Web-based training, e-learning, distance learning, online training--despite the different terminologies, just about everyone is familiar with this new training format. Since its onset, we have come to think of it as a convenient and affordable way to train; however, the June 2003 article, "The Realities of Web-Based Training," in T.H.E. Journal Online, illuminates some interesting benefits that have not been as widely touted.
We all know online training allows flexibility, but according to Jennifer Minotti, Ed.M., and Paul Giguere, Ed.D., there are other, more esoteric ways for students to benefit from web-based training, like access to colleagues and experts who might otherwise not be available, or its emphasis on a learner-centered approach. Here is the full list of the benefits they cite in the online article.
The major benefits of WBT are listed below (Hall 2000; Horton 2000; Gold 1997; and Ligle and Madey 1997).
Flexibility and time
Training may occur anytime, anyplace that there is Internet access.
Individuals can learn at their own pace and around their own schedules within a given training time frame.
Individuals gain access to colleagues and experts from geographic locations with whom they would ordinarily not have the opportunity to communicate.
Individuals are able to take advantage of lifelong learning without relocating or quitting their jobs.
Learning and understanding
Individuals must think, respond, problem solve, use critical reasoning, interact and be creative to fully participate in WBT.
Individuals may feel more in control of their own learning, thus possibly taking on more responsibility.
Individuals gain access to real-world examples, databases, experts and additional sources of information online.
Individuals are able to reflect in greater depth on responses to questions or activities posed in training before making their answers and opinions public to other participants.
WBT emphasizes a learner-centered approach to training versus simply logging the number of hours spent in training.
Cross-platform and varied software
Individuals may be positively challenged by actively navigating the online environment and learning new technologies.
Training may be accessed on several computer platforms, including Windows, Macintosh and UNIX.
Training may be accessed using many of the common Web browsers, including Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, America Online, Lynx and other free proprietary software.
Overall training costs are often cheaper for participants due to eliminating travel and facilities fees.
WBT is less expensive when considering the districtwide and worldwide distribution of training, in relation to the limited number of participants in a traditional classroom environment.
WBT can be easily updated and "recycled" for additional training at a nominal fee.
Accessibility and equal opportunity for all
The standardized nature of WBT equalizes delivery of the materials for all individuals.
Opportunities to attend training are created for individuals with disabilities and others who may be excluded due to time, geography or mobility.
Multimedia such as graphics, video and audio can enhance learning and understanding, as well as be adapted to individuals with various learning styles.
Individual characteristics such as physical disabilities remain anonymous to other participants, thus eliminating judgments and stigmas often associated with particular disabilities.
As with any format, e-learning has its problems, but many of them affect the course development. Creating a well-developed, self-study course can be more work for the instructor, school, or trainer, but, overall, most of the reports on e-learning praise its student benefits. The article quotes Moore and Kearly from their book, Distance Education: A Systems View (New York: Wadsworth, 1996):
"...what makes any course good or poor is a consequence of how well it is designed, delivered and conducted, not whether the students are face-to-face or at a distance."
Because ETI knows that web-based training has become a viable, affordable, and convenient training option, we created the ETI Learning Center. Our first e-learning course was the GM Addendum, which includes a description of the GM Global Dimensioning and Tolerancing Addendum used in the auto industry. We now offer a Fundamentals of GD&T Complete course, with the added option of individual modules for students who want to brush up on certain topics.
Course Developer - GD&T Expert Alex Krulikowski
As with all of our training books, software and other products, the training was developed by Alex Krulikowski. Alex knows that providing GD&T training in a variety of formats means a better chance that designers and engineers will have the opportunity to learn it and use it correctly.
"Students can take our courses online at home or at work through a series of interactive lessons," said Alex. "Web-based training allows ETI to offer another convenient GD&T training method to our customers, whether individual students or large corporations. Online training fills a need for an affordable training alternative in these tough economic times."
Classes are interactive, provide feedback, and offer support resources
All of the ETI Learning Center classes are interactive, providing feedback through each lesson and quiz. One of the most important aspects of successful online learning is providing support to help the students keep on track with their lessons. Effective Training offers a variety of student support options. Our discussion board allows each student to interact with peers who are in the same course, or with professionals who have utilized the course materials on the job. There are also a variety of tech papers, and the many free GD&T resources at our website:
For more information about the ETI Learning Center, or if your company is interested in online training for a group of students, call 800-886-0909.
E-learning benefits list excerpted from the article, "The Realities of Web-Based Training," by Jennifer Minotti, Ed.M., and Paul Giguere, Ed.D. in the June 2003 T.H.E. Journal Online. To read the complete article, click here.