The major meeting industry organizations are also beginning to provide online content for distance learning applications.

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 organizations are using distance learning to bring live training to employees' desktops. It can broaden the reach of traditional meetings and reinforce what is taught there.

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Traditional education institutions are recognizing the competition and the larger market out there and are providing an increasingly wide range of online courses. An excellent directory of online courses can be found at The major universities providing distance learning programs in hospitality and meeting management can be found at my Web site:

The major meeting industry organizations are also beginning to provide online content for distance learning applications. PCMA ( has had a CMP self-study course for more than a year and has recently added on other courses as well. MPI ( also has a range of general course as well.

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

Eloquent ( 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.

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

Blackboard ( provides an extensive set of tools for Web-based instruction that replicates many aspects of the traditional schoolroom. 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 plenty of academic online resources.

Finally, ElementK ( provides an extensive catalog of online courses in office productivity, computer skills, and general work skills.

We'll see more companies like these in the future, extending the scope and range of traditional meetings and training those who couldn't attend.

Corbin Ball, CMP is a consultant, writer, and speaker on events and meeting 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

Take Out

  1. Use online distance learning tools to deliver meeting content to nonattendees' desktops on demand.
  2. Deliver CD-ROMs and streaming-video 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