Web-based training delivery has a number of names. It could be called e-learning or Internet-based, computer-based, or technology-based learning. No matter what it is called, any web-based training involves the use of technology to facilitate training. There are two types of web-based learning. First, synchronous learning uses instructor-led facilitation. Asynchronous learning is self-directed, and there is no instructor facilitating the course. There are several advantages to web-based training. First, it is available on demand, does not require travel, and can be cost efficient. However, disadvantages might include an impersonal aspect to the training and limited bandwidth or technology capabilities. 1
Web-based training delivery lends itself well to certain training topics. For example, this might be an appropriate delivery method for safety training, technical training, quality training, and professional training. However, for some training, such as soft-skills training, job skills training, managerial training, and team training, another more personalized method may be better for delivery. However, there are many different platforms that lend themselves to an interactive approach to training, such as Sun Microsystems’ Social Learning eXchange (SLX) training system, which has real-time video and recording capabilities. Hundreds of platforms are available to facilitate web-based training. DigitalChalk, for example, allows for both synchronous and asynchronous training and allows the instructor or human relations manager to track training progress and completion. 2 Some companies use SharePoint, an intranet platform, to store training videos and materials. 3 Blackboard and Angel (used primarily by higher education institutions) allows human resource managers to create training modules, which can be moderated by a facilitator or managed in a self-paced format. In any of the platforms available, media such as video and podcasts can be included within the training.
Considerations for selecting a web-based platform include the following:
- Is there a one-time fee or a per-user fee?
- Do the majority of your employees use a Mac or a PC, and how does the platform work with both systems?
- Is there enough bandwidth in your organization to support this type of platform?
- Is the platform flexible enough to meet your training needs?
- Does the software allow for collaboration and multimedia?
- Is there training for the trainer in adoption of this system? Is technical support offered?