I've heard all these terms: WBT, IBT, WBI, IBI, WBL. 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.
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, 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.
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?
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.
Where can I see examples of good WBT? All I have seen so far is disappointing.
There are many skeptics 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, VRML, 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. This site attempts to collect--with your help!--some of the best that is visible on public nets. Not all examples succeed in every measure, but each has something to contribute to the growth of this medium. Believe me when I say there are lots more on private nets, regretably not available for you to see. My suggestion: if you do not see what you consider as good WBT, build it yourself ... and then give me the link so everyone else can see your masterpiece.
What services does the Web-Based Training Information Center offer?
None. The WBTIC is a private, information-only site. Any organization or company does not sponsor it. You can read more about this site here.
Why are the discussion forums private?
The discussion forums are intended for a small, select audience: those specifically involved in WBT design, development, and implementation. The freewheeling Usenet newsgroups inadvertently discourage use by serious practitioners. The WBTIC Discussion Forums will certainly be less active, but the "signal to noise" ratio (useful information to idle chatter) should be much higher.