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COMPUTER BASED TRAINING (CBT)
Dallas Baptist University
MISM 6330, Section 01
Database Management Systems
Instructor: Mary Braswell, MBA
Mary L. Everitt
19 April 1999
Table of Contents
Computer-based training (CBT) is an all-encompassing term used to describe any computer-delivered training including CD-ROM and the World Wide Web. CBT courseware curriculum development involves the use of integrated multimedia training tools that have taken the lead in developing training courseware. We have always had workplace learning systems. People best learn many tasks and skills at the workplace or very close to the workplace. There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that if people learn a task or a skill at their workplace, they are more likely to transfer that skill to actual work performance. The interfacing between workplace learning systems and corporate learning systems is a critical strategic issue. In today?s corporate environment centered around cost cutting initiatives there is major pressure from corporate management to keep training near the workplace to avoid the high cost of travel. The purpose of this research paper is to examine new CBT technologies available, evaluate the current CBT presentation methods and explore emerging technologies in the CBT business industry.
Computer Based Training (CBT)
Pacing, branching, and interaction are three unique characteristics that multimedia tools bring to education. As costs decrease and the advantages of multimedia are documented, corporations are rapidly adopting this new instructional method. Major benefits to the individual and organization include instructional flexibility, increased retention, decreased instructional costs, improved performance monitoring, and record keeping.
Interactive Distance Learning
Computer Based Training (CBT) Advantages
Corporations agree that training can “…raise productivity, build loyalty, and boost profits” (Henkoff, 1993, p. 62). Traditional corporate instructional methods include on-the-job training, national instruction centers, self-paced in-house video training, workshops, conferences, and manuals. As large organizations further define their instructional strategies they will continue to use a combination of these methods, but they are also introducing multimedia to take advantage of its benefits, both for the individual and for the organization (Oz & White, 1993).
New Employees Don’t Have to Wait for Training
In many organizations a few people are responsible for presenting training to a large number of employees in a variety of situations. These situations include orientation and basic skills for new employees, continuing technical skills training for specialized employees, and non-technical and/or remedial skills or regulatory training. Multimedia methods allow timely training for all employees. For Federal Express, “The greatest benefit [to multimedia training] is time compression…” (Tynan, 1993, p. 43).
Take the Training to the Employee
With the use of networks, notebook computers, and multimedia CD-ROM players, training can be integrated directly into the employee’s work, home, or commuting environment (Caton, 1992; Sony, 1993). “Multimedia allows us to do remedial training at point-of-need for people in all locations” (Bjorling, 1992, p. 6).
Each Employee Gets Personalized Training
Using multimedia authoring software a manager can design training around specific employee requirements. Thus, employees can automatically study material that meets their specific needs. For example, over 10,000 Allstate insurance agents and 15,000 support staff need to understand the legal language of insurance policies and explain it to customers. As needed, agents can study auto, homeowners, or business insurance (ICON Associates, 1992).
Each Organization Gets Personalized Training
The organization can maintain and monitor its instructional standards program. From both a legal and safety perspective, corporate managers are concerned about employees receiving the same training and about the corporation’s documentation of training programs. Computer-managed instruction provides for these needs. “Xerox can guarantee a consistent level of education to its far-flung service personnel…” (Tynan, 1993, p. 42).
Learning Is Self-Paced
Since computer-based training (CBT) is self-paced and flexible, students can skip material they have already mastered and concentrate on material they have not yet learned. Additionally, students can play back materials for review. Students “…develop skills faster and have higher retention rates when they control the training vehicle as they can with CBT” (Janson, 1992, p. 92).
Research, comparing traditional classroom methods with multimedia training, shows the latter to be more effective in helping employees retain information because of the increased relevance of the training. Bethlehem Steel has several multimedia training courses available and has found that employee retention improved 20 to 40% (Interactive video, 1991) when multimedia training is used. A Department of Defense study on multimedia training found that on average retention improved 38% (Ultimedia, 1992).
Materials Can Be Easily Revised
Revision of multimedia programs is easy to accomplish. Once resource materials are obtained, they can quickly be added, deleted, modified, or re-arranged to fit corporate, government, or individual needs. This was an important reason for Hughes Aerospace and Defense to adopt multimedia technology (Tynan, 1993).
Record Keeping Is Facilitated
Since computer-managed instruction can develop and score tests and monitor each student’s performance, the computer takes on some of the more routine record keeping duties. Therefore the instructor has more time to develop course material and provide individualized instruction. BellSouth meets OSHA safety requirements by tracking “…the participation and performance of each employee” (IMC, 1993, p. 7).
