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morning I had a really strange conversation. I was meeting with three
colleagues in the learning field and realized how everyone’s facial expression
went sour when I mentioned the classroom. Is the classroom a dirty
word? Does classroom training suffer from a public relations or self-concept
is undeniable that e-Learning has taken the bulk of the spotlight in the
last 20 months. There are dozens of seminars, trade shows and magazines
all about ways to do learning without ever having to enter the classroom.
In fact, a good number of learning vendors go out of their way to
tout their ability to classroom-proof your learners. There are new press
releases every day about Learning Management Systems or Virtual Classrooms.
Yet, I can’t find a single press release about new white board
paper or other nifty tools to make the classroom a better environment
the benefits of e-Learning are rolled-out, almost every presentation
if you show up at a local trainer’s meeting and state that you love
teaching stand up classes, people often move to the other side of the room,
not unlike the reaction to the litter in Alice’s Restaurants (sorry, a
am probably as guilty as most folks in this industry for the poor rap that
the classroom has gotten in recent days. I stood up at a Lakewood event
several years ago and told the trainers "To Get Wired or Get Fired!".
But, I didn’t mean that the classroom would be sent to the woodshed.
I marvel at the wonderful ways in which I can deliver learning
do not believe that the classroom is dead! In fact, the more that I
classroom can be a great approach to
The learning activity involves discussion or live role modeling.
The learning target is a motor skill that requires the use of equipment.
The audience is small and it is easier and cheaper to put a subject
The content requires intense concentration for an extended period of
The event is a ritual or landmark event that will signal a major benchmark
or promotion in one’s work history.
The learning activity is linked to a social objective to meet and work
The bulk of the content is gained from a Socratic dialogue with fellow
The subject matter is not appropriate to an on-line experience.
As a strong learner/manager preference or a change of pace.
there is a significant increase in the use of e-Learning and Blended
Shorter duration classes.
Use of pre-class and post-class learning via technology.
Developing Communities of Learning or Practice surrounding the class.
Targeting of classroom learning via Learning Management Systems.
Use of simulation and other e-Learning resources in class.
us respect the role and power of the classroom, at the same time that we
explore the capabilities and potential of e-Learning. Ultimately, we will
drop the "e" from our dialogue and talk about the most strategic formats
and technologies to support learning and performance…. And the classroom
will be one of them.
I tell you without shame, that I love to teach in the classroom. In
can get pretty weird as an e-Learner. After approximately 500 hours as
Browsing is What the Browser Was Designed For: I browse! I sample a
Triple Tasking: I triple task! When I am participating in a
Talking While I Learn: I normally don't talk to myself, except, when I
I Compete With Instructional Times: When an author says that a module
I Copy, Paste and Send: When I am in the middle of a cool e-Learning
are neither positive or negative behaviors. Just ones that I have
Fact: The Internet enables teachers and learners alike to do things they never dreamed of before in education.
Focus: To fully engage students in your online courses, it is necessary to take into account, and provide for, inherent learning style differences. If your online learners are audio (or visual, or kinesthetic) learners, how can you address their learning style in your web-based
Laura Summers, of Alva Learning
Systems, revels in such questions. Whether designing her own courses, or those for others to teach, Summers develops creative ways of engaging students in their online classes. "Optimal learning experience for engaging learners requires Learner Interest, Content Creativity, Interactive Strategies (how to make learners share their personal interests), and Connection," says Summers. "The presence of concrete content is of the utmost importance even when interactive strategies and multi-media options provide for a variety of learning styles. The goal in creating interactive courses is to be playful, yet also academic, and concrete content insures this." The bottom line, according to Summers, is presenting alternative means for students to access information; it is a helpful tenet for professors to keep in mind, so that their content can reach students in as many ways as possible.
Summer notes that "the advantage that web-based learning has over computer-based learning is the sense of community and interactivity that the web can provide." In what ways does Summers, whose background is in Instructional Design, capitalize on the interactivity that the web fosters? How does she modify online courses to accommodate students’ diverse learning styles? How do face to face strategies translate in the online environment?
"Visual Learners like a lot of graphics to help them process text-based information. These can be in the form of simple graphics (pictures) which show rather than tell (such as examples of facial expressions or gestures in a Communications course). They can also include more complex images such as animated gifs or rollovers. "When you get to images with movement, such as drag and drops, you start to cross over into the kinesthetic learners’ learning style. Including such functions has combined benefit for both visual and kinesthetic learners. Summers points out that the graphics you use must relate to the content: "they’re not just pretty pictures! They have to be on the subject. Not just filler. When you add graphics, you increase student recall by up to 50%.
"Kinesthetic Learners like to click the mouse, move things around. Flash Technology with lots of drag and drop, functions work well for kinesthetic learners - it’s how the physical translates to the online; movement isn’t just physical as we used to think: jumping and moving around the room," says Summers. "It helps some learners to write things down as part of the kinesthetic and visual aspects. If a notepad is offered in the course, or even if the instructor prompts the learner to write down their thoughts or responses, it helps them retain information. This is a non-technical approach that is still useful in an online course.
"Auditory Learners like to brainstorm, talk with people; there’s more to adapting online curriculum for auditory learners than inserting sound files or video clips into a web-based course. I always tell people that when they design their courses, they need to translate the aural aspect of their face to face course into the communicative aspect of their online course, the things that correspond to the need of auditory learners to be with people. For instance, chat rooms and bulletin boards work well for auditory learners. Discussions can take place over listservs, bulletin boards, in chat rooms... Also, role plays, situational exercises, and case studies ... all of which call upon learners to interact with one another or with the real life application of what they are learning ... tend to work best for auditory learners."
The next important step, according to Summers, is creating rich content to match course tools. For this, themes are very important; she uses them throughout her courses - with all of her examples relating back to the established theme. This allows for creativity, while insuring some consistency and predictability.
Interested in recommending a Learning Styles Survey to your students? Curious about your own Learning Style? Laura Summers recommends this Interactive Survey.
Laura Summers is a managing partner at Alva Learning Systems, a provider and developer of student-focused online training. She is currently completing her PhD in Educational Technology with an emphasis on instructional design and distance education. She can be reached via email at
"Ouchihuahua" (pronounced Ouchie-wah-wah*) was my immediate reaction when I walked into my first class of the term yesterday. There I was presented with a room packed full of students, every one of the 135 seats in the room occupied by a student bottom, with what looked like about 40 additional students standing in various parts of the spaces between the chairs, the doorway, and at the back of the room. What is happening to the university experience? I remember clearly as little as 8 or 10 years ago when I used to have a comfortable 30 students in my class. I knew each of them by name. I knew a lot about each student's ability to learn. I used to buy them pizza occasionally. We used to hold the occasional class outside when the weather was nice. Those were the days. Last year during an evening class I tried to recapture some of that early closeness and bought pizza for the class. It worked very well until I got the bill. It cost me $200. I wonder if I can recapture the closeness with Jello or Kool-Aid next time.
