Web-Based Training (WBT) has a new look and a streamlined interface for
the fall semester. A service of Information Technology Services at Penn
State, WBT traditionally offers over 1,100 free technology and business
and professional development courses to Penn State faculty, staff, and students.
WBT now offers a completely revamped Web site, equipped with an easy-to-use interface that allows users to log in, add and organize courses, work online, and even download courses for offline use.
According to Web-Based Training specialist April Sheninger, the new Web site boasts many features designed to organize the information in a comprehensive manner that promotes customer service. Users will find the Web site easier to understand and navigate, and the new WBT features add convenience and flexibility.
Susan Bechtold, of Hershey Medical Center, has used some of the new features of WBT. She said, “… it can be difficult to carve time out of the work day for a two-hour course; however, these courses are designed to permit one to stop, if necessary, and resume the course without having to start over again at the beginning.”
Some new features of Web-Based Training include the following:
• Compact Site Design–The site uses menus and tabs to organize a large number of documents, making it easy to locate information. These menus and tabs have been added to each page, so users can navigate between pages and around the site with simplicity and ease.
• An Integrated Login–This feature allows users to move freely between the Training Plan and the rest of the WBT Web site, even after the user has logged in to the Training Plan. Accordingly, the user is able to access any functions of the Web site, such as viewing a manual or finding a phone number, without exiting the Training Plan.
• Contacts & Help Menu–This feature combines all manuals, help, and contact information into one area, effectively streamlining the customer service functions of the site and making it easy for users to locate the help they need.
• Announcements & News Menu–This area provides monthly updates on new courses, new features, and training resources, so users can stay up-to-date with WBT.
• New Training Plan Editor: Modify My Plan–The WBT Training Plan allows users to add and organize courses. The new Modify My Plan feature allows users to search for courses within the course catalogue and to add courses directly from their search results. This simplifies the process by minimizing the number of steps involved in adding a course. The new plan is visually organized to allow users to view all of their course listings at once, or to collapse the listings into a condensed view. This new feature makes the Training Plan easier to understand, and the combined new functions give users much more control over their Training Plans.
• Download Courses–Through the new download feature, courses can be downloaded to the user’s desktop or laptop computer—at home, in the office, or anywhere the user has access to an Internet connection. After the course is downloaded, users can run the course at any time, without the need for an Internet connection. The next time the user logs in to the WBT Web site to use a WBT course or to download another course, the scores and any progress made in previously downloaded courses will be automatically updated. The flexibility created by the new download feature makes using WBT more convenient for all users.
To use the download feature, users must have an Activation Key. This Activation Key is a unique word that is specific to each user. The Activation Key is randomly assigned and will be e-mailed to users after they log in to WBT for the first time after August 19, 2002. If a user forgets or loses the Activation Key, a form is available on the WBT Web site for retrieval.
• Targeted Curricula–Curricula are groups of courses that provide guidance for specific users, based on their particular technology or business and professional development training needs. Examples of currently existing curricula are Skills for Undergraduates, Skills for Graduating Seniors, various vendor certifications, First Time Manager, HR Professionals, Project Managers, IT Professionals, and IT Managers. Recently added curricula include International Students, Grad Assistants, Administrative Assistants, and Career Development Skills.
Reviews of the new features in WBT have been positive, according to Sheninger. In a feedback e-mail, one student said, “(I) just wanted to … tell you that the new WBT is great. There were a few things that really prevented me from using the system a lot before and it appears a lot better now.”
Chris Lucas, Administrative Information Services Training and Support Specialist, likes the convenience of WBT’s new download feature. “When I’m away for training and have a break, I can just use my laptop to work on WBT courses. I can work at my own pace and convenience to fit the (WBT) training into my schedule,” said Lucas.
WBT is a free service that gives every member of the Penn State community the opportunity to learn or improve technology and business/professional skills at their convenience, via the Web. The Web-based courses available through WBT can enhance career skills, enrich personal and professional knowledge, and supplement other training sources.
For more information, or to start using WBT today, visit http://wbt.psu.edu/.