NASA NASA-LLIS-0973: Lessons Learned – Web-based Training Considerations
SDO: NASA: NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
DOD Adopted ANSI Approved Approved
Description of Driving Event:
In the 1995-1996 timeframe the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) began development of a distance learning capability under the umbrella of the Professional Development Initiative (PDI). This distance learning capability eventually evolved from a Safety and Mission Assurance discipline system into the Site for Online Learning and Resources (SOLAR) (http://solar. msfc.nasa.gov), currently one of NASA's primary distance learning resources. The intent of the initial development effort was to design and implement a prototype system for the Safety and Mission Assurance discipline.
Over the five years since the initial release of SOLAR (or its predecessor) there have been approximately 2500 training instances (completion of a single module by a single person) in the Safety and Mission Assurance discipline's approximately 70 courses. Over this time period some Safety and Mission Assurance courses have as few as 20 training use instances while others have had several hundred training use instances. In other disciplines (such as Information Technology Security) where SOLAR is used for mandatory training there have been thousands of training use instances for a single course.
Based on this data, is it reasonable to assume that a potentially large number of training use instances is the only determining factor in the decision to develop a web-based training course? Certainly the need to provide a large number of training use instances suggests web-based training as a candidate for content delivery since per training use instance development and delivery costs are reduced each time an additional student completes a course. In contrast the development costs for instructor based training are reduced each time an additional student completes a course but the delivery costs vary depending on the number of students, their location, etc. If the course content is appropriate for delivery via web-based training, then web-based training can be an effective method for training large numbers of students.
If a large number of potential training use instances represents a good potential course for web-based development, does that mean that a small number of training use instances rules out web-based training as an alternative to instructor based training? The answer depends on several factors. Just considering the potential number of students alone is not sufficient to make the determination. The location of the students and the instructors must be considered. The cost to deliver training to 20 students that are collocated with the instructor is quite a bit less than the cost to deliver training to 20 students that are each in a different location, since travel, lodging and meals must be considered. (Note: Other options for providing the training such as the use of Video-teleconferencing may offset some or all of these costs and should be a factor in determining method of delivery).
The period over which the training is to be provided and the shelf life of the course material must also be considered. If the course was to be delivered to 5 students a year for 4 years, web-based course delivery might be more cost effective than instructor based delivery. Again location of students and instructor would affect costs. The shelf life of the course material would also be a factor. If the course required no updates over the 4-year period then the development cost is spread over all of the training use instances. If updates were required during the 4-year period then each of those represents an additional development effort; in essence the "single" course would actually look like four courses from a development standpoint. One final consideration concerns the timing of the course. If all of the training instances can be accommodated simultaneously (synchronous) then even in a dispersed student population use of technology such as Video-teleconferencing could make instructor based delivery a consideration. If however the training can not be delivered simultaneously (asynchronous) web based training becomes more attractive.
- Policy & Planning
- Training Equipment
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