Vendor to offer training via Internet

Distance-learning vendor PBS The Business Channel plans next month to kick off the first in a suite of training courses that it will deliver over the Internet directly to federal and commercial users' desktops.

Currently, The Business Channel, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Broadcasting Service, offers professional training and education classes via satellite. Through an agreement announced last month with Internet broadcasting service provider Broadcast.com, The Business Channel for the first time will offer live simulcasts and on-demand training courses over the Internet.

"This is a first for us," said Daniel Freedman, director of The Business Channel Online. "The advantage of the Internet is it goes to your desktop. You don't have to go to a training room or conference room. It also opens up the possibility of people accessing [training classes] at home. This is anytime, anywhere delivery of information."

A spokesman at the U.S. Postal Service, one of the company's largest users, said the agency has a "great partnership" with The Business Channel and is "exploring possible future delivery methods" such as the Internet. The Business Channel also counts the Energy Department, the Army Missile Command, and the Fish and Wildlife Service among its users.

Broadcast.com will receive live video and audio from The Business Channel via satellite and then encode it for simultaneous delivery or "streaming" over the Internet. Courses also will be available over the Internet on demand. In addition, interactive features—such as online quizzes and bulletin boards and the ability to chat with instructors and other classmates—will be available during live Internet classes.

Tim Sanders, director of educational services at Broadcast.com, said the Internet is becoming an easy and popular way to deliver content. "We have been approached by every major content provider of executive training to help them have an answer for the Web," he said.

The Business Channel will offer its first Internet-based course March 2. "Internet Commerce" will be presented by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Advanced Educational Services. Other courses to be offered include "Y2K: Triage for Minimizing Organizational Risk" and "Use of Information Technology in Project Management."

For more information, visit The Business Channel's World Wide Web site at www.pbstbc.com.

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