How Online Training Works

Online Training Needs

Employees share a computer to train.
Employees share a computer to train.
Intl St. Clair/Getty Images

When training is a simple review of company policies, rules or procedures, an online entry in a company Wiki serves the same purpose as a seminar or group instruction. For example, the United Nations uses this format for gender issues training through its Web site, which provides learning material, teaching resources and additional information.­

Training needs vary, and material that's more complex requires a more sophisticated approach. Gap, Inc. relies heavily on high-tech "learn-as-you-go" online training. Its Gap Employee Help System gives on the spot training for a number of systems an employee might need during inventory, in the stock room or at the checkout counter. The Gap system lets employees solve routine problems on their own, just by looking up the right information.

When it's time for more formal training, such as military computer security training courses, "self-paced" is still a guiding principle. At one time, the U.S. military used "mass briefings" to teach recruits the military's policies on computer security issues, but now an online program goes step-by-step through the information. At the end of each chapter, an overview of the material is given with the chance to start the chapter over if needed.

Prior training involved a one-hour class with little time for review. The lack of a time limit to complete the modern online version plus a chance for one last look before testing is another major benefit.

The best online training is flexible and lets a user stop and repeat. The U.S. Air Force's Safety Manager introductory training program offers a quiz at each chapter end. If they miss too many questions, users can start that chapter over, or they can review previous chapters before starting new material. During the final exam, users can't return to training.