. to date. Both assist in providing learning infrastructures to
meet 21st century requirements while controlling costs, en-
In 1996, the distance learning market was estimated at $1.5 hancing returns on investment and generating revenue. One
billion annually and is growing at the rate of $.5 billion every is the promise of distance learning. The other is “collabo-
six months (Picard, 1996). In 1999, approximately 20% of rative” advantage via unique alliances.
the $66 billion in corporate training was technology-based
(Hambrecht,2000). And, because technology-based training
is so much more cost effective than classroom training, it is

! 17 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

The “Collaborative” Advantage
Excaliber offers a cutting edge against the dragons threaten-
ing business’ capacity to meet success dependent learning A second key to unlock the secrets of Excaliber, and its com-
needs for the 21st century. Yet, whosoever pulls Excaliber petitive edge in the global educational kingdom, is, para-
from the sacred stone must truly be worthy to lead. Valor doxically, collaboration. No longer can a single knight ven-
displayed on the field of technology-assisted distance learn- ture successfully into the $600 billion dollar marketplace
ing is clearly one testing ground. alone, and return triumphantly home.

Distance Learning The array of blossoming cooperative linkages is one of the

strongest emerging business trends today. Strategic alli-
Technological advances have birthed powerful learning ances and joint ventures enable businesses to form flexible
channels. These channels continue to evolve towards the collaborative networks to achieve economies of scale and
learning ideal of two-way, interactive, full-motion, full- exponential growth, while enhancing their own learning
screen voice, video and data delivered to the student’s desk- about new technologies (The Trend Letter, 1998).
top or classroom, anywhere, anytime (Kappel, 1998). To-
day’s learning pipelines include satellite, audio or video Learning alliances can offer multiple benefits. For instance,
conferencing, broadcast television, audio or video tape, radio, reduced training development costs can be achieved via
and computer-accessed technologies including intranets, linked organizations that co-fund learning programs for use
internets and CD-ROMs (American Society For Training & across their mutual employee bases. Shared R&D costs
Development, 1997). Additionally, multiple technologies lower expenditures to gain access to technological intellectual
have been merged into powerful “virtual” classrooms. capital. Shared organizational content libraries can enable
alliance organizations to simply avoid program development
Distance learning technologies dramatically expand ac- or purchase costs altogether. Cooperatives can also leverage
cess to learners. Internet based applications can “virtually” their demand for training products and services to get volume
accommodate an unlimited number of learners, in multitude discounts for each individual member.
of locations, enabling them to learn at their own pace and in
their own time. Additional advantages can include: reduc- LearnShare is a three-year-old consortium of 14 noncompet-
tions in training time; higher levels of mastery and retention; ing businesses and 3 universities. Its mission is to bring
reduced direct training expense (trainers, classrooms, travel leading edge technology to the delivery of highly effective
expense and lost productivity costs for employees off-the- corporate education at reduced cost via “share sourcing”.
job); and, enhanced organizational capability to inventory, Each member pays an entrance fee of $300,000 for two years,
update and distribute “knowledge capital” (Rand, 1996). and provides one voting member to LearnShare’s Board of
Directors. The Board develops policy, sets development
Ford Motor Company, by example, set up a $100 million priorities, and approves operating expenses. LearnShare’s
satellite learning network for mechanics and sales personnel goal of becoming operationally self-supporting via grants and
that beams up to eight live lectures at a time to any of 5,000 access fees from training providers was accomplished in two
Ford dealerships. The interactive satellite system tripled the years. One LearnShare member cited a 30% to 50% cost
number of classes available annually, and paid for itself in savings in the purchase of new learning programs as a result
reduced travel costs alone, in three years (Hamblen, 1998). of the affiliation. Another member boasted a $1.2 million
dollar saving in avoided new learning development costs
Outreach beyond the borders of a business into the “for- during the first 90 days of membership (Excellence In Prac-
profit” market is also facilitated by distance learning infra- tice, 1997).
structures. The pipelines themselves can be rented or leased;
nonproprietary training content can be sold; and, new pro- When businesses profit from alliances, while simultaneously
grams can be developed which are beneficial to both the protecting core competencies and intellectual capital, “col-
business and an external market. Today alone, there are 330 laborative advantage” becomes another weapon in the cru-
accredited graduate or undergraduate colleges (Phillips, sade to meet 21st century learning requirements.
1998) offering about 750 accredited distance education pro-
grams (Macht, 1998), to over one million students in the LEARNING LEGENDS
United States (Vasarhelyi & Graham, 1997). The potential
market, however, is global. Africa, Asia, China, Latin As the educational mega-industry dawns, energized by the
America, Mexico and the United Kingdom all have varieties convergence of the computer, telecommunications, publish-
of distance learning programs in place (Potashnik & Capper, ing and entertainment industries, what will be the legend
1998). told around the global kingdom of our learning crusades?

! 18 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Will it be a legacy of business powered by knowledge? Will the tale of business productivity and profit in the 21st cen-
it be a yarn spun of creative solutions to learning capacity tury?
problems? Will it be the story of magical distance learning
technologies and enlightened strategic alliances? Will it be The answer is unknown. The story has yet to be told. It is a
legend in the making.


American Society for Training & Development (1997). A Start-up Guide To Distance Learning. Training & Development,

Barron’s Online. Betting On Training, March 2, 1998.

Davis, S. & Botkin, J. (1994). The Monster Under The Bed. Simon & Schuster.

Department of Labor (1998). In, V. Uhland, Workers Juggle Jobs, Grad School To Get Ahead. Rocky Mountain News, Sep-
tember 27.

Drucker, P.; Dyson, E.; Handy, C.; Saffo, P.; and, Senge, P. (1997). Looking Ahead: Implications Of The Present. Harvard
Business Review, Sept. - Oct.

Excellence in Practice (1997). LearnShare The Consortium. Workplace Learning and Development. Citation Winner.
Global Learning Solutions Overview Meeting (1998). Lucent Technologies, October 9.

Hamblen, M. (198). Training Partnership Covers Distance. Computerworld, 32(35).

Hambrecht + Co, “Corporate E-Learning: Exploring a New Frontier”, 2000.

Jones, G. (1997). Cyberschools: An Education Renaissance. Jones Digital Century, Inc.

Judy, R. W. & D'Amico, C. (1997). Workforce 2020. Hudson Institute, Inc.

Kappel, T. (1998). An Overview Of Distance Learning. School Planning and Management, 37(2).

Macht, J. (1998). Virtual You: Time-strapped Entrepreneurs Are Going To Class On-Line. Inc., 20(1).

Maglitta, J. (1995). Smarten Up! Computerworld, 29(23), June 4.

Petrini, C. (1998). Building The Workforce Of The Past. Business & Industry, July.

Phillips, V. (1998). Virtual Classrooms, Real Education. Nation’s Business, 86(5).

Picard, D. (1996). The Future Is Distance Training. Training, 33(11).

Potashnik, M. & Capper, J. (1998). Distance Education: Growth and Diversity. Finance & Development, 35(1), March.

Rand, A. (1996). Technology Transforms Training. HR Focus 3(11).

Savitz, E. (1998). For Adults Only. Barrons Online, March 2.

The Trend Leter (1998). 15 Major Trends For 1998. The Global Network, 16(24).

Vasarhelyi, M. & Graham, L. (1997). Cybersmart: Education and The Internet. Management Accounting, 79(2).

! 19 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Where Simulations Are At Home
Claudio de Moura Castro
Chief Education Adviser,
Inter-American Development Bank

The cohabitation of education and instructional technology has been turbulent if

not outright antagonistic. By contrast, skill formation has had a far more benign in-
teraction with all forms of instructional technology. In particular, simulation has
been a tool used by trainers for a long while. In simulations, a concrete situation is
reconstructed in what we now call a "virtual reality." Quoting Encyclopaedia Bri-
tannica, simulations are "in industry, science, and education, a research or teach-
ing technique that reproduces actual events and processes under test conditions."

TTrraaddiinngg R
Reeaalliittyy ffoorr V
Why would anybody want to replace the real world by a fake version? Essentially, there are at least three rea-

1. Safety. The real world is dangerous. Students should not risk their lives (or that of others) or get scared
in the process of learning their trades.

2. Simplicity, ease and time compression achieved with the "virtual" version of training. Some experi-
ments take a long time to set up and conduct. In others, the results are not so clear cut, due to too many
unmanageable variables. Simulations can be a convenient and convincing way to synthesize the real

3. Economy. Simulations can be less expensive than learning in the real world, particularly now that com-
puters are increasingly inexpensive. Simulations may save on expensive labs or on consumables such as
metal, electronic components or welding electrodes.

FFlliigghhtt S
The first significant use of simulations was to train airplane pilots. The flight trainer was invented by Mr.
Edwin Link in 1929. In aviation, the most forceful reason to use simulation is safety. At first, the Link
Trainer was used to teach pilots instrument flight. But as simulators became more sophisticated and comput-
ers were introduced, the main use became a tool to teach pilots how to handle emergency situations. Pilots
need to know how to react to life-threatening situations. Yet, turning off a turbine or disabling a rudder con-
trol in a jetliner in order to test pilot reaction is not a good idea. Modern flight simulators are multi-million
dollar machines, often not much cheaper than real airplanes. But nobody thinks of costs when deciding to use
them. The reason to resort to simulation is that it permits reproduction of conditions that, if reproduced in
real flight, would be very dangerous. Thus simulators give pilots a chance to acquire the proper reactions un-
der safer conditions.

! 20 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

muullaattiioonn ooff C
CMMaacchhiinneess S
Siim Heeaalltth
muullaattoorrss iinn H h
Another very common family of simulations is those that The use of simulators in health offers another promising ave-
reproduce the operation of numerically controlled machine nue. There are programs that simulate a sick patient under
tools (known as CNC machines). An apprentice will get to very critical conditions. Medical students and nurses have to
know a conventional lathe by handling it under controlled make quick decisions to save him. All the vital signs and
conditions, by machining initially simple parts, always being other inputs usually available to doctors are given and the
careful to keep the tool far away from the faceplate. Acci- patient reacts to treatment in ways that simulate the human
dents happen. An extra turn of the lever and the tool may hit body. (See The Use Of Technology For Learning And Skill
the turning plate. But a broken bit and a scratched faceplate Formation: A Medical Affair in this issue of TechKnowLo-
in a learning lathe is not much of a loss. Yet, CNC lathes - gia)
that are programmed like a computer - cost several times
more and are more prone to serious accidents. A wrong line
of code may zoom the turret towards the faceplate, provoking S
a horrendous collision causing serious losses. Students are Siim
muullaattiioonnss ffoorr TTrroouubblleesshhoooottiinngg
said to be traumatized by the crash and administrations have
to write off the losses. Another very common family of simulations occurs in elec-
tric and electronic circuits. Vocational schools frequently use
Therefore, the obvious first idea panels where components are installed, reproducing the typi-
was to couple the CNC to a cal electric wiring, for example, of an automobile. After stu-
dents understand the circuitry, the teacher may introduce
Simulations simulator that would trace on
faults in the circuit, either by disconnecting wires or by in-
paper the trajectory of the cutting
are a con- tool. The drawing would serting malfunctioning components. Students have to trou-
bleshoot the defective circuit and find the faults. Obviously,
venience to immediately reveal an eventual
this is much more convenient and faster than working in real
mistake. Only after the
recreate in a simulation shows the program to automobiles, where access to components and wiring is far
more time consuming. In more modern versions, the defects
training en- be devoid of gross mistakes, can
can be introduced electronically, by means of central controls
the real machine be used. With
vironment computers becoming more in the hands of the instructors. There are also simulations of
defects in real life automobiles or tractors that have been
the kind of common, a monitor replaces the
wired to a computer that simulates the faults.
paper plotter. The obvious follow
situation up development is software that
In such cases, simulations are a convenience to recreate in a
that is likely simulate the entire process,
training environment the kind of situation that is likely to
dispensing with the real life lathe
to happen in altogether. Clearly, this applies to happen in real life. Like in the case of the flight simulator, in
real life milling machines and the whole a short time interval, it packs together events that would take
much longer to occur spontaneously. If one were to learn in
gamut of CNC-controlled
machine tools. real automobiles how to troubleshoot faults, infrequent de-
fects could fail to appear during the training cycle of the ap-
Today, computer simulations of CNC machines are very prentice.
common, being quite sophisticated and inexpensive. If prop-
erly used, they can speed up the training and lower the costs
significantly because trainees can learn much from them and S
muullaattiioonnss ffoorr M
Maannuuaall D
they require a lot less supervision. Whether they altogether
dispense with first hand contact with real life CNC machines A less usual form of simulations are those that teach manual
is a controversial subject we need not be concerned with dexterity without incurring the costs of consumables. For
here. Let us only remember that the challenges of moving instance, arc welding requires a steady hand to keep the
from a manual lathe to a CNC version resides at the pro- electrode at a constant distance from the parts being welded.
gramming end, not in handling the machine - which, once At the same time that the hand has to move at constant speed,
programmed, requires little human input in the first place. it has to adjust for the distance, as the electrode shortens.
That being the case, it makes little difference on whether the This operation requires hundreds of hours of practice, burn-
programming is for a machine simulated in the monitor or a ing expensive electrodes. There are contraptions that simu-
real life machine. late a welding machine and permit significant savings in

! 21 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

TThhee E
Elleeccttrroonniicc B
Beenncchh fore committing themselves to a more expensive process
with real film. This is already a sort of simulation of results
Perhaps the most impressive developments are coming from by means of a quick and less expensive alternative.
the use of computers to simulate electrical and electronic
circuitry. One can use a mouse to However, in digital photography,
pick up electronic components in a the very idea of simulation loses its
virtual storeroom and connect them sharp edges. One can record and
in any way desired. A virtual bat- …contrary to academic edu- re-record indefinitely the images,
without consuming anything. Re-
tery or power supply is then con- cation, which is always at touching an image or negative with
nected and the circuit energized. It
will display the properties of a real odds with new instruction fine brushes required a steady hand
system, from turning on a light technology, vocational train- and errors could be irreversible.
By contrast, working with Photo-
bulb to far more complex roles.
Then, using a virtual multi-meter ing has had a long history of Shop one can "undo" anything and
or oscilloscope, the student can easy-going coexistence in everything. The border between
make any measurement in this cir- reality and simulation becomes
cuit, as if it were a real circuit. such matters. blurred and immaterial, in contrast
The Electronic Bench is the best to the tangible difference between
known software of this type. With the simulation of a CNC machine
it, or with other similar programs, and the real thing.
one can quickly assemble an infinite variety of virtual cir-
cuits and watch them work. This not only avoids damages to
real world components, but the speed of assembly is much IInn C

greater, even compared to panels where no soldering is re-
quired. Overall, contrary to academic education, which is always at
odds with new instructional technology, vocational training
has had a long history of easy-going coexistence in such
S o ftw a re t o S i m ula
Software to Simulate Hardwarete H a r dw ar e matters. Rejection is less frequent and there is a long history
of use of simulations. Low and behold, not all simulations
At the limit, in digital electronic simulations, the student can are equally popular with trainers. Flight simulation has been
build a computer that works just like in real life. The parts part and parcel of pilot training. But the highly intriguing
are picked up with the mouse and connected, creating digital and realistic Electronic Bench (or its equivalent) is not so
circuits, starting from flip-flop gates, and/or switches and widely used. The same is true with welding simulation,
moving up to more complex microprocessors. In so many which offers significant potential for saving consumable
words, on the screen of a computer one can assemble and electrodes.
operate a computer. The software simulates the hardware.
Ultimately, this is no different from a major thrust in real One possible explanation is that richer schools are under lit-
computer design, i.e. the use of software to simulate or, as tle pressure to cut costs while poorer schools have access
said in the industry, to emulate hardware. neither to simulations not to information about them. It may
very well be that conservative trainers shun those varieties of
simulations that merely reduce costs but add little realism of
W h e r e to D r aw
Where to Draw the Line th e L i ne efficiency to the training.

As an increasing fraction of the tasks requiring training in- To sum up, simulations in skills training have a long history.
volve electronic circuits and components, the frontier be- Trainers have welcomed them, in contrast to academic edu-
tween the real thing and simulations is becoming blurred. cation where rejection is so common. Overall, it is a con-
Take, for instance, imaging. In the realm of silver halide spicuous case of successful use of technology in learning.
photography, when shooting a still or movie picture, by Resistance from conservative groups seems to concentrate in
pressing the shutter button, one unleashes an irreversible areas where the benefits are purely economical rather than in
process, consuming film, chemicals and photographic paper. the level of learning.
Studio photographers use Polaroid film to check results, be-

! 22 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Low-Investment Internet-Based Distance Learning Solutions:
Systems and Procedures

Jason Hughes
Lecturer, Centre for Labour Market Studies
Leicester University, United Kingdom

This article explores the development of a low-investment, internet-based, conferencing software solution imple-
mented at a distance learning center within the University of Leicester, UK. In essence, this is a case study of the
practical issues encountered in establishing an online learning community, and of how these issues were addressed
and resolved. The article begins by briefly examining the background to the study: it provides a profile of the dis-
tance learning activities at Centre for Labour Market Studies and an outline of the main issues faced. It then goes on
to discuss the implementation of a low-investment internet-based conferencing forum.

