With distance learning, you may even be able to find the time for training.

The world's body of knowledge is said to double every 10 years. How do you keep up with it all — and keep your employees up to date as well? Seminars, association meetings, and in-house training programs (and executive education for the select few), used to be enough. But to provide more education in less time, many companies are using distance learning to bring live training to employees' desktops.

Check These Out

Companies such as SeminarSource (www.seminar source.com) take the content presented at meetings and deliver it to nonattendees' desktops on demand, using streaming video, audio, and high-resolution PowerPoint slides. The company's SeminarCast CE version allows learners to access each continuing education session and then take the required tests and evaluations without leaving their home or office.

Eloquent (www.eloquent.com) provides an online streaming media solution like SeminarSource's, with video, audio, and slides on demand, but it also offers a searchable, full-text transcript. Learners can participate in threaded discussions, and speed control lets them listen to a speaker at twice the normal rate without the “chipmunk-like” increase in pitch.

Innovative Resources and Recordings (www.irri.com) provides high-quality CD-ROM and streaming video recordings. This solution is lower tech and less costly than online tools, as it usually forgoes the video portion of the presentation in favor of audio, high-resolution slides, and searchable scrolling text. It takes some turnaround time to produce the text transcript, but the final product makes a much better distance-learning application than audiotapes alone can provide.

Blackboard (www.blackboard.com) provides an extensive set of tools for Web-based instruction that replicates many aspects of the traditional school room. Features include a customizable home page, a course catalog, course announcements, course notes/documents/syllabus, online testing and surveys, class chat rooms/threaded discussion boards, and lots of academic online resources.

Click2Learn (www.click2learn.com) provides a similar set of tools targeted more toward the corporate environment. These also incorporate live webconferencing tools.

Finally, ElementK (www.elementk.com) provides an extensive catalog of online office productivity, computer skills, and other work-skills courses.

These are just distance learning options. We will see more companies like these as conferences and meetings are used increasingly to extend the scope and range of meetings and to train those who can't attend.

Corbin Ball, CMP is a consultant, writer, and speaker on events and meetings technology. With 20 years' experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide save time and improve productivity. He can be contacted at www.corbinball.com.

Take Out

  1. Use online distance learning tools — to deliver meeting content to nonattendees' desktops on demand.

  2. Deliver CD ROMs and streaming videos recordings of sessions — less expensively than Web-based products.

  3. Use Web-based instruction that replicates many aspects of the classroom — or try a product that's streamlined for the corporate environment.