The SmartForce Server is on Course!
By Dr. Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner, Student Computing Services Manager
The SmartForce CBT system is now fully functional and at last, the UNT community again has easy access to comprehensive training for a variety of computer skills. SmartForce is an innovative computer-based training system offered free of charge to all UNT faculty, staff, and students on the main campus, at the System Center and at the Health Science Center. It offers courses on a large variety of information technology topics such as Java Programming, Novell NetWare, Microsoft Office, and UNIX on your own machine through the Internet.
I would like to open this article by expressing my thanks to the UNT Library staff who have maintained this system for several years and who provided me with invaluable information to help me continue with the new SmartForce implementation. Additional collaborative help was provided by Dr. Philip Baczewski and Craig Terrell (Computing Center) and Dr. Michael Vanecek and Mike Hatch (College of Business).
What do these training services mean for UNT?
Perhaps most importantly, now training in many of the latest software packages (for example, Microsoft Office, Visual Basic, and Oracle database systems) can be accessed quickly and easily by those on campus whose productivity depends on the effective use of these products. New administrative assistants who need to train in Office 2000, students wanting to extend the usability of their desktop workstations with vb-scripting, or network managers who need to train new tech personnel on Novell server software now have a way to get such information immediately and for free. SmartForce courses can provide valuable tutorial materials for faculty to use as a resource in the classroom and for outside study. Staff members wishing to update their job skills for future promotion will also want to use this resource.
How can I access SmartForce?
A special informative Website has been created at http://www.unt.edu/smartforce/, providing login access to the SmartForce Campus Server and containing links for course contents, FAQs, and other tech support. Additionally, a link is provided to the SmartForce Player application which must be loaded on a user's machine before course playback can be initiated. The SmartForce Player is similar to the Flash Plugin. SmartForce courses can be played back using either Internet Explorer or Netscape, however they do not run on the Macintosh or Linux platforms. See the FAQ portion of the SmartForce Website for more information about loading the SmartForce player and logging in to the courses.
Who is eligible to use SmartForce?
All faculty, students, and staff at the main campus and the System Center have user accounts and passwords pre-loaded into the system. Faculty and staff at the Health Science Center also have accounts. Non-benefits eligible employees and Health Science Center students, however, will need to register for an account with the SmartForce administrator. See the account registration information Website for instructions about this.
Faculty and staff are welcome to contact me for more information about creating custom training CD-ROMs. Using the administrative tools available on the SmartForce server, I can design curriculum, create special student groups, and generate progress reports for grading and evaluation purposes. Faculty are asked to please contact me at least a half-semester in advance for these services. SmartForce has already been successfully used this summer in several BCIS courses and in many staff training situations. See the CD-ROM request Website for more information about these services.
Plans for the future
It is my hope that by streamlining the login process and providing an informative Website and customized technical support that the UNT community will begin to take full advantage of this digital training opportunity. Additionally, you are encouraged to thoroughly explore the course table of contents of the server and to send me suggestions for course titles that we might order from SmartForce E-Learning Company in the future. My immediate plans for the system include experimentation with making SmartForce available via WebCT, therefore opening up the possibility of building "custom course Websites" for distributed learning programs. For more information, technical support, and suggestions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.