Decreased Training Costs
Multimedia training startup costs are high. The initial costs include the acquisition of hardware, authoring software; digital resources such as photos, video, and sound; training of current staff and/or hiring of newly skilled people; adaptation of current training goals and methods; and development of new programs. Maintaining manuals, videos, and other traditional training materials can also be costly. However, the use of multimedia may reduce some of these costs. Once initial training expenditures have been made and values identified, it is the consensus among industry users of multimedia training that interactive multimedia is cost effective. Dow Jones is beginning to realize benefits from their investment, after investing in multimedia training nearly five years ago (Smith, 1993). Steelcase, Inc. “…has reduced cost from $200 per employee per year to only $20 for training its 4,000 employees…” (Oz & White, 1993, p. 36).
Atmos Energy Corporation, a gas utility with headquarters in Dallas, chose computer-based instruction to train employees in time-management and computer applications. The firm eliminated the need to send trainers to its more than 80 locations in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. Industry is recognizing the cost-effective benefits and accepting multimedia and computer-based instruction. Educational research investigating the use of traditional teaching and multimedia methods in the learning process also supports the use of new technology (Kotlas, 1992; McNeil & Nelson, 1991; Oblinger, 1992). Perhaps the MIS course can also benefit (2).
Computer Based Training (CBT) Emerging Technology
Computer Based Training (CBT) Structure
Technology is affecting the delivery and economics of training, the make-up of training department teams, and the tools available for developing internal training (1).
One major business use for multimedia tools is for training. Computer-based training provides the ability to offer training to individuals on their schedule. I also provides a consistent approach that can be tested and verified for accuracy.
Computer-based training makes it easier to track employee progress to determine which staff need refresher courses and to help in promotion decisions. Because of the flexibility in scheduling, it gives the employees the ability to plan their own education and choose their own direction in the company. All of these benefits can be achieved at lower cost with computer-based than with traditional training methods.
If computer-based training is used by enough people, it can be a cost-effective teaching technique. It can also be expensive and time consuming to create the individual lessons. Because of the costs, computer-based lessons may not be updated as often as conventional handouts and textbooks. Standardized tools used to create the lessons are not yet in place and companies run the risk of creating lessons using hardware and software that may rapidly become obsolete, requiring the project to be discarded or rebuilt from scratch. As the variety and quality of software tools and libraries improve, it will become easier and cheaper to build lessons (8).
Multimedia is primarily associated with the characteristics of sound, music, graphics, animation, and full-motion video. These are the same sights, sounds, color, and motion that we have all become accustomed to through our one-way interaction with television. The unique qualities that set multimedia apart from television and many other methods of communication are its pacing, branching and interaction capabilities (MacNelly, 1993).
Multimedia training allows students to begin at the appropriate learning level and progress at their own rate. The pace of the program can be controlled entirely by the individual or, if required by the organization or external regulations, can be computer controlled. The program can advance rather slowly or more rapidly depending upon the student’s interest and capabilities. A student can begin or end a program at any time or location, and can repeat sections at will or as dictated by the system. One can spend as little as a few minutes focused on a specific task or as long as needed.
A student can determine the order of progression or path through the training program. In addition, one can design the system to branch or change direction automatically based upon the student’s choice(s). Students can skip sections, return later, or follow a path that is particularly relevant to them at the moment. Likewise, the instructor can design educational modules that are especially appropriate for each person or for a specific job description. Branching greatly increases educational options when compared with traditional linear learning methods like books, videos, and lectures.
Perhaps the greatest potential use of computer-assisted multimedia methods is student interaction with a program. The student and the program can actually influence each other in determining outcomes, as well as the next decision point. This interaction can be such that the individual becomes more involved, intellectually and emotionally, in the educational process. Interaction physically takes place between the program and student with keyboards, mouse, joy sticks, touch screens, voice, sound, and wireless pointers. More complex sensory experiences, the future of multimedia, are imminent with 3-D programs and virtual reality systems. Multimedia is becoming so common within the computing industry that new microcomputer systems come complete with sound, CD-ROM drives, and almost enough memory to make them really work. Many types of general purpose software incorporate multimedia characteristics without particularly emphasizing the multimedia concept. The most commonly used types include presentation (Compel), word processing (WordPerfect), database (Oracle), expert system (KnowledgePro), and graphics (Color Wheel). Software developers are adding capabilities to integrate sound, animation, and video to their current products as they market new versions.
A recent survey of 304 information systems executives shows that multimedia is currently being used extensively for training and presentations (Multimedia, now and then, 1993). Predictions for 1995 are that these uses will double. Other significant applications will include multimedia databases and reference materials, desktop video publishing, image-based implementations, voice annotation and desktop video conferencing. Corporations willingly share their successful multimedia experiences. For example: GPU Nuclear Corporation has a four-hour interactive training course including simulations (Stafford, 1994). Fred Myer, Inc. expects to have more than 300 multimedia training modules in its 128 stores by the end of 1993 (Greene, 1994). Chevron U.S.A. has used lectures, slide shows, videos, and hands-on training, along with safety manuals, to train employees on the Federal Department of Transportation safety standards for transportation of hazardous materials. After some initial resistance, which often accompanies change, groups are now requesting new multimedia training tools (Newson, 1992). Holiday Inn Worldwide, Pacific Bell Company and accounting firms Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche use multimedia training (Francis, 1993). DuPont is purchasing 600 multimedia work stations (Splavec, 1992). Companies as diverse as Alyeska, which manages the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline, The New England, a chartered mutual life insurance company, and IDS Financial Services now integrate multimedia into their training programs (Tynan, 1993).