Don't get me wrong; although if it were up to me I would opt for a small class every time, in many ways I actually like teaching large classes. I find that often there is an electricity in a class with a large audience (and that is what 90% of students do become in large classes - an audience) that is not present in small classes. I still learn about the same number of names (30 or so) by the end of the term (which unfortunately leaves out about 80% of the students). I may be kidding myself, but I still feel as though I establish a connection with a lot of my students. The connection is not of the same nature as it would have been had the class been smaller, but it exists. And I still feel as though the students learn as well in a large setting. The experience is most certainly not the same, and likely not as good, but learning does occur.
Over the years my teaching has changed somewhat in order to deal with large enrollment classes. By "deal with" what I really mean is I try to optimize the experience for myself and the students and maximize the learning outcomes (without having to resort to 80 hour weeks). Interestingly, educational technologies play a large role in my ability to deal with large classes.
The first thing I stopped doing is holding regular office hours. Sounds kind of drastic, doesn't it? I am still available to my students for one-on-one consultation, but now only by appointment. I require them to make an appointment because I want them first to consider the use of the bulletin board for communication. As you know (if you've read any of my previous articles) I use the asynchronous discussion area heavily in my classes. There are hoards of benefits to the use of the board, but the one I am stressing here is a reduction in work load for me. If a student has a question and asks it in the bulletin board, then every student has seen the question. When I or a TA answer it - every student has now seen the answer. This also means that students can review the questions and answers before exams. Now I (usually) only am ever asked a question once; a significant time saving.
Further to that, I almost never use e-mail with my students. Answering a question via e-mail serves only one student and takes every bit as long as answering it on the bulletin board. I tell my students to please never send me e-mail unless they have a personal question that is not appropriate for the entire class to hear (see). In that case - I am all ears (eyes) via e-mail. I have run into a number of instructors teaching on line who say that moving on line has tripled their workload. Most of those are using e-mail to interact with their students (which, of course, is so much less efficient than a phone call or office hours).
Another move I sometimes make is to on-line exams. I find it a little more difficult to formulate questions that can be graded automatically and thus it takes me longer to create an on line exam than a paper based exam (unless I have access to an appropriate, high quality test bank). Grading exams by hand, however, takes a long time too. Once the class reaches a certain size (maybe 20 or 30) it becomes far more efficient for me to spend a little more time constructing an on line exam and have it graded by WebCT than it is to create a paper-based exam and grade it by hand. This makes giving exams on line worthwhile even ignoring the extensive feedback and reporting that comes for free, and the possibility of more regular feedback with the taking of the on line exams. I also do not have to worry whether the grades were entered correctly or about consistency in grading. This actually saves quite a bit of time negotiating with students for more (or fewer) points after an exam.
It is interesting to hear the experiences of others in the matter of technology and large enrollment classes. Today I came across an article in a UBC periodical called TAG (Teaching and Academic Growth) Tapestry. A biology faculty member, James Berger, wrote an article "Experimenting with Web-Based Material to Support a Large Lecture Course". In it he writes the following:
"What were the benefits? Judging from course evaluation forms, those [students] who used the site were very enthusiastic about it. My rapport with the class was far better than I have experienced before. This is not just a consequence of the [notes on] the web site. ... The big difference was the bulletin board. Oh yes - student traffic to my office was virtually nil throughout the term. The efficiency of dealing with student questions through the website was certainly much greater than otherwise."
In one of my surveys of students in a large lecture course, I asked them two questions relevant to this discussion. The first question was whether a stronger feeling of community in the course was created as a result of the communication tools. Roughly 75% of the students said 'yes'. The second (similar) question asked whether the conferencing tool made the large course seem more or less personal (did they feel more or less 'like a number'). Over half of the students responded that the experience was indeed more personal, with almost all the remainder saying there was no change.
For many of us large classes are becoming a fact of life. I do not believe that the availability of technology gives us license to increase class sizes - with or without technology something is lost both for the students and the faculty member as the class size increases. However, I believe, and many seem to agree, that faced with a large enrollment class, technology can be very beneficial in mitigating some of the negative side effects of increasing enrollments.
Are your class sizes increasing? Do you care? How has your teaching changed to accommodate the larger audience? Does technology play a part, and is it beneficial? I am eager to hear your thoughts on
Elliott Masie skriver i sit seneste nyhedsbrev
i afsnittet "Content, Context and
Textbooks" om de ændringer der er ved at ske med lærebogsområdet:
I was in Tampa last week talking to the manager of college bookstores from around the United States. The
dialogue turned to the changing nature of textbooks. As you can imagine, there is innovation in the format and use of textbooks by colleges. While
digital textbooks have not replaced paper, a number of colleges are moving towards creating bundles of CONTEXT that would go with the book. For
example, how can we integrate the CONTENT from the author who wrote the textbook with the CONTEXT from the class instructor or from other students
around the country.
We had an interesting conversation about what would happen if textbooks became cheap or free, in digital format. I posed the option that students
might be very interested in buying a CONTEXT layer, which would contain the yellow highlighting of a student who had received an A+ in the course. Simulations and other e-Learning high intensity offerings were seen as possible revenue sources for publishers.
Schloman har skrevet en anbefalelsesværdig artikel om de skjulte sider på
nettet, hvor der også ligger værdifuld information for sundhedsprofessionelle.
when we already feel overwhelmed by the number of results returned when using
Web search engines, there is mounting evidence that there is a great deal that
is not being searched--namely the "Invisible" or "Deep" Web.
In fact, the argument is made that standard search engines are not indexing most
of the information on the Web. Not only is a majority of Web content submerged
within these sites, but it is also some of the best information on the Internet.
publications in particular have explored what the Invisible Web is and the
implications of it for us as Web searchers. Michael K. Berman (2001)
published a white paper, "The Deep Web-Surfacing Hidden Value."
Although the paper has a commercial influence because the research he presents
showcases technology available from his employer BrightPlanet, the issues raised
have provoked considerable attention. The second publication of note is a book
by Chris Sherman and Gary Price (2001), The Invisible
Web-Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See.
column will explore some of the issues raised and how to plumb the depths of the
Invisible Web for health and other needed information. Bergman prefers the
terminology of the "Deep Web." However, this column will use the more
pervasive phrase of the "Invisible Web."
what is it and why don't conventional search engines reach it?
