Contents What difference does it make whether the training is offline or online? The answer -- a lot. Offline courses do not suffer from bandwidth limitations. They are able to use the full multimedia repertoire, including animation, sound, and video. However, on the internet, multimedia is often a big disappointment, even when using the latest streaming technology. This is because it requires a lot more bandwidth to deliver the multimedia than what is currently available. Small movies may look OK on YouTube, but when you are trying to study it and absorb all the details as possible to learn more, their limitations soon become quite transparent.

Online courses, however, can be delivered anywhere in the world where the internet is available and to any computer on an organization's intranet. As soon as it is finished, the course is available. Updates are instant and inexpensive. Not so with such materials as CD-ROMs and paper-base courseware. And where as Computer Based Training tends to be stand-alone, Web Based Training can incorporate interaction with tutors, subject matter experts, and fellow learners. This is where internet tools such as email, discussion groups, blogs, and wikis prove invaluable.

Be prepared

When creating videos or screen recordings, plan ahead to get the most professional results. For beginners, it will take a little longer to get the quality desired because there are many things to know about and control in the production environment. But the work gets easier and faster with experience. Here’s a check list of items to consider:

  • Create a script

  • Talent – if your budget allows, consider hiring professional voice-over talent or even look into auditioning local acting students.

  • Keep your instructional designer and SME close at hand so if last minute changes occur, you don’t lose instructional content.

  • Use a USB microphone – digital input gives you higher quality audio.

  • Restrict noise while recording or consider using a studio – buzz and ambient noise are not easy to remove in editing – better to keep it out during production.

  • Remove distractions.

  • Control mouse motion while screen recording.

  • Practice, practice, practice.

Manage file sizes

One of the biggest considerations for using video in e-Learning courses is managing file size. This is important because learner experience is severely degraded by jerky, halting video. Here are four practices that will keep your file sizes manageable:

  • Limit the size of your video segments or break it into smaller chunks

  • Limit the width and height

  • Compress the video as much as possible

  • Consider streaming the video portions if Internet access is available(refers to video and audio that is downloaded to the learner's computer from the Internet or intranet as a continuous stream of data and starts playing once it reaches the destination computer)


The videoconferencing market has a steady, but unspectacular growth over the past decade. One industry insider estimates the entire videoconferencing market to be about $2 billion annually (The Year of Desktop Videoconferencing?). Again the problem is bandwidth. Videoconferencing would be a big plus for elearning programs as it would bring discussion activities, which is a major advantage of classrooms, to the learner; instead of the learner having to go to the classroom.

Unlimited Bandwidth

The Gilder Paradigm (Wired, 4.12 - Dec 1996) reports that in the future, if the law of thrift in the current paradigm is to waste watts and transistors; then the law of thrift in the new paradigm will be to waste bandwidth and save watts. That is, if bandwidth is free, you get a completely different computer architecture and information economy. While other futurist simply tell about the future, George Gilder (Wired 4.03 - Mar 1996) gives us the nuts and bolts about the future.

Cheap, unlimited bandwidth is still a time away from becoming a reality, however, when it does fully arrive, it will give an extremely big boost to elearning. Note that it appears to be slowing creeping up on us, rather than arrive with one big bang. Much of the elearning programs developed today are text-based adaptations due to not only the difficulty in development, but also the extra bandwidth required to carry multimedia programs. Learners do not enjoy looking at an hourglass while waiting for downloads of huge video and audio clips.


The term "multimedia on the Web" evokes expectations of Web-based presentations with sound and video. As discussed above, there are significant barriers in creating audio/video course content. However, streaming audio alone -- sound without video -- is a Web-based technology that is available today, it is easy to learn, inexpensive to produce, and requires low bandwidth so it available to off-site learners (The Educational Applications of Streaming Audio: Accessible, Do-It-Yourself Multimedia).

Streaming is a technology that continuously sends the file, which have already been digitized, to the user's computer while the user is listening or watching. Then, when the stream has ended, no data is left behind on the user's machine. This differs from downloading, which requires that files be sent to the user's PC in their entirety before they can be played. Also, when a file is downloaded, the file remains on the user's machine until it is deleted.

There is also streaming video, however, it can still be slow and the picture that comes to your computer screen can be quite small and is often jerky if the streaming does not occur fast enough. Popular technologies in use today include RealMedia, Microsoft Media and QuickTime.

Why is this seemingly less-than-perfect technology good for training? Its availability. Unlike a video or teleconference, the learner chooses the time, not the trainer. This is critical when you have a widely dispersed group or a number of remote locations.

Further Readings:

Streaming Media World



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Created January 21, 2001
Updated October 28, 2007


A Big Dog, Little Dog and Knowledge Jump Production.