According to the press release, “This new Web site helps individuals understand what types of technical skills they need for the jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities of today and tomorrow, and resources to help acquire these skills.”
Because I’m always up for learning, I thought I would take a quick look at the computer courses offered through the new portal. Despite the Elevate America name, I didn’t see anything that made me think people outside the US people would be blocked from the course. I suspect the name has more to do with eligibility for grants.
The portal offers 5 online classes in two different versions. These include:
- Computer Basics
- The Internet and the World Wide Web
- Productivity Programs
- Computer Security and Privacy
- Digital Lifestyles
You may be wondering more about the “Productivity Programs”. If you read the short description, it references word processors, spreadsheets, presentation programs and databases. The demos themselves show Word, Excel and so on.
The two versions differ by operating system and program version. As you might guess, the courses are Windows-centric. Yes, that means you have to take the course with Internet Explorer. The Original Version uses images and text from Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003. Version II uses Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. You are not required to have Microsoft Office.
Getting to the Online Tutorials
The Elevate America portal includes more than online computer courses such as certification information or additional training centers. If you’re a non-profit, you might want to look at some of their community offerings, which is why I’m starting here.
1. With Internet Explorer, navigate to http://www.microsoft.com/elevateamerica.
2. Scroll to the bottom and click the Get Started Now button under the Get the Basics block. This will redirect you to the Digital Literacy Home page.
3. Scroll to the bottom of the Digital Literacy home page and select your language and click Go.
4. On the next page, choose the curriculum version you need. Courses are the same; it’s just the screen shots and steps that differ.
5. Make a course selection.
Although these are considered “online courses”, you can download them to your PC. This might be handy if you’re heading someplace that has slow internet access.
On balance, I think the courses are a nice offering. Each class can take between 2-3 hours although you don’t need to do them in one sitting with the exception of the test. The classes are nicely organized with discrete topics. The system allows you to view specific topics or search for content.
Before you start, I strongly recommend you view the Navigation Overview section for your class. This segment introduces you to a unique navigation system on the bottom of the panel. At first, I didn’t like it but grew to appreciate it. It segments content so if you just want to see multimedia content, you can click the dedicated icon.
Although I liked the usability aspects of the navigator, there were other items I disliked. To begin, I couldn’t get the courses to operate on my notebook. I got an error stating the program requires a minimum screen resolution of 1024 x768. My notebook setting was 1280x720.
I also disliked that a course, at times, opens too many browser windows. In some cases, a demonstration would play in the same window. Other times, such as when I clicked the Launch button, two more browser windows opened. In some cases, the window was not sized correctly and I couldn’t maximize it. This resulted in me hunting for some of the controls that weren’t fully viewable. This time I was using a monitor with more than the minimum required size: 1152x854.
I wouldn’t let my observations deter you from trying any of these free online computer courses. While I didn’t take all the classes, I think there’s enough good content for most people. If you need more training you might consider some of the other online software training vendors we’ve reviewed.
Last Updated (Saturday, 19 June 2010 15:48)