BACKGROUND • Enhancing the learning process of participants in the

program. A growing body of literature has emerged to
The Centre for Labour Market Studies is a research and suggest that individuals learn best through interaction
teaching institution based at the University of Leicester, UK. with one another. While discursive exchanges via ICTs
Since 1991, the Centre has provided a number of courses via can be considered to constitute a relatively limited form
distance learning in fields related to training and Human Re- of social interaction, these do, nonetheless, provide the
source (HR) Management. It has approximately one thousand opportunity for higher levels of learning than reading
course members at any one time, the majority of whom re- texts in isolation.
side in Southeast Asia and the UK, it also has concentrations • Augmenting course members’ access to academic
of students in North America, Canada, South Africa, the staff at the Centre. While course members residing in
United Arab Emirates, Israel, and some other European the UK have the realistic alternative of using the tele-
countries. Participants in the program come from a wide phone to discuss issues and queries with academic staff
range of backgrounds, but typically they are Human Re- at the Centre, for overseas course members this is not
source directors, senior managers or trainers in large com- such a viable option (because of the cost of international
mercial organizations. The courses can be undertaken in their calls). Thus, the need emerged to have an accessible fo-
entirety by the distance learning mode: the program is de- rum for synchronous communication with tutors at the
signed for individuals who wish to arrange studies around Centre.
their domestic and occupational commitments. The bulk of • File exchange. An increasing number of course mem-
course materials are in a paper-based format. However, the bers wish to submit their assignments electronically.
Centre has been looking to utilize ICTs (Information and Staff at the Centre experienced a number of problems
Communication Technologies) to enhance the support and receiving and reading assignments submitted as e-mail
learning experience of course members. The intention was to attachments. There emerged the need for a central, se-
develop a solution that would address the following con- cure, accessible file exchange facility.
In addressing these issues, the Centre’s aim was to make
• Reducing levels of isolation experienced by partici- more optimal use of existing ICT resources rather than to
pants in the program. While the Centre has always undertake substantial investment in entirely new resources
provided periodical teaching visits to regional centers, a (for example, by investing in video-conferencing centers). A
newsletter, and more recently, ‘community e-mailing,’1 central guiding principle in developing the solution was ac-
the need to reduce some of the ‘distance’ involved in cessibility. The intention was that the Centre could develop a
distance learning has emerged as one of the Centre’s forum that was accessible in the following respects:
primary concerns.

! 23 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

• It could be accessed by course members from their home The Centre’s earliest experiments focused on the use of the
and work computers: that it would be functional on sys- synchronous ‘Chat’ facility. Conferences were typically or-
tems connecting to the Internet via modem. ganized at 12:00 GMT – a less than satisfactory compromise
• It did not have high power requirements: that it would between all of the time zones of potential conference partici-
not necessitate users to have computers with high speci- pants: for course members in Los Angeles, this would mean
fication processors, hard drives or RAM. 4:00 AM, for those in Singapore, 8:00 PM, for those in Syd-
• It would be easy to use and intuitive: that course mem- ney, 11:00 PM. During the early stages of experimentation,
bers could be familiar with basic functioning after ap- the Centre organized parallel conferences at different times
proximately half an hour of initial use. of the day (to suit different time zones), but found that this
• It would not cost course members extra money: since the was impractical since it involved considerable duplication of
forum was initially an experiment, the Centre wished to effort, and it inhibited interaction between course members
avoid incorporating the cost of, for example, software li- from different geographical locales. Later experiments found
censes into course fees, and wanted the services to be 3:00 or 4:00 GMT to be a better compromise (since course
made available to existing course members from the out- members furthest from GMT were more willing to partici-
set. pate very late at night in favor of conferences very early in
the morning – shifting the range from 8:00 AM to 3:00 AM).
With these concerns in mind, it was decided to experiment
with a piece of software called Hotline Connect2. The soft- ONLINE CONFERENCES
ware was chosen because it fulfilled many of the accessibil-
ity requirements as outlined above, and was available for The earliest conferences were chaotic. The very first online
both Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows based plat- discussions had little or no coherence or structure. Typically,
forms. The remainder of this article describes how this soft- they became hijacked by personal agendas. Course members
ware was used to provide a range of online services for would interrupt the main flow of discussion with unrelated
course members: the focus is centrally upon the practical comments or queries and informal messages and many par-
issues related to facilitating learning via text-based ticipants were not clear about the format of the conference –
conferencing. about the rules of participation, etc. While course members
responded very positively to the earliest conferences, the
DEVELOPING A SOLUTION amount of learning that had taken place appeared to have
been limited by the confused and disjointed character of the
After setting up a dedicated server at the Centre, course interaction. In the absence of accepted protocols for the order
members were e-mailed instructions on how to download the of ‘who types first,’ coupled with the fact that the end user is
software needed to participate (freely available via the Inter- unable to tell whether another user is typing a response or is
net), and on how to connect to the Centre’s server. Once us- just awaiting further input into the chat window, there
ers had followed these instructions and successfully logged emerged a definite need for a very clear center to the discus-
on, they would be presented with a series of windows. sion, and for a clear structure to be imposed (at least for for-
mal conferences). At the same time, academic staff did not
The main window – the ‘Chat’ window – allows for syn- want to discount the informal networking that was occurring,
chronous text based discussion. The user types in the bottom nor the possibility for course members to pursue personal
segment of the window and presses [Return] to send the text issues. It was evident simply that it would not be possible to
to the Chat window (at which point all other users concur- provide all of these functions at one time. The forum thus
rently online can read the text). The text entry is then auto- became streamed into three largely distinct services: Formal
matically prefixed with the user’s name. Using this facility it Conferences, Online Tutorials, and Informal Discussions.
is possible for course members to conference in real time These are discussed in more detail below.
with staff members (and with one another) irrespective of
location globally. FORMAL CONFERENCES
Various formats were tried during the early stages of the
In addition, the user has access to an asynchronous ‘News’ Centre’s experimentation. These included:
facility. This is very similar to a standard bulletin board. It
allows for multithreaded discussions – discussions organized • The Online Lecture: course members were given one
by theme and issue that can be read in chronological se- small ‘chunk’ of a lecture at a time, and, periodically,
quence. Users’ posts to the news remain on the server until asked to reflect upon and discuss the issues presented.
the server administrator removes them. In other words, the This was found to be quite a tutor-centered approach,
news provides a facility for course members to conference and the whole process was rather time consuming – ac-
with one another without being concurrently online. tive debate was somewhat impeded by this format.

! 24 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

• Discussion of a ‘Posted’ or Existing Reading: this in- the lead of the discussion; announcing when the conference
volved asking course members to refer to a specific sec- time is nearly finished, etc. The chair is not normally ex-
tion of the course materials, or to a PDF available for pected to contribute to the substance of the conference in any
download from the server, and to reflect upon and dis- major way other than by summing up the discussion as a
cuss this in relation to a pre-defined set of questions. whole at the very end of the conference.
This was a more ‘open’ approach than the previous. It
became more successful at later points in experimenta- Welcomer: This member of the team is expected to welcome
tion when online audio talks were streamed via the course members when they first arrive, explain the format of
server instead of readings. the conference, and help them with any initial operational
queries or difficulties that they might have. For course mem-
• Discussion of a General Topic: this involved discuss- bers joining late, the welcomer would normally summarize
ing a theme, which cuts across a number of areas – not the discussion so far (via private messaging) in order to al-
specific areas for participants at a particular stage of the low informed participation.
course. The conference facilitator would be expected to
prepare a number of probing questions before the con- Online Facilitator: This role (usually performed by two or
ference. This had the advantage of maximizing the num- more people) involves responsibility for facilitating the con-
ber of participants at a conference and so augmenting the tent of the conference. The role varies considerably accord-
possibilities for interactive discussion. ing to how any particular conference is designed. It could
include anything from providing an online ‘lecture’ in short
• The Group Workshop Approach: another format in- ‘chunks’ followed by questions to prompt discussion, to
volved organizing conference attendees into individual asking probing questions directed at specific individuals or
groups to discuss a particular topic. After an appropriate the group as a whole to get course members debating a par-
amount of time (and facilitation) a representative from ticular issue or set of concerns. Since the typing and concen-
each group is asked to give feedback in the main chat tration demands involved can be very tiring after extended
window. This was found to be rather difficult to admin- periods, Online Facilitators will normally alternate in leading
istrate online and would only be viable for large confer- the discussion. The facilitator also has the central task of
ences (perhaps thirty or more participants at one time). establishing coherence and clarity to the discussion. Often,
contributions from course members do not take account of
The most successful methods proved to be those which in- preceding points (this is, in part, due to practical limitations
volved course members preparing beforehand by reading a discussed later), and easily lead away from central confer-
specific article or listening to an online talk so that informed ence themes. While such tangential changes of direction can
and focused interactive discussion could be maximized dur- sometimes be fruitful, it is periodically necessary to summa-
ing conference timings. rize the main themes discussed and to steer the discussion
back to a core set of issues.
A key issue to emerge from the early stages of experimenta-
tion was that it required a considerable amount of effort to Technical Support: This member of the team is responsible
ensure good attendance at conferences. Another major prob- for dealing with all technical queries. For example, dealing
lem was conference timings – day, date and time were all with: course members who telephone the Centre because
critical. It also proved necessary to provide a good deal of they are unable to connect; users who are having trouble
advanced notification and planning; for example, asking maintaining a connection because of Internet congestion;
course members to test their connection to the server some participants who need to upgrade their software, etc.
time before the conferences began in order to ensure that any
technical issues could be resolved. Even more important was As is evident from the above, it has proven necessary to
the need to establish a clear format to the conference, one impose a great deal of structure and organization on to
that was understood both by course members and participat- formal conferences in order to avoid a collapse into dis-
ing academic staff based at the Centre. Over time, there de- jointed, chaotic, and incoherent exchanges! In addition to the
veloped a number of distinct online teaching roles which can internal team roles outlined above, a standardized conference
be categorized as follows: format developed through experimentation.

Chair: This person is the central ‘management’ figure in the Teaching via text-based discussion therefore demands a dif-
team: someone who controls the flow and direction of the ferent set of skills from the standard academic lecturer role.
discussion. More specifically, the role involves asking course It requires a great deal of formalization in order to work as a
members to wait while others arrive at the beginning of the coherent whole. Similarly, it demands different skills from
conference; organizing discussion streaming (for example, participants. It was most interesting to observe how experi-
when facilitating online group work); organizing who takes enced conference participants were able to follow the non-

! 25 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

linear character of the discussion, and to negotiate the flow via the forum. Tutorials can also be arranged (via e-mail), for
of interaction with greater ease than first-time participants. example between dissertation supervisors and supervisees at
Also of interest were comparisons with face-to-face group mutually convenient times.
dynamics. Individuals who were particularly ‘vocal’ and
dominant online were not always the same individuals who For one-to-one communication, the forum works very well
were vocal and dominant in face-to-face teaching situations. indeed. It is considerably easier to keep track of the discus-
Some course members reported that they felt more comfort- sion, and, once again, has the advantage of providing a
able, less threatened, and more able to engage in discussion ready-made transcript of exchanges between academic staff
in an online forum than in a standard classroom situation. and course members for records and Quality Assurance sys-
The online conferencing format proved to be most effective
when the subject discussed was contentious. Indeed, the on- The ‘drop-in hour’ also has the added advantage of bringing
line facilitation methods that proved to be most effective course members from different parts of the world together
were those that employed techniques such as “devil’s advo- during a one-hour time slot. This provides greater opportuni-
cate” – challenging lines of questioning intended to stimulate ties for informal networking and conferencing – perhaps the
debate. The forum proved to be much less useful when dis- most important role of the forum.
cussing anaemic topics such as referencing in written as-
signments, dissertation structure, etc. Most interesting is the INFORMAL DISCUSSIONS
‘team’ approach to online teaching. The forum makes it pos- As has previously been stated, one of the central objectives
sible to switch seamlessly between facilitators, according to of establishing the online forum was to reduce feelings of
areas of specialism and interest, as and when these are re- isolation among the Centre’s distance learning students.
quired throughout the course of the conference. From a very early stage the intention was to encourage
course members to use the conferencing forum to meet with
A major advantage of text-based conferencing is that it pro- one another, simply to socialize, network, and exchange
vides a ready-made transcript of any particular discussion. ideas. However, this has not happened automatically. Firstly,
These transcripts can be used as teaching resources in and of because course members tend to log on at different times
themselves. Course members who were unable to attend a throughout the day and night, and secondly, because many
conference can still obtain access to the transcript (from the course members are quite directed in their use of the facility:
same server) and contribute via the asynchronous news facil- characteristically they will log on to the server in order to
ity (this is discussed in more detail shortly). Course members obtain a particular resource, ask a specific question, meet a
have begun to make increasing use of conference transcripts specific person, etc. Only more recently have course mem-
– quoting extracts in their written work, using the transcripts bers begun to network and conference informally in the ways
as resources for research, etc. Similarly, academic staff at the initially hoped for by the Centre. Once again, it has become
Centre have been able to use conference transcripts in face- evident that informal conferencing requires facilitation. Sim-
to-face teaching situations to stimulate debate. ply broadcasting a date and time for course members to meet,
with or without academic staff online, can help to facilitate
ONLINE TUTORIALS greater course member interaction. Constantly updating the
As has been mentioned above, in early conferences there was site, providing new resources, and answering queries posted
a tendency for discussions to be ‘hijacked’ by personal agen- to the news facility helps to ensure that course members
das. Typically, a course member would ask to discuss a spe- check back more frequently, and, in turn, helps to increase
cific assignment question, or, for example, would want to the number of concurrent meetings between course members.
discuss arranging an assignment extension with the Centre. It
rapidly became evident that it would not be possible to deal LIMITATIONS
with individual requests of this character within formal con-
ferences. In order to address such demands, the Centre es- Perhaps the single largest limitation is the fact that all inter-
tablished a ‘drop-in hour’ at a fixed time every day for action is text-based. This means that a user’s capacity to
course members who wished to have individual tutorials in participate in conferences is very much related to manual
relation to specific academic or administrative concerns. In- typing speed, the ability to write in English at speed (often a
ternally, this meant organizing a team of academics who second language for our course members), the ability to fol-
were willing to work in rotation to provide the necessary low a non-linear text-based discussion (again, problems can
support. be compounded by language differences), etc. At the same
time, the fact that interaction is text-based is a great advan-
The software used allows for online chats to be made private: tage: everyone, at least potentially, has the opportunity to
restricted only to those who are invited to join. In this way, it have their say (even though this may make the discussion
is possible to safely discuss sensitive or confidential issues incoherent), as previously mentioned, transcripts of all ex-

! 26 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

changes are automatically generated; and text has very low ticipants much more time to develop carefully formulated
bandwidth requirements. Ultimately, with the global com- comments and responses to key questions and issues, and
munications infrastructure at its current stage of develop- that its format specifically lends itself graphically to tracing
ment, there is an inevitable trade-off between the richness of the sequential threads of a discussion and contributing ac-
communication (higher bandwidth alternatives such as live cordingly. Again, this is a relationship and a mode of com-
audio-visual streams might provide the basis for a richer munication that has to be learned both by course members
form of communication) and the accessibility and reliability and by academic staff.
of any particular forum. We have more recently introduced
the facility of recorded academic talks accessible as audio Another possible limitation is that it is necessary to install
streams from the server. However, again we have tried to new software to participate in the forum (instead of using
optimize these for access via modem connection. existing software such as a web browser). Course members
do, indeed, experience a number of problems when installing
A major limitation with the heavy dependence on typing the software (which we now provide on CD-ROM) and oper-
speed is that, from a participant’s perspective, it may take too ating it from behind a firewall (for some of those connecting
long to formulate a contribution to the discussion in enough from the workplace). However, the advantage of a dedicated
time for it still to be relevant. In other words, it may be that piece of software is that it works more efficiently and quickly
by the time the user has prepared a contribution ready to send than web-based alternatives (particularly on low-
to the main chat window, the discussion may have already end/bandwidth systems) and is not limited in function to the
moved on to another set of issues. This also means that if capabilities and performance of html and Java.
contributions are sent later than originally planned, the dis-
cussion may lose coherence, become stuck on a particular CONCLUSION
theme, etc. In part, it is the responsibility of the chair and
facilitators to help overcome some of these problems: once The experimentation with the online forum has produced
again demonstrating the crucial role these play in online some very positive results. Many course members have ex-
teaching. However, it is not always possible to forge enough plicitly stated that it has helped to overcome some of the bar-
influence over the discussion to ensure a smooth coherent riers of distance learning, and that it has encouraged a sense
flow. of belonging – of having a ‘place to go.’ Academics at the
Centre have had to learn a new range of skills and techniques
In addressing this problem, staff at the Centre have begun to in order to teach effectively via the forum. The forum has
rethink the relationship between synchronous and asynchro- attracted considerable attention from other departments
nous text-based discussion via the server. The synchronous within Leicester University. Perhaps its strongest attribute is
real time conferences are beginning to take on a specific role: that it makes use of existing technology rather than involving
this is where ideas are ‘stormed,’ where viewpoints are ex- considerable expenditure on new equipment – particularly
pressed and issues unpacked. However, by using the asyn- useful for those who wish to experiment with an online fo-
chronous news facility, it is possible to continue the discus- rum. In terms of the technological infrastructure required, a
sion and explore central themes and tangents in much greater forum can be established relatively quickly. However, what
depth after the synchronous part of the conference has fin- might take considerably longer is organizing academic teams
ished. Indeed, this also allows much greater freedom for par- and developing teaching practices to deal with a very differ-
ticipants from different time zones to interact. The advantage ent and potentially powerful medium of communication.
of the asynchronous part of the forum is that it allows par-

Community e-mailing refers to periodical e-mail dispatches to all course members to provide course-related information, to encourage
contact with the Centre, and to reinforce a sense of community among program participants.

