Live online instruction on office.

Author:Vachon, Lorraine

Microsoft Live Office, 2004, KnowledgeNet (877-688-3717,, $2,490 for 10 students. Session archives, student guide, performance support tool.

In an effort to combine live expert training with the convenience of Internet delivery, KnowledgeNet launched KnowledgeNet Live, an innovative blend of traditional and web-based training approaches.

KnowledgeNet divides each course into two parts: core and expert. Core classes introduce learners to the application and help them navigate through its many features. For example, learners explore an application's menus, learn to customize the toolbars, and perform basic tasks such as using templates and creating and formatting documents. Expert classes, as the name implies, cover advanced features. In an expert Excel class, for instance, you'd learn to perform v-lookups, create macros, and perform simple editing using visual basic.

When you attend a "live" class, you enter the "KnowledgeNet theatre," a virtual classroom that enables you to listen to your instructors as they work in the application and demonstrate various tasks. Although learners cannot speak with the instructors, the classroom includes a chat feature. If you set the chat to "my questions," you can write questions and submit them to the instructors who will respond to your question quickly. If you set the chat to "all questions," you'll see questions submitted by others as well as the instructor responses. Typically, the instructors incorporate questions and answers into the class session so there's little if any interruption to the training flow.

The class duplicates the content you'd receive if you attended a class at an off-site training facility. However, in a traditional class you'd expect the instructor to inject tips and shortcuts while demonstrating various tasks in the application. You'll find that the KnowledgeNet instructors deliver the same attention to detail. In classes I attended, the instructors shared keyboard shortcuts, time-saving tips, customization options, and pointed out common features among Office products.

The KnowledgeNet instructors shared their expertise in ways other than tips and shortcuts. They recognized that some learners might want to demonstrate their Office skills via certification. When appropriate, the instructors alert you to content areas you should learn well if you intend to prepare for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification.

Although the "live" classroom...

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