Invisible Web is that portion of the Web that is not reached by standard search
engines such as Alta Vista or Google. It includes specialized databases and
search engines, archives of documents, directories and locators, dictionaries,
library catalogs, and gated resources requiring a password or login. Some sites
may have a hybrid status with some content visible and other that is not.
of the content on the Invisible Web is in databases that have their own
search interface and retrieve customized results dynamically. Because of
these "on the fly" responses, the resulting pages are not static
Web pages and are not indexed by the search engines.
engines run computer-driven "spiders" to find Web pages and make
them available for indexing. Spiders can only find pages if links to them
exist from pages already identified for that search engine. Other than this,
a search engine indexes Web sites if the producer of a Web site submits it
for indexing. If information about a Web page is not obtained in either of
these ways, the search engine will not index it.
from technological limitations they may face, search engines also make
conscious decisions not to index certain material. This includes pages that
predominantly have content that is something other than HTML text, which is
the standard format for static Web pages. These could be pages that are
comprised largely of images, those that are in PDF or a word processing
format, or those that have been written with specialized software such as
Flash or Shockwave.
Web producer may also block all or part of a site from being retrieved by a
spider. This is particularly common for sites that offer timely content (newspapers,
stock tickers, flight trackers).
does this matter?
accessible on the Web continues to grow as government agencies, organizations,
and corporations commit to doing business through this medium and are aided by
advances in Web technology and the increasingly favorable economics of computer
storage. Bergman's paper on the Deep Web was based on research done in March
2000, so one can imagine that the findings would be even more dramatic today.
His findings on the Deep Web included:
The publicly available information found there is 400 to 550 times greater
than what is on the surface Web. More than half of this information is found
in topic-specific databases. It exceeds the total volume of printed works by
an estimated factor of seven.
The number of sites exceeds 200,000. Of these, 60 Web sites alone were found
to be nearly 40 times the size of the entire surface Web.
This is the largest growing category of new information on the Web.
Subject content extends across the entire spectrum of human enterprise with an
estimated 5.5% of the Deep Web devoted to health.
Some Deep Web sites are very popular and have many links to them (e.g.,
Amazon.com), but most are not well known. An estimated 97.4% of these sites
are available without restriction.
Quality is more pervasive on the Deep Web than on the surface Web. Also,
quality results are possible here that cannot be obtained elsewhere.
are examples of Invisible Web sources?
Resource: Flight Tracker www.thetrip.com
American Medical Association Physician Select www.ama-assn.org
Online Catalog: Library of Congress Catalog www.loc.gov/catalog/
Bibliographic Database: Combined Health Information Database (CHID) http://chid.nih.gov/
News: CNN News Search www.cnn.com
do I find Invisible Web sites?
finding aids have been created to help searchers identify sources such as these
that will not turn up using standard search engines. What characterizes these
tools is that they are not just automated retrievers, but the product of human
effort and judgment.
BrightPlanet Corporation provides this directory of 103,000 searchable databases
and engines on the Internet, organized by categories.
Scholarly Internet Resource Collections: http://infomine.ucr.edu/search.phtml
Over 20,000 sites selected by librarians as "significant, core and/or
reference level resources of a scholarly or educational nature on the
Internet." It is possible to search or browse any of the 10 broad
The Search Engine of Search Engines: www.invisibleweb.com
"…our subject matter experts (human editors) have discovered indexed,
described, and categorized thousands of invisible sources on the Web in a
directory (taxonomy) of 800+ categories."
Resource Discovery Network (RDN): www.rdn.ac.uk
Web directory of over 32,000 sites, compiled by subject experts in the United
Kingdom and organized by independent hubs that are searchable independently or
by using a unified interface to search all.
One hub of particular interest is:
- Health and Life Sciences
-- The Invisible Web Directory: http://www.invisible-web.net
Online Web directory by Sherman and Price that complements their book cited
earlier. The site is updated regularly and is designed to serve as a starting
point for learning more about resources on the Invisible Web. It is organized
into 18 categories.
available from standard search engines
AltaVista has created "shortcuts" that direct a user's search to
selected types of Invisible Web resources that would not normally be retrieved.
To make this happen, AltaVista has created specialized indices for commonly
sought resources relating to such things as local information, maps, news,
recipes, stocks, white pages, yellow pages. A retrieved shortcut shows on the
first page of Alta Vista search results, below "products and
services," but before other search results. The shortcut is marked with a
small blue arrow icon .
example, a search on "Agent Orange news" turned up a shortcut that led
to 35 headline articles from sources such as the BBC, MSNBC, Miami Herald, ABC
Online, USA Today. For more information on AltaVista shortcuts and how they work,
go to http://www.altavista.com/sites/search/shortcuts_overview
Google now makes it possible to search twelve different file types in addition
to the standard HTML formatted Web page. This includes PDF files, as well as to
Adobe Postscript, Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, and Rich Text. These
files will show up when there is a match on any search with the file format
given in blue text in brackets (e.g., [PDF]). Also the name of the file format
appears below the title (e.g., "PDF/Adobe Portable Document Format").
Google offers the choice to open one of these documents as a Web page by
clicking on "View as HTML." This prevents opening a file that may
contain a virus. If you elect to open in another format, it is important you
check the file with virus scanning software.
you want to search only for a particular file type, use Google's Advanced Search
page. A drop-down menu is provided to allow you to restrict your search to a
specific file type. For more information on searching by file type, go to http://www.google.com/help/faq_filetypes.html.
it once, retrieving it again
users are often confounded by URLs that are uncomfortably lengthy, have embedded
punctuation, and are impossible to remember. Such URLs typically reflect pages
that have been retrieved from a search of a database on the Invisible Web. The
URL is unique to the search that was done on that database and to the item
retrieved. Reusing this URL would retrieve the same document.
example, a search on PubMed for "Nightingale and evidence-based nursing"
retrieved the following reference. Citing or bookmarking this URL will refer the
user to this same item.
Based Nurs 2001 Jul;4(3):68-9
Florence Nightingale and the early origins of evidence-based nursing. McDonald
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph, Guelph,
PMID: 11708232 [PubMed - in process]
library's gated resources on the Invisible Web
have traditionally served as the repository of our cultural heritage and of the
scholarly record. These archives in the past were in print and sometimes in
other media such as microform. Now the move, of course, is toward providing
digitized resources available on the Web. However, many of these resources--such
as the majority of electronically available journals and research databases (CINAHL,
PsycINFO)-can be obtained only through subscription or licensing agreements.
These contractual arrangements include restrictions from the publishers as to
how these electronic resources can be used and by whom. To insure compliance
with these agreements, libraries limit access to these resources through some
bottom line is that some of the most valuable and timely information that
libraries have to offer is on the Invisible Web and in fact is "gated."
