Computer Based Training

Subject: Computer Based Training
From: Steve Owens <uso01 -at- EAGLE -dot- UNIDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 1994 09:40:52 +0700

> Hello everyone! I have been writing/developing a Computer Based
> Training application with one of my coworkers. Has anyone out
> there developed a CBT application? We are using Microsoft Multi-
> media Viewer, with additional programming. It's kind of cumbersome
> for us to incorporate extensive interaction for the user. Do you
> have any suggestions or ideas? Thanks in advance! Margie.

I once spent a little time figuring out what I'd want,
ideally, in a CBT application. I decided a good CBT builder should be
able to provide:

Basic hypermedia capabilities (hypertext, graphics, hyperlinks,

Active prompting capabilities - besides taking you to another
location in the hypertext, a button should be able to run a mini
program that displays a dialogue box and waits for the user to
select a button from it, or that displays a question, or that
animates a mouse cursor or performs some other graphical effect.

Input verification - the ability to compare any user input to a
pre-defined range of possibilities, to verify the user's reaction
to a prompt, and provide correction and/or clarification. The
correction should be able to be both interrupt (stop the user's
input and point out the problem) and concurrent (displaying
pointers in a message window as the user proceeds).

The ability to run according to a "script" of the training session
(with appropriate branching and looping capabilities) or to run
in a self-directed learning mode, where the user treats the app
more like conventional hypertext, maneuvering around using
buttons. The scripted process would handle the first pass
lecture; the self-directed learning mode would be for review,
additional study, etc. Note that the script should be able to
easily back up and go through something multiple times.

What I want to see in a CBT application, then, is something
that takes full advantage of each of the above - something that walks
you through a process, then allows you to explore on your own. At
various points in the walkthrough, or later, activated by buttons, the
user should have interactive examples - a chance to attempt a task
with hints along the way from the computer, and error checking. The
user should be allowed to relax and let the computer do the teaching,
or be able to empower him/herself and do exploratory learning or

Besides being active in the sense of leading the user through
the topi, the CBT should be graphically active - not just unmoving
text and graphics, not even a little animated diagram, but moving
cursors and messages displayed in pop-up boxes. Just making something
menu-based and graphical doesn't make it interactive. The user should
feel as if he or she were carrying out a full dialogue (which is
really the case with using a computer), not a Q&A session where the
computer just spits the information out and lets the user do the
navigation. On the flip side, the user should be able to take over
the navigation, completely or partially.

Steven J. Owens
uso01 -at- unidata -dot- com

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