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Converting CBT into WBT

by Ron Kurtus (revised 9 January 1999)

Many companies and schools are using computer-based training (CBT) as a direct means or training or as a supplement to classroom instruction. With the advent and growing popularity of the Internet or World Wide Web, as well as the improvement in Web site development tools, there is the movement toward presenting CBT on the Web or on company or school Intranets. This is usually called web-based training (WBT) or intranet-based training (IBT).

Computer based training (CBT) that can be accessed via the World Wide Web provides some tremendous possibilities for dissemination of educational material.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Background of CBT

Initially, CBT was disk-based. For smaller CBT programs, one or two floppies could be used, while larger programs could be loaded onto the hard drive. With the use of multimedia in CBT—especially the addition of large audio and video files—the CD-ROM became the medium of choice.

Now, there is increased interest in distance learning, using CBT over the Web. This presents some new challenges and also causes a step backwards.

Re-evaluation of CBT necessary

The use of clever animations, high quality graphics, video, and audio have made many CBT programs outstanding and even enjoyable to use.

The big problem with CBT on the Web is that most of the multimedia effects can't be used because of the time required to download. You want to keep the student interested, and having to wait for audio or graphic files to download will cause more interest to be lost than the novelty of the multimedia will attract.

Thus, the entertainment and "bells and whistles" aspect of CBT must be re-evaluated in order to keep interest, to demonstrate clearly, but yet to allow for rapid downloading.

Tools for CBT on the Web

One way to instruct on the Web would be to simply provide information and include some interaction through HTML, JavaScript, and Java coding. Although I've been experimenting with such methods, I've also been looking at some authoring tools that have recently come out for CBT on the Web.

Toolbook II

Asymetrix Toolbook II has the capability to convert its CBT files into HTML and Java. This seems to be a good solution. I've only just started to play with it and will report on its capabilities in an update on this article.


Macromedia Authorware uses their Shockwave plug-in to send its files over the Web. One disadvantage is that the user must have Shockwave plug-in installed before viewing the files.

Authorware's version of Shockwave chunks the data, such that it isn't as slow as the Director version of Shockwave. The results are interesting and the effects are more advanced than Toolbook's, but the download time is still a factor to consider.


The idea of CBT on the Web is exciting. New authoring tools should make the process of delivering the CBT easier. The way the CBT is presented will be limited by Web limitations. I'm working on ways to effectively provide the content and the interface to make it all possible.

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