! 27 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

High Tech/Grassroots Education:
Community Learning Centers (CLCs) for Skill Building

by Mary Fontaine
The LearnLink Project,
Academy for Educational Development (AED)

A few years ago, a group of 64 young men ple from all walks of life. Two cases in point, both in West
and women in Ghana graduated from a na- Africa, illustrate design and implementation elements that are
tional University of Science and Tech- proving effective for both the CLCs and their clients.
nology. Each was awarded a degree in
Computer Science for successfully com-
pleting the program. Throughout their Getting Trained in Ghana
course of study at the University, how-
ever, they neither saw nor worked on a Since November 1998, three Ghanaian NGOs have been
computer. managing and running CLCs in Accra, Kumasi, and Cape
Coast.1 The purpose of the centers is to empower individuals
and organizations for local development by providing public
How Could This Be? access—particularly for low-income populations—to the
Internet and other ICTs. In just a little over two years, the
At the macro level, the nation was going through an eco- centers grew from small, relatively obscure offices to popular
nomic crisis that affected all aspects of life, including educa- establishments with their waiting rooms filled. They served
tion. So when the Computer Science Department’s IBM 360 nearly 14,000 clients during the first quarter of 2000 alone,
broke down, it was not replaced. The cost of a new computer 77 percent of whom took advantage of the training opportu-
was prohibitive. At the micro level, the impact on students nities in typing, word processing, spreadsheets, computer
and professors was devastating, resulting in low morale, a literacy, and Internet orientation that are offered in addition
curriculum focused exclusively on theory, and a subsequent to simple access to computer equipment. That’s over 10,000
job search by the graduates that suffered from a lack of prac- individuals who gained increasingly important computer-
tical skills. Most of the graduates ended up at secondary related skills. Trainees include students, teachers, and re-
schools teaching mathematics and science. Few landed searchers as well as business people, staff from NGOs, medi-
computer related jobs. cal practitioners, artisans, merchants, local officials, and tele-
communications workers. Ranging in age from eight to
The situation is not much different today. For many forward sixty-seven, with 85 percent between 18 and 40, the vast
looking young people in Ghana—and throughout the devel- majority of clients are males. However, female enrollment
oping world—access to computers remains elusive despite has been growing steadily, in part due to the CLCs’ creative
the importance of 21st century technology for individual and outreach campaigns.2
national development. Students of all ages who seek oppor-
tunities to participate in the computer age are among the Most training classes are held three hours/day for ten days.
“early adopters,” those who could one day teach and lead CLC staff, with assistance from a LearnLink Resident Advi-
others. Regrettably, the lack of learning options not only sor, determine the courses to be offered and develop the cur-
limits their ability to lead but also often contributes to the riculum based on local needs assessments. To date, the
insidious brain drain that depletes poor countries of their greatest demand has been for training in computer literacy
greatest resource. and word processing, followed by spreadsheets and typing.
Internet orientation classes have the lowest enrollment,
A partial yet promising solution to the problem may be the which the project’s Resident Advisor attributes to the higher
Community Learning Centers (CLCs) that are launching fees for this course necessitated by connectivity charges.
worldwide to provide public access to information and com- Still, training fees at the CLCs are 10-20 percent lower than
munication technologies (ICTs). Increasingly, training and those at private computer schools in Ghana. This fall, the
skill building opportunities also offered at the centers are CLCs will offer new classes in computer networking, fun-
taking on a life of their own, attracting large numbers of peo- damentals of programming, PowerPoint, and advanced

! 28 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

courses in word processing, spreadsheets and database man- numbers of visitors from all parts of Africa and the world,
agement. “CyberSonghai” is immediately visible to all. The initial
demand for services from the community followed a pattern
What are trainees doing with their newly acquired skills? that is becoming typical around the world, with photocopy-
Those already employed are finding increasing opportunities ing, typing of resumes and reports, printing, designing letter-
to apply their skills on the job. Indeed, employers who are head stationary, and laminating of business cards and signs
investing in computer hardware and software are paying to representing the most important sources of revenue for the
send their staff to the CLCs to learn to use the new equip- telecenter. To promote its computer and Internet business,
ment and programs, and employees who master computer CyberSonghai conducted marketing campaigns and, during
applications increase their eligibility for promotion. Simi- the last year, offered training programs first to the 125 stu-
larly, recent graduates increase their employability, landing dents and 110 staff members who work at the Songhai agri-
jobs in business and government, at communication centers, cultural compound and, later, to the community at large.
and in retail shops where they do typesetting and accounting
using computers. Others—students, doctors, NGO staff, and Classes tended to be one-day events, covering such topics as
parents—want to be able to conduct research, type reports, or Internet Theory and Practice and Introduction to Navigation,
connect by email with family and friends. with entrepreneurs, high school and university students, and
members of NGOs invited to participate. Turn-out was
From a modest beginning two and half years ago, the CLCs promising, so CyberSonghai staff moved on to design the
have become a significant skill-building force in Ghana, sup- curriculum for a variety of other classes, including Introduc-
plementing and extending learning opportunities beyond tion to Informatics, Keyboard Operation, and Desktop Pub-
those available in both public and private educational insti- lishing, all of which are currently being offered to students in
tutes—and providing more practical, hands-on training than the area who receive special invitations to attend.
some technical universities. The CLCs are building on their
success by branching out into creative new endeavors. Per- To attract more women, the CLC designed an “Internet for
haps the most noteworthy to date is their selection as the im- Women” training and information awareness workshop,
plementing agent of the Oxfam OnLine Project, which will which was marketed through invitations to NGOs, an-
sponsor computer and Internet training for a minimum of six nouncements on local radio, posters placed around town, and
students from each of five junior high schools. Over a six- through the Town Crier. Fifty-seven women attended the
month period, the students will team up with counterparts at event, where they toured the telecenter, received an intro-
foreign schools to implement joint projects using the Inter- duction to the services and benefits of the Internet for women
net. in Africa, created emailboxes, visited web sites selected for
their usefulness and relevance, and received a list of web
It is interesting that, for the most part, trainers at the CLCs sites focused on issues of importance to women.
are recent computer science graduates from Ghanaian uni-
versities—those same talented young people whose course of
study failed to include hands-on computer work. With ample
opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge at the CLCs,
plus coaching in training techniques, the trainers are able to
indulge their enthusiasm for ICTs while sharing their knowl-
edge and skills with others.

Building Skills in Benin

As in Ghana, USAID supports three CLCs in Benin that are
administered by the Academy for Educational Development
(AED). Unlike the Ghanaian model, where each CLC is run
by a different NGO, all three in Benin are operated by the
Songhai Center, a world-class sustainable agricultural NGO
with farms and now telecenters in Porto Novo, the political A training session in Benin
capital on the coast, Savalou in the center of the country, and Another recent training designed for Globe Benin, a local
Parakou, the gateway to the north. NGO network of schools participating in the worldwide
Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environ-
The Porto Novo CLC is the most developed. Situated near ment program, addressed the Internet and the Environment.
the entrance to the Songhai Center, which receives large As part of a Globe Benin plan to create its own web site,

! 29 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

CyberSonghai trained key staff in web site design as well as countries, a majority of trainees mentioned the “com-
introduced local participants to useful environmental web fortable surroundings” as a major reason for coming.
sites. The CLCs are air conditioned—useful not only for the
equipment but also for the attention span in equatorial
Finally, CyberSonghai hosted a full day workshop in June Africa—and the tables, chairs, curtains and lighting are
2000, for national and regional NGOs in Cotonou, Benin’s pleasant. Moreover, the CLC managers, assistants and
business capital, and Porto Novo to introduce them to French trainers are friendly, competent, and enthusiastic about
language sites describing the programs, financial details and their work and their computers. While the accoutre-
application processes for donors that support development ments are not lavish or fancy, the ambiance is pleasant,
initiatives in Francophone Africa. The workshop included IT and the atmosphere is conducive to productive learning.
awareness, an introduction to the Internet, and demonstration
and distribution of a previously prepared Donor Database 4. Also important are the training topics and the pro-
floppy disk and CD-ROM. gram content. In both Ghana and Benin, most of the
training courses were developed locally (though existing
As illustrated above, the approach to training employed at curricular materials were no doubt consulted), geared to
CyberSonghai involves significant outreach to target groups, the level and interests of the prospective trainees, and
with some marketing, promotion and PR thrown in for good relevant to local needs. Supporting materials are useful,
measure. The strategy is to spark interest among community too, not only for supplementing the local content but
constituents so as to develop a client base for the ongoing also for providing trainees with an opportunity to use a
training programs for individuals and groups that will help CD-ROM, for example, or to skim through a mainstream
generate CLC revenue in the long term. computer magazine.

5. Everyone knows that the personality and approach of

What Works the trainer can make or break a training session. In
Ghana and Benin, the trainers made up for a lack of ex-
The CLCs in both Ghana and Benin are running effective perience with competence, enthusiasm and an obvious
programs to help build ICT-related skills at the community delight with the subject matter. Each CLC in Ghana
level. Despite the different initial approaches, several design employs female trainers as well, which female trainees
and implementation elements of the two models are simi- commented on favorably.
lar—and seem to work.
6. A limited number of computers requires small group
1. First, creative outreach is necessary initially to inform training in Ghana, with no more than four to six people
and familiarize future clients with the possibilities, po- participating at a time. Obviously, this enables indi-
tential, and relevance of the CLCs—and ICTs. Special vidualized attention and personalizes the experience,
days (or weeks) set aside for women, youth, entrepre- which impacts it positively. In Benin, large groups are
neurs, medical practitioners, local officials, and other accommodated with projectors and screens, which works
groups seem to work effectively, as do posters, bro- for one-day events. Training rooms for small groups are
chures, radio announcements, invitation letters, and— also in place at the CLCs in Benin, and class size is con-
where available—the town crier to spread the word. Ini- trolled when regular sessions are ongoing. Of critical
tially, the special events must be offered at no charge to importance, of course, is the necessity for every trainee
the visitors. While a demand for photocopying and to have constant access to a working computer.
other Kinko-type services already exists, it has to be cre-
ated for the less obvious benefits of multimedia products 7. Other considerations include the length of training
and the Internet. classes, both individual sessions and the program as a
whole, which should be neither too long nor too short.
2. Second, experience in Ghana indicates that once it Convenient hours are important as well. In Cape Coast,
catches on, “they will come”—with one caveat. Skill Ghana, for example, trainers sometimes arrive as early
building opportunities must be affordable. Private as 7:00 a.m. to take advantage of better access to the
sector cybercafes and computer training institutes are telephone connection to the ISP, and in Kumasi the staff
springing up everywhere (there are 10-15 such offerings stay regularly until 9:00 p.m. to accommodate clients
in Kumasi, Ghana, alone), so fees of 10-20 percent less who come after work or school.
than the going private rate are essential.
8. Finally, visitors to introductory outreach events leave
3. Other early lessons indicate that aesthetics are impor- with a floppy disk or a CD-ROM, a give-away that
tant. In interviews and focus groups at CLCs in both helps to make tangible the virtual world to which they

! 30 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

were introduced, and upon successful completion of faulty, too, the endeavor may be doomed before it ever gets a
coursework, each participant receives a certificate de- chance to succeed.
signed and printed at the CLC.

Early Impact Returns

What Doesn’t Always Work
The CLCs in Ghana and Benin are providing practical,
A host of challenges greet CLC staff every morning. Some- hands-on, and affordable training to thousands of people
times the electricity is off, or the telephone connections are from all walks of life, who are developing skills that simply
slow or constantly busy, precluding or interrupting connec- cannot be acquired anywhere else—even at some of the ma-
tions. As the CLCs become more popular, they also become jor universities. Individuals participating in the training per-
victims of their own success, with growing numbers of peo- ceive it to be highly empowering, due not only to the em-
ple waiting longer and longer to use one of the limited num- ployment opportunities it opens up but also to the ready ac-
ber of computers. Cash flow is a problem, too, especially at cess to global information and networking it provides. In the
first when the CLCs are not yet generating sufficient funds to long term, it may have the same empowering effect on low-
cover their expenses, the host NGO does not have reserves to income communities as a whole. For now, the training pro-
carry the CLC alone, and salaries for trainers and managers grams are clearly meeting a need and helping to satisfy a
are low. In the latter case, getting and keeping skilled staff growing demand that remains otherwise unfulfilled.
can prove difficult, particularly when private sector compa-
nies pay more and have growing needs for computer literate Beyond the impact on individuals and communities, the op-
personnel. Equipment malfunctions cause problems, too, eration of CLCs is having an interesting impact on NGOs as
especially if the computers are old or spare parts scarce. well. Their entry into the telecenter business illustrates a
Indeed, a sufficient number of state-of-the-art multimedia, growing trend in the NGO world toward a kind of “social
networked computers—accompanied by laser printers (pref- entrepreneurship” that is neither strictly non-profit nor for-
erably color), rewriteable CD-ROMs and Zip drives, educa- profit. Generating revenue to run a business is a relatively
tional software on CD-ROM, and books and subscriptions to new undertaking for most NGOs, especially small, indige-
computer magazines and other supporting material—is per- nous groups in developing countries. The NGOs in Ghana
haps the most critical requirement for running an effective and Benin deserve credit for their courage in taking the risk
CLC. The operation is difficult in the best of circumstances, on behalf of their constituents—and congratulations for
but doing so in low-income communities in developing making it work.3
countries can try the patience of a saint. If the hardware is

The CLCs are supported by a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented through
the LearnLink project, administered by the Academy for Educational Development (AED).
For more information on ICTs and gender and on the outreach to women undertaken in Ghana, See A High Tech Twist: ICT
Access and the Gender Divide, TechKnowLogia, Vol. 2, Issue 2, March/April 2000.
To learn more about the CLCs in Ghana and Benin, visit their web sites at the following URLs: The Central Region Devel-
opment Commission (CEDECOM), Cape Coast, Ghana (, Partners for the Internet in Education
(PIE), Accra, Ghana, and the Center for the Development of People (CEDEP), Kumasi, Ghana
( In Benin, see the Songhai Center’s web site at To
learn more about the CLC project in both countries, see LearnLink’s web site at

! 31 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

The Lowly Correspondence Courses for the Masses:
Fraud or Redemption?
Claudio de Moura Castro
Chief Education Adviser,
Inter-American Development Bank

"My correspondence course was auto-mechanics, but I work repairing tractors. It is somewhat different but
the course helped me a lot. I was a farm hand, now I am a tractor mechanic, employed by a repair shop
where I remain until now. I got my driving license and have afterwards gone back to evening school. I hope
one day to become a mechanical engineer." (Response to a survey of correspondence school graduates)

In times of instruction via wide-band Internet, what are we to Shattered Conventional Wisdom
say of its poorest cousin, correspondence education? And
There is a widespread assumption that these courses could
what are we to say of its most plebeian version, the voca-
not work well, given the unreliability of the mail systems. In
tional trades taught by correspondence?
fact, the Brazilian mail system had a horrible reputation in
Comic books advertise courses on radio and TV repair, tech- the seventies. One of the first surprises was to find that only
nical drafting, dressmaking, cake decoration, auto- 2% of the respondents complained of lost shipments and only
mechanics, accounting and many other common trades. (In 11% reported delays. So much for untested prejudices. This
the United States, typically, these courses are advertised in survey just about shattered all conventional wisdom about
matchboxes). These courses, in most countries, are not regu- such courses in three ways.
lated by law, are run by private enterprises, and cater to 1. Relation of the students to their alma mater
modest clienteles.
Most of the respondents assumed that the survey was directly
Most academics and educators dismiss them as innocuous at connected with the school and gave sequence to a strikingly
best and outright fraud, at worst. Not only that, but they are personal dialogue with their former teachers. The question-
accused of selling illusions to those who can least afford to naires were scribbled all over with personal stories, with very
pay for unfulfilled dreams. intimate details of their lives. We were surprised to find that
instead of a distant and lofty relationship with unknown peo-
But is that true? For starters, those who accuse them have no ple from the correspondence schools, the students were very
evidence whatsoever. These programs are so lowly and for- emotional and candid about their past experiences. Some-
gotten that few serious researchers ever bothered to find out how, they assumed there were real people behind the cold
anything about them. and impersonal envelopes coming from the mail.

Several years ago, in Brazil, with a few graduate students, we 2. The social stratification of the student body
decided to find out what was hidden behind those advertise- We looked at the distribution of working class, middle class
ments claiming that one could get jobs, and make money by and upper class students. We also examined the distribution
taking one of those courses. 1 A previous survey had identi- of parent's education. As it turns out, the social composition
fied 31 correspondence schools in the country (1977), en- of the clientele is equivalent to that of the first years of pri-
rolling around 240,000 students (almost ten times more than mary education. But as we know, the social stratification of
the network of federal technical schools.) Five schools were the first grades of school is very similar to that of society as a
included in the sample, all the large ones being there. With whole, since the social class of children enrolled at primary
the help of school administrators, a 25% random sample of is the same as that of society. In other words, correspon-
students, graduates and dropouts were chosen to be inter- dence schools cater to a representative sample of the Brazil-
viewed by mail, using a detailed questionnaire. Being used to ian population. Since after a few years of primary schooling,
the mail for communication, the graduates replied in large dropouts increased dramatically (in the late seventies), all
numbers. We got a response rate of 55%, quite impressive higher levels of education are more socially selective than
for mail surveys. The survey yielded 3,704 usable question- correspondence schools. Hence, correspondence education is
naires from students, 4,230 from graduates and 898 from the only mode of education - other than the early years of
dropouts. primary - where the poor are not under-represented. What-

! 32 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

ever benefit it might bring to students, it does with equity, were rated as good). The students also had a positive opinion
since the chances of being enrolled are exactly the same for of the materials, 73% found them neither too easy nor too
the poor and the rich. And since the poor are far more nu- difficult and 89% considered the "hands-on" practices as
merous in the population, correspondence education means very useful.
education predominantly for the poor. No other government
or private program achieves the same level of equity ob- That was not a surprise to this author who had, as a youth,
tained by these modest for-profit operators. taken a radio repair course from one of the schools surveyed
(Instituto Radio Técnico Monitor). The materials were in-
3. Hobby vs. Vocation
deed carefully designed, practical, hands on, adopting the
By looking at the choice of courses offered, we assumed advertised "learn-by-doing" approach, something that aca-
some were hobbies, such as cake decoration, baking, sewing demic schools never truly adopted, even to this day. In fact,
and embroidering. By contrast, radio and TV repair and auto- compared to schoolbooks dealing with equivalent subjects,
mechanics were thought to be true vocational offerings. they were far easier to understand and the practical experi-
Again, we were wrong. Typically, radio and TV were some ments a far cry from the stale academic teaching prevailing
of the few courses taken by middle class youth who wanted a then.
hobby. By contrast, cake decoration and sewing were real
vocational subjects to the very poor and undereducated stu- 2. Dropout rates. Dropout rates are very variable
dents who are the predominant clientele. The questionnaire but seem to range from 30% to 80%. This may seem high by
gives a clear picture on why students take courses: only 1% usual standards but turns out to be the usual for distance edu-
of the respondents indicated that this was a hobby. cation anywhere in the world. The discipline required to
study alone is not to be found in too many students. Getting
By decreasing order of importance, the following courses started and trying to proceed is the conventional screening
were found in the sample: Radio and TV repair, Drafting, mechanism to find out who has the profile to take correspon-
Sewing, Electricity, Secondary school equivalency type pro- dence courses. The economical losses of this "trial and error"
grams, Accounting, Mechanics, Health professions, Cattle method are minimal, since this dropout rate is already fac-
and Farming. tored in the logic of the course. From the point of view of the
students, they only pay for the materials received. From the
These are down-to-earth programs. However, when the of- point of view of the schools, they print materials proportion-
ferings of the entire set of schools was examined, thereby ally to the predicted thinning out of the ranks.
adding small and unknown institutions, the range of courses
increases dramatically, reaching 126 different titles. Many of What surprised us was to notice that economic factors played
those do not seem particularly serious at all: Egyptology, a major role in dropping out. Even though the entire program
occult sciences, hypnotism, how to conquer girls etc. Over- costs typically 50 to 100 US$, since many of the students are
all, there is the suggestion of a market shared by serious and very poor indeed, school operators noted that enrollment
responsible operators as well as by fly-by-night, sometimes fluctuates with the business cycle, students dropping out
outright dishonest institutions. This, of course, is the price of when unemployment increases. Another source of dropping
the full deregulation prevailing in the sector. Whether this is out is what we could call "self-graduation." Students decide
better than the heavy and clumsy hand of government bu- that they have got all they needed from the course. For in-
reaucrats remains one of the policy issues where the authors stance, they learn radio repair and do not continue to take TV
of the book could never make up their minds. repair, which may not interest them.

