CXO

Project 98 has been discovered by a new CBT

If you're considering using a CBT to learn Microsoft Project 98, Bob Potemski reviews a CBT product designed by Canadian CBT newcomer DiscoverWare.


Discover Project 98 is a recently released computer-based training tool from Canadian CBT newcomer DiscoverWare. As CBTs go, Discover Project 98 is a nicely packaged, attractive product. While I'll stop short of recommending this CBT for across-the-board training, a number of features make it suitable for Project 98 beginners. Maybe that's what the company is aiming for. After all, the product is called Discover Project 98.
CBT product from DiscoverWare Unit price: $65Volume discounts are available926-5th Avenue SW, Fifth FloorCalgary, Alberta Canada T2P 0N71-800-465-3641
Ease of use
Installing the CBT tool was very quick (15 seconds). The installation program asked if it was okay to display an icon on my desktop before actually doing so, which I found to be rather thoughtful. The initial program load was fast, and it took my name and explained how to come back at a later time to wherever I had left off. No negatives here.

User interface
Some of the icons, while slick and modern-looking, did not clearly represent their assigned functions. For example, the main menu icon is three stacked horizontal bars, the self-test icon is a check mark, and the glossary icon is the letters AZ (see Figure A below). These icons aren’t intuitive, and going through the instructions to decipher them will be off-putting to someone who wants to jump right into the training itself. I also found no equivalent to Windows-based ToolTips for identifying the buttons as you mouse over them.

Figure A
Discover Project 98’s main icons


The main menu choices are plain white text on a dark brown background with a font that’s on the small side (see Figure B). I had to put on my reading glasses to see the menu choices adequately.

Figure B
Discover Project 98’s main menu


Clicking on one of those links opens a submenu—in even smaller type—which shows you the time it takes to complete the training on that subject. The menus are clear and help the user target the areas in which he or she wants to be trained.

Once you begin a module, a new training window opens. In most cases the training window shows all or part of a Project 98 wind ow. You receive audio prompts to tell you the purpose of each feature under discussion and to test your knowledge. For example, you may be asked to click on a drop-down menu. You can move forward and backward through the training module. Again, some of these icons are rather arcane. The button described in Help as the "Replay instructions" button looks somewhat like a sideways version of the stick logo from “The Blair Witch Project” (see Figure C).

Figure C
VCR-style navigation buttons


The biggest problem is that the back and forward buttons only take you to the start of the current module or beginning of the next one, respectively. There is no provision for reviewing just a sentence that you missed or a term you didn't understand. You review the whole module or none of it. Nor can you "fast forward" to a spot just a few minutes later in the training. You can only jump to the next module.

Once you're in the interactive segment, clicking the Replay instructions button repeatedly moves you from instruction to instruction, allowing you to skip over the explanatory narration. While advanced users may be able to use this feature to their advantage, it may make it too easy for some folks to "cheat." It takes a certain amount of discipline to work your way through a CBT without coasting. If someone is not particularly motivated to complete the CBT effectively, skipping explanations or asking the product to do it for you are easy ways to get through training quickly, but with minimum benefit.

Instructional design and assessment
The self-assessments, which are designed to measure pre- and post-CBT knowledge, leave something to be desired. Three types of questions are used:
  • Drag and drop
  • True/false
  • Matching

Drag and drop is a bit slow to sit through. True/false and matching are subject to the same limitations as they've been subject to since grade school; it’s too easy for someone to guess. The biggest shortcoming of any assessment function on this CBT is that if you give an incorrect answer, the product prompts you to try again, but gives you a huge hint. To me, this takes the challenge out of learning and the validity out of the assessment vehicle.
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Bob’s overall opinion
I would not use this product as the sole means by which to teach someone an application as complex as Project 98. However, it could serve as a good introduction for a brand new user, especially if follow-up training is a part of the individual's overall development strategy.

Bob Potemski, MS, CTT, is a writer and trainer transplanted from New York. He and his five dogs now make their home in the Midwest. Bob has a bachelor's degree in science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's degree in counseling from Long Island University. He has spent the last 10 years working in human development.

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