Users will not gain access to this material by searching on the Web at large,
nor by using the tools mentioned above. It is incumbent upon users with
privileges in a given library to seek out what that library has to offer
electronically and what paths to that material are available.
F. Schloman, PhD, AHIP
Assistant Dean, Library Information Services
Libraries & Media Services
Kent State University
Kent, OH 44242
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Invisible Web, Internet, search engines
M. K. (2001). The deep Web: Surfacing hidden value. Retrieved March 11, 2002,
C., & Price, G. (2001). The invisible Web: Uncovering information sources
search engines can't see. Medford, NJ: Information Today.
Mention of a Web site does not imply endorsement by the author, OJIN, or
I was struck by how an answer changes
depending on how you phrase the question. I usually ask audiences at my keynote speeches about their experiences with e-Learning or On-Line
Learning? When I ask how many people in the audience have recently taken an On-Line Course, the response is often between 20 and 30 percent.
One day, my tongue got a bit tied and I asked the question with a few changes. “How many of you have learned things on-line recently?”
Suddenly, almost 98% of the hands in the audience went up. I was shocked until I realized how I had fundamentally changed the question.
People are very aggressively using the internet as an active, informal and spontaneous learning and knowledge tool. So, when you ask about the TACIT
LEARNING that is being done on-line, the percentages so SKY HIGH!
Ask your colleagues the same question. You will be amazed at the difference. So, part of our challenge is to define our arena in the
broader sense of both FORMAL and TACIT learning programs. Taking a structured, beginning to end e-Learning program is likely to remain as
small a percentage of yearly learning for a worker as the attendance in a formal classroom training session.
Every great classroom based class that I have attended has contained humor and laughter. I remember taking a class on Structured Programming, one of
the least funny topics that I have ever encountered as a learner, yet the laughter was intense in that class:
The instructor told us some great war stories about failed projects
that made us laugh (and sometimes want to cry).
When one of us made a mistake, humor helped us get through the confusion
and difficult content.
During the breaks, laughter filled the hallways, as an indicator of both
our stress release and also of the fellowship that had been created in the
There was great teaching and awesome learning happening, on a tough
topic, and our humanity created the laughter.
When I think about the instructional design for the class, I bet there was little mention of laughter in the designer's teacher notes. Yet, the
teacher "ALLOWED" learning and it made all the difference in the world. The trick in the classroom is to make sure that you don't SHUT OFF humor
as a tool.
My colleague and friend, Joel Goodman, who directs The Humor Project, states that the word HAHA has the latin root of AHA. In other words, when
things are true and we find common truths, we often laugh. A great speaker doesn't have to tell funny stories, they just have to connect with
common truths that will bring out our humor response. Joel would also tell you about the wonderful physical effects of humor, including deeper
breathing and stress reduction. So, the targeted use of humor in the culture of a classroom can be deeply effective.
It can even work at large conferences. At TechLearn, I use humor in the same vein. We tackle tough issues, wrap our arms around a crazy and
changing field and the halls of the hotel in Orlando are filled with laughter. In fact, we even program humor into our schedule, from Dave
Barry to the jugglers Raspyni, to leverage humor as a tool for learning and building community.
Yet, on-line, we often forget to the importance role of humor. I have been on a few of the driest ever virtual classroom sessions and I have
slugged my way through on-line modules that are totally devoid of smiles, no less laughter.
One of our challenges is how to keep our e-Learning human and natural and not blocking the funny aspects of life. This is new stuff. We don't
have a lot of experience about how to make that happen in our world...
Here are a few ways to make sure that you are snuffing out the humor in your e-Learning offerings:
Maintain your humanity. Since the learner can't see you, it is even
more important that they feel your acceptance and that you not shut down humor as it emerges. Being off task for a few minutes will not kill the
content or the process.
Laugh at yourself as the e-Trainer. People don't want to learn from
experts. They want to learn from real people who have great expertise.
Laugh at yourself along the way.
Sometimes e-Learning technology does not work the way we planned. Have
a plan B, but also allow yourself to see the humor in the process. I have a picture that I often post when a video conference goes down that has me
holding an Einstein stuffed animal. It breaks the tension of the moment.
Storytelling that is authentic will add natural humor the learning
process. Don't overly script your content captures. I would rather do an interview of some experts, where I can bring the humor to the surface in a
story, rather than rely on a script to recapture the funny bits.
as e-Learning Model
*** Elliott Masie's TechLearn TRENDS ***
Training, e-Learning and Collaboration Updates
brings out the learner in me!
I have taken up cooking as a result of a new ktichen that we
I receive a list of ingredients, a step by step cooking process, some
Most importantly, I have access to CONTEXT, which is reflected in the
Hmmmmmmmmm! Sounds a lot like e-Learning to me.
someday there will be an attached device that would help with taste
The last Information Resources column on evaluating health
resources, "Whom do you trust? Evaluating Internet health resources,"
was published in January 1999. Since then, there has been considerably more
attention paid to the quality of health information on the Web. This is a review
of some of the research on Web information quality, studies evaluating that
research, third-party rating initiatives, and questions raised about the need to
do anything. Educating health consumers to be critical in their choice of health
information remains a key strategy—one that health professionals are
well-positioned to advance.
Consumer Use of Health Information on
There is strong evidence that consumers are actively seeking
health information on the Web. The most detailed information comes from a recent
report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project (May
22, 2002). The report focuses on user behavior—how users search for health
information and what they choose to believe. Findings from this Pew study
The number of American adults going to the Web for health
information in 2002 was 73 million, up from 52 million in November 2000.
The user group included more women than men (72% compared
to 51%). 71% of those 50 to 64 years of age were "health seekers,"
compared with only 53% of those between 18 and 29. More education and more
Internet experience were also predictors. The study did not find any
differences between ethnic groups.
In a typical day, 6 million Americans seek health
information on the Web--more than visit a health professional.
The health seekers surveyed did not have a search plan to
find information and started with a search engine or directory, rather than
a health Web site.
Only one-quarter was diligent in evaluating Web sites using
accepted criteria (checking currency and source, validating findings).
Health seekers did report caution in using the information
found to make decisions regarding health.
Of respondents, 61% reported the Internet has improved how
they care for their health.
An earlier report from the Pew Internet &
American Life Project published in 2000 found the Web was a highly popular
source for health information because of its 24-hour availability, assumed
anonymity for the health seeker, and abundance of information available. At that
time, 30% reported they typically checked out four or more Web sites. While 82%
indicated concern about obtaining unreliable information, 52% of those who used
health sites believed that "almost all" or "most"
information seen on the Internet was credible. Those under 40 years and with
less formal education were more accepting of the legitimacy of the health
information they retrieved. For this study, 70% indicated the information
influenced their health decisions.
