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How Do I Choose the Best Online Computer-Based Training?

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux

Choosing the best online computer-based training means checking that the training system is a good match for the student given the student's goals. It also means investigating instructor availability, student-to-student communications, testing methods, technological requirements and program flexibility. The objectives of the training typically determines the requirements the training system must meet. Not all training systems are suitable for all topics, as different subjects vary in complexity.

The first thing to consider when looking for the best online computer-based training is the organization, clarity and objectives of the training — that is, whether the training system meets the basic educational needs of the student. The best courses or programs are very specific about the information or skills the trainee will gain, including the order of topics and any certifications or degrees that the user will earn. This is necessary because many different courses are available within a particular field, such as plant genetics and farm technology both being under the umbrella of agriculture. If texts or other resources are not set up logically, then the user wastes time trying to figure out the training system.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Once a person knows the courses meet basic educational requirements, it's a good idea to learn about the institution or agency providing the training and see if its philosophies mesh with the student's. This can make a huge difference in how materials are presented and the assistance a student receives if they have questions or concerns. Looking at the institution's mission statement is a basic way to deduce why the courses are offered in the structure they are. Additional information that can provide clues about the program or training system include the number of graduates and the student-to-teacher ratio. Any institution or agency that offers training should be accredited.

Next, someone who wants online computer-based training should look at whether an instructor will be available. In some instances, an online computer-based training program or course is designed to be entirely user-oriented. This can be good for basic training, but for complex subjects, having a qualified teacher overseeing the course is advantageous because of the expertise and clarifications he can offer.

Related to the idea of assistance, the ability to collaborate with or ask questions of other students can matter. It might be fundamental for subjects where teamwork should occur or which are particularly complex. Excellent training programs provide opportunities to email, participate in forums or chat or video conference in real time.

The ability to communicate with others often impacts the testing methodology. If there is no instructor, testing typically has to be in multiple choice format. This is not always ideal for certain training that requires evidence of problem solving and creativity. In these instances, it's much more desirable to have tests assessed by a real individual, particularly if the training is a requirement for certification. No matter what the testing methods are, the system should have a logical method of tracking the student's progress and submissions.

Individuals also should investigate the technological requirements of the training course or program. For example, certain applications might require a user's computer to have a minimum processor speed, or a specific hardware component such as audio speakers. If the individual's computer and peripheral equipment cannot meet the training requirements, he cannot proceed with the training without purchasing additional purchases, which might put the training out of his price range.

Lastly, look at the flexibility the online computer-based training has. People often take online computer-based training specifically because they need to work training into a hectic schedule. Although the training should have some parameters for deadlines, good programs allow 24-hour access to system resources and let the student work at their own pace. This is not just a matter of student preference, as 24-hour access also allows students to take courses from institutions around the globe.

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