STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF WEB-BASED
- Connection to other students. E-mail, bulletin boards, and
synchronous and asynchronous chats all add a dimension to WBT that
is difficult if not impossible to obtain in other delivery
- Connection to external resources. Other WWW sites, on-line
databases, on-line documents, etc.
- Use of hyperlinks. Because the WWW was built to link different
chunks of information together, it is easy to accomplish this in
WBT. This makes it easier to show how different concepts relate to
one another, and to present the same content in different
- Asynchronous and distance learning - WBT allows learners and
instructors to interact in ways which do not require them to be in
the same physical place at the same time.
- Easy to update content. While it may be difficult to update a
CD-ROM-based or even a paper-based instructional product, the WWW
makes it fairly easy to change information when necessary. This
can save you a great deal of money if you are in an environment
where information changes rapidly.
- No cross-platform barriers - in theory, there is no
significant problem in using either Macintosh or IBM (PC) platform
computers for viewing the same material. Many CBT providers today
who use CD-ROM to deliver training provide the CD-ROMS for PC
computers only, ignoring the smaller Macintosh market. WBT
eliminates this problem.
- In well-designed CBT courses, the level of interaction is
high, and users are asked thought provoking questions at
appropriate intervals. The material should teach "how to do
something" not teach "about" something, or simply present
information. It is difficult to achieve complex interactions in a
Java, CGI scripts, and/or CBT products designed to work in
conjunction with the WWW. Unfortunately, many existing WBT sites
today do not take advantage of these capabilities, offering
limited interactivity, and can be classified better as web-based
delivery of information sites.
- Adding additional capabilities to the web browser to foster
better interactivity can be complicated. For example, to utilize a
CBT authoring package within the browser, you usually have to
download and install in your browser additional pieces of
software. This may be difficult for some users to accomplish.
- Users with limited connection capabilities to the WWW will
probably be frustrated by the entire experience. For example, a
person using a 14.4K modem to access the WWW will receive
information at a fraction of the speed a person connected the WWW
via a T1 or ISDN connection will. This means that a picture that
appears almost instantly for a user with a T1 connection might
take several minutes to appear for a user with a 14.4K modem.
Recent advances in modem technology have upped the maximum speed
of modems to 56K, but most users cannot realize this speed because
of inadequate telephone lines. If you are designing WBT for remote
users who have limited access to the WWW, you must maximize the
use of text, and minimize the use of graphics, audio, and
- Alienation. Some WBT users complain about the lack of contact
with other people. This is an on-going issue that must be
addressed in any WBT course. Some substitutes for direct contact
include but some substitutes video/audio conferencing, use of
e-mail, chat rooms, and list serves.
- Development and maintenance costs are quite high compared to
traditional forms of instruction.
- Student tracking mechanisms are more difficult to establish,
for the Internet is an "open" system, where private data may be
stolen or "borrowed." Security systems must be installed and
maintained to ensure confidentiality of data.
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