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Extension Technology and
Computer Services


University of Missouri-Columbia   Extension Technology and Computer Services—ETCS

  April 2000
Vol. 17, No. 2

A Technology Newsletter for Extension Specialists



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Training On Demand
by Bill McFarland

ETCS continues to search for new and improved training methods and applications. Recently we have been experimenting with training on demand. That phrase doesn't refer to training that you demand, but training when you want it. These techniques might also be called just-in-time-training, like the modern manufacturing method, just-in-time-inventory.

It seems we learn best when we receive the instruction we need quickly and just when we need to know it. Then the next time we want to do the same thing, if we don't remember, we must get those instructions again. We need some technology to help us with delivering instructions on demand like this.

We have pointed out that the Office 97 package is full of Help files, tips, and even a little paper clip character to help you learn his applications. Not everybody likes the little paper clip guy, and few of us really like to read, or else we would have been reading the manuals. So what else can we do? Use the Network.

With this issue of Inner Circuits we introduce a new training feature to be found on the ETCS Web site: Tips in Less Than a Minute. This is an ongoing process, building a database of multimedia tips on using your computer more efficiently, which can be found at You'll find tips in 9 categories: Outlook, Windows, Anti-virus, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Internet Netscape, Explorer, and CEIS.

We have created these tips using the Multimedia software, Flash. Each tip will show you one or more computer screens, with animation and voice narration, so there is nothing to read. Just listen and watch. Watch for the Stop, Rewind and Play buttons so you can replay the tip until you get it. Be sure your speakers are plugged in and turned on before accessing Tips in Less than a Minute. If you have never accessed a Flash movie before, the first time you click on a Tip, you will be prompted to install the Shockwave player. Just click yes and in a minute it will continue downloading the tip and play it on your computer. The next tip will just come down and play when you click on it.

We have constructed our tips to download and play over the standard 56Kb line of our connected counties in less than a minute. Each tip is short and to the point. For instance, it takes us 5-6 minutes using the telephone to tell someone exactly how to check which version of the anti-virus software they have. There is a 20 second tip that does exactly the same thing.

This multimedia tips database will grow over this year, but may never be considered comprehensive. We want tips that are focused on the specific needs of our Extension users at their office computers. We know what many of these are from the calls that we get. We also would like to hear from you on topics we haven't yet covered. Email ETCS and fill in the blank, "Can you show me in 45 seconds, or less, how to …?"



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