Acronym for computer-based training, a type of education in which the student learns by executing special training programs on a computer. CBT is especially effective for training people to use computer applications because... CBT


Computer-based training (CBT) services are where a student learns by executing special training programs on a computer relating to their occupation. CBT is especially effective for training people to use computer applications because the CBT program can be integrated with the applications so that students can practice using the application as they learn....Computer Based Training

Computer Based Training

Definition: Computer-based training (CBT) is, as the name suggests, training that can be delivered by a computer, with or without additional aid from trainers. Initially developed for stand-alone computers, CBT is now more normally delivered over a network.


Computer Based Training

Introduction to CBT

Computer-based training involves developing courses that can be delivered using a PC. Nowadays they can be very complex, mixing graphics, video and audio on an ordinary PC so that realistic training situations can be replicated. CBT is sometimes called computer-based learning (CBL) or, if delivered over the internet, e-learning or web-based training (WBT).

CBT can be considered a sub-set of distance learning, where students can learn on their own using materials provided by a school or commercial company as opposed to being in a classroom. CBT is essentially distance learning using a computer rather than a book, audio-tape or other method.

Development of CBT

CBT started almost as soon as computers became common in large organisations. The initial applications tended to be training on the computer itself, just like a modern tutorial in the help files of a PC-based application. This was all on mainframes but as mini-computers became more powerful and cheaper a number of companies developed specialist hardware and software which could mix video and graphics to deliver realistic training simulations.

When the PC arrived the sophistication that the specialist companies had developed quickly became mainstream. CBT companies therefore stopped making hardware and concentrated on developing software to create and deliver CBT. This was usually delivered remotely, on floppy disks, then CDs and DVDs before the advent of networks and the Internet took CBT online.

Benefits of CBT

CBT is a lot more flexible than classroom-based training or training in real-life situations. Students can go through training as and when they have spare time rather than being tied to a classroom schedule or waiting for their turn the relevant equipment. Compared to learning from a book CBT is more interactive and there is evidence that learning is better remembered.

Compared to classroom situations, CBT has less of a collaborative nature, although this is beginning to change with Internet enabled training systems. Learning professionals generally agree that the most effective training is gained from a combination of different methods: CBT, books, classroom tutoring and real-life experience.

What's Involved in Developing CBT?

There are three stages to producing a CBT program for a particular subject: first, computerising the subject knowledge, second, designing and constructing the training package (a process known as 'authoring') and finally building the program for distribution to the PC.

Subject matter experts are required for the first phase where knowledge is recreated using words, pictures and video for later use. Learning professionals then design and create the CBT using either specialist authoring software or general purpose software such as Flash.

The resulting program, which usually includes questions and tests as well as lessons, is then tested, manufactured and delivered. In some cases the PC will require particular software to deliver the CBT to the student but increasingly CBT is being written or converted so that it will run in a browser, making it easier and simpler to reach a wider audience.

Business Reasons for Embracing CBT

Computer-based training has many advantages to offer organisations, both commercial and public. In fact military training applications were some of the earliest to be computerised. In the public sector companies with strict and complex training requirements such and airlines and telecommunications companies were the first to see the value of CBT.

Case Study: Airline Pilot Training

A good example is that of commercial airline pilot training. This is a huge overhead for airlines with strictly controlled government standards, not only to train pilots in the first place but also for continued training to refresh the pilots' knowledge and introduce new aircraft, systems or methods. Aircraft simulators were developed so that pilots could train in all weathers, around the clock and crucially, without risking real, expensive airliners.

But simulators in themselves are still expensive to buy or rent time on. By developing CBT in the 1980s, in particular using a mix of video (albeit on 12" laser discs), graphics and audio, some airlines were able to cut down on the amount of simulator time that their pilots required to gain and sustain their qualifications. This in turn made pilot training cheaper and faster and cut simulator training costs. Airlines who owned their own simulators started hiring them out to other airlines once CBT had been embraced.

Managing CBT and Distance Learning

The wider adoption of CBT has also led to a need to manage the training environment. This has presented a new opportunity for software companies who have developed learning management systems that track and record the training and qualifications that individuals have achieved.