The Status of Quality of Health
Information on the Web
What the research shows
There is a developing body of research dealing with the
Internet as a vehicle for communicating health information. This includes
studies centering on quality issues. Some of these have looked at the quality of
Web sites on specific health topics and reported areas of concern. The studies
published from 2000 to date include: breast cancer (Meric et
al, 2002), cancer (Biermann, Golladay, Greenfield, &
Baker, 1999), carpal tunnel syndrome (Beredjiklian,
Bozentka, Steinberg, & Bernstein, 2000), depression (Griffiths
& Christensen, 2000), melanoma (Bichakjian,
Schwartz, Wang, Hall, Johnson, & Biermann, 2002), orthodonture (Jiang,
2000), and pharmaceutical company Websites (Griffiths,
Christensen, & Evans, 2002).
Other studies analyzed what criteria relate to quality
information. Fallis & Frické (2002) identified Web
pages on treating fever in children and analyzed what indicators on those Web
pages correlated with accuracy. Indicators with a demonstrated relationship were:
displaying the Health on the Net Foundation logo (HONcode), having an
organization domain (.org), and displaying copyright protection. Display of the
HONcode logo was almost four times more likely to be displayed on a more
accurate than on a less accurate site. Kunst, Groot, Latthe, Latthe, & Khan
(2002) evaluated whether Web sites considered to be
credible--because they met the criteria of identifying information source,
indicating currency, and presenting hierarchy of evidence--did in fact provide
accurate information. Their results found that sites likely to be judged
credible based on these criteria correlated only slightly or at best moderately
Two other studies of particular interest looked at quality
more from the user experience. Berland et al (2001)
searched English- and Spanish-language search engines for information on four
common health conditions. Given that health consumers rely on search engines to
lead them to health information on a given topic, this study underscored
problems with that approach. Findings showed that search engines were only
"moderately efficient" in providing sites with relevant content on
their first-page of results. These lead sites were then reviewed by expert
panels to judge level of coverage and accuracy of content. They found only half
of the topics deemed important for a given health issue were covered more than
minimally, with even less coverage on the Spanish-language sites. Accuracy,
where the text was completely correct for covered clinical elements, varied from
53% to 91% across topics and language of sites. In addition, conflicting
information was found in over half of the English-language sites; no conflicts
were identified in the Spanish-language sites.
Another user-centered study (Eysenbach
& Köhler, 2002) used qualitative means to investigate health consumer
Internet search techniques and the criteria used for assessing Web site
credibility. Although participants displayed "suboptimal" search
techniques, they were successful on average in finding needed answers to
questions in less than six minutes. There was no correlation between Internet
experience and search time. Focus group participants indicated the assessment
criteria they used included: source, professional design, scientific or
professional touch, and ease of use. However, the participants in the
observational study made little use of source information. They did not probe
for information about who was responsible for a site, nor in the post-search
interviews could they identify the sites from which they had retrieved
information. The authors concluded more work is needed to design both
educational strategies and technological means to guide health consumers to
What the research about the research shows
Eysenbach, Powell, Kuss, & Sa (2002)
examined empirical studies on quality of health Web sites. Their objectives
included determining what criteria are used, assessing the methodological rigor
of the studies, and suggesting future directions. 79 distinct studies were
evaluated. The most frequently used quality criteria in these studies were
accuracy, completeness, readability, design, disclosures, and provision of
references. 70% of the studies determined that quality is a problem. As a group,
these studies were lacking in the degree of rigor employed with their evaluation
methodology. The authors concluded that research on Web quality would be
strengthened by the development of operational definitions for quality criteria.
Two recent studies have explored whether health information on
the Internet is linked to cases of harm for health consumers. Bessel, McDonald,
Silagy, Anderson, Hiller, & Sansom (2002)
identified ten studies that evaluated the use of the Internet to deliver health
programs, interventions, and services as compared with other approaches and the
influence on decision-making, attitudes, knowledge, satisfaction, health
outcomes, and utilization. This study also concluded that there is a decided
lack of rigorous research on the relationship between consumer use of health
information on the Internet and health outcomes. They found some evidence to
suggest that health consumers may in fact obtain needed information in a timely
manner to achieve positive health outcomes.
Crocco, Villasis-Keever, & Jadad (2002)
also systematically reviewed the literature to identify any reported cases of
harm emanating from use of health information obtained on the Internet. They
identified risks as due to use of irrelevant or inaccurate information or to the
misunderstanding of relevant and valid information. Three articles met the
study’s inclusion criteria. One article identified two cases of emotional
distress resulting from inappropriate search strategies on the Internet that led
to irrelevant information. Two articles reported physical harm. One was the
result of a dog owner using erroneous information to treat his three dogs. All
recovered following intensive care. The other article related to a man using an
unregulated alternative for cancer therapy that is marketed on the Internet. The
patient did die. The study authors suggest this relative dearth of reports of
harm may be due to actual low risk, underreporting of cases, or bias.
Third-Party Efforts to Insure Quality
Several initiatives to improve quality on the Internet, both
by recognizing quality and warning of fraud, have been in place for some time.
HON Code of Conduct
http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/The Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct was launched
in 1996 as a means to standardize requirements to establish the reliability and
credibility of health information. "It is a self-regulatory, voluntary
certification system based on an ‘active seal’ concept." To obtain
certification, a Web site applies for registration. If accepted, the site agrees
to abide by the HON principles and qualifies to display the HONcode seal. HON
does random checks of sites to check for compliance, as well as relying on
reports from the public.
Quackwatch: Your Guide to Health Fraud, Quackery, and
The Quackwatch site was established in 1996. "Quackwatch,
Inc., a member of Consumer Federation of America, is a nonprofit corporation
whose purpose is to combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, and fallacies.
Its primary focus is on quackery-related information that is difficult or
impossible to get elsewhere." Using a worldwide network of volunteers and
expert advisors, Quackwatch investigates questionable claims, reports illegal
marketing, generates consumer-protection lawsuits, and undertakes research
projects (e.g., alternative cancer treatment registry, dubious advertising,
quackery for pets).
U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Operation Cure.All
"The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent,
deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide
information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them." This site
provides information on consumer issues and on how to file a complaint. To
combat health fraud on the Internet, the FTC launched Operation Cure.All in
1999. It is an ongoing federal and state law enforcement and consumer education
More Recent Efforts
Risk (2001) provides a thorough review of
the self-regulatory initiatives being undertaken in the English-speaking world.