Estimates are that by 1996 U.S. corporations will spend $302 million training employees, an increase of approximately 800% since 1990 (Tynan, 1993). Much of this increase in training dollars is for multimedia software, hardware and program development.
Web-Based training from all perspectives provides an excellent platform for delivering and tracking training, and as technology advances, will become a preeminent medium for training as well (1).
As the market expands, increasing emphasis will be placed on the instructional design of Web-based training. Successful companies will be those who are most able to maximize the instructional potential of the Web. Looking at lessons learned from the computer-based and CD-ROM-based training market can help new companies and experienced companies with successful new ventures. These lessons include being early to embrace new technology, not underestimating the value of a personal touch, and making sure that technology bells and whistles don’t overwhelm the instructional content.
While technology becomes more sophisticated and necessarily more serviceable, competition will increase. In addition, the buyers of Web-based training will become more sophisticated. A more educated client base with more options will demand better administration and tracking services from its vendors, necessitating the development by vendors of a “total solution.”
Evolution of Technology
The Internet and intranet industry will continue to work toward increased bandwidth and better compression technologies. Chapters 4 and 5 look at those technologies already available, as well as those in preparation for delivery to the market.
Technology is significantly limiting the growth of the market now because of the difficulty of delivering multimedia over the Internet and intranets. The bandwidth problem for audio and video should be eliminated for most organizations between 1999 and 2001.
The Changing Training Department
Corporations are demanding more training for more employees in more places, but without a proportional increase in budget. Technology changes the way training is delivered, but it also changes the way these departments operate. Training professionals will need to know as much about selecting courses and vendors as the current professional knows about delivering stand-up training.
What are the Advantages of Web-Based Training?
Flexibility, Accessibility, Convenience – Users can proceed through a training program “at their own pace and at their own place.” They can also access the training at any time, and only as much as they need – known as “Just in time and just enough.”
Cross platform – Web-based training can be accessed by Web browsing software on any platform: Windows, Mac, UNIX, OS/2, Amiga, etc. You can deliver your training program to any machine over the Internet or intranet without having to author a program for each platform.
Web browser software and Internet connections are widely available – Most computer users have access to a browser, such as Netscape Navigator and are connected to a company’s intranet, and/or have access to the Internet.
Inexpensive worldwide distribution – No separate distribution mechanism is needed. Web-based training can be accessed from any computer anywhere in the world, keeping delivery costs low.
Ease of update – If changes need to be made in the program after the original implementation, they can be made on the server which stores the program and everyone worldwide can instantly access the update. Courses can be designed to access designated current information, such as the latest new product specifications from any other server worldwide for an on-the-fly update whenever anyonthe program is run.
Travel cost and time savings – There are no travel costs for bringing remote employees to a centralized workshop because the Web is available from the desktop. And according to the report “Return on Investment and Multimedia Training” the actual time required for training by computer averages about 50% that of instructor-led training, lowering costs further.
What are the Disadvantages of Web-Based Training?
Bandwidth limitations – Limited bandwidth means slower performance for sound, video, and intensive graphics, causing long waits for download that can affect the ease of the learning process. The problem is greater over the public Internet where more traffic jams occur, and less on a company’s intranet which usually has greater bandwidth. Future technologies will no doubt help to solve this problem.
Are computers replacing human contact? – There’s a general concern that as we move towards more computer usage, a glowing terminal replaces a friendly face. Decreasing instructor-led training makes some trainees uneasy. If this is a concern, consider a gradual introduction of the technology.
Today’s Web-based training programs are too static – As with any emerging technology, the level of interactivity in Web-based training is too-often limited. This is gradually improving, and as it does the impact of the training on performance improves also.
Takes more time and more money to develop than expected – Like any first-time challenge, learning about and implementing new technology takes more resources (and more aspirin) than expected. You can make it easier by starting with a simple program and building on success. Also, remember that the greater portion of costs associated with Web-based training are start-up costs. Programs can be delivered and re-used with fewer costs than with traditional methods.
Not all courses are delivered well by computer – Some training topics are not best served by computer-based training and require a more personal touch. Team building activities and dealing with emotional issues such as downsizing come to mind. Web-based training and other technologies for training are mainly for assisting the learning process and are not for replacing methods that already work well.
What are other related terms for delivering training over a network?
There are other terms for remote access training including Internet-based training, intranet-based training, online training and net-based training.
Internet-based training – any training that can be accessed over the Internet. Usually this is done with the World Wide Web, but e-mail correspondence courses and file transfers also fall into this category.
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