Effectiveness 3. Economic returns. When we started looking for

tangible evidence of economic results from the course, we
But, of course, if the programs offer nothing tangible to the
were first struck by the abundance of comments by the stu-
students, having a working class clientele means that the
dents concerning what the course had brought to them.
poor are being swindled, rather than the less poor - not a
Hence, instead of just looking at measurable increases in
good deal for society. To find answers to these most critical
earnings, we were able to tabulate qualitative comments of-
questions several avenues were pursued. First, we looked at
fered by students. The combination of the two sources of
the quality of the teaching materials. Second, we asked about
information makes the conclusions more robust, since neither
dropout rates. Third, we looked at evidence on the question-
of these sources is by itself entirely reliable.
naire indicating increases in personal earnings, resulting from
the courses.
Half of the graduates report that they derived economic bene-
1. Quality of teaching materials. We first had the fits from the course. Of those, 32% reported that they could
teaching materials examined by experts in instructional tech- perform tasks easier, 6% were promoted in their jobs, and
nology. By and large, they concluded that they were profes- 8% had salary increases. Even one fourth of the dropouts
sionally done and covered the subjects correctly (two thirds claimed that they were performing better in their jobs. Sur-

! 33 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

prisingly, as much as 79% of the students report occupational ters to such a modest clientele. Finding significant returns on
benefits. those investments was a pleasant surprise.

Responding on the reasons that salaries might have been in- Of course, these are results of the late seventies in Brazil, a
creased in the past, 39% attribute this partly to the course and country that has dramatically changed since. What has hap-
21% entirely to the course. Also interesting to notice is that pened to these courses since?
half of the graduates either found a job related to the course
or were already working in such a job prior to taking the Perhaps not surprisingly, these courses remain as removed
course. from mainstream education as always. Serious educators still
have not taken notice of them - sad for the authors, the book
The questionnaires were manually reviewed, in an attempt to describing the results of this research does not seem to have
sort out those who had documented the benefits. We found changed the landscape. Therefore, there are still no reliable
that in 29% of the cases the alleged benefits were backed up data at present.
by concrete details of what happened to them. Another 12%
claimed benefits but did not show numbers of other tangible To have an idea of what changed since the publication of the
evidence. Hence, we have close to one third of respondents book, the author contacted an executive of Instituto Monitor,
with hard data on benefits and another 12% claiming to have the oldest and main survivor in correspondence education.2
had benefits. Considering that courses typically cost around Being in business for 61 years, the school has enrolled be-
one minimum wage and that modal students could have a tween five and six million students, out of which, 30%
salary equivalent to two minimum wages, increases of only 3 graduated (How many schools have produced two million
to 5% in earnings are sufficient to pay off the course in one graduates?). Presently, the school enrolls 30,000 new stu-
year. This is not a bad result for an additional investment of dents every year and graduates 50% of them.
two hours a day of studies, as reported in the questionnaires.
Most private correspondence schools have closed down but a
This is already a very impressive indication of effectiveness. few semi-public institutions have been offering respectable
But when we consider that 52% of the students did not take quality programs. Monitor and Instituto Universal Brasileiro
the course with an expectation of economic benefits, the pro- - always the largest two - and the smaller remaining schools
portion of those expecting benefits and getting them practi- probably enroll around one hundred thousand students.
cally doubles. In addition, for those with less than 19 years of
age, immediate economic benefits are less likely. The most It seems that the lower middle classes now predominate in
predictable results go for those who were already in skilled the courses. Somehow, working class students are less fre-
manual occupations. Typically, men change jobs and women quent than before. Correspondence education will sooner or
enter the labor market for the first time after the course. later suffer the competition of more modern means. This,
however, has not happened yet. Internet and computers cater
Overall, the results of such a survey do not permit a rigorous to higher social strata that need upgrading in their jobs. Tele-
estimate of rates of return on investment. However, piecing vision is massively used for education in Brazil, hundreds of
together the data and complementing them with qualitative thousands of students going to classes where a TV is com-
data culled from the questionnaire, we can arrive at a sug- plemented by a teacher aid. But these programs replace aca-
gestive picture. Once we exclude those who were not inter- demic schools, rather than offer trade training. Therefore,
ested in economic benefits and those who due to young age correspondence schools still have their niches. Regulation of
or other reasons could not obtain them, we seem to be deal- correspondence education has been created. When discussing
ing with a population where substantially more than half de- this issue in the original monograph, we feared that it could
rives economic benefits from correspondence schools. Since do more harm than good. Unfortunately, it seems that we
the costs of the programs are quite modest, typically much were right. Regulation seems to be bureaucratic and be of
less than 10% of their monthly earnings, these seem to be little help.
quite impressive results.
To sum up, correspondence education remains a powerful
Let us not forget: these are private outlays in education made means to reach modest clienteles with practical courses that
by a group that has the same social stratification as that of the have positive impact in their lives. Yet, it is as removed from
population of a poor country such as Brazil. No other form of the limelight now as it was a quarter of a century ago.
education, other than the early levels of primary school, ca-

Lucia Radler dos Guaranys and Claudio de Moura Castro, Ensino por correspondência no Brasil (Rio: IPEA, 1979)
Email from Roberto Palhares (June 2000)

! 34 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

An Export Industry for Developing Countries

Gregg Jackson and Vishnu Karki∗

Can a country with inefficient ports, unreliable trains, and firms, and so English language skills are important for coor-
intermittent electrical service ever hope to compete with dination with those firms.
American and European firms in engineering networks,
writing commercially distributed software, and developing Salaries in India are low and that allows Indian software de-
sophisticated web sites? Can a country with long history of velopment companies to under-bid competitors in the U.S.
trade restrictions think to do so? Can a country with wide- and other developed countries. It is estimated that the oper-
spread illiteracy expect to do so? ating costs are about one-fifth those in the United States.[9]

Despite these hurdles, India has recently become a global The Government of India had long targeted electronic indus-
power in information technology (IT). In 1970, it had less tries for development. In 1954, it established the state-owned
than hundred imported computers in its large ministries and Bharat Electronics Ltd. which produced electronic equip-
businesses and often had to use Americans and Europeans to ment, primarily for internal defense, civil aviation, a broad-
set them up. Last year, Indian software companies grossed casting use.[8] In 1970, it created a Department of Elec-
US$4.0 billion and two-thirds of that was from exports. tronics. In the same year, computer manufacture was begun
Hundreds of thousands of its nationals were earning high in a joint venture between International Computers India, Ltd
salaries in IT firms located not only in India, but also in the and International Business Machines (IBM). It mostly as-
United States, Europe, and the world over. [7] sembled imported components. The products were mostly
sold domestically.[8]
How did India achieve that success and what are the lessons
for other developing countries? India was not able to translate that early manufacturing into a
major export industry, as did Taiwan, Korea, and Singapore.
Forces Contributing to India’s Success That was probably partly because of the poor industrial infra-
structure in India—clogged ports, unreliable trains, and in-
While India still has extensive illiteracy, the country provides termittent electrical and water service. It was also because
high quality education to some of its youth. By 1970, the the manufacture of computer chips and hard drives requires
country was graduating small percentages but large numbers huge capital investments that India did not have and could
of students from its 10+2 schools and substantial numbers not secure from abroad because of restrictions on foreign
from colleges and universities. The 10+2 schools provided a investment and protectionist trade policies that prevailed
strong academic background. A higher portion of the college through the 1970s and 1980s.
and university graduates majored in the sciences and engi-
neering than common in most developing countries. Having lost that opportunity for computer hardware manu-
facture, the Government decided to win a share of the rapidly
A substantial portion of India’s 10+2 graduates reads and growing global market for computer software development.
speaks English moderately well.[9] This was critical because Software is the instructions that guide computer operations.
of U.S. dominance of the computer industry. India’s col- Elaborate software is needed for management information
leges and universities could use U.S. and British textbooks, systems, accounting and financial systems, computer graph-
computer guides, and software manuals, which often are is- ics, computer games, instructional software, and web pages.
sued in revised versions every year or two, without transla- It is also needed for computer driven devices such as robot-
tions that would otherwise be difficult and expensive. In ics, airplane control systems, and telecommunication sys-
addition, India’s software development firms do a substantial tems.
part of their work as subcontractors for U.S. and British

! 35 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

In 1974, India established the National Center for Software graduate about 25,000 computer science majors every
Development and Computing Technology. In the same year year.[2]
a private firm began software exports to the U.S., Australia,
and the Middle East. Initially, the export contracts were for The tuition at the premier universities is about US$500 annu-
non-critical work, but as Indian firms proved their capabili- ally, and considerably less at most of the colleges, with some
ties, contracts for more critical and more lucrative work were of the costs subsidized by the Government of India.[2] Re-
won.[8] The early years of software development work was portedly, however, there are several additional fees that raise
hampered by 102 percent import duties on computers and the costs, and expensive bribes are sometimes demanded. As
restrictions on foreign investment. In 1976, the duties were a consequence, a large portion of the university and college
reduced to 40 percent if there were export commitments for students is from the more affluent families.
at least twice the value of the computer. [8]
While the Government played an important role in expanding
In 1984, the Government announced a New Computer Policy software development in India, so did the private sector.
with dramatic reduction in barriers to foreign investment and Indian entrepreneurs have created thousands of software de-
trade related to computers and software. Even greater reduc- velopment firms, many of which export their services abroad.
tions were offered for businesses that would export 100 per- That has created several hundred thousand jobs with wages
cent of their work. considerably higher than common in the country.

In 1986, a Texas Instruments subsidiary was established in Simultaneously, other entrepreneurs have created computer
Bangalore as the first fully foreign owned 100 percent export and IT training institutes to serve people wanting computer-
business.[8] The Texas Instruments subsidiary in India was related jobs but unable to attend the engineering colleges.
a success. It provided the parent company with high quality The programs of study run from a few weeks through a year
software development at lower costs than possible in the or more. There are now more than a thousand such insti-
United States. It also provided Indian nationals with rela- tutes. Some use Diploma programs of study developed
tively high wage jobs. jointly by the Department of Electronics and the Ministry of
Human Resources Development. [6] Others use programs
India’s Department of Electronics moved quickly to expand that they have developed or adopted from abroad.
that success. In 1987, it conducted “Software India” shows
in several U.S. cities. In 1990, it introduced Software Tech- The Department of Electronics has developed a Accredita-
nology Park schemes in twelve locations. The schemes pro- tion Scheme for four levels of training. About 600 institutes
vided physical infrastructure, communication satellite are now accredited. The standards are high and last year 105
uplinks, import/export assistance, and the training of soft- institutes lost their accreditation. The accrediting agency,
ware developers. Companies operating in the schemes were DOEACC also conducts examinations twice yearly. [7]
exempt from most import and export duties, and exempt
from income taxes for five years.[8] The Magnitude of India’s Success
In 1991, India implemented a six-year Project IMPACT that India is now annually producing about 68,000 computer
was directed at improving human resources in computer sci- software professionals. About 250,000 such professionals
ence and electronics engineering. Fourteen colleges, 12 are employed in India and many others are employed
polytechnics, and six Centers for Electronics Design partici- abroad.[3] About 700 Indian companies export software and
pated in coordinated activities that included upgrading software services and many others serve only the domestic
equipment and software, updating faculty expertise and im- market.
proving their pedagogical skills, preparing model curricula
for degree and diploma programs, developing new learning India is now second only to the U.S. in software develop-
materials for fifty courses, conducting continuing education ment. Approximately 200 of the Fortune 1000 companies
seminars for mid-career computer professionals, and encour- outsource some of their software requirements to India. In-
aging private sector managers to collaborate with faculty dian companies now export software and software services to
members. [6] 86 countries. Sixty-one percent is to North America and 23
percent is to Europe. [4] India is estimated to have 18 percent
India’s approximately 350 other polytechnics and engineer- of the global cross-country customized software market. [1]
ing colleges also rapidly introduced new programs of study A recent World Bank survey of U.S. software companies
in software development in response to the private sector identifies India as the Number 1 choice for software devel-
demand for trained personnel. The Government's 1990 es- opment outside of the U.S. [10]
tablishment of ERNET, an Internet for the academic and
research community, facilitated this. These colleges now

! 36 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Not only is India a large exporter of software, but it has be- Software development is a labor-intensive industry. Most
come a major supplier of computer professionals the world employees only need a desk and a US$1,500 microcomputer.
over. An estimated 30 percent of its top students emigrate Modest amounts of electricity are required, but, if necessary,
annually to the U.S.[10] One study showed that nine percent can be supplied by local generators. Good telecommunica-
of Silicon Valley startups between 1995 and 1998 were by tions systems are convenient, but local satellite uplinks can
Indian immigrants.[3] be substituted and now cost as little as $1,200.

India is not content with this success. In 1999, India created The three key ingredients to India’s success have been gov-
a new Ministry of Information Technology with the intent of ernment support, entrepreneurial initiative, and a well pre-
making India a “Global Information Technology Super- pared workforce. In most developing countries, only a small
power.” The National Information Technology Task Force portion of the population has even a secondary education.
has suggested that 500,000 more information technology Nevertheless, most of these countries have thousands of col-
jobs can be created over the next five years, and that gross lege graduates who are unemployed or underemployed be-
export can be increased ten-fold over the next 10 years to cause they took studies in fields with stagnant growth. If
$50 billion (USD).[9] In the past, Indian firms have focused those countries would direct some of their tertiary education
mostly on corporate software, but the Government is spur- to computer science instruction and simultaneously foster the
ring diversification into small business and home software, growth of software development firms, they might be able to
including multimedia. grab a share of the global market for software development.
If some modest success can be achieved, the high status and
An important part of India’s strategy to become an IT Super- high paying jobs in software development will encourage
power involves human resources development. India is now more of the tertiary level students to take diploma and full
establishing National Resource Centers to train entrepreneu- degree programs of study that prepare them for software de-
rial developers who will provide multimedia content.[7] velopment jobs. That, in turn, will help spur further devel-
India is introducing the CLASS Program in 5,000 10+2 opment in this sector.
schools to prepare young people to learn to use information
technology effectively in all sectors of the economy. It is Not all developing countries have an equal chance of gaining
supporting curriculum development, courseware develop- a significant share of the global software development mar-
ment, and teaching training for these purposes. [6, 7] Voca- ket. The ones that appear to have the best chance are those
tional training in computer-related fields is being developed. with:

India is using IT technologies to enhance its education sys- 1) Few foreign investment and trade restrictions, at least
tem. An adaptive testing and tutoring system for the 10th for this sector of the economy. High duties on com-
standard mathematics is being refined. A web-based puter equipment, software, and telecommunications cre-
“Qualitative Student Assessment” system has been devel- ate a competitive disadvantage. Foreign investment and
oped that will allow teachers to assess students’ conceptual even foreign management will probably be important
knowledge and point students to needed remediation.[7] A initially.
one-year diploma in IT is to be offered via distance education
by a Virtual Campus that is expected to graduate about 1,000 2) A tradition of mid-scale entrepreneurship, particularly
students annually. There is a plan to have the premier Indian in engineering fields. It is one thing to manage a small
Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science shop, another to manage 100 or 200 employees engaged
use distance technologies to expand the reach of their IT in easily observed assembly operations, and still another
training. In addition, a Center for Excellence in Distance to manage sizable numbers of people, all of whose work
Education Technology will do research and development is only visible as computer code. Engineering design
related to distance education.[24] work is close to software development work, but there
may be other fields of entrepreneurship that can be
Implications for Other adapted to the requirements for software development.
Developing Countries 3) A strong work ethic. Because the actual work is diffi-
cult to observe, because a given software project is usu-
Opportunities for other developing countries are suggested
ally divided into several complex assignments that are
by India’s success. Software development does not require
handled by different employees and not easily assumed
ports, rail systems, and roads, as does the export of agricul-
mid-stream by others, and because contracts for this
tural products and minerals. It does not require large capital
work often impose challenging deadlines, a strong work
investments for plant and equipment, as does high value-
ethic in the professional workforce is important.
added manufacturing.

! 37 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

4) Young people with strong analytic, mathematics, and An Impossible Dream?
English language skills. High level software develop-
ment draws directly on mathematical principles, algo- Is it impossible to compete against India now that it has be-
rithms, and problem solving. Lower level software de- come the main “offshore” provider to the U.S. and Europe?
velopment needs less mathematics but requires abstract It certainly has a head start, but remember that in the 1960’s
analytical thinking skills. Most of the training materials Japan was a world player in ship building and two decades
and most of the commerce in this field are in English. later Korea had won most of that business. Korea accom-
plished that by learning from the Japanese and then taking
5) Tertiary education systems that can adapt quickly. advantage of its lower wages to build good ships at lower
Software development requires a range of specialized prices. Office space rentals and wages are reported to have
knowledge and skills. Both short-term training and full risen dramatically in India’s most successful Software Tech-
degree programs are needed. nology Parks. In Bangalore, the “Silicon Valley of India,”
software developers with ten years experience are now aver-
aging about US$23,700 annually.[9] That makes for oppor-
tunity elsewhere.

