The Internet is a network for learning, not merely a means for disseminating information. During its early days, most activity was oriented towards dissemination of information. But as Net developed, greater emphasis was placed on learning. Today we are seeing sprouting of dynamic learning tools. In future, broadband will allow real video for even better learning.
At beginning, almost every website offered information of some sort. The information was presented as:
> FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions were ubiquitous. Sometimes these FAQs listed user questions, But mostly, website owners concocted questions and presented answers. Fortunately, use of FAQs has decreased considerably, except perhaps on product support pages
> CHECK LISTS - Soon lists became more useful. They indicated things to be considered in planning, buying, designing, building, maintaining or doing specific tasks
> PICTURES - Pictures were originally included on some sites as decoration. But more and more they are now used to provide information: officers of a company, sightseeing locations, images of products
> DRAWINGS AND CHARTS - Drawings were used to explain products. Charts were used a great deal by financial community to depict financial events
> ARTICLES - We soon realized that lists and illustrations are not enough. We began to write articles on every aspect of Internet and on every aspect of products and services we were selling. Today we are in "age of articles". They are everywhere
After a few years on Net, more people realized that a website should not present information but enable visitors to learn. They realized that visitor learning is key.
Visitors learned directly from website or through experts related to or visiting website. In latter category are:
> EXPERT SITES - A visitor asks a question or presents a problem and an expert replies
> DISCUSSION BOARDS - A continous discussion of issues or problems in a given field
> MAILING LISTS - Similar to Discussion Boards, but executed via email
Discussion boards and mailing lists have an additional virtue: They enable building of a community (deserving of a separate article).
To learn directly from website, we have used:
> QUIZES - The questions on a given quiz enabled quiz taker to determine aptitude for art or business, to discover whether he needed a product or service, or to assess his status with regards to insurance or investment