Richcoleen wrote in to the TechRepublic forums with a question about developing training materials. This TechRepublic member was familiar with the subjects, Windows 98 and Microsoft Office, but overwhelmed by the scope of the project and was frustrated due to “spinning my wheels on new training system.”

“I have been asked to create a training class on the usage of Windows 98 and Microsoft Office. Although I know this material very well, I am spinning my wheels when it comes to creating a classroom type program. My company has just begun using Win98 and Office 97 this past year and there are still some people who do not understand the concept of ‘right-clicking.’ Please help me, I am running out of tread.”

Courseware and needs assessment
Al H. won some of the 125 TechPoints riding on this forum post by recommending some off-the-shelf training materials:

“If you’re planning on classroom, hands-on presentations (the best training method, IMHO), you’ll need good courseware. There’s no need to reinvent that wheel you’re spinning. You can buy courseware from a number of vendors. After trying seven different names, I finally settled on PTS Learning Systems and their CustomDOC. Buy the CD and the course licenses you want, create a Word document from the application, tweak it the way you like, and print and bind with a local printing service.”

Richcoleen also accepted this solution fromJkconsult, who suggested conducting a needs assessment before doing anything else:

“Big job! Not because of the material, but the users. Vital: Do a needs assessment. Best is testing, but at least do a self-assessment for each participant. Group students according to experience (or self-rating). You need to start from the beginning with some people but do NOT want to have the rest bored to tears.

“I agree that buying materials is a good idea—I use Ziff Davis manuals myself.

“Also—modularize! Create lots of smaller classes (even if you’re using one big manual)—easier to keep their attention and easier to give people only the material they need.”

Help from the Web
Jbelina suggested a couple of online resources for training help: has free online training on Windows 98 and Office 97. You might get some course ideas from this site. You can’t print out the courses, but they may give you some ideas for your own course. Also check out; they have a number of free online books that might be helpful for you.”
This site also offers AlphaBooks, a section that lets you get an advance look at books that are still being written. Click here to read TechRepublic’s article on this service.
Advice for the click-challenged
Savagetj has a classroom tip for helping students understand the difference between left- and right-clicking:

“One thing that you can do is have students go into Control Panel > Mouse and then change the properties to right-clicked mouse (basically set up for a ‘lefty’) to get them to understand that there are differences between left and right mouse buttons. Then switch back. Then, even though you are not teaching a different application, take them into something like Word and show them what happens when you left-click and what happens when you right-click. They will get a better idea that way.”