May 19, 1999
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DPEC: Turning WBT into a Viable Training Option

Most people do not have fond memories of computer-based training (CBT), resulting in CBT being ignored as a serious training alternative to traditional classroom methods. Although CBT promised much, it delivered little when managers think of CBT, they often picture an employee slipping a CD-ROM into a PC and then slowly drifting off to sleep. While CBT has certainly improved from its dismal early days, there is an alternative to CBT that managers can turn to when they need effective low-cost training. Web-based Training (WBT) provides self-paced courses in HTML format for learning over the Internet and corporate intranet. A number of training vendors have learned from the sins of CBT's past and are providing WBT products worthy of being considered as part of an enterprise's set of training options. DPEC has put together a large suite of interactive WBT courses that provide excellent training on a wide range of professional and technical topics, including IT, desktop, and professional skills courses.

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WBT in the Enterprise

Due to the rapid rate of change in technologies and business processes, a growing skills gap is making it increasingly difficult for enterprises to fill positions, train new hires, and keep veteran employees up to speed. To close this skills gap, most enterprises realize they must provide their employees with plenty of training opportunities if they are to beat (or at least keep pace with) the competition. Unfortunately, all of this training is expensive, and training organizations often find themselves under pressure to lower their costs by delivering training more efficiently.

WBT, performed correctly, can give enterprises greatly increased flexibility in training employees, using interactive courseware accessed over the Internet, intranets, and stand-alone PCs.

Excellent WBT courseware offers enterprises the opportunity to provide immediate, consistent, and effective training at multiple geographic locations for potentially much lower costs than classroom training. Some companies have cut training costs by up to 75% by replacing classroom training with Web-based courses. And good WBT has information retention rates similar to classroom training, which is why WBT is starting to gain wide acceptance as a viable alternative to classroom training.

Training on Demand

DPEC offers a large suite of professional development/technical training courses (over 300 WBT courses in HTML format) that provides training-on-demand solutions for Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies. Additionally, DPEC is partnering with over 900 Internet service providers (ISPs) to provide courseware to Internet access customers (e.g., small businesses and consumers). And DPEC introduces new courses at a rate of about 20 to 25 every two months, although some of these are updates to previous courses.

DPEC's courseware highlights include:

  • Interactive courses provided via intranets or the Internet that are accessed with a Web browser and have easy-to-meet system requirements (don't throw away those 486s yet), using minimal bandwidth;
  • Courses in HTML format can be taken in real time over the Internet;
  • A skills assessment feature allows a student to take a pre-course evaluation and receive immediate feedback, allowing the student to focus on specific topics needing further study. The student or administrator can also compare pre-course assessment with course scores and post-course evaluations to determine course effectiveness;
  • Courses can be used as reference material with the searchable index;
  • Material is presented in bite-size chunks, allowing for easier assimilation and retention;
  • A training administrator can set course mastery levels, allowing material to be tailored to individual student skill levels; and
  • Students can bookmark their place within a course so, when returning to that course from the sign-on page, they automatically return to the same page, regardless of where they started the session.

Aberdeen Conclusions

Employee training is a major issue and expense for today's enterprises. To keep up with stiff global competition and today's fast-changing technology, enterprises are trying to quickly and effectively train employees, while keeping expenses within reasonable limits. Alternatives to traditional classroom training are spreading rapidly as many enterprises entertain training solutions that would have been unacceptable a few years ago.

This trend explains the rapidly increasing popularity of various Web-based training solutions, which can be implemented at greatly reduced costs compared to traditional in-classroom training. WBT is unlikely to replace traditional in-classroom training any time soon there are some courses that are still best taught the old-fashioned way, or more effectively through synchronous technology-based training. However, Aberdeen suggests that WBT is now worthy of being considered an important part of an enterprise's set of training options. And DPEC is one training vendor that has shown the ability to provide quality WBT courseware that can be used as an effective alternative to traditional training, providing quality training at greatly reduced costs.

Jim Ayube

 

Information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources Aberdeen believes to be reliable, but is not warranted by Aberdeen. Impact opinions reflect the analyst's judgment at the time and are subject to change without notice. Unless otherwise noted, the entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by Aberdeen Group, Inc. and may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent by Aberdeen Group, Inc.

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