'Seminar' CBT authoring software reviewed

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18th Jun 1999
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Seminar is available from Information Transfer Ltd, 15 Newmarket Road, Cambridge, CB5 8EG.
Tel: 01223 312227.

Seminar is advertised as 'the multimedia system for busy people' and in this respect it certainly lives up to its billing. It provides the simplest interface for creating computer-based training tutorials and assessments that I've seen to date. And how does it do that? By offering the 20% of features that provide you with 80% of what you're likely to need.

With Seminar you build your programme by selecting a screen template (presentations and a wide variety of question types), choosing a layout and then adding your own text, graphics, audio, video and backgrounds. The tool allows you to sequence these screens as you like.

Where Seminar can not compete is on features. The major CBT systems - Authorware, Toolbook, IconAuthor and so on - are literally packed with features and provide you with the flexibility to create truly intelligent programmes, backed up by a management system. And they cost much the same as Seminar (which is £995 for a single-user license and £4995 for a site license).

The other not so trivial issue is that Seminar creates off-line (that is hard disk or CD-ROM-based) materials, when the whole world and his dog is beginning to move online and deliver their training over a network and to a web browser. This makes the concept of Seminar seem a little dated.

Unfortunately the Seminar slogan 'you can do it' can only hold true for the authoring process. The trouble is that creating quality CBT materials is much more about design than it is authoring. There's also the small matter of creating all those images and of course the audio and video.

Nevertheless, if you have a simple need in mind and off-line delivery creates no difficulties then Seminar is the product that I would give my Granny to use. It's a doddle and that is important.

Reviewed by Clive Shepherd
Fastrak Consulting Ltd
301 Ditchling Road Brighton BN1 6JJ United Kingdom
Tel/fax: +44 (0)1273 561714

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