Each initiative promotes a set of criteria with the common elements of "honesty,
privacy, confidentiality, accuracy, currency, disclosure, and accountability."
Organizations implement their criteria through self-certification of adherence
by participating Web sites, third-party certification, or tool-based evaluation.
Some of the more recent efforts highlighted by Risk include:
eHealth Code of Ethics (http://ihealthcoalition.org):
Developed in 2000 by the Internet Healthcare Coalition a not-for-profit
organization. The Code provides ethical principles for the development of
European Commission Quality Criteria for Health Related
Begun in 2001, this effort relies on voluntary support of the quality
criteria by member states of the European Commission.
Health Internet Ethics (http://www.hiethics.com):
Hi-Ethics Inc. is a "not-for-profit consortium of U.S.-based commercial
health Internet companies" that began in 2000. Commercial Web sites pay
a membership fee and receive certification by following Hi-Ethics principles.
Demonstration project of the European Union begun in 2000. Participating Web
sites follow metadata labeling protocols and receive a third-party rating
and award of a trust mark.
URAC Health Web Site Accreditation Programme (http://www.urac.org/webbsiteaccreditation.htm):
URAC was formerly the American Accreditation Healthcare Commission. It
offers ten different accreditation programs for managed care organizations
and began the program for health Web site accreditation in 2001. URAC
accreditation of health Web site organizations includes a fee-based
application process with a review to insure the Web site meets quality
Problems with Third-Party Quality Ratings
These various rating systems have limitations as to how
effective they can really be. As Risk (2001) suggests, for
programs to be meaningful health consumers need to be aware of the quality
issues, relate to rating systems, and understand their meaning. Web site
providers must commit to implementing and maintaining quality standards. The
rating organizations themselves are vulnerable because of the resources required
to sustain their programs. Also, the quality ratings have no enforcement power.
Losing accreditation would be a modest sanction for any Web site and would not
necessarily impede its ongoing existence. Finally, given the voluntary nature of
these programs and the number and variety of health sites on the Internet, it is
difficult to imagine any of the rating systems taking hold and establishing a
Several authors have challenged the legitimacy of rating
systems. Gagliardi and Jadad (2002) updated a study first
done in 1998 (Jadad & Gagliardi) that analyzed the
extent to which developers of rating systems had addressed issues of reliability
and validity. Both studies found that most systems provided no information on
how their evaluation criteria were determined. Of the few that did, there was no
evidence that the instruments were validated. Many of the rating organizations
in place in 1998 no longer existed by 2002, although health Web sites continued
to display their seal. These authors raise the questions of the sustainability
of these rating schemas and whether it is feasible to assess quality of health
information lacking a gold standard for what defines that construct.
Rating Systems the Way to Go?
Possibly one of the most thought-provoking questions comes
from Eysenbach, Powell, Kuss, & Sa (2002) who
question whether the Internet really poses problems with regard to accuracy of
health information that are unique from other media and that warrant special
surveillance. They cite a variety of studies that identify inaccurate or
incomplete information in broadcast and print media and suggest that the quality
of information on the Internet should be interpreted in the larger context of
health information provided through all channels. Delamothe (2000)
also questioned the feasibility of trying to assure quality on the Internet, as
well as whether such quality control efforts are really needed. He maintains
that people will gravitate to those sites that give them what they want and that
market forces and "brand loyalty" will do a great deal to overcome any
So after several more years of experience with health
information on the Web, what do we know? First, it is clear that more people are
becoming regular users of the Web and that health information is a very common
target of their searching. Although these health information seekers often do
not use preferred searching protocols or evaluation methods, they seemingly are
applying a measure of caution in using the information identified. Although the
research on Web health information quality has identified inaccuracies and
incompleteness, that same body of research has been criticized for its lack of
methodological rigor. And in fact there is no significant documented evidence of
harm arising from health information provided on the Web.
Nonetheless, efforts to identify quality Web sites continue,
but are not without their problems. Third-party rating systems have been
difficult to sustain and have gained only a modest acceptance among health sites.
Research scrutinizing these has found that the evaluation instruments used by
these rating organizations have not been validated, calling into question the
legitimacy of the standard applied. Finally, we are faced with the question as
to whether problems with health information on the Web are really so different
from those presented in print or broadcast media and necessitate extraordinary
At this moment in time, we are still experiencing tremendous
growth and flux with the Internet as a medium for health information. Because of
the vastness of this information landscape and the immediacy of access to it—both
for creators and users--a strong argument can be made that it is different from
other communication media. Its potential for influencing the decisions consumers
make regarding their health make the issue of quality important to pursue.
In another four years’ time, we can imagine more efforts to
identify quality sites—either by more finely developed rating systems or
through the use of Web software tools—will have surfaced. In the meantime,
health professionals are positioned to play an important role in educating their
clients to be critical users of the information they find on the Web. These
guidelines still apply:
Who created the site?
Authority, credentials, institutional affiliation
Is the purpose and intention of the site clear, including
any bias or particular viewpoint?
Intended audience, purpose/scope, disclosure of
sponsorship or underwriting, privacy statement
Is the information presented accurate?
Facts documented and comparable with other sources;
links to quality sites
Is the information current?
Pages date-stamped, other evidence of updating
Is the site well-designed and stable?
Logical organization, easy to maneuver, identifiable
link to organizational home page, reliably accessible
Also, remember the value of recommending a user start with a
health Web directory that has links chosen for their credibility and usefulness,
rather than with a generic search engine. Examples of such Web directories would
be Healthfinder (http://www.healthfinder.gov)
and MEDLINEplus (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/).
Let’s see what the next four years bring!
F. Schloman, PhD, AHIP
Assistant Dean, Library Information Services Libraries & Media Services Kent
Kent, OH 44242 E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
World Wide Web, Internet, quality, evaluation criteria, health information
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the source and content of orthopedic information on the Internet: The case of
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Berland, G. K., Elliott, M. N., Morales,
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information on the Internet: Accessibility, quality, and readability in English
and Spanish [Electronic version]. JAMA, 285, 2612-2621.
Bessell, T. L., McDonald, S.,
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review [Electronic version]. Health Expectations, 5, 28-37.
Bichakjian, C. K., Schwartz, J. L.,
Wang, T. S., Hall, J. M., Johnson, T. M., & Biermann, J. S. (2002). Melanoma
information on the Internet: Often incomplete--a public health opportunity? Journal
of Clinical Oncology, 201, 134-141.
Biermann, J. S., Golladay, G. J.,
Greenfield, M. L., & Baker, L. H. (1999). Evaluation of cancer information
on the Internet. Cancer, 86, 381-390.
Crocco, A. G., Villasis-Keever, M., &
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Delamothe, T. (2000). Quality of
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Fallis, D., & Frické, M. (2002).
