Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find an online course on a particular topic?

You can start your search with the links found in the Resources section of this site. Of course, new courses are made available almost daily and this list is by no means exhaustive. Start a search at the large e-learning vendors for business and technology related courses. Academic courses are most often found at online universities and private educational institutions. If you are looking for a speciality course, try professional organizations, unions, trade organizations, and manufacturers.

I've heard all these terms: WBT, IBT, WBI, IBI, WBL, IMI, online learning, e-learning. What is the difference?

Web-based training (WBT) is training delivered using TCP/IP and HTTP protocols, the protocols that define the World Wide Web. Internet-based training (IBT) is training delivered using TCP/IP protocol, but not necessarily HTTP; thus IBT might use proprietary protocols and applications. Training, in this sense, means instruction to improve skills, change attitudes, or enhance knowledge, principally in the workplace. Web-based learning (WBL), Web-based instruction (WBI) and Internet-based instruction (IBI) use the same respective technologies; however, these terms most often are used to reference academic instruction. Interactive multimedia instruction (IMI) generally means any highly participatory, media rich computer-based instruction, whether networked or not. Online learning and e-learning are general terms that are synonymous with WBT and WBI.

Is WBT distance learning?

Yes, WBT is one method of distance learning. However, distance learning encompasses many other methodologies, including one-way and two-way audio/video teleconferencing, video broadcast, and even correspondence courses. Distance learning may be delivered in real time (synchronous), or it may be delayed (asynchronous).

Are chat, discussion groups, and e-mail useful for WBT?

Yes. When appropriately used, each of these can enhance learning and improve performance. I use the term chat as a synonym for any online, real-time group activity, from text chat to 3-D worlds with participant avatars. Discussion groups (forums, Usenet newsgroups) are similar to text chat, only asynchronous--when one poses a question to the group, or answers another, all members of the group benefit, though not instantaneously. It's the group dynamic of these information sharing media that adds perspective perhaps not available in one-on-one instruction. When e-mail lists are used in sending group messages, the learning effect is the same. Electronic "whiteboards" serve the same function as chat, though they add the ability to draw pictures.

Which software should I use to develop and implement WBT?

The only right answer is to use the tools that meet your specific needs. The critical first step is to conduct a technical analysis. You also need to assess your skills at using development tools. And, of course, assess your budget, for some development software is quite expensive.

How much does WBT cost to develop?

Depends. ... Well, it does depend on the kind of Web infrastructure in place, the availability of content, the complexity of programming required, the length of training, and who will be doing the work.

Let's look at just one example: a one-hour WBT certification course on how to install Model 2000 widgets. Users typically will sign up online and take the course immediately at average 56 kbps modem speeds. The course will use photographs, diagrams, and illustrations, no audio or video, but many interactions. Performance will be measured through various testing methods, scores will be recorded in a central database, and the user will receive certification upon passing. You hire an outside vendor to design and build the course, after which your IT team will install and maintain the course on your corporate Web server. The estimated cost for such an application would range from US$20,000 to $45,000, about what it would cost for a similar CD-ROM-based course.

Where can I see examples of good WBT? All I have seen so far is disappointing.

There are many sceptics that say WBT cannot fill the bill for quality training. I disagree. Effective instruction, with measurable outcomes, can be achieved without the fanfare of CD-ROM-like multimedia. Audio, video, and liberal use of graphics can enhance instructional design, but these are not absolute necessities. Am I suggesting "designing down?" No, not at all. Where the infrastructure exists, the doors are open for using audio, video, podcasts, blogs, wikis, and the like. Intranets are fertile ground for the kind of WBT applications skeptics are hoping to see. Even so, I have seen great WBT that runs quite successfully at 28.8 Kbps speeds. Scan the thousands of WBT courses now found on the Internet or contact your organization's IT or human resources departments to see if you have courses available on your intranet.

What services does the Web-Based Training Information Center offer?

None. The WBTIC is a private, information-only site. It is not sponsored by any organization or company. You can read more about this site here.


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