Defeating Low Bandwidth – The Biggest Enemy of Web-based Training

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Defeating Low Bandwidth - The Biggest Enemy of Web-based Training

Do you intend to deliver web-based courses to your people? Are you looking to harness the full potential of the Web to train your staff? Would you like to create good online learning experiences for your workforce? Well, among the various factors you need to consider, the availability of bandwidth is inarguably the most important. This is because even the best of online courses cannot be accessed effectively if the bandwidth is inadequate. Today, let us see how to provide good web-based training (WBT) in areas with poor connectivity.

1. Limit the size of e-learning courses

It is a widely known fact that loading times are a function of the size of the web content, and this is true even in the case of online courses. So, it is important to ensure the size of your technology-enabled learning material is small. Now, you may be wondering what constitutes a small e-learning course. Well, make sure each page in the web-based course is not more than 25 KB. Studies show that even in conditions of low bandwidth (about 20 kbps), pages that are less than 25 KB in size can load in ten seconds, a response time acceptable to most users of the Web.

2. Use images sparingly

It is well-said that an image is worth a thousand words. But, it is also true that an image occupies more space than a text file containing a thousand words, and therefore, takes more time to download.

So replace images with text wherever possible. This goes a long way in enabling learners in low bandwidth areas access the WBT material quickly. It is a good idea to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) instead of images for menu rollovers.

3. Avoid videos in online courses

Video-based learning (VBL) is a great way to engage your learners. However, videos take time to load, and this could frustrate learners. The problem is only complicated when the bandwidth available is low.

It’s better not to use videos in your e-learning courses. But, if you cannot avoid the inclusion of video-based content in your e-learning course, I suggest you deliver them through native apps. More about native apps in a moment. Check out this post to know more about restricted connectivity and other challenges in delivering effective online courses on mobiles.

4. Go in for native apps

Native apps are developed to run on a mobile device’s operating system and typically need to be adapted for the device. So a native app is developed for a particular device and its operating system. Native apps can be downloaded from app stores or web stores, online. Examples of well-known native apps used on mobile devices are calculator, camera and games. These apps, once downloaded, can be accessed offline. And, this feature makes them the ideal choice for delivering online learning content. Your learners can download the content published as a native app, when they are connected, and use it in areas of low or no bandwidth. Consider the following scenario.

A medical rep downloads a native app containing details about his firm’s latest antibiotic before proceeding to meet a physician in a primary health care center, located in a remote hamlet with very low bandwidth. When the doctor poses a query about the drug, the rep gets the required information instantly, by accessing the native app offline, and answers the query.

Check out this interesting post to know more about the use of mobile learning apps to deliver learning content.

To overcome the problem of poor bandwidth, you need to limit the size of your web-based course. It is important to replace images with text wherever possible and avoid videos. You can use native apps to deliver the online learning content, as they can be accessed offline once downloaded.Find out more about designing good web-based learning materials in the eBook Instructional Design 101: A Handy Reference Guide to E-learning Designers.

View E-book on E-learning 101: A Beginner's Guide to Understanding What E-learning is About