Indicators of accuracy of consumer health information on the Internet: A study
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Griffiths, K. M., & Christensen,
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Griffiths, K. M., Christensen,
H., & Evans, K. (2002). Pharmaceutical company Websites as sources of
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Disclaimer: Mention of a Web
site does not imply endorsement by the author, OJIN, or NursingWorld. Every
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2002 Online Journal of Issues in Nursing
Article published December 16, 2002
I had the opportunity to interview one of the least talked about players
in the world of learning, The Classroom. We caught up with the Classroom
at the end of the day at one of the nation’s leading corporate training
Masie: Let’s get right to the question on most of our reader’s minds?
Are you retired or are you still in the training business?
Classroom: Well, to paraphrase a common line… News of my demise is greatly
exaggerated! I’m still in great demand. My gigs continue to range
from new hire orientation, to leadership training, to computer applications
sessions to senior executive sessions. Actually, I’ve never been
busier. Rumor has it; they’re going to build a few more of me in the near
Masie: So, why are you so rarely talked about in the training
Classroom: Gosh, perhaps if I had a media relations firm, folks might
Masie: We are surprised to hear you refer to e-Learning as your friend.
Isn’t e-Learning’s objective to make you less necessary?
Classroom: Some people see us as opponents. But, actually the two of us
work together fairly well (in what you might call Blended Learning). And,
we actually have very different roles. We each serve different audiences,
learning objectives and even business drivers. It’s funny, no one
sees the telephone as a threat to the face-to-face conversation. Those
cousins fit together fine in people’s minds. Once again, I guess it is
because e-Learning is the newer approach with more HYPE.
Masie: Say some more about what types of activities you do better than
your cousin, e-Learning?
Classroom: So you are still trying to have us compete [laughter]? I
Learning which requires a retreat and isolation from the daily demands
Learning in the Socratic style. A great classroom teacher can extract
Working as Teams on Problem Solving. This is ideal as part of a Blended
Teaching Physical Skills or Highly Interpersonal Skills. I shine when
Social Bonding! A portion of corporate training is really about
When technology or authoring resources aren’t available. Face it, sometimes
it would be great to use e-Learning, but the resources just aren’t
there to author, host or deliver on-line. In the same way e-Learning
sometimes gets used just because it is more available from a cost
or resource perspective.
Masie: So, have you changed much in the last ten years?
Classroom: You bring up a bit of a sore point! For the most part, I
Masie: Why don’t you like the LCD Projector?
Classroom: Because people come to my space in order to be interactive
Masie: OK, so, what changes would you make if you could?
Classroom: Well, why do we only think of e-Learning as it applies to
Invest in some technology to bring images from a range of places,
Have small microphones around the room to make it easy and non-eventful
Add video cameras that would tape the class and map it into an agenda,
Add some voice recognition software, so that a rough transcript of the
Develop decision support technology, so that learners could have input
Laptop and wireless connectivity! Sometimes we should give high levels
And, one of my pet peeves. Give me some new paint and better chairs
Masie: You seem to be on a roll? Why do you feel so neglected?
Classroom: Because, most organizations haven’t spent as little as an hour
in recent years to improve ME! Why can’t they have a Classroom Learning
Strategy document? They spew out e-Learning Strategies at the drop
of a hat. Yet, I rarely see my name mentioned in these documents. But,
I am the prime delivery agent for training in most corporations. You’d
think that I deserve at least a chapter or a few pages.
Masie: What would be some items in a Classroom Learning Strategy?
Classroom: Well, to name a few:
Mission: What is my mission? Why have classrooms and what do we serve?
Metrics of Success: What would success look like? Is it the number of
Appropriateness of Use: When is the use of classroom most appropriate?
Changes in Footprint: How can organizations start to have shorter
Skills for Trainers: There has been a drop in recent years in the
don’t blame it on the classroom!
Masie: What about you and food? Why is it that there is so much focus
on the use of doughnuts and coffee in the classroom? Is there a change
afoot in how people are fed in your space?
Classroom: Well, remember learning is a physical and mental process. People
often get ready to learn through the use of coffee and doughnuts. In
fact, when the donuts aren’t available or the food is of poor quality, you
watch the evaluation ratings drop! But, if you ask me we could add some
healthy alternatives, including fruit to the mix. I hate the blood sugar
drop that happens 75 minutes after a Krispy Crème hits the stomach.
Masie: If there is a slight to major reduction in your usage, what
are some alternatives? Have you thought about retooling yourself or looking
for a new career?
Classroom: If you think of my space as a knowledge and collaboration
Knowledge Capture: Add a small video camera and some chroma-key blue
Self-Study Center: If you have some PC’s in my space, they can be used for
self-study as well as group instruction. Most manufacturing companies are
using me as a site for their workers to take e-Learning, since they don’t
have PC’s in a quiet area on the shop floor.
Target Libraries: There are fewer and fewer companies that have
Downsize Me, Gladly: Break up some classrooms into smaller coaching and
Masie: One final question and this is slightly personal. What would
you like people to think about when they hear your name?
Classroom: Think of the best teachers you had growing up, think of
or comments to Elliott Masie email@example.com)
Websites often bear an unfortunate resemblance to the Balkans—no one likes how
the turf has been divided, and firefights may erupt at any moment. Marketing has
one ax to grind, engineering has another, and that self-styled Web expert with a
"C" title has yet another.
Deploy a content management system (CMS) and stay as far away from the melee as
possible. As you may know, a CMS stores content in a database separately from
the templates that control its appearance, so content can be updated or reused
in various contexts without anyone touching the HTML. The practical result?
Self-service: HR can post its own job descriptions rather than blame IT when the
CFO asks why the controller position isn't on the site. And if product
information isn't up to date—hey, it's not IS's fault, talk to marketing.
The range of CMS solutions is boggling. Big sites with thousands of dynamic
pages may need an industrial-strength CMS such as Broadvision One-to-One
Publishing, Interwoven TeamSite or Vignette V/5, each of which costs a couple
hundred thousand dollars and should be deployed only with the help of a system
integrator. On the other hand, with modest, brochure-like sites, you (or a
contractor) can build a primitive CMS with browser-based forms, one for each
template, on top of Microsoft SiteServer or even Allaire's ColdFusion.
A few issues to ponder when selecting a CMS:
Workflow and scheduling. Large organizations need a CMS that sends automatically
triggered e-mails to everyone who needs to see a document before it posts. A CMS
should also let back-end users choose the posting date and time in advance—or IS
staff members will eventually end up posting stuff in the wee hours of the night.
