CEI Online Training Tools &
Marita L. Fairfield
Women’s Business Center at CEI
The Women’s Business Center at
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI)
• The WBC was established by Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
(CEI) in 1995 and includes two SBA-funded Women’s
Business Center Programs. CEI also hosts a Maine Small
Business Development Center and the StartSmart
Program for Immigrants & Refugees).
• With our two WBC Programs – the Rim Counties
Women’s Business Initiative and the Southern ME
Women’s Business Initiative – the Women’s Business
Center at CEI is able to serve women in business
throughout the state of Maine.
The WBC at CEI’s Rim Counties
Women’s Business Initiative
Through recent funding from the US SBA Office of Women’s
Business Ownership, the Women’s Business Center is now able to
expand our services to the seven most rural low-income counties in
Maine through the application of innovative technologies.
Maine’s Rim Counties has 75% of the state’s area (~23,000 sq.
miles) and only 31% of the state’s population. The challenge was
to effectively reach such a remote, rural, low-income population.
Goal of the WBC’s Rim Counties Women’s Business
Initiative: To encourage rural women in business to embrace
technology as a mechanism for gaining access to resources, as well
as a means of reaching markets and customers.
The Online WBC Program includes:
• An online workshop registration and payment system
• Virtual classroom workshops
• Asynchronous, self-paced online learning workshops
• Online workshop evaluations and follow-up surveys
• Online counseling using either telephone conferencing or
voice-over-internet combined with remote access
Online workshop registration
• Accepts payments via credit card (using paypal), by
check, or approved financial aid form
• Used for all CEI Business Development workshops
• Clients can access workshop calendar through 4 different
• www.ceimaine.org www.wbcmaine.org
• Online workshops must be paid in advance
The Virtual Classroom – Ivocalize
• Low-cost virtual classroom or conferencing program
available through www.ivocalize.com. Cost for an annual
subscription to a 20-seat room is only $70 month; 30
seat room is $100 month
• Participants and instructor talk to each other using voice-
over internet on computer headset/microphones or
computer speaker phones.
• Chosen because it works well with slow-dialup as well as
high speed. Works on Macs and PCs and most
browsers. Requires ability to download software and
headset/microphone to participate.
The Self-Paced Classroom – Moodle
• Free Open Source asynchronous learning platform
available through www.moodle.org. Similar to
Blackboard as a learning environment.
• Requires installation on your organization’s server or
web hosting by an IT professional. Some web hosting
includes Moodle. Most has no technical support.
• You can create workshops/trainings that do not require a
software download so people can participate in
workshops from public access computers.
• We use Ivocalize to create pre-recorded workshop
resources; must be uploaded to web hosting/server.
Online Workshop Evaluations and
• Free Open Source survey tool available through
• Requires installation on your organization’s server or web hosting by
an IT professional. No technical support.
• Fairly intuitive tool to use once it’s installed; it helps that I have a
background in survey research!
• Allows online workshop participants to evaluate their participation
just as in-person participants do. We use it also for data entry of in-
Online Counseling Resources
• We provide one-on-one counseling in person, over the phone, and over the
internet. Certain topics, like websites and Quickbooks, require both
counselor and business owner to be looking at the same computer screen.
Need an easy-to-use remote access program:
• We primarily use an Adobe Connect account through the Maine Small
Business Development Center for those with high speed-access.
• Free Three-Person Conference Room Available through Elluminate
– Works with low-speed access, Macs, and most any browser;
– Voice over internet conferencing available with headset microphone so works for businesses
with only one phone line for both voice and internet access.
• Like the virtual classroom, these programs require a software download so
can’t use public access computers.
• For optimal learning, it’s important that the business owner share their
screen rather than the counselor.
Online Training Tools
• While the online training tools we use are fairly intuitive,
we learned through participation in others’ workshops
• We’ve developed a hands-on two and a half day course
to teach participants how to implement these tools in
their own rural community development programs.
• The next scheduled Train-the-Trainer will be October 15,
16, & 17th here in Maine.
• Participation limited to 12 individuals, laptops are
supplied, and the cost is $500 per person.
Examples and Questions
The Women’s Business Center at
Coastal Enterprises, Inc.