CXO

Getting on track with PC software training

Looking for an easy way to keep your software training library up-to-date without having to purchase the latest version each time a new version of an application comes out? Kevin Eikenberry reviews a Web site that can help your organization stay current.


If you have an internal training staff that delivers software training, or are thinking about bringing that function in-house, this week’s site is one you’ll want to visit. Training Express is in the crowded business of providing instructional materials for teaching popular PC applications.

This site features a simple design, and much of what distinguishes this firm from others in their business is described on the home page. Training Express learning guides are available as printed texts or in Adobe Acrobat PDF format (which they call an Electrobook). They deliver the Electrobooks via CD-ROM. Once you have the PDF file, you can use it online or print it out, based on your training and student needs. The licensing fee, interestingly enough, covers all of their titles, so if you had a new training need come up—your licensing fee would give you immediate access to their complete library.

Types of courses available
The list of available courses is extensive and the full list can be viewed from the site. Training Express offers a variety of individual modules in each of the following categories:
  • Operating systems
  • Internet access
  • Word processing
  • Database management
  • Spreadsheets
  • Graphics
  • Desktop publishing
  • Networking/groupware

One thing I noticed on the site is that you can view the tables of contents for most, but not all, of the modules. I was unable to view the sample modules included on the site at the time of my review. When I tried to download the PDF samples it provides, one for Word 97 and one for Excel 97, I received an error message. While I download and use PDF files often, I don’t know if I just had a bad download day, or if there was a problem with the site. Nevertheless, if you have an interest in using the products, I encourage you to take a look at the samples.

Other sections on the site
The menu bar on the top left of the site lists several sections. Some of the sections seem misnamed and take away from the focus of the organization’s products, including sections such as:
  • Msg Ctr, featuring threaded discussion lists, with some but not heavy usage
  • News and Tips, which has links to a variety of articles and areas related to the IT World
  • ITINFO, the archive for an e-mail newsletter reporting computing and Internet news & tips
  • ITRAIN, a link to the professional organization for IT Trainers

Overall impressions
This site loads quickly, is easy to maneuver in, and doesn’t suffer from graphic bloat. That said, Training Express doesn’t maintain its focus throughout the site. The information provided in the somewhat disparate sections is all good but not as focused on the training products area, which seems to be the real thrust and purpose of the site.

I was particularly disappointed by the lack of pricing information. While this site’s business model looks intriguing and would offer great flexibility to organizations whose software training needs might change frequently, the only way to get pricing information is to fill out a survey of sorts. This information, I’m sure, is designed to help tailor a licensing quote to your organization’s needs, but an average range of per-participant costs would be nice to help me evaluate these services more fully.

Overall, if you are looking for materials to help your organization with a wide range of PC software training, the approach and model provided by Training Express is worth looking into. If, while you are there, you have time to explore a little, serendipity may strike, helping you find something else you can use.

Kevin Eikenberry is President of The Discian Group , a learning consulting company in Indianapolis, IN.

If you have a Web site you’d like for us to review, please let us know by sending us a note . If you’d like to comment on this review, please post your comments at the bottom of the page.

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