Magazine article Training & Development

Media Reviews

Magazine article Training & Development

Media Reviews

Article excerpt

The lion's share of desktop training programs cover Microsoft Office. Here's a look at courses from four of the main players.

ITC Learning offers a choice between a basic introduction and the Microsoft MOUS Certification course. The instruction uses both audio and video to provide a play-and-pause demonstration of an operation that's followed by applied practice. After checking for errors, users can repeat the practice or return to the tutorial. Test results display failed topics and ask users to load a second CD for additional learning segments; this requires disk swapping that could disrupt concentration.

Special features include a search and bookmark function and a student workbook that serves as a handy reference manual after course completion. Administrators can purchase a compatible, but separate, learning management program.

InfoSource's course offers three 1evels (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) for each component. Flexibility and user control are strengths of the InfoSource courses. Users can stop and start training, access assessments, and jump from topic to topic at any time. Likewise, users don't need to exit the training module to perform individual exercises. In a real-world context, features are introduced, explained, and then used to advance through a simulated work project. One problem: The version we tested lacked audio.

A notable administrative feature is the program's capability to designate required content for specific learners. However, the administrative area also features the courseware's main weakness: While learners receive a comprehensive report upon completion, administrators do not.

DiscoverWare seems to be aimed primarily at beginners who will appreciate the glossary that defines Word 2000 and general computer terms. The CD version is easy to install and allows for multiple users. When users launch the program, a menu displays categories with new Word 2000 features highlighted and explained. Its self-assessments can be taken at any time, and the assessments at the end of each lesson can be taken repeatedly. The program uses a buzzer and talking light-bulb character to spotlight instruction when users have a problem with a specific topic; some users may find this feature annoying. The program's major drawback: Grades are available only to the learner, not administrators. …

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