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Web-Based Learning Systems: Technology, Trends, Options

Mark Janas, BS, MBA Executive Director ValRad, Inc.

Web Learning/Resource Projects since 97


On-line continuing education initiative for medical imaging technologists (eRads.com) L & Hs WAL web-based learning environment (formerly 123 Web St.) Web-based, clinical resource for medical imaging (vNet -ValRad, Inc.)

WBT Defined
Web-based training (WBT) is an approach to distance learning in which computer-based training (CBT) is transformed by the technologies and methodologies of the World Wide Web, the Internet, and intranets.
Web-based training presents live content, as fresh as the moment and modified at will, in a structure allowing selfdirected, self-paced instruction in any topic. WBT is media-rich training fully capable of evaluation, adaptation, and remediation, all independent of computer platform.

The WBT Industry


With revenues approaching $8 billion by the year 2002, Web-based training (WBT) is now one of the leading forms of alternative education. WBT/distance resource companies have suffered with others in the tech sector, but have seen slight resurgence since 9/11/01. Eg, WebX $17 to $24 (all time high ~$50)

WBT Advantages
easy delivery of training to users multi-platform capabilities (Windows, Mac, UNIX) easy updating of content shift from costly programming to interface and content design quicker turnaround of finished product requires less technical support increased billing options

WBT Advantages (Contd)


access is controllable options for installations on private networks for security or greater bandwidth (Intranet vs. Internet) options to link with other training systems supplement electronic performance support systems (EPSS)

WBT Disadvantages
limited formatting of content in current browsers bandwidth/browser limitations may restrict instructional methodologies limited bandwidth means slower performance for sound, video, and intense graphics someone must provide server access, control usage, bill users

WBT Components
Web Browser Server Content Content Delivery (html, Flash, Java, etc.) Competency Assessment Record-keeping

WBT Options
Buy Build Something in between (eg, develop your own web-based content & manage it in commercial environment)

If you want to buy.


lhcpa.com blackboard.com smartforce.com ucompass.com webct.com vitalect.com learnto.com avilar.com

Making an informed decision means being familiar with


Client-server vs. Web Internet/Intranets HTML HTTP Plug-ins Java Flash Bandwidth Databases SQL TCP/IP WAN/VPN CGI Active X

Basic Platforms/Architectures
Client-server platform Web platform Internet vs. Intranets

HTML
HyperText Markup Language, the authoring language used to create documents on the WWW. HTML defines the structure and layout of a Web document by using a variety of tags & attributes. Eg, <I>Mark was here</I> displays Mark was here on the web page.

HTTP
HTTP defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands. For example, when you enter a URL in your browser, this actually sends an HTTP command to the Web server directing it to fetch and transmit the requested page. (Eg, http://www.valradweb.com)

Flash, Plug-Ins
A bandwidth friendly and browser independent graphic animation technology. As long as different browsers are equipped with the necessary plug-ins, Flash animations will look the same. Plug-ins are portals that allow small computer program to run within an html environment. (Flash, Java applets, Active X.)

Active X
ActiveX is not a programming language, but rather a set of rules for how applications should share information. Programmers can develop ActiveX controls in a variety of languages. An ActiveX control is similar to a Java applet. Unlike Java applets, however, ActiveX controls have full access to the WOS, making Active X more powerful (& potentially dangerous.)

Java
Programming language with code that can be executed independent of the machines operating system, via a virtual machine. Small Java applications are called Java applets and can be downloaded from a Web server and run on your computer by a Javacompatible browser such as Netscape or IE.

Databases

SQL
Structured Query Language SQL is a standardized query language for requesting information from a database.

SQL Example:
Table Name: Members
MemberID 123 456 LastName Baker Janas FirstName Todd Mark Overdue Yes Yes

789

Doe

John

No

SQL Statement: SELECT MemberID FROM Members WHERE Overdue = Yes Yields: 123 456

CGI
Abbreviation for Common Gateway Interface, a specification for transferring information between a web server and a CGI program. A CGI program is any program designed to accept and return data that conforms to the CGI specification (can be written in Perl, VB, Java, C.)

TCP/IP
Abbreviation for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, the suite of communication protocols used to connect hosts on the internet. Even network operating systems that have their own protocols, such as Netware, also support TCP/IP, making it a de facto standard.

VPNs
Short for virtual private network, a network that is constructed by the Internet to connect nodes. These systems use encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access the network and that the data cannot be intercepted.

If you want to build

Rules for Good WBT Design


1. Implement formal development process (listen, plan, build, deliver, observe, refine)

Instructional Systems Design Process (ISD)


Needs assessment User analysis Interface design Content development Media creation Coding (html, java) Maintenance Administration Updates

For detailed information:http://www.filename.com/wbt/pages/process.htm

Rules for Good WBT Design


2. Choose media types based on learning objectives.

Rules for Good WBT Design


3. Provide ample opportunity for the user to interact with the information

Rules for Good WBT Design


4. Design products that adapt to the users abilities and intelligently respond to the users input.

Rules for Good WBT Design


5. Keep in mind that people learn in a variety of ways.

Rules for Good WBT Design


6. Respect the learner.

Rules for Good WBT Design


7. Test your designs on real users.

Evolution of WBT..WBPSS
Web-based performance support systems (WBPSS) further help today's busy workers perform their jobs by integrating WBT, information systems, and job aids into unified systems available on demand.

WBT Resources
http://www.filename.com/wbt/index.html Web-based training information center