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Computer Delivery of Training

by Ron Kurtus (updated 14 March 2023)

There has been a movement from using human trainers to allowing personnel to receive training on their computers, either from a CD-ROM or DVD or via the Internet with online or e-learning. Although having training material on a CD-ROM is still available, the movement have been toward getting training material online.

The advantage of training on the computer is that it can be accessed at any time and is self-paced. Besides PowerPoint-type slides, audio and video can be included. The major disadvantage is that there is no personal contact where questions can be readily answered.

It is important to be familiar with the different ways that instruction can be delivered over computers, as well as to know how to prepare your material for that delivery.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Types of computer delivery

The delivery of instructional material and information through a computer has two major goals. One is that it can either replace a textbook through the use of online documentation. The other goal is to replace or supplement the instructor through the use of computer-based training (CBT), web-based training (WBT), or Intranet-based training. A third form—online help—is a combination of the two.

Online documentation

Textbook or written class material can be replaced by online documentation, available on disk or downloaded from the Internet. A distinct advantage of delivering educational material this way is reduced costs. Text books can be very expensive.

Many commercial software manufacturers have replaced written documentation with an online version. The most common program for distributing online documentation is Adobe Acrobat. Online documents can look just like the hardcopy document, but they can also include hyperlinks and jumps.

A major disadvantage of providing class material this way is the difficulty in reading extensive material off the computer monitor.

Computer-based training

The delivery of training material in the form of a CBT can replace classroom instruction. A CBT is often used when workers must be trained in distance locations or when students want to learn at home. It requires the learner to have access to a computer with a CD-ROM player.

Web-based training

WBT is providing training over the World Wide Web. It has the advantage of keeping the material complete up-to-date. On the other hand, it is not as reliable nor does it allow for the multimedia features that a CD-ROM CBT allows.

Intranet-based training

Using a company intranet for training has the advantage over WBT because of the increased bandwidth, speed, and reliability. It approaches the possible sophistication of CBT. It has the same disadvantages as a standard CBT.

Online help

Most commercial software applications have a form of online help. Some of it is very good, including online tutorials and excellent explanations. Online help can also be used as a form of computer-based training as well as to supplement standard documentation or text books.

Advantages and dis ad van at ages

There are advantages and disadvantages to training on the computer.

Access at any time

Being able to access training on your computer at any time is a great advantage. This allows you to get anywhere from a snippet of information to several hours of training when it is convenient.

Audio and video can be included in the training, which is sometimes better than having a live person speaking to a group. There also is the ability to electronically search for specific items in the training as a refresher.

No personal contact

The major disadvantage of computer-based training is that there is no personal contact where questions can be readily answered. Some people learn better from a human instructor than from looking at a computer screen.

There are also subtle advantages of interacting with other learners in the training session.

Preparation considerations

In preparing material for delivery through a computer, the trainer, developer or instructional designer must realize that the learner will be reading material off a computer monitor, as opposed to a text book. Also, audio and video material is limited due to bandwidth and storage capabilities. On the other hand, graphics, illustrations and animations can be used more effectively than in other media.

Although online documentation is often a direct copy of a text book, in developing a CBT or WBT sentences and paragraphs in their written material must be shorter than in a text book. But yet they should not be as casual as in the spoken word. Lessons are usually shorter than in a classroom setting, because the lower attention-span of a learner on the computer.

CBT and WBT can be used in conjunction with a text book or online documentation.


Delivery of instruction over a computer is an exciting new method. Care must be taken in developing the instructional material to take into account usability factors of viewing on a monitor.

Help your others through effective delivery of your knowledge. 

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