[1] India Institute of Information Technology. (undated). “IT in India.”
[ ]

[2] Iyer, Lakshman. October 24, 1995. “Human Capital & IT.”
[ ]

[3] James, David. April, 2000. “India Starts Up.” Upside.

[4] Mehta, Dewang. June 28, 1999. “Record 68% Growth of Indian Software Exports in 1998-99: NASSCOM Report.” Press
Release of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (of India). [Was posted on at the
time this article was written.]

[5] Ministry of Information Technology . March 29, 2000. Information Technology. Government of India.
[ ]

[6] Ministry of Information Technology. March 7, 2000. Human Resources. Government of India.
[ ]

[7] Ministry of Information Technology. 1998. Annual Report of the Ministry of Electronics: Electronics and Information
Technology. Government of India.

[8] Oberoi, S. S. May 31, 1999. “Making of a Winner.” Dataquest: India.

[ ]

[9] Patni, Ambika. Fall, 1999. “Silicon Valley of the East.” Harvard International Review.

[10] Schmidt, Julie. February 24, 1999. “Software Industry Grows In India.” USA Today.


Gregg B. Jackson is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Education Policy Program at The George Washington Univer-
sity. Vishnu Karki, is a doctoral student in that program, on leave from Nepal’s Ministry of Education.

! 38 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

What, No Lectures?
The Francis Tuttle Vocational School
Claudio de Moura Castro
Norma Garcia
InterAmerican Development bank

Oklahoma’s training system is simply one of the best and this seems to be the State’s secret in-
gredient in successfully attracting new industries on a continuous basis. In a little more than two
decades, Oklahomans have managed to diversify from the State’s traditional oil and agriculture
activities by offering a well-trained and versatile labor force.

Blueprint for A First Rate

• It has a large army of school managers that have a clear
VoTech Training System sense of purpose and the right attitudes to forge in the
right direction.
The late Dr. Francis Tuttle, former Director of the Depart- • There is a large degree of decentralization and diversity
ment of Vocational and Technical Education and his staff in the system. Individual schools follow general guide-
were entrusted by then Governor Bartlett to develop a first lines from the State VoTech Department, but are free to
rate vocational training system. That system has evolved be creative and follow the paths that best suit their needs
through the years to become so remarkable that it has been (i.e. catering their local markets and/or targeting the spe-
considered by educators and industrialists outside the State to cific needs of individual enterprises).
be one of the first training systems in the U.S.

Links with High

Clear Goals Schools and Colleges
One of the factors that contributed to the State’s success is Furthermore, unlike most
that the goals were clear from the beginning. They focused school systems, Oklahomans
on the creation of a labor force that could compete in skills ©Corel
have managed to establish
with that of leading industrial States and of a critical mass of functional and mutually
highly skilled workers who understood the value of quality advantageous links both with high schools and higher educa-
work habits and procedures. In addition, Oklahoma wanted tion. Oklahoma operates a secondary-level vocational pro-
to be able to offer to incoming industries an attractive pack- gram, and a multitude of in-service training and upgrading
age to train all their workers in whatever trades or specialties programs for adults, including the well known 2+2 formula.
they demanded. All of these goals were pursued while keep- Parallel to their efforts to sell training to the various indus-
ing in mind Dr. Tuttle’s philosophy: industry and education tries, for instance, schools aggressively recruit students from
are economically related; the success of both requires that the general high schools by allowing their students to visit
this relationship be positive and productive. As a result: the nearest VoTech school as early as sixth grade. Middle
school students have the chance to spend one week in the
• The system was built by a handful of conscientious, en- summer, sampling different programs offered by the voca-
ergetic and persistent educators, rather than by laws, de- tional schools, in order to explore different career possibili-
crees or plans alone. ties that are available. In addition, VoTech administers to all

! 39 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

8th graders a test battery to ascertain their interests, motor 2000." It should be noted that these programs are a far cry
coordination and academic ability levels. The same test is from the true apprenticeship program. Nevertheless, to a
given again to the same students when they reach the 10th greater or a lesser extent, all of them display some of its fea-
grade, in order to verify consistency of results on all dimen- tures. For instance, there is the Oklahoma version of Prep-
sions. Furthermore, Francis Tuttle courses are eligible for Tech, a national program sponsored by the Center for Occu-
college credit through Oklahoma City Community College pational Research and Development (CORD). This is the so-
and Oklahoma State University. The close working relation- called 2+2+2 scheme. The first “2s” stand for the regular
ship with regular schools, the entire higher education system, Oklahoma system of training, with mornings in school and
and state businesses and industry greatly enhances the value afternoons at VoTech (or vice-versa). The last “2” takes
and achievements of the training system. place at an enterprise. This program has been called “Co-op
Training” in Oklahoma and its attractive feature is the strong
link between training received and a concrete job waiting
Outsourcing Training ahead.

Contrary to traditional belief, forward-looking enterprises are

increasingly concentrating their in-house activities on what Training on Demand
they do best and outsourcing everything else. This includes
their employees’ training activities, since a school is con- A distinct characteristic of the Oklahoman training system is
ceived to teach and is expected to do it better and cheaper that all the training responds to a clear demand coming from
than a factory that has other objectives. This is not a barely real profit-motivated enterprises and not to needs imagined
perceptible tendency, but already a clear cut and forceful by educators. Thus, industry personnel develop curricula and
movement. The key factor, though, is the competency of the courses are created and discontinued depending on the jobs
local training institutions. This is precisely what Oklahoma that are in demand. However, the system succeeds in re-
offers, thus enabling the enterprises to unload their training maining demand-driven without becoming a demand-victim
to VoTech and concentrate on what they can do better. by keeping on top of market trends and business cycles. Usu-
ally, reasonable informed guesses have to be made concern-
ing the fluctuations of the business cycle when taking deci-
Student Remediation sions regarding course offerings.

There is no doubt that the workplace is increasingly de-

manding workers with strong critical thinking skills. Even Largest Producers of Industrial materials
classic occupations such as truck driving are changing their
skill profiles, since truck drivers have to operate on-board The VoTech Curriculum Center has become one of the
computers and need to operate the GPS (Global Positioning world’s largest producers of industrial materials for voca-
System) to communicate with headquarters. Car mechanics tional education, which include more than 400 different
have to deal with the fact that a new model automobile today courses and 400 videotapes for 42 different topic areas.
goes out of the assembly line with 600,000 pages of technical These materials cover the technological descriptions, work-
literature. Contrary to his counterparts in some European or shop practice, written exercises, final tests, transparencies for
Asian countries which have a strong cognitive skills back- overhead projectors, lists of workshop equipment, and sup-
ground, the average American student is unable to reach the plies. Included, as well, are materials that are meant to de-
threshold of basic skills required by the new industrial occu- velop basic skills, such as reading, applications of math,
pations. In the Stillwater vocational school, for instance, 95% creative thinking and so on, allowing schools to have all they
of the students who enroll in avionics have never taken a need to proceed.
trigonometry course. As a result, it is necessary to offer the
students remediation in these areas and this is often done by The Francis Tuttle
using the concrete context of the same technical occupations
that are being taught as a launching pad for the development Vocational School
of cognitive skills.


In addition, VoTech is carrying out its share of experiments The Francis Tuttle School was born 21 years ago, in 1979
in apprenticeship. In fact, some of them have served as mod- and given the name of the founder of the VoTech system of
els for the nation in the federal program "Craftsmanship Oklahoma. In August of 1982, it had 752 daytime students

! 40 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

enrolled. Currently, more than 30,000 students are taking at Technology for Training
least one short-term course, and they have a wide variety of
courses to choose from, since the school offers more than 30
Each instructional program at Francis Tuttle is fully
daytime education programs and over 300 short-term
equipped with industry standard equipment valued at over
$10.9 million. The school’s services and programs include a
teaching factory, advanced technology programs and VAN
Multidimensional Nature of Skills SAT, which is an engineering and electronic commerce cen-
ter provider. In addition, the main campus has an 11-meter
satellite teleport for distance learning, that is the largest in
The speed of change of technology has increased so much in
the state. This allows students to surf on the Internet during
the last few years that experience is becoming an almost ir-
real-time 12 LIVE interactive classes as part of their daily
relevant asset when it comes to hiring employees. Firms can
activities or take specialized classes taught at other locations.
no longer require many years of experience because in most 12 LIVE is the first cooperative network that is able to con-
cases the equipment and the processes did not exist to allow nect a mixture of city and rural schools to a vocational cen-
anybody to acquire it. What matters then is the ability of a
ter, a community college and a university. Furthermore, each
worker to think through the overall manufacturing system
classroom has remote-controlled cameras, television moni-
involved in the fabrication process. Workers who can only
tors, microphones and speakers. The teachers’ workstation
work with their hands are becoming a relic of the past in an
includes an image document camera, a VHS player, a com-
increasing number of occupations. Francis Tuttle prepares puter loaded with software and tied to a laser printer, Internet
its student for critical thinking while teaching them lifelong access, and a fax machine.
skills. As a matter of fact, one of the hallmarks of its main
program in technology is the multidimensional nature of the
The overall direction of all the training is the operation and
skills taught. The orientation of the courses is justified by
maintenance of the new generation of machines and technol-
two main findings. First, not only do some firms offer higher
ogy equipment. The school builds on the belief that the abil-
wages to workers with multiple skills, but also in periods of ity of enterprises to generate new technologies has far out-
crisis firms do not lay off these types of workers. Second, stripped the ability of servicepersons to maintain them. As a
there is an immense market for the maintenance of complex
result, these maintenance requirements will create more jobs
in the next several years than the country is able to train indi-
viduals to fill. There is clearly a scarcity of maintenance
About one third of the School’s students are youth who split technicians who can understand the mechanics, electronics,
the last two years of high school with a vocational training and pneumatics of such machines. One interesting example
(the 2+2 formula). The remaining students attend either to
mentioned at Francis Tuttle is the new generation of pagers
participate in cooperative programs with local colleges, or to
transmitting through satellites. The technology and satellites
get an associate degree in one of the technical fields offered,
are available, but there are very few technicians who have
since many firms tend to hire youth with associate degrees
the breadth of skills and the specific knowledge required to
because they see them as potential candidates for supervisory repair them.
positions. This is one of several schools that, in addition to
its regular programs, contracts with enterprises to train their
workers in short or long term courses. When this is the case, No Lectures
a needs assessment is conducted and on the basis of that as-
sessment, the school can design a custom made program to All of the courses offered are compe-
fit exactly the need of the specific enterprise. While the tency-based. This factor alone indicates
needs assessment may require a significant effort, the cus- the commitment of this institution to
tomization of the program may only take a few minutes to ©Corel offer serious training that is clearly
do, since the school already has training modules for almost geared to the needs of industry, since
everything an enterprise might request. competency-based training clearly
shows the links between training and
The school programs are developed in very close collabora- expected performance. This approach leads to teaching
tion with industry in order to offer students courses that will methods that avoid conventional lectures as is the case at
enable them to participate in high demand jobs. There are Francis Tuttle, were all live lectures have been eliminated.
more than 300 business representatives looking at the Videotaped lectures, written materials and computers are
school’s curricula and course content as participants in the used instead. Yet, teachers are not replaced so the valuable
various program advisory committees. interaction between teachers and students is fully preserved.
The experience of this school suggests that not all students
operate well with this system and there are attempts to help

! 41 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

those who have initial difficulties with computers and VCRs. There are no more than five basic processes: Mechanics,
However, only a few consider this method to be inadequate Electricity, Thermal, Fluid and Optics. In all of them, there
and curiously they are not necessarily the weakest students are 13 major concepts (such as force, energy and so on) and
academically. The school uses one-to-one tutoring in the all the manufacturing processes are based on a combination
difficult cases and this is the price to pay for an otherwise of these. To become a technician, one needs an integrated
interesting innovation. view of all of them.

By eliminating lectures and using competency-based training Students devote about 30% of their time to classroom theory
materials, this system allows each student to move at his own work and the remaining time is spent on applications and on
pace. Students can join the course at any moment and leave hands-on activities. In addition, given the weakness of high
when they finish their modules. They use Learning Activity schools in math and science and the importance of this type
Packets (LAPs) to advance and they are required to take per- of knowledge in the various high demand occupations, reme-
formance tests in order to demonstrate mastery of one LAP dial courses are offered to those who need them. All students
before moving on to the next. Others do not slow fast mov- spend about 60% of their time taking common core modules
ing students down and slow students can fully master the and the remaining time in specialization. Since these basic
contents by taking as long as they need. LAPs are used be- processes change very little over time, 60% of most courses
cause they are an excellent tool for delivering competency- is common for all specializations and needs no frequent up-
based instruction. Some estimates based on similar programs dating. In electronics programs, for instance, 80% of the
elsewhere indicate that efficiency increases can be quite sub- materials are the same in all the courses offered. Therefore,
stantial, depending on how they are defined.2 On the down- the fixed investment of developing a systems approach based
side, the fixed investment to operate with this method are on five processes can be justified.
consistently higher, the logistical problems much more
pressing and the administrative and technical overheads are
somewhat higher. But all these are minor problems. Over- Can It Be Replicated?
all, the method seems to be a step ahead that, unfortunately,
is not taken up by many schools. The Francis Tuttle School remains committed to continuous
quality improvement and the word on its intriguing achieve-
ments has spread worldwide. Tour groups from 47 countries,
A Modular Program including Australia, Brazil, China, Great Britain, Pakistan,
Russia and Saudi Arabia have visited the school.
Perhaps the most interesting as-
pect of the series of courses of-
fered by Tuttle is the modular
nature of the curriculum and the
vast common core of subjects.

Francis Tuttle web page ( ).
On average, students took only two thirds of the time to finish the courses. Another 15% gains from repeating subjects they
already know. Filling places left open by dropouts may account for savings of about 25%. A large number of school days in-
crease productivity by 18%. Joao Oliveira and Claudio M. Castro, “Individualized Training Systems for Vocational Technical
Training: A case study of the Euvaldo Lodi School” in Innovations in Educational and Training Technologies, edited by
Claudio M. Castro, D. Wilson and Joao Oliveira (Turin: ILO/WB, 1991).

! 42 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.



By Sonia Jurich

The process of forming medical doctors is of extreme con- ing and breathing. It also exhibits palpable pulses and meas-
cern for all members of society who, at some moment, will urable blood pressure, and can mimic a number of manifes-
have life or limb at the hands of these doctors. It is not sur- tations associated with diseases, drug interaction and others.
prising then, that medical education is so similar to a process
of apprenticeship: long, intensive and demanding. It is not The high-fidelity patient simulators enable students to learn
surprising also that medical schools do not tend to follow invasive and risky procedures in a discomfort-free, risk-free
educational fads. Respected medical schools have tradition- environment. The mannequin responds as a human patient
ally used instructional strategies that integrate academics and and can “improve” or “die,” thus indicating the success or
skill formation, utilize hands-on and reality-based ap- failure of the procedure. The student can use the simulator as
proaches, and rely on technology to support and enhance many times as necessary to become skilled in the technique
human knowledge. without the risk of hurting or maiming an actual patient. The
Sidney Medical center uses the simulator to train anesthesi-
From the beginning, physicians and medical researchers rec- ologists, specialists whose work involves life-threatening
ognized the potential of Information and Communication procedures. As a disadvantage, high-fidelity patient simula-
Technologies (ICT) for medical education and research. tors require highly complex computer programming and en-
Common educational usages of ICTs are tutorials that en- gineering that make their production expensive and their
hance the information obtained in traditional classes, virtual acquisition limited to major medical centers.
laboratories that minimize the need for expensive (and cruel)
use of lab animals, and computerized mannequins that re- Virtual Laboratories:
place human subjects in the training of invasive and risky
procedures. As an added value, these instructional resources Among the subjects taught during the
familiarize the doctor-to-be with technologies that have sig- basic years of medical school,
nificant roles in modern medical practice. physiology is particularly challenging.
The students need to learn detailed
The Top of the Line: information about minute components
Complex Simulators that are in dynamic relationships with a
myriad of other elements. Moreover,
Complex simulators are electromechanical models or man- they must be able to integrate this scattered knowledge and,
nequins connected to computers that can reproduce specific later on, use it to solve problems that may involve life and
aspects of human anatomy, physiology and behavior. High- death decisions. To support the learning process, instructors
fidelity patient simulators, such as those used by the De- need to break the complex into small, simple units (e.g., cell
partment of Anesthesia and Pain Management at the membrane physiology). At the same time, they must connect
University of Sidney, Australia are examples of complex the small within the complex, so that the student can make
simulators. ( the necessary associations (from cellular responses to neuro-
These are computer-controlled mannequins with an electro- muscular responses to spinal cord injuries, for instance).
mechanical cart that acts as an interface between the software
program and the mannequin. The mannequin is programmed Teaching Physiology and the World Wide Web: Electro-
to reproduce many human functions such as speaking, mov- chemistry and Electrophysiology on the Internet, by

! 43 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Terry M. Dwyer, John Fleming, James E. Randall, and
Thomas G. Coleman (Advances in Physiology Education, A virtual lab has many advantages. First, it can be accessed
18 (1): 2-13, 1997), describes an Internet-based virtual labo- from any place that has a computer connected to the Internet.
ratory that teaches the electrochemical reactions that occur at For instance, when the lab was initially presented, 85-95% of
the level of the cell membrane in response to an action po- the hits were from university computers. Gradually, the hits
tential. The lab can be found at http://phys- from remote sites increased and included both commercial (press the “teaching” button on the menu servers and other educational institutions in the U.S. and
to go to the labs). To write the simulation the authors em- abroad. Second, a virtual lab is time-independent, and stu-
ployed HTML, a language that can be used with a variety of dents can return to the lab as many times as needed to solve
platforms, and JavaScript, an interpreter that enables the con- their doubts. They can also use the lab to explore related
struction of interactive exercises over graphical browsers. problems given in other classes. Third, the lab provides both
visual and intellectual stimuli, thus responding to the needs
The lab interface is divided into four areas. The upper right of different types of learners. The interactive aspect of the
area includes the problem, lists of equations, and questions. lab enables the student to change variables and invites them
The middle right presents alternative answers for the ques- to experiment and look for answers of questions that may not
tions posed. The left area contains the visual information (a be asked otherwise. Finally, with the development of JAVA
diagram of a cell in a large volume of extracellular solution). and similar languages, interactive labs are becoming rela-
The banner across the bottom of the screen shows commen- tively easy and inexpensive to produce and can be used to
taries to the answers given by the students. explain phenomena that are hard to demonstrate in real-life
labs, such as the electrophysiology of a cell membrane.
The laboratory includes six lessons and two special tools that
help the students solve the problems (a Nernst potential cal- Internet-Based Tutorials:
culator and a calculator for the sodium pump). The use of
JavaScript allows for a highly interactive interface that stu- When compared to virtual labs, tutorials require even less
dents and instructors can easily manipulate. To make computer expertise to produce and, depending on the topic,
changes in the lab, the instructor needs a very simple text may be the tool of choice. Telemedical Education:
editor and a browser to test the output. To work with the lab Teaching Spirometry on the Internet, by E.H. Lum and
and try their own experiments, the students need no more T.J. Gross (1999, Advances in Physiology Education, 21, 1:
than Netscape Navigator 3.0 or a similar browser. 55-61), describes a tutorial used to train general practitioners
to conduct and interpret basic pulmonary function tests
Data on network use makes it possible to trace the students’ (PFT). PFT are valuable tools to assess suspected lung dis-
performance during the lab. The lab was found effective in eases, particularly diseases leading to pulmonary damage,
improving students’ understanding of the dynamics involved such as emphysema. The measurement of expired airflow
in the process of action potential at the cellular membrane (Spirometry), is a simple pulmonary function test that can be
site, a topic traditionally challenging for beginning medical performed routinely in outpatient situations with the use of a
students. (For those interested, the University of Iowa’s Vir- portable device. However, many practitioners do not have
tual Hospital offers the module as credit for continuing the necessary training to utilize this tool adequately. Re-
medical education at: search shows a pattern of inappropriate requests and misread results in the use of PFT outside the context of specialized
etryHome.html . laboratories.

