PATHWAYS — Volume 9, Number 3 – August, 1997

Focus: Training on the Web

Today, many training organizations are saying (or being told), "Let’s conduct our training on the Web!" (We are using the term "Web" here to encompass both the Internet and private intranets, although there are distinctions, of course.) As John Gantz, senior vice president at International Data Corporation, says in the July 21, 1997 issue of Computerworld, "If my kids can go on the Web regularly to do their homework, maybe your (people) can, too."

The Web is already used extensively for such non-training uses as:

Public relations
  • Web-based marketing brochures
  • Descriptions of products and services
Direct Marketing
  • Viewing and ordering flower arrangements
  • Reviewing and ordering books
Customer service
  • Tracking shipments
  • Downloading software updates
Customer access to databases
  • Bank account transactions
  • Investment firm account status


Now it is becoming practical to consider offering training on the Web. This idea is even more attractive to those firms with intranets, because an intranet affords them higher levels of security than does the public Internet. Proprietary training can be developed, distributed, and administered on the Web with greater confidence. The Web thus represents another opportunity for organizations to improve the return on their investment in performance tools for their employees.

However, using the Web for training purposes is not without its challenges and constraints. In the At Issue section, Van Wright explores some of the training applications that make sense on the Web. We hope his insights will help you evaluate the Web’s training potential for your organization.

John Wills, President/CEO

Exploring the Potential of the Web for Training Solutions

The Web (both via the Internet and intranets) offers many potential educational/training solutions. In the remainder of this issue, we will explore four areas:

Organizations should evaluate the potential of the Web in all of these areas.

Many organizations today are already using the Web. The following table lists a few publicly accessible Web sites that offer additional advice, samples, and information about Web-based solutions.

Site Name, Publisher, and URL

Training-related Application

Notice the Following:

American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)

Additional information about the use of the Web for training Offers information on Web-based training basics, development process, lists of other links.
DigitalThink Learning Environment

DigitalThink, Inc.

Commercial Web-based training services provider Lots of marketing information here, but there is also a "free course" sample of Web-based training delivery. To find it, select FIND, then search through the text for the Free Course hyperlink.

The free course sample provides some useful tips for using Internet search engines.

The Interactive Patient

Marshall University School of Medicine


Well-designed training simulation of a medical examination, leading to diagnosis Highly interactive and visual medical training application.

Forces the student to assimilate and consider a variety of patient data to reach a satisfactory diagnosis.


Web-Based Training Information Center


Information clearinghouse addressing Web-based training Offers an excellent discussion of the advantages and trade-offs of web-based training delivery.

Also check out the recommended rules for Web-based training (WBT) design.


Web-based Training Delivery

Most businesses using the Web today have focused on delivery of training. They are looking for ways to reduce such training delivery costs as travel, lodging, classroom facilities, instructors, and the like.

Almost by definition, Web-based delivery of training implies self-paced, self-study learning. A good "filter" when deciding whether to use the Web for training delivery is to ask yourself, "Is my objective to teach background knowledge and individual intellectual skills?" If so, the Web may be a good delivery choice. But, if your goal is to teach interpersonal skills, the Web may not be your best choice.

Even when Web-based delivery of training seems appropriate from an instructional viewpoint, it is important not to ignore certain technological constraints. Restricted bandwidth and frequent telephonic interruptions limit what can be done with Web-based training delivery.

It is important to allow for these limitations when planning and designing for Web-based delivery, rather than to discover them later.

Distribution of Training Materials

Distribution of training can offer an immediate return for most organizations. Because last quarter's Pathways addressed electronic document distribution, we won't dwell on the issue here. The same benefits cited for electronic storage and distribution of documents in general apply to training materials as well. Potential benefits include:

Development of Training Materials

This is a rapidly emerging area. The activities that occur during the development of training typically entail many face-to-face meetings and interviews, design and document reviews, and other activities that tie up people resources. In such situations, the Web can offer an alternative to face-to-face meetings and teleconferencing. Given the Web’s communications capabilities, a number of ways to use the Web during training development seem obvious. Here are a few ideas:

Development Task

Use the Web to:

Potential Advantages



  • Conduct electronic questionnaires and surveys
  • Automatically compile and report results
  • Faster return of results than relying on the postal system
  • Probable higher return rate


Design and content reviews


  • Communicate design and content change recom-mendations by e-mail
  • Conduct "chat-room" debriefings
  • Written documentation of feedback from respondents
  • Quick turnaround time
Pilot testing
  • Deliver pilot courses
  • Test pilot course materials
  • Conduct "chat-room" debriefings
  • Potentially better use of participant time than assembling all for testing at one central location and time
  • Reduces the opportunity for one participant’s biases to influence another


The potential is there but, for the moment, only a few organizations are making use of the Web to support training development.

Training Administration

The Web can also be used to support such administrative requirements as:

Those with training administration responsibilities should consider using the Web to help them administer training programs in their organizations.

In Summary

It is time to evaluate the appropriateness of the Web for developing, distributing, delivering, and administering training in your organization. Web technology promises significant benefits to the training function if used wisely.

Van O. Wright, Ph.D., Manager, Product Quality Control


ęCopyright 1997 FLI, Incorporated
FLI, Incorporated authorizes you to copy documents published on the FLI, Incorporated World Wide Web site for use within your organization only. When you copy documents, in whole or in part, you agree that any copy you make (printed or electronic) shall contain an attribution of its source and retain all copyright and other proprietary notices contained therein. All other rights reserved.

Volume 9, Number 3 - Sept 1997 | Volume 9, Number 4 - Oct 1997
Volume 10, Number 1 - Feb 1998
| Volume 10, Number 2 - May 1998

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