-8. What is a virtual reference library?

- You can provide supplemental reference information to any e-learning course by putting that information on Web pages that your students have access to.

- The Internet already holds a wealth of information in existing Web pages. You can use this information as "free" supplementary information.

Tell Me More

In many traditional classroom courses, the instructor will have "extra reading" that the students can do if they are particularly interested in a topic. The "extra reading" might be books at the back of the classroom, or it might be books on reserve in a local library.

However, with e-learning you have the advantage that the entire Internet is at the student's fingertips. And the Internet will have a wealth of information on almost any topic (although not all the information on the Internet is 100 percent accurate). Of course, you don't have to use only preexisting information—you can create your own supplementary information and make it available on other Web pages and add them to the links you give to students.

Let's say that you are teaching an e-learning course on Introduction to Project Management. Each lesson in the course can end with a series of Web links that take the students to Web sites and Web pages that discuss selected topics related to project management. The beauty of this is that you don't have to reproduce anything except the Web link to get the student to a wealth of information to supplement the course.

Advantages

Challenges

- Always available (on demand).

- Possible to create your own Web pages with supplementary information that you can provide yourself but that is not part of the mainline course materials.

- Uses existing information that already exists on the Internet.

- Web sites and Web pages come and go over time.

- It will be hard to find existing Web pages on the Internet for some topics (although it will be easy for other topics).

At this point, I encourage you to turn to Chapter 2 and think about where a virtual reference library would be appropriate for each case study. Why?

-9. What is student tracking and reporting?

- Although it's not part of the learning experience, tracking and reporting are important so you know who has taken what training courses.

Tell Me More

Although it's not very important while a student is in the midst of taking a training course, tracking and reporting becomes important to many people after the course is over. In other words, student tracking and reporting has nothing to do with the real learning that happens during the course itself.

Once the student finishes several courses, then:

- The student will want to "get credit" for the courses he took.

- The student's manager (1) will want to know which courses the student completed and (2) might want to know which courses the student started but has yet to finish.

Advantages

Challenges

- The student knows which courses she took.

- The student's manager knows which courses she took.

- You will need an automated system to track and report on student learning unless you are dealing only in very small volumes.

At this point, I encourage you to turn to Chapter 2 and think about where student tracking and reporting would be appropriate for each case study. Why?

-10. How should you fit these building blocks together?

- The building blocks for e-learning do not fit together in just one way. You can use some or all of the building blocks for a specific e-learning solution.

Tell Me More

You can fit these building blocks together in almost any way you want. You can mix and match. What you do will depend on:

- Your training situation

- The technology you have available

- Costs

The following set of tables is a quick summary of the building blocks used in the various case studies from Chapter 2. From these tables you should be able to see that "one size" and "one design" doesn't fit all.

 
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