The tutorial described in the article is a multimedia package

designed to train general practitioners in the use and inter-
The interactive aspect pretation of Spirometry. The package is part of the Univer-
of the lab enables the sity of Iowa’s Virtual Hospital and can be accessed through
student to change the University’s outreach centers or through the Internet at
variables and invites The text, written in HTML,
them to experiment reviews the accepted guidelines for the use and interpretation
and look for answers of Spirometry and provides examples of representative trac-
of questions that may ings from tests performed at the University’s pulmonary
not be asked other- laboratory. The package also contains a digitized video of a
wise. physician performing the test with detailed information on
the changes that occur in airflow and volume throughout the
test. At the end of the lesson, a series of fictitious cases are
presented, accompanied by actual Spirometry tracings. The

! 44 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

trainee is offered a list of possible interpretations for each computer laboratory assignments. Students perceived stan-
case and requested to provide the best interpretation possible. dard lectures as the most effective method. However, the
tests showed that students who were taught with computer
Using a pre- and post-test approach, the authors tested the laboratories scored higher than the other two groups, and
module with medical students, interns and senior hospital those taught by standard lectures had the lowest scores.
staff. Statistical analysis showed that the module improved
test interpretation for all participants, independent of their Dewyer et al. observe that, to realize the full potential of
level of training. Although the highest gains were made by computer-based instructional material, the authors must en-
medical students (the group with lowest pre-test scores), sure that the material is of high quality in both visual pres-
even the more experienced staff showed statistically signifi- entation and content. They also must keep the material up-
cant improvement in the post-test. Score gains were found dated. In addition, they must strive to reconcile their ambi-
across the entire range of pulmonary disorders tested. Par- tious designs with the users’ most probable equipment. In-
ticipants had no difficulty accessing and using the module. structional materials that are platform-dependent, or use ap-
Despite the lack of advertisement, the module received about plications that are not easily accessible will have limited im-
4,000 hits during the period it was tested and an extra 122 pact because many students will be unable to use them.
individuals responded to the test. Those were mostly medi-
cal students, but also physicians, respiratory therapists and Recent progress in computer-related technologies offers new
nurses from different parts of the U.S. and countries as far as and exciting opportunities for medical training. Increased
Italy, Brazil and Malaysia. memory and faster processors enable the use of more com-
plex and larger programs. New languages, such as JAVA,
Conclusions open new horizons in the design of interactive programs. In
addition, specialties, such as Bioengineering, place Medicine
Research seems to indicate that computer-based instruction at the cutting edge in the use of technologies for education,
has positive influence in the learning process, despite tradi- research and development. This article described a range of
tional wisdom questioning such influence. Student Percep- ICT uses for professional training, from the highly sophisti-
tions and Learning Outcomes of Computer-Assisted Ver- cated (and expensive) patient simulators to simple tutorials
sus Traditional Instruction in Physiology, by Daniel that were written by medical instructors with no computer
Richardson (Advances in Physiology Education, 18 (1): specialization. Some of these ideas can be easily adapted to
55-58, 1997) is an interesting article describing the discrep- other areas of skill formation. The secondary effect of using
ancy between student perception and actual learning out- technology in education and training is to prepare a
comes. In this research, the authors compare the teaching of workforce that is competent in both the topic of the training
a specific topic of physiology using three different tech- and the technology itself. The investment is thus worth-
niques: standard lectures, computer-assisted lectures, and while.



! 45 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Training of Technical and Vocational Teachers:
A Case Study of a Low Tech Alternative
* **
By John Bartram and Nancy George

While many in North America appear to equate distance learning with virtual or cyber-
learning centered on the computer and its networking capabilities to deliver learning
packages and stimulate interaction with students, there are significant groups with
learning needs for whom this paradigm is an inappropriate technology. Many in the tar-
get group lack the financial resource or the infrastructural requirements - or both - to ac-
cess the more sophisticated forms of technology, and therefore can use only the sort of
distance education that is based on lower end technologies such as print and audio or
videotape support. The request made to the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) to de-
velop a professional training program for Technical and Vocational Education and
Training (TVET) teachers working in small island states, was such a case.

curriculum, which would meet the pedagogical training

Expansion of TVET needs of TVET teachers across the region. COL began a
As a result of the rapid growth in the demand for TVET
lengthy consultative process with institutions, governments
teachers during the 80s and 90s, many of the teaching staff
and key stakeholders in the Caribbean region. The result of
who were employed possessed the necessary technical skills
the process was the Technical and Vocational Teacher
but had no opportunity to undertake professional (pedagogi-
Training Core Curriculum.
cal) training. In many countries, staff members were unable
to acquire the necessary professional skills because they were
The curriculum is comprised of 12 modules that demonstrate
not located in major urban centers where there were teacher
a balance between generic teaching skills, such as “Educa-
training institutions or universities offering these programs.
tional Theory and Practice”, “Language and Communica-
Many of these teachers lack the resources to access com-
tion” and “Educational Technology”, and TVET-specific
puter-based learning or support the connectivity costs. In-
modules, such as “Administration and Management of
deed, some rural areas were even without reliable electricity
TVET”, “Workshop Organisation and Management” and
or telephone networks.
The request came from the Caribbean region, where the eco-
Experts and/or institutions then prepared the learning materi-
nomics of small island states undertaking such a develop-
als with special skills located in member countries across the
ment project dictated that a regional collaboration among the
Commonwealth. For example, the Open Polytechnic from
states was a better way to address the challenge. If the pro-
New Zealand prepared the module on “Safety”; the Adelaide
grams developed were generic, there was a greater possibility
Institute of TAFE wrote “Learning Resources”, the Univer-
of the countries working together across the region. And
sity of Technology, Jamaica, prepared “Entrepreneurship”
from an economic perspective, where the threshold popula-
and the Bangladesh Open University prepared units in “Edu-
tion is low, the cost per capita of such exercises is better
cational Theory and Practice”.
shared across many countries.

Program Design
Development of the Curriculum The program had to be modular and flexible. Learners must
and Learning Materials be able to select those sections, which meet their particular
In response to the request for assistance, the Commonwealth needs. Modules also had to be able to stand alone, if neces-
of Learning agreed to undertake a major project to develop a sary, supporting particular professional development activi-
ties, if required. The units in each module had to be flexible

! 46 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

in order to support traditional classroom-based teaching, as reviewed the learning materials in order to modify them so
well as traditional distance education - print-based teaching that they would meet the academic requirements to accredit
or any point on the continuum between these two extremes. the course as a Diploma in Technical Teacher Training
They had to be designed so that students using the materials through the University. It is anticipated that this course will
could study with a degree of independence and not rely on articulate with the UTech Post-Diploma Bachelor of Educa-
remote libraries being able to provide books and articles. tion with an additional 12 months of study on a part-time
basis (usually three summer sessions taken on campus at
UTech complemented by bi-monthly weekend seminars),
The Target Audience for the Program depending on the background, experience and qualifications
The academic requirements of many of the potential students
of the individual taking the program.
were widely diverse and varied considerably. There were, in
the region, four major groups: some were teaching in degree-
level professional programs; some were responsible for di- An Appraisal
ploma and technician level courses, and others were teaching The project took a number of years from its first inception
apprentice and vocational courses and pre-vocational courses until the materials were available. Despite this lag, the need
in secondary schools. The academic backgrounds varied for a flexible program for TVET teacher training was still
accordingly, from degree level to no formal qualifications at high on the list of national priorities among the countries of
all. The challenge for the course developers was to prepare the region. Individual countries began to use modules from
materials, which could be studied by the group with no quali- the program for TVET teacher training even before the
fications, but will be sufficiently challenging to stimulate course had been completed. This may pose some difficulty
those who already possessed an appropriate technician or in terms of ultimate accreditation, in light of the fact that the
trades qualification. completed program has been upgraded so that it can qualify
as a UTech Diploma level program to articulate into the
UTech Post-Diploma Bachelor of Education. Some bridging
The Nature of the Learning Materials courses may be necessary for those who undertook the origi-
The learning materials units also had to be independent of a
nal program prior to its upgrading for articulation to be pos-
reliable supply of electricity or telephone linkages. The tech-
nology involved was essentially print-based – with the ex-
ception of a few basic audio and video support materials,
Because of the bulk of the material, CD-ROM technology
which could be used on basic playback equipment.
has been used to transport the program to the various coun-
tries, where they can download and print the materials as
Establishing A Model of Regional required. This small innovation has saved dramatically on
the cost of freight.
Co-operation in Delivery
The materials have now been developed and the program is Efforts will be made to improve the interaction between
now at the stage where efforts are being made to establish a teacher and student and between groups of students using
regional approach to the delivery of the program. The Uni- appropriate technology. This could involve radio and, de-
versity of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) agreed to work with pending upon the capabilities in various countries and in-
countries in the region and COL to develop a franchise structional situations, may also involve e-mail.
model of delivery that will involve national institutions in the
offering of the program and, at the same time, promote re- The Core Curriculum can be downloaded from the COL web
gional cooperation. The member countries saw this model as page at: The
a valuable step towards implementation. UTech’s School of learning materials will be available to Commonwealth mem-
Technical and Vocational Education, which will oversee the ber countries.
pilot offering of the curriculum in the Caribbean region, then

John Bartram is the Education Specialist in Technical and Vocational Education and Training at the Commonwealth of
Learning. He can be contacted at
Dr. Nancy George is the Director, Curriculum Development and Evaluation at the University of Technology, Jamaica. She
can be contacted at

! 47 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Tertiary Occupational Skill Training on the Web:

A Shopper's Guide


Gregg Jackson
Associate Professor and Coordinator,
Education Policy Program, George Washington University

The web can be used to find a wide range of skill training. It also is used
in some of those programs to deliver the training as distance education.
The focus of this article is on tertiary level occupational skill training
that requires less study than a bachelor's degree and is delivered by dis
tance education using the web.

There is a wide range of institutions that provide such train- skills that require hands-on practice with expensive machin-
ing, and they vary some from country to country. There are ery or equipment and complex psychomotor skills such as
government run vocational and technical schools, privately those needed by craftsmen, dancers, and combat soldiers.
owned training institutes, and polytechnics. Colleges and Web-based training may help develop some of the knowl-
universities also sometimes offer “certificates,” “diplomas,” edge people need for these occupations, but it cannot alone
and “associate degrees” that require less training than a carry the training through to completion.
bachelors degree. These training programs usually require
one month to two years of study. In addition, many of these Prospective students need to make four determinations about
institutions allow people to take one or two courses of par- web-based skills training:
ticular use to them without having to enroll and pay for the
full program. (1) whether distance education is well suited to their needs
and preferences,
These training programs appeal both to youth who want
preparation for jobs and to mid-career adults who want to (2) in which occupational field should they take training,
switch occupations or secure a better job. While some pro-
grams are offered exclusively by distance education technol- (3) how to find the various providers of training in the se-
ogy, some are offered both by distance and one or more cen- lected field, and
(4) which program will best contribute to their career objec-
While web-based training has wide applications, it should be tives.
understood that some skills cannot be well developed with
today’s commonly available technologies. These include Each will be discussed below.

! 48 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Who Is Suited For Web-Based young people in the U.S. will average five different occupa-
tions in their lifetime, and will need to have some retraining
Distance Educa
Education for each. Nevertheless, it is foolish to have many people
train for occupations with few openings and a declining de-
Good quality web-based distance education works for a wide mand.
range of people, but not for everyone. People without mod-
erate skills in word processing, e-mail, and web surfing
should avoid web-based education until they have gained
Identification of Relevant Training
those skills. It is also important to have adequate access to a
microcomputer and a fairly reliable Internet connection. In most areas in developing countries there has been a great
lack of secondary and tertiary level skills training. The
Greater self-discipline is needed for web-based distance edu- available options tend to be located in the urban areas. Rural
cation. That is particularly true for programs that allow stu- citizens seeking advanced training often have to leave their
dents to work at their own speed. Programs with frequent homes. For some types of training, the only option is to go
assignments that are to be submitted on pre-specified dates abroad.
require less self discipline, but they still require a great deal
of independent study. Distance education students can create That is changing rapidly with the fast expansion of web-
e-mail study groups to help each other, but that happens less based distance education programs. Wherever there are
than in traditional face-to-face education. modern telecommunications infrastructures, a whole world
of web-based training is available. A student in Bangkok
People vary in the modes of learning that work best for them. with regular access to a microcomputer and the Internet can
Web-based education currently relies heavily on the reading take training in India, England, the United States, and Hong
of text. Those who learn best when they hear or see things Kong. About five students can share one computer when
should look for programs that use considerable audio or participating in such training. Adequate Internet access now
video—either streaming from the web or on mailed CD- exists in many of the large cities of developing countries.
ROMs and DVDs. New satellite communication developments may soon make
Internet connectivity feasible almost anywhere. For instance,
Finally, some people find the physical isolation from the three-pound satellite uplink/downlinks now sell for about
teacher and peers to be uncomfortable and even a distraction. $1,200.
People, who strongly prefer that long conversations be in
person rather than by telephone, will probably be uncomfort- There are thousands of sub-baccalaureate training programs,
able with web-based learning until broadband technologies at the tertiary level, currently available through the web.
permit interactive video through the web. Many U.S. colleges and universities, as well as some abroad,
have a long history of “extension” and “continuing educa-
tion” programs that serve students not enrolled in their regu-
Selection of the Fields of Study lar degree programs. These programs are rapidly adopting
web-based course delivery. There are hundreds of web sites
Each person’s selection of a field for training should involve that are intended to help people find that training. Some
both personal and labor market considerations. The personal such useful sites are listed in the article WorthWhileWebs of
considerations include what the person likes to do, what they this Issue.
learn without great difficulty and perform well, and their
personal objectives and goals in life. An adolescent who
loves to play with computers, but frequently makes errors
when writing and doing computations, is not likely to suc-
Selecting the Most Appropriate Program
ceed as a software developer because one mistake can cause
a thousand lines of computer code to malfunction. Some The rapidly increasing opportunities for distance training
adolescents and adults can come to an understanding of their throughout the world are accompanied by challenges and
talents, weaknesses, and goals through their own reflection; risks. Throughout the developing world, those previously
others need some career guidance. seeking tertiary training have usually considered themselves
lucky if they could find their way to one institution and gain
Labor market considerations include the current demand for admission. That institution would be well known by the lo-
people with given skills, career mobility opportunities, and cal community and sometimes nationally. It had buildings
the likely future demand. With rapid technological innova- and equipment that would long endure, and faculty and ad-
tion and transformation of global commerce, labor market ministrators who had long lived nearby.
demands are shifting rapidly in the modern sectors of the
economies throughout the world. It is now estimated that For many fields of training today, there are 10 or 20 or 100
equally accessible institutions offering distance training in

! 49 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

the same field. Most will have impressive web sites and claimed accrediting association is a legitimate one at
promise great training. Some will charge five times as much If
as others. How should a student chose between them? it is legitimate, then check with the association to make sure
the institution actually is accredited by it. Some other coun-
The student needs to eliminate the fraudulent institutions that tries have accreditation schemes and some ministry offices
take the students’ money and do not provide the promised investigate complaints about education and training institu-
training, or take their money and provide inadequate training. tions.
The U.S. has long had problems with some “correspondence
schools” that would run a few advertisements, collect stu- Avoiding fraud is half the challenge. Selecting the best
dents’ tuition through the mail, and then disappear. Others training for one’s investment is the other challenge. The
would mail back certificates, diplomas, and degrees but costs are usually easily determined. Make sure to consider
would not provide the training. That probably has also hap- not only the tuition, but also other possible fees and the cost
pened in other parts of the world since the mass communica- of required books. Quality is more difficult to determine, but
tion technologies of radio and television have become wide- the following are some indicators.
spread. During the first few years of the web, there have
been several instances of new virtual colleges and training • How many students are there per instructor? If more
institutes disappearing with the tuition of hundreds of stu- than 20, it may be difficult to get answers to questions
dents. and good feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of
one’s assignments.
There are several “red flags” that should raise suspicions of
fraudulent institutions. They include: • What are the modes and expected frequency of commu-
nication between the student and instructor? Among the
• Promises that you will receive credit toward the program students?
requirements for your prior experience, but there is no
verification of your prior experience. • Ask to see a few of the syllabi and study guides for the
courses that one plans to take before paying the tuition
• Very low tuition and fees, unless the training is provided and fees. If that is not permitted, it may indicate the
by a public institution. courses are not well organized.

