Computer-Based Training: it's baaaaack! [well, almost]

ADA Accessible Version

It seems like ages since I've given any updates on computer-based training at UNT (remember Smartforce? Skillsoft? Knowledgnet? Microsoft?) but I am back with good news. All of those lovely courses in Adobe and Macromedia products and web design, Oracle 9i, and Linux and UNIX are going to be launched within the next couple of weeks. The new Skillport system is in place and the final step of loading all UNT enterprise accounts is the only one left. Knowledgnet with its full suite of Microsoft Office training courses is also almost set - once again simply waiting on account loading. The active (or if I want to use Peoplesoft terminology: 'go live!') date will be announced via Groupwise and various campus listservs and other announcement venues. So keep your eyes open for these announcements.

First of all, those of you who use computer-based-training often may have wondered "What took you so long, Elizabeth? Were you just goofing off during the past few months?" Well.....ahem....no, I was actually learning three new cbt systems and setting up a new server and secure authentication environment. Actually the Microsoft training for faculty and staff available from Microsoft itself has been up and running since January and hopefully many of you are using it. To review my instructional article about that training, go to http://www.unt.edu/benchmarks/archives/2004/february04/cbt.htm . The old Smartforce and Skillsoft training was disabled simply because it would not run effectively on newer desktop systems. Additionally, I wanted to switch - for security and reliability reasons (can you say 'sasser worm'?) - from a Microsoft server-based product to a Linux server-based product. Finally, I wanted all computer-based-training to be accessible via EUID and enterprise services password so that my system would be similar to the way our new Peoplesoft system and the my.unt.edu is set up.

All computer-based training is now accessed via a server running Debian GNU/Linux, Apache web server 1.3 and Tomcat 4 java server. You connect to this training with your EUID and enterprise services password. In order to prepare everyone for that 'go live' date, I am going to go ahead here and provide the instructional tutorials for accessing the Skillport training (the Knowledgnet tutorial is in a separate article in June).

Getting Online with Skillport

Skillport is ADA-accessible and has been tested by members of my staff and members of the Office of Disability Accomodation for compatibility with popular screen readers such as JAWS. With the exception of a few forgotten 'alt' tags here and there, everything seems to be in order. However, persons with disabilities are encouraged to contact me at ehinkle@unt.edu should there be any further issues that we missed in testing.

All computer-based training at UNT is now web-based. There are no longer cds available for this training because the newer technology is apparently not 'packageable' on cd-rom. To access Skillport go to https://cbt.acs.unt.edu/logon.htm. Login to the system with your EUID and enterprise services password. You will then come to a second page once you are authenticated as a current UNT community member - press the Continue to Skillport button to connect to the UNT Skillport website.

You will eventually be presented with your personal Skillport homepage. The major sections of the homepage include many ways to customize your workspace and search for the items you need. On the top righthand corner of the screen are links to customize your user information (the link reads 'customize'); Help (this link gets you to a manual about Skillport); Log Out (where you log out from your session); and a Site Map. Directly below these links and the Skillport logo are two large buttons for accessing your home page or for viewing the catalog (or curriculum) of courseware. Beneath this is a search engine where you can type a specific term into the search form blank and have a complete listing of the courses dealing with that term returned to you. On the lefthand menu are links for My Plan (design your own curriculum), My Favorites (create links to your most used training areas) and My Report which allows you to generate progress reports about your work.

To view and select your course choices click on the Catalog button. You will then be take to the course categories.

The following course topics and courses are found under these categories:



Keep clicking on the linked courses to get to the chapter you want to study. You will be given a complete course description and the option to add it to your favorites, course plan, or to download the course (requires additional software installation on your computer - Skillport will prompt you for this installation).

If you don't know what course to take, search the topic in which you are interested using the search engine found on the homepage. Type in a search term such as 'java' and hit Enter. All courses dealing with Java will be returned to you.

Please note that the only account information that has been loaded into Skillport is your Name. If you wish to add your email address or further customize your account, choose "Customize" at the top of the webpage. Select the link 'update your user profile' from those provided. You can add your email address in the appropriate form field.

Finally, if you want to generate a report of your progress, click on My Report over on the lefthand menu to get a complete listing of your work.

After you are finished taking the courses you wish, simply logout (at the top righthand corner of the page). Skillport will 'remember' everything you have done. A 'thank you for using Skillport' logout screen will appear.

This is simply a description of the basics of how to navigate the new system. Once I announce that the accounts are all loaded, refer back to this article to review these instructions on how to move around the Skillport website. Once you are in the website, just find the courses you need, click on them so they can load and enjoy!

I will be posting more articles on advanced features and their use in the June issue of Benchmarks. In the meantime, all updates, tutorials, and other relevant links to computer-based-training at UNT can be found at http://www.unt.edu/cbt/ - the official computer-based-training website. Any questions about the new cbt setup should be directed to me at ehinkle@unt.edu.