Easy As ABC

User-Friendly Training

There's never been a shortage of training materials for entrepreneurs; classes have been around for decades, and in recent years, there have been plenty of classes on videotape and CD-ROM. As for videocassettes, they're good as far as they go. Keep in mind, however, videos aren't interactive--the teaching comes at the student without demanding participation. And CD-ROMs? Again, the medium is fine--if you have an equipped computer; many computers (both in businesses and in homes) don't have CD-ROM drives.

Now picture this: At a slack time in the workday, instead of pestering you with questions about how to do formulas in Microsoft Excel, your assistant can log on to the Web and take a class that teaches him or her all the ins and outs of the spreadsheet program.

There's never slack time at your company? The course can be taken at home, too--the appeal of Web-based training is that it requires only a computer, Internet access and an up-to-date browser (usually Netscape 3.0 or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher). It doesn't matter that your sales manager uses a Sun workstation in the office, an IBM laptop on the road and an iMac at home--the same course material can be digested in bites that suit the student.

Another big plus of Web-based training? Even in a world moving at "Internet speed," there's no excuse for class materials ever to become outdated. "It's very easy to update Web materials to reflect new developments, whereas a 6-month-old CD-ROM may contain outdated information," says Mark Hanner, vice president of marketing for Web-Based Training Systems (http://www.wbtsystems.com) in San Francisco, a Web-based learning management firm.

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This article was originally published in the October 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Easy As ABC.

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