• Requirements that all tuition and fees for the full pro- • Do the syllabus and study guides for each course: (a)
gram must be paid before starting the training, unless the indicate the course objectives, (b) provide a well organ-
training involves only one course or does not run for ized progression of instruction, (c) specify interesting
more than a month or two. and appropriate level course materials, (d) indicate
challenging assignments that are likely to stretch stu-
• Substantially shorter periods of training than other in- dent’s skills, (e) provide references to supplemental
stitutions indicate for similar programs of training. materials that may be of interest to some students, and
(f) indicate the basis for the grading?
• Claims that all students complete the program.
• Is there telephone technical support to help solve prob-
• Claims that all students get jobs in the field for which lems with the distance education technologies?
they are trained.
None of these red flags is proof of fraud, but two or more
should be followed with further investigation of the institu- Web-based skill training offers great opportunities for devel-
tion offering the training. For those in the U.S., check with oping countries and it also poses risks. It has the potential to
the Better Business Bureau (BBB) whether there have been bring high quality training to anywhere in the world, with
complaints filed against the institution. The web site at fewer delays and sometimes at less cost. There is also the indicates which of the potential for tuition payments being lost to fraudulent insti-
133 BBBs should process a given complaint. If the institu- tutions, delivery of poor quality training, and training that is
tion claims to be a college or university, check whether it is not well suited to the needs of the student and his or her
accredited. Fraudulent education and training institutions community.
often make false claims of accreditation. Check whether the

! 50 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Upcoming Events: Conferences, Seminars, Exhibits, etc….

JULY 10 - 11, 2000 AUGUST 25 - 27, 2000

ELearning 2000 - Europe Technology in Teaching and Learning in Higher
Dublin, Ireland Education International Conference Samos Island, Greece
JULY 10 -16, 2000
I*Earn 7th Annual International Teachers' Confer- SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2000
ence, 4th Annual International Youth Summit . "Keeping pace with development information..." The
"Sharing and Understanding Tele-Education in the 25th Anniversary Meeting of EADI's Information
21st Century" Management Working Group
Beijing, China Bergen, Norway
JULY 13 - 15, 2000
Vision Plus 8 SEPTEMBER 9 - 10, 2000
Turning Information into Corporate Knowledge International Seminar Series On Education &
Innovative Information Management: Training 2000 - Shaping Education & Training In
A Design Challenge The New Century: Role Of Information & Communi-
Vienna, Austria cations Technology Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

JULY 24 - 26, 2000 SEPTEMBER 12-14, 2000

SALT (Society for Applied Learning Technology) LAUNCHING & CREATING LEARNING
Education Technology Conference PORTALS
Arlington, Virginia, USA The Next Wave in Web-Based Distance Learning Chicago, Illinois, USA
AUGUST 2 - 4, 2000
16th Annual Conference on Distance Learning & SEPTEMBER 10 - 13, 2000
Teaching "Distance Education An Open Question?" Confer-
University of Wisconsin - Madison, Wisconsin, USA ence Adelaide, Australia
AUGUST 4 - 9, 2000
Seminars on Academic Computing SEPTEMBER 15 - 17, 2000
Snowmass Village, Colorado Voices for Change Cambridge, UK

! 51 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

SEPTEMBER 23 - 25, 2000 OCT. 30 - NOV. 4, 2000
The 28th Research Conference on Communication, WebNet 2000: World Conference on the WWW and
Information and Internet Policy Internet
Alexandria, Virginia, USA San Antonio, Texas, USA

SEPTEMBER 27 - 29, 2000 NOVEMBER 12 - 15, 2000

Distance Learning in the New Millennium TechLearn 2000
Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA Orlando, Florida, USA
OCTOBER 3 - 5, 2000 Online Educa Berlin 2000 - 6th International Confer-
EDTEC 2000 - Education Technology Expo & Con- ence And Exhibition On Technology Supported
ference Learning And Training
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA Berlin, Germany

OCTOBER 15 - 18, 2000 DECEMBER 4 - 6, 2000

TELELEARNING 2000 International Workshop on Advanced Learning
Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA Technologies (IWALT2000) Palmerston North, New Zealand
OCT 18 - 21, 2000
New Approaches in Higher Education: The University DECEMBER 12 - 15, 2000
College Conference Session on: "Reusability in web-based educational
Bermuda College, Bermuda
systems" in the International ICSC Congress on
(ISA'2000) Symposium on INTERACTIVE &
University of Wollongong, NSW Australia

If you have a conference, seminar, exhibit, etc. coming up, send it to us for listing
in "On the Move".

To Advertise your conferences, seminars, exhibits, and train-

ing courses, go to the "How to Advertise" section on the TechKnowLogia
home page, found at:

! 52 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Rafael Chargel


During the 1970s and early 80s, computers were restricted to cheaply upgrade your whole system. The number of compa-
enormous machines, with flashing lights, and spinning nies producing hardware for this platform keeps PCs rela-
wheels. They were a work of science fiction that, for the tively inexpensive. A well-researched consumer could pay
average person, only existed in movies. Today, these ma- as low as $400 for a new PC, or as much as they are willing
chines have become part of our daily lives. People are trad- to spend.
ing stocks online, simple programs are reducing the stress of
filing taxes, computer graphics have become a marketing The most common complaint against personal computers is
standard, movies are digitally enhanced, the internet has reliability. Hardware components may conflict with each
erased global boundaries, classrooms are computerized, and other or the software running them. Frequently, these prob-
even grandmothers use PCs to sell the old family recipes and lems can be corrected by spending a few hours on the phone
look up new ones. Everybody seems to own, or intends to with your system’s Tech Support. Unfortunately, the prob-
own a computer. The problem is, which computer is right lem may be within the hardware itself, resulting in the costly
for you? replacement of the offending part. Windows has also been
subject to criticisms about its reliability, prompting some
Computer Platforms users to switch to Linux (a UNIX based Operating System).
Linux is cheaper, has fewer problems, and requires less
memory than Windows, but it is not as user friendly nor is
Unless you’re a major corporation or a graphics professional,
compatible software as readily available.
there are probably only two types of computer platforms that
you will consider: a personal computer (PC), or a Macintosh
Macintosh’s alternative to the PC platform
(Mac). Each has its own advantages and limitations. There
is the iMac. This is a very basic system
are other options available, but the average user is probably
designed for any use of the computer, from
not going to have the knowledge or the need for one of the
graphic design to word processing. It is small, fast, easy to
many UNIX based systems. Which system you choose is
use, and the system is reliable enough not to warrant constant
entirely up to your own taste, but first, let’s clarify their basic
maintenance. Macs use a form of processing information
called Reduced-Instruction-Set Computing (RISC) that
streamlines information into the simplest possible code. The
The personal computer is exactly that.
downside is that application software must then breakdown
Although, by definition it is simply a
complex code into its simplified form before processing the
generic term for any computer that is
information. This means that a RISC processor is faster than
designed for a single user, it has become synonymous with
the PC’s CISC (Complex-Instruction-Set Computing) proc-
“IBM compatible.” When you hear someone talking about
essors, but its applications are generally more complex
IBM, Dell, Gateway, etc. they are referring to specific PC
(larger and more expensive). This faster processor has made
brand names. The Microsoft Windows platform accompa-
Macintosh popular for graphic design and video applications.
nies the vast majority of PCs, and its enormous popularity
Macintosh’s worst feature is the difficulty in upgrading the
allows compatible software to be easily available. Another
system. Its components are part of the motherboard - making
advantage to the PC is that its hardware components are in-
them faster, but impossible to change. The Macintosh line is
terchangeable and available in astonishing varieties. With
also slightly more expensive, starting at around $900.
just a small amount of know-how, you can smoothly and

! 53 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Laptops, Desktops, and Workstations date you. Just because your machine is obsolete, does not
mean that it is useless. If you are running simple applica-
tions like a word processor, a simple database, maybe a
After deciding which platform
spreadsheet application, and the occasional game of solitaire,
you prefer to use, you will want
you do not need a top-of-the-line computer. There are plenty
to know which model is most
of people who conduct day to day business with a Pentium
suitable to your needs. The
II, 0 MHz chip. Most users running with 32 megabytes of
Laptop is a small computer
RAM will have more memory than they know what to do
about the size of a folder. Its
monitor, a flat display called an
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), ©Corel
Unless you are using complicated programs involving com-
is attached to the rest of the unit. Laptops are lightweight,
plex graphics, video, and/or sound, you will not have to buy
and easily portable. Their ability to communicate with other
an expensive machine. You may not need a new machine at
computers and transfer data through temporary connections
all. Do a little research and find out if you could simply up-
has made them a favored item for business trips and board-
grade your old system. At worst, you will probably only
room presentations. Whether you decide on a Macintosh
have to change your tower, keeping your monitor, mouse,
Laptop (iBook, or PowerBook) or a Windows-based Laptop
keyboard, and speakers. This will save you quite a bit of
(Dell, Sony, etc.), you must remember that you cannot up-
money. If you decide to purchase a complete system, take
grade either of them. A laptop is also generally more expen-
someone who knows about computers with you, or at least
sive than a desktop computer, starting around $1,400.
talk to someone who can tell you exactly what you need be-
fore going to the store. Remember, large dealers generally
Desktops are what we usually think of when we are talking
will sell you pre-configured computers
about computers. These are the systems
with a lot of software and configurations
composed of a separate Monitor and
Unless you are using that cost you a lot of money, and you may
Tower, that as the name suggests, sits on a
desk, and is only reluctantly moved. complicated programs never need. Smaller stores will allow you
involving complex to select individual component parts, at a
Desktops, like the laptops, have a single
lower cost, but you will need to know a
microprocessor (CPU, e.g. Pentium III). graphics, video, little more about hardware to make the
These machines are not portable, and un- and/or sound, you will right choice. Also, if the small dealer
less connected to the Internet or a local
network, they do not communicate with not have to buy an goes out of business, so does your war-
each other. They are however, customar- expensive machine. ranty.
ily more powerful than a laptop computer,
For those who know little or nothing
simply because they have more space on
about hardware, the availability of techni-
the motherboard for memory and other components.
cal assistance is an important feature when buying a com-
puter. If computers have glitches, they will probably fail in
Workstations are the most powerful computers designed for a
the first months of use, and you want to be able to take the
single user. These computers use the RISC processors, and
computer back to the store to have it fixed as soon as possi-
may have more than one CPU. Workstations are generally
ble. Buying computers by mail, for instance, may not be the
used to run high-end applications, for instance 3-D animation
best solution for you, since you may have difficulty access-
software or other complex mathematical systems. High-end
ing technical assistance and having the problem corrected
Windows NT computers, are almost indistinguishable from
the low-end UNIX workstations or the new G4 from Macin-
tosh. These Windows NT and G4 workstations can be as
It is true that the cost of computers have gone down since
cheep as $2,000. A more complex workstation from compa-
PCs came into the market, but for those buying a pre-packed
nies like Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Silicon Graphics, Inc.
computer, prices have been more or less the same, because
can cost as much as $100,000 or more.
makers are producing more powerful computers with larger
packages (most of which you do not need). By familiarizing
Do Not be Coerced yourself with the basics of the technology, you become a
smart buyer. Eventually, you may be able to order a cus-
The most important thing when buying a new computer is tomized machine that will give you more and cost you less.
not to allow rapidly evolving computer technology to intimi- Until then, good luck.

! 54 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Jelena Lewis

Enhancing Vocational Skills:

Interactive Media Training
Interactive software is out there and its not just for kids. One of the most useful applications for multimedia (videos and CD-
ROM) is skill enhancement and training. Instructional CDs and videos have, in recent times, become a valuable tool to
professionals who need their employees to be trained in specialized fields and practices. They are also excellent resources for
those who wish to hone their own job skills or perhaps update their current knowledge. For these purposes, there are several
companies that specialize in providing these educational materials and they range from all types of professions to generalized

Technical Training
One of the most demanding areas for skill training and assessment is the technical field. Here are just a few of the many
products out there that are geared towards the mechanically and technically inclined professions.

Automation Studio ( is a technical and interactive CD package, which trains individuals in circuit design and
automation technology. The software package is designed so users are able to outline, simulate, and animate their own circuits
while using various methods of electrical controls, including hydraulics and pneumatics. This is a tool that can be utilized by
engineers, teachers and students alike. Automation Studio is available in multiple languages as well (English, Spanish, French,
Italian, Japanese, and Portuguese).

Aircraft Systems Review ( provides videos that can be used in order to train pilots on unfamiliar
aircraft or allows those in the aviation field to refresh their current systems knowledge. The videos incorporate one-on-one
instruction with visual explanations and procedures, which are viewed from a pilot’s perspective. These videos are also
“generic” in the sense that they can be used universally despite an individual trainee’s airline affiliation.

TPC Training Systems ( offer an extensive video and interactive CD library. They specialize in machine
and mechanical training and have been responsible for training over 3 million employees with their products. Their training
videos cover topics such as: Reading blueprints, schematics, and symbols; electronics and digital electronics education; engine
mechanics, hydraulics, and even heavy machinery use. TCP also offers training CDs that cover Process instrumentation,
mechanics maintenance, and air conditioning/refrigeration systems. These CDs are user friendly and incorporate full program
narration, detailed graphics, and several quizzes, automated tests, and sections where the user can interact with the software.

Medical Training
Medical training is another area in which interactive and self-training products are in wide use. Medical practitioners and
students going into those fields are able to sharpen their skills by using visual tools that allow them to view details and solve
simulated problems.

! 55 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

The University of Washington has a series of interactive CDs called the TUTOR series
( These CDs cover several different aspects of evaluating medical data and train
individuals on how to interpret multiple results. ElectrophoresisTUTOR, for example, is an interactive computer program that
teaches electrophoresis interpretations of proteins in various body fluids. The CD, by using illustrations, charts, and tables, is
useful for instructing initial students or evaluating competency levels. Another example in this series is PhlebotomyTUTOR.
This program simply trains individuals in the appropriate methods and techniques of taking blood from a patient.

PedsLink (, a resource for pediatric healthcare, produces a series of training videos geared towards home
health clinicians and nurses who are in charge of providing care for infants and children with various illnesses. Videos, such as
Home Phototherepy for Infants, use hands on training that take the care provider step-by-step through treatment methods and
assessments, and use specific procedural demonstrations. The films cover multiple topics that can be reviewed as many times
as necessary.

General Skill Training

There are also several multimedia tools to train individuals in universal skills. These are videos and CDs that can be valuable
to anyone going into any field or business.

Glencoe Online ( is a source of several tools for non-college related, post-secondary education. One of
which is The Job Interview CD-ROM. This is an interactive guide that trains job seekers in all aspects of the interviewing
process. The CD also provides information on commonly asked interview questions and gives advice on how one should
respond. The CD utilizes video clips depicting job interview scenarios, narration, tips, and questions in order to reinforce
concepts that are vital to having a successful interview.

BrainwareMedia ( offers several videos and CDs for business and managerial training. Many of
these, though, can be useful to everyone. The Art of Communication is an interactive CD-ROM that allows individuals to
improve their communication skills and their ability to effectively get their message across. The Art of Communication
features advice, interactive role playing using common, everyday situations and self-assessment exercises that allow the user to
figure out how they communicate. This is ideal for any individual who is faced with giving presentations, public speaking, or
just communicating with people in general.

Finally, Brainware also offers a training video on how to train using videos! How to Train with Video takes you step by step
through the process of selecting the appropriate videos for any purpose. It also gives ideas on interesting and insightful ways
of incorporating videos into everyday instruction or training programs. The video describes how to motivate people into
learning on their own with interactive training, as well.

There are several options out there for post-secondary, vocational, and skills training. Utilizing audio/visual technology in
order to stimulate trainees, or yourself even, can be, not only a more exciting way of learning, but also a more effective way.
Learning as you go enables you to work at your own pace and review material as you see fit. Interactive CD training may also
provide simple lectures or textbooks. As technology advances, multimedia applications may just become a standard in all areas
of job training and general skills education.

! 56 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

There are thousands of sub-
baccalaureate training programs, at the tertiary
level, currently available
through the Web. Many
U.S. colleges and
universities, as well as
some abroad, have a long history of “extension”
and “continuing education” programs that serve
students not enrolled in their regular degree
programs. These programs are rapidly adopting web-based course delivery.
There are hundreds of web sites that are intended to help people find that
training. The following are a few that appear most useful as well as several
e-learning web sites that offer technical, business and other courses.

Selected by Gregg Jackson

Associate Professor and Coordinator,
Education Policy Program, George Washington University


This organization prepares some of the most popular guides to U.S. colleges and universities. It also publishes the
most extensive guide to distance learning programs offered by those institutions. Some of the programs require
only a year or two of training.


This is a good site for finding web-based training provided by private training companies. It does not include
training offered by schools, colleges, and universities. It has information on about 2,000 courses that are currently
delivered on the web. The site allows searches for training in about 20 languages, but mostly U.S. companies pro-
vide the training.


This well-known search engine allows searches in about 25 different languages. A recent search of “web based
training” found 26,711 hits in Spanish and 79 in Japanese. Make sure to click on “Advanced Search” to learn how
to narrow down AltaVista searches so that you do not have to read through thousands of hits.


