WBT: doing it for yourself
paths - routes to WBT development
YOU HAVE TWO MAIN CHOICES in the software tools you use to develop web-based training courses. You can use a CBT authoring system that supports output to the web or you can use general-purpose web development tools. Conceivably, you could use both. Anyway, heres how they compare.
What they can do
Authoring systems do not, however, satisfy all needs. There will be times when what you want is highly specialised maybe a complex simulation or an intelligent tutoring environment. Youre going to have to program these using a general purpose language, such as C.
Web development tools do not come with built-in CBT features. If you want something as simple as a multi-choice question, youve got to build it yourself. Having said that, you can create templates and save yourself repeating the effort next time round.
Skills you will need
If you are already an expert user of an authoring system you will probably want to carry on using the same tool to develop WBT. If you dont have this experience then there are some added benefits to learning web development tools the same tools can be used for other purposes, like creating web sites, and theres a much broader market for your skills.
Web tools can be as simple as Windows Notepad or a shareware HTML editor, although for a few hundred pounds you can obtain much more user-friendly tools, which protect you from having to do any coding. Why are web tools so cheap? Because theres a very large market for them and the web has a history of giving things away which people would happily pay money for (like browsers!).
Does this matter? After all, many web sites do the same. Well it need not matter, but it certainly can do. One of the problems is that you cannot count on users already having the plug-ins or Java-compatible browsers (although both can be solved with a little downloading and at no expense).
A bigger problem, particularly with intranets, is that the IT departments of many organisations do not want to support this functionality, and may actively prohibit them. This will change in time, but IT policy changes very slowly (witness the time it took for Windows 95 to replace 3.1 in many large corporates and then only with year 2000 concerns to drive it on).
Fig 4: Comparing CBT authoring tools and web development tools
© Fastrak Consulting Ltd, 1999. All rights reserved. Last revised 21/6/99