I had an experience with computer based training while I was taking a graduate course on educational technology. One of our projects was to evaluate a unit of online training. I love to cook, so I decided to find one about the science and practical skills behind cooking. Searching the internet I found a site called Rouxbe. The first lesson I tried on their site was free, and it convinced me to sign up for more.
Everyone knows the basic ideas of how to fry food. You put it in a pan, heat the pan, and voila. The problem is that so often that the chicken or steak or potatoes you’re frying ends up sticking to the pan and your food ends up as more of a hash than anything else. The lesson I tried was on pan-frying and it started by talking about the theory of how food reacts to a hot pan and why oil is necessary. It presented a series of videos that were professionally narrated with an excellent voice actor. These videos showed me exactly how to determine when to add oil, how much oil to add, and when to add the item to be fried – chicken breast in this case. The sound was incredible – you could hear the splash of the oil and the sizzling of the chicken.
It showed how to not do things as well by demonstrating chicken added to a cold pan or put in a pan that is too hot. It ended by delivering a self-test that included video and audio samples and asked questions about them. For example, it showed water drops being added to pans with different heats and asked which pan was at the proper heat.
The lesson also included recipes based on the technique it taught and a forum where you could ask a Rouxbe chef questions (and they were actually around answering the questions on a daily basis!)
This demonstrated a high water mark for CBT – professionally produced, using sound instructional design, and choosing a medium that really worked for the material being presented.
If you’d like to check it out it can be found at http://rouxbe.com.