Click on “Education” and then “Distance Learning” to gain extensive links to distance education programs, in-
cluding some programs that are operated by institutions outside of the U.S. Alternatively, click on “Education”
and then “Higher Education” to find links to 10,000 polytechnics, colleges, and universities around the world, al-
though most do not yet deliver courses over the web.

! 57 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

All About College
Braintrack University Index

These three sites are markedly inferior to Yahoo’s Higher Education coverage, but have some links not available in


This U.S. Government site strives to provide students the world over with authoritative information about educa-
tion and training opportunities in the United States and to provide U.S. students with authoritative information
about education and training abroad.


This site offers e-learning technology and business courses in the following industries: financial services, technol-
ogy, healthcare, consulting and government. Courses start at US$99, but they offer "sample courses" that consist
of one module, which allow you to get a feel of their approach to learning. Some courses offer academic credit, as

Headlight offers a large selection of online courses that include web development, graphic design, business, tech-
nology, as well as certification courses. Many courses are free and paid courses start at US$12.95. You can also
try one of their free courses before you register and pay.

Hungry Minds

Hungry Minds offers job training, professional skills, lifelong learning and thousands of academic courses from
leading universities, organizations, and experts. In addition, their Subject Experts and editors recommend the best
music CDs, software programs, videos, magazines, and other resources to enhance just about any learning experi-
ence. Many courses are free and paid courses start at US$9.95.

This site offers personal skill enhancement courses as well as corporate training courses. The site also contains a
bookstore as well as offers the option of downloading courses in PDA format for use on handheld devices. They
offer free courses as well as paid courses starting at US$9.95. In addition, they provide a small number of com-
puter tutorials in Spanish.

! 58 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

The Connection:

Saying Goodbye to Wires

Jelena Lewis

In a world with more gadgets and less time, individuals rely vices equipped with the Bluetooth chip. Furthermore, all
heavily upon the convenience of mobile technology. Sim- Bluetooth-enabled devices can be set to interact with each
plicity and expediency combined with enhanced capability other between distances of 10cm to 100m and to automati-
appear to be much in demand now, and soon, new standards cally exchange capability details and other information with
will meet that necessity. The future may hold the possibility one another. Bluetooth is also a secure system that uses en-
of households, businesses, and mobile workstations (laptops) cryption and authentication routines in order to prevent other
to be networked together without the use of cable hook ups Bluetooth users from accessing your own personal Bluetooth
or wires. Imagine being capable of transferring data from network.
work to update your PC at home without ever having no-
ticed. With the introduction of the new Bluetooth technol-
ogy, this potential future is soon to become a reality. Where will we see this new wireless?
It is no secret that wireless technology has been around for a As of now, it is expected that the Bluetooth chip will be used
few years now. Currently, the wireless LAN techniques use inside mobile phones, computers and related hardware, as
the IEEE 802.11 standard. Networks can be maintained be- well as digital cameras. The capabilities will include cable
tween other PCs within range, without the need of “line of free connections to the Internet via almost anywhere, imme-
sight” positioning; no cable hookups are necessary for Inter- diate email, information exchanges and updates between
net access or local networking. The Bluetooth vision, laptops, phones and PCs, and of course, the freedom of the
though, is to take the current wireless a step further, by wireless advantage.
broadening the wireless range of interaction in order to in-
corporate more than just computers. Several products are in the works for the Bluetooth SIG
(Special Interest Group). One of
which is the “hands free”
What is Bluetooth? headset. It is worn like a
traditional headset and will be
Bluetooth ( is not a business, but rather, able to connect, wirelessly, to
a consortium of already well established corporations such as your cell phone and computer,
IBM, Ericsson, Intel, Toshiba, and Nokia. As the project has provided that all units are
escalated over the past 2 years, over hundreds of other mo- Bluetooth enabled. This is ideal
bile phone, computer, and chip companies have joined the for using your cellular while
Bluetooth bandwagon. Their efforts have combined in order driving or while completing other tasks simultaneously.
to produce and market a new, possible standard in wireless
technology…The Bluetooth chip. Another of the more promising creations to come from the
Bluetooth SIG is the “three-in-one” phone. This device will
Much like current LAN wireless, Bluetooth will connect enable users to operate it as a regular portable telephone at
units by way of incorporating a radio transceiver, which op- home (charging a fixed line fee), a mobile phone (by way of
erates in a license free, globally available, frequency band at a cell phone charge), and as a walkie talkie, requiring no
2.45GHz. Two of the advantages of the Bluetooth chip, charge, when it comes into range of another phone enabled
compared to current wireless, are that it’s much smaller in with the Bluetooth chip.
size and will be expected to cost less. Bluetooth offers high-
speed transmissions of both data and voice between all de-

! 59 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

each other? Some say that the capabilities that Bluetooth is
promising are frivolous and not as much in demand as the
What are the concerns? Bluetooth SIG is speculating. Not only that, but the truly
wireless, networked, business or home is far into the future.
In spite of all the excitement surrounding the Bluetooth con-
sortium, there is still a question of how well the chip will do
along with the current technology. One problem arises from Will this be the new standard?
the fact that Bluetooth operates on the same free band width
that the current IEEE 802.11 wireless does, along with other Despite what skeptics are saying, Bluetooth is already begin-
devices such as various commercial data transmission sys- ning to make its appearance on the market and seems to be a
tems and even microwave ovens. Because of this, there is small step towards unlimited, wireless, possibilities. It will
bound to be an issue of interference when Bluetooth-enabled offer new ways of communicating and exchanging informa-
units come within range of those systems or appliances that tion. From updating your desktop calendar automatically via
work on the same bandwidth. In addition, due to this obsta- your mobile phone, to giving a multimedia presentation to a
cle, Bluetooth-enabled systems will not be able to support networked class equipped with Bluetooth-enabled PCs,
802.11 and vice-versa. wireless technology will function on a much larger scale if
Bluetooth is to become the next standard.
Recently, however, the Bluetooth SIG and IEEE 802.11
group have been working together in order to prevent inter- The speed, versatility, and low cost of the Bluetooth chip
action between the two technologies. There are also “bridge have the capacity to be quite valuable to individuals from a
access” devices that will be available to ensure wide range of businesses and fields. Anything that facilitates
interoperability between the two. Regardless, the hope re- the sharing of data and ideas, as well as maintains organiza-
mains that Bluetooth will eventually replace all wireless con- tion, while keeping up with the increasing world pace, will
nections so that interference would cease to be a problem. prove itself to be beneficial to homemakers, businessmen,
and teachers alike. Even if the interactive, wireless, net-
Another question that analysts are asking is, do people really worked world is far into the future, only time will tell just
want or need all of their digital devices communicating with how far Bluetooth will go.

Bluetooth’s First Bite

Although consumers have yet to experience the vision that version of the company’s older developmental kit. It gives
the Bluetooth SIG is promising, Bluetooth has already made Bluetooth developers the ability to capture and log data being
its appearance with developmental tools and adapters. In transmitted between devices in a Bluetooth network. The
other words, as the developmental process for incorporating Sniffer is an essential tool to developers because it allows
the Bluetooth chip into our digital world continues, the Blu- them to view Bluetooth protocol data and analyze the net-
etooth chip itself is aiding several companies with their Blu- work’s performance. The product allows companies to work
etooth projects. with actual Bluetooth radio technology, bringing them one
step closer to delivering consumer Bluetooth products that
Digianswer ( is a Danish company that are “bug-free” and user-friendly.
specializes in digital phone manufacturing. It is also the
company credited with producing, what it believes to be, the Digianswer also has several other Bluetooth products in the
first Bluetooth products on the market. Late last year Dig- works, one of which is the cell-phone car kit. This kit has
ianswer released their Bluetooth PC card and USB adapters the ability to control echo, reduce outside noise interference,
for notebook and PC applications. These products better incorporate voice activated dialing and commands, and it
enable users to utilize ad-hoc networking via dial-up net- even provides a Bluetooth-enabled radio. This device is ex-
working and/or LAN access points. pected to be available in the very near future along with ad-
ditional adapters for consumers, to ensure that the range of
Recently though, Digianswer has launched their newest Bluetooth will reach its maximum capacity.
product, the Bluetooth “Sniffer”. The Sniffer is an enhanced

! 60 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Rafael Chargel

“Virtualized Reality”
The Future of Television?

We have all heard of virtual reality, but what is “virtualized and color information extrapolated from the cameras. Now
reality.” In virtual reality (VR), three-dimensional models they have a 3-D model of a real-life event that looks exactly
are created on the computer, allowing for an imaginary cam- like the objects being portrayed.
era to be placed anywhere and at any angle. Virtualized re-
ality uses the same principles of VR, and extends them to Because these objects are 3-D models, they can be added or
real film footage. Imagine being able to see a live basketball removed as the viewer sees fit allowing him to see only cer-
game from your television, from any angle you want, even tain players, or only the ball. This technique can be used for
from the eyes of one of the players. coaches to analyze specific playing styles of their opposing
teammates or surgeons could use it to see from the angle of
That is exactly what Takeo Kanade, the head of the Robotics the scalpel for incredible precision.
Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, is hoping for. His
research team is developing a system that utilizes ingenious THE FUTURE
camera techniques and highly sophisticated software, to give
the viewer an arbitrary, nonexistent camera. This camera can There are still many obstacles to overcome. With the current
be maneuvered into any angle or position that the viewer speed of computers they are using, the processing speed is
desires. Eventually the viewer would also be able to delete about 500-to-1, which means it takes nearly eight minutes to
elements from the scene. process one second of film. Obviously, live broadcasts are
not yet available. The processing could be sped up, but de-
HOW DOES IT WORK? tails would be lost. Also, a full sized court would need
nearly twenty times the number of cameras they are using at
Currently the team has a working prototype, though it is not present.
ready for television just yet. They have constructed a 20-by-
20-by-9-foot hemispherical room in which hang fifty-one Although these obstacles may seem daunting, Takeo Kanade
synchronized cameras from the walls and ceiling. The exact has high aspirations for the technology. His team hopes to
same footage is captured in the NTSC (National Television scale up their small room to a 100-by-100 meter stadium. If
Standards Committee) standard of thirty frames per second, a jump in scale from 1-1,000 isn’t big enough, they have
from 51 different perspectives. Each frame is then compared made a proposal to transform the 2002 World Cup in Japan
by a host of computers, from which they generate a three- into virtualized reality. To do this they would need one
dimensional computer model of each instant. thousand cameras, and software that could read data from
those cameras, a thousand times faster than what they are
From that point, the technique works similarly to that of presently using. Even if the 2002 World Cup seems over
standard VR systems. The “virtualized” models are gener- ambitious, 2006 is only a few years away, and given the cur-
ated using polygons to be viewed on a two dimensional rent rate of advances in computers, that goal is not as un-
screen. If more detail is desired, then more polygons are reachable as it sounds.
needed. These polygons are then given the texture and color

Virtualized Reality shows the same play from two different angles
©Carnegie Mellon University

! 61 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

Global Learning Solutions

Global Learning Solutions of Lucent Technologies has been recognized as one of the top eLearning
organizations in the corporate training industry. Its executive leadership team, its technical expertise, its assets
in intellectual property and its physical assets make it one of the world’s most experienced full service
eLearning service providers.
Led by a very impressive leadership team Global Learning Solutions designs, builds and delivers eLearning
solutions with a special focus on corporate and organizational training. At the head of the company is
Raymond Vigil, a global expert in education who is responsible for building Lucent Technologies’ Global
Learning Solutions (GLS) division, Lucent’s highly respected eLearning organization. Prior to his Lucent
assignment Mr. Vigil was responsible for furthering IBM’s global eLearning organization and expanded the
breadth and scope of the company’s corporate training programs. He holds a Ph.D. in Education and has
worked with other Fortune 500 companies in developing their eLearning capabilities.
The GLS Distance Learning Solutions combine the latest networking technologies with the most advanced
eLearning methodologies. A typical case is the very advanced eLearning network the company built for Lucent
Technologies. In this case GLS built a global network of broadcast studios to allow for live interactive training
that could reach every region of the world. The network also included an extensive Internet based training
program with multiple courses in a variety of fields using BitRoom® and Lucent Video Interactive (LVI®)
technologies. The intellectual property rights to these technologies are owned by the Global Learning Solutions
division of Lucent Technologies.
GLS has successfully developed and brought on-line over 60 eLearning courses and delivered more than
30,000 hours of training in a variety of subjects. These include management, marketing, telecom engineering
and design, sales training, technical support, customer service, technician repair instructions, technician
operation, corporate processes and procedures, and much more.
In addition, through Global Learning Solutions parent company, Lucent Technologies, a very strong
relationship has been forged with highly respected universities from Latin America and the US for the purpose
of developing and delivering educational content. These relationships were built as part of a Lucent
Foundation initiative called Partnership in Global Learning (PGL). PGL is a collaboration between the partner
universities, Avaya Communication, the former Enterprise Networking Group of Lucent Technologies and
Lucent’s R&D division, Bell Laboratories to develop advanced methodologies in delivering distance learning
programs. It is anticipated that by the year 2001, the program will be extended to include the top universities in
the European and Asia/Pacific regions.
For more information about Global Learning Solutions please visit or contact Guido
Minaya via email,

! 62 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.

The Inter-American Development Bank ( was established in December
1959 to help accelerate economic and social development in Latin America and the
Caribbean. Today Bank membership totals 46 nations from the Western Hemisphere as
well as Europe and Asia. In its 38 years of operations, the Bank has become a major
catalyst for mobilizing resources for the region. Its mission is to finance the
development of borrowing member countries, to supplement private investment where
private capital is not available on reasonable terms and conditions, and to provide
technical assistance for the preparation, financing and implementation of development
plans and projects. The Bank has mobilized financing for projects that represent a
total investment of $240 million. Recently lending has grown rapidly and amounted to
$10 billion in 1998. The Bank’s operations cover the entire spectrum of economic and
social development. Current lending priorities include poverty reduction and social
equity, modernization, and the environment.

Since the early 1990’s the Bank has significantly increased its lending to education
which now averages nearly $400 million per year. The Bank has supported all levels of
education. Initially lending focused on higher education. In the 1990’s most lending
went to primary education. Support for secondary education and for training has
recently increased. The Bank’s support for educational technology includes a loan to
Mexico for expansion and improvement of Mexico’s telesecundaria, as well as a loan to
Barbados expanding the use of computers for schooling. The Bank is also supporting a
pilot project, the International Virtual Education Network (IVEN), designed to
developed multi-media based modules for the teaching of science and mathematics in
secondary schools in Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. A description of
the Bank’s education projects, as well as the full text of its education strategies and best
practice studies, can be found at

! 63 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.


The Peace Corps was created in response to a challenge is- Peace Corps offices more clearly identify where and how
sued by then presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. After a Volunteers with these skills can work.
day of campaigning for the presidency, he arrived at the Uni-
versity of Michigan October 14, 1960, at 2:00 a.m., to find Third, they are undertaking a large "training of trainers" pro-
10,000 students waiting to hear him speak. There he asked cess for Volunteers who are comparative experts in using IT
how many of them would be willing to serve their country but not necessarily in teaching others how to use it. They
and the cause of peace by living and working in the devel- also want to expand the training programs to insure that Vol-
oping world? unteers and their counterparts become proficient in IT
teaching techniques.
After becoming President, John F. Kennedy established the
Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship. Since Fourth, Peace Corps want to see Volunteers expand commu-
then, over 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps nity computer literacy centers, micro and small business web
in over 134 countries. Currently, more than 7,000 Peace page design centers; and school-based learning centers ex-
Corps volunteers are serving in 77 countries, working to panded around the world.
bring clean water to communities, teach children, help start
new small businesses, and stop the spread of AIDS. The e-initiative will provide a structured and more systematic
way for Peace Corps Volunteers to incorporate IT into ex-
Over the years, and more recently, Peace Corps Volunteers isting and future projects. Prior to this more formalized ap-
worldwide are confirming that the demand for information proach, Peace Corps Volunteers have already provided nu-
technology (IT) skills is increasing worldwide at an expo- merous IT related services. They are:
nential rate.
• teaching counterparts to use computer hardware and to
In response to these demands, Director of the Peace Corps, use basic productivity and connectivity software, and
Mark Schneider, in March 2000 announced a Peace Corps IT where appropriate, how to design and establish web
program to recruit and place computer specialists in devel- pages
oping countries. Under this new program, volunteers will • helping to set up and run school computer labs and are
teach communities how to operate computers and applica- teaching counterparts to take over the responsibilities for
tions, teach at literacy centers, and assist with small business the facilities and the teaching
web page design centers. In June 2000, he further outlined • helping to set up and run community telecenters
the program for IT by announcing an e-initiative. This will • working with entrepreneurs and teaching them to use e-
expand the role that Peace Corps Volunteers currently play in mail and the Internet to promote their businesses and to
bringing the power of IT to the task of poverty reduction. communicate with customers. They are teaching them
According to a speech made by Director Schneider on June to use productivity software to improve internal man-
7, 2000, key elements of the e-initiative are the following: agement efficiency of their businesses.
• helping students participate in environmental and writ-
First, the Peace Corps will build on its traditional strengths of
ing programs that involve the use of IT in collaboration
local community presence, knowledge of local customs and
with students in other countries
language, and success at grassroots project development and
execution. They will enable technology projects that are fi- " Today, I would like to challenge America’s information
nanced by other organizations to become accessible to stu- giants to join the Peace Corps e-initiative by contributing
dents and businesses in rural areas. They are also proposing funds, hardware, software, and teaching modules to a Peace
to harness IT to help resource-poor communities in order to Corps e-Partnership Fund. The Fund will permit us to sup-
advance their development goals in education, health, envi- port hundreds of new Volunteer information technology
ronmental protection, agriculture production and small busi- projects—developed at the grassroots with community,
ness enterprises, and municipal development. NGO, small business, and local government partners." Di-
rector Mark Schneider, in his remarks on Peace Corps Day,
Second, to recruit Peace Corps Volunteers with IT skills,
March 6, 2000.
Peace Corps created a new category for Information Tech-
nology generalists and specialists to give computer experts a To read more about the Peace Corp, or more specifically this
place to identify their skills for the first time. This also helps initiative, go to:

! 64 ! TechKnowLogia, July/August, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.