This article was in a newsletter in 2005. Information in this article may be out of date.
Penn State faculty, staff, and students can now take advantage of Web-Based Training (WBT) courses without connecting to the Internet, according to ITS Training Services WBT specialist April Sheninger.
Over 700 of WBT's most popular technology courses are now available on a CD-burning kiosk that is located in Penn State's Computer Store (12 Willard Building) at University Park. "All people have to do is show their (valid) Penn State Identification to be eligible to create a custom CD," said Sheninger, who said she is happy to take one more step toward "leveling the playing field" for the Penn State community.
"We are constantly trying to improve and expand WBT so that we reach as many people as possible," said Sheninger. "The kiosk will give people with slow or no Internet connections the ability to take advantage of Web-Based Training."*
The kiosk was designed with students in mind, according to Sheninger, due to the fact that many students share Internet connections with roommates, and many do not have Internet connections at all. "One of the main features of WBT is convenience," said Sheninger, emphasizing that this new option makes WBT even more flexible and user-friendly. "But faculty will really benefit from this new service as well," she said.
According to Sheninger, there are two options for creating a WBT CD. One option is to create a custom CD of individual courses or curricula based on those currently available on the kiosk. The other option is to create a CD of courses that have been assigned or recommended by a faculty member for an academic course.
Faculty can use WBT as a supplemental learning tool by requesting that a group of WBT courses be added to the kiosk for their class. Those WBT courses will then be bundled and loaded onto the kiosk according to academic course number, and students can easily locate and burn the appropriate WBT courses onto a CD.
"The kiosk provides faculty members with another option to support their students in a variety of ways," said Sheninger. "And students are not limited to going to a lab to access the courses," she said.
Penn State staff members may also benefit from this new service, according to Sheninger, in that the CDs can be used for personal development. "Once the CD is burned, the courses can be used by the Penn State faculty, student, or staff member on a more permanent basis," she said. "The CDs may come in handy for staff members who want to use the courses at home but who donÕt have a high-speed connection."
Feedback has been good, but usage has been slow, according to Sheninger, who feels that the kiosk will gain popularity as faculty members become familiar with it. "People seem interested in the idea, but it's a different way of looking at WBT because it's not Web-based. It's still e-Learning, but it might take a while for people to get used to the idea," she said, adding that the original idea for the kiosk came as the result of faculty and student requests.
"I was approached by a faculty member who said that students had been asking if the (required WBT) courses were available on CD," she said. Based on that idea, Sheninger was able to work with members of Penn State's Computer Store, to make the kiosk a reality.
Initially, the kiosk was loaded with 500 of the most popular WBT courses, along with several groups of courses that had been requested by faculty members for their academic classes. Since then, courses have been added upon request, and the number of courses available through the kiosk will continue to grow as requests are made.
Each WBT CD costs $7.00 and can hold approximately ten WBT courses. The WBT kiosk is available through a collaborative effort between ITS Training Services and Penn State's Computer Store. It is located in Penn State's Computer Store at 12 Willard Building on the University Park campus and is available for use by Penn State faculty, staff, and students during store hours.
Courses can be added to the kiosk upon request. For those Penn State faculty, staff, and students who are located at campuses other than University Park, requests can me made by telephone or e-mail, and CDs will be sent through the mail. Sheninger said that measures are being taken to establish a more efficient method for these campuses to use the WBT on CD service, and contacts will be notified when a solution is in place.
* Note: At this time, WBT courses will not run effectively on the Macintosh platform.