Database compatibility. The whole point of the Web is to leverage your existing
data and use it to sell the company along with its products or services. Don't
accept any solution that demands you restructure existing databases to make it
easier for a CMS to handle the data.
Multilevel security. Generally, one person per department should have the
clearance to post content to a staging server. In all cases, the authority to
actually post content to the live site should rest with one or two people.
Syndication and personalization. To distribute content around the Web, you'll
need a CMS that maps content objects to XML data types. And if your site will
deliver custom pages based on user preferences, you'll need a CMS that breaks
documents down to a granular level so that only relevant material gets served.
Offline integration. If your company produces lots of print material, you may be
a candidate for a system that integrates offline and online publishing. Both
Openpages' ContentWare and Worldweb.net's Expressroom I/O hook into QuarkXPress
so that master documents can ensure consistent offline and online content.
Remember that no content area of a site is too small for a CMS solution.
Reliability, availability and security are your business. The content is all
theirs—and they're welcome to it.
The technology industry is a lot like high school. It's full of cliques and it's
highly susceptible to trends. When a new tool catches people's attention, it
gets to hang out with the popular crowd and bask in the newfound glory, though
eventually the buzz dies down and another hot technology comes along.
But for now, Web content management (CM) is that cool tool. The attraction is
obvious: IT managers would love a simple way to control the thousands of pages
on their websites. Unfortunately, finding tools that claim to handle content
management is far easier than getting a clear definition of what CM should
actually do. Ideally, Web content management should be the process of tracking
and managing a document end-to-end, from creation to copyediting to Web posting
and, finally, to the archive. Better tools also provide more than just tracking;
they offer collaborative authoring so that a group can work on a document in an
efficient manner that avoids hazards such as the game of "who's got the latest
Confusion aside, there's no denying that content management is huge. The CM
market will grow from $3.5 billion in 2001 to $7 billion by 2006, says Ovum, a
U.K.-based consultancy. That growth potential attracted hoards of potential
players, but now the industry faces a shakeout. When the economy changed from
bull to bear, the bevy of small vendors offering content management tools
There are specific features that a true content management tool must have to fit
the definition, Wilkoff says. These include strong repository management for
storing meta-data (such as indexes and fields) and managing users' interactions
with the stored content through library services and workflows and delegated
administrative capabilities for distributing and managing roles and
responsibilities across business units. The core of a content management tool is
the workflow process. When a user creates a document, it goes from the author to
the editor to the Web developer. The workflow function follows the document
through this process to ensure the content is accurate, reviewed and ready to be
formatted and published.
The definition of content management remains a running target—one that isn't
likely to slow down anytime soon. Giga's Moore sees the field moving toward
enterprise content management, which would encompass document imaging systems,
rich media, Web content and software configuration management. But as the number
of electronic documents continues to explode, content management by any
description will become an increasingly important IT tool.
Content rating: Labels that identify files’ contents so that filters can prevent
certain types of content from being accessed.
Intellectual capital: The knowledge assets that a company owns, including
information in company databases as well as what individual employees know.
Martyn Christian, senior vice president, Worldwide Applications and Corporate
Marketing, for Costa Mesa, Calif. based FileNET Corp. answered questions about
What are the benefits of a content management system and how do we implement one
To clarify, the phrase "content management" has various definitions depending on
what an organization may need or a vendor may offer. There is no general purpose
or standard content management system that can satisfy today's diverse business
needs across the board. Therefore, factors for successfully implementing a
content management system vary depending on individual business needs.
One of the keys to implementing a successful content management system is
conducting a thorough assessment of an organization's specific business
application or processes prior to installation. This could be handling customer
correspondence documents, online insurance claims processing, accounts payables
processing, or other business processes specific to your business. Once that has
been accomplished, it's a matter of choosing the right vendor that offers
technology specific to your industry that clearly addresses your business
Ultimately, a successful implementation must deliver business benefits. We've
provided enterprise content management solutions for many organizations in
different industries, and they have identified the primary benefits that they
claim make their content management systems successful:
Improved business efficiency
Reduced operating costs
Accelerated exception handling
Expanded product/service offerings
Reduced operating risks
By making an informed assessment and implementing solutions that target your
business needs, organizations can realize increased productivity, customer
satisfaction, and profitability with a content management system.
Are there any Web content management tools that a small-budget organization can
There are several ways to evaluate the cost of a content management system. The
actual cost of implementing a system is one perspective. Organizations must also
evaluate the cost of not having a system in place. Ask yourself the following
What are the costs associated with your content being unavailable - either
through the Web site, or from your primary content storage systems?
What is the risk of having inaccurate content on your Web site?
What are the possible repercussions to your organization?
How much does the insurance for that risk cost?
How do you recover and replace inaccurate content when your Webmaster is
All of the above issues are handled in a very cost-effective manner through an
enterprise content management software offering, and they do provide real,
tangible value. Although the initial costs may seem high, they are quickly
realized as very reasonable when the entire business picture is considered.
Today, publishing to a Web site is no longer a manual process requiring HTML
editing. There are t available - from our company and others - that completely
automate the conversion of Microsoft Office documents into HTML, and publish
them onto a fully operational Web site with all the robust staging and
production tools you'd expect. This means that your staff or content authors can
use tools that they know without knowing HTML, and your Webmaster can focus on
the presentation of the content (layout, etc.).
In summary, your decision is a matter of realizing all the business benefits
that your organization stands to gain versus the cost of a content management
Content Management sales to hit $3 billion by 2004
Sales of content management software will total $3 billion by 2004, up from $900
million in sales during 2000. This shows a projected compounded annual growth
rate of 35%.
April 19, 2001 - The Yankee Group
Looking Into Content Management?.
http://www.darwinmag.com/read/050103/cms.html Before you sink $1.5
million into a content management system you'll scrap a year later (don't laugh:
one company did), do your planning and needs assessment first. Darwin - May 2003
A content management systems portal — information, news, analysis and more.
Content Management System Evaluation:
http://www.atnf.csiro.au/computing/web/cms_eval.html A case study
evaluation of content management systems conducted by the Australia Telescope
CMS-List: http://cms.filsa.net/ A
mailing list for developers to exchange information on content management ideas,
technology and products.
Software: Content Management Systems:
in-depth content management system reviews from PC World Magazine.
Product Review: Content-Management Solutions:
VARBusiness offers this comparison of leading content management solutions.
Open Directory: Content Management:
A directory listing containing hundreds of content management providers by
Choosing a Publishing System:
As Web sites grow, content management systems have become necessary to tame the
glut of information. Learn how to choose the best publishing system for your
For information on sources, further resources about Content Management, and
comments or suggestions, please see the
2000-2003 CXO Media Inc. May 16, 2003