Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ACS Business Skills Fourth Access

After selecting courses for theACS Business Skills On-Line Pilot Program, I thought I should start. But how do I start a course?

The online system has a list of the courses I selected. When I click on the first I see a brief description, a title "Lesson Objectives" (with nothing under it), a Course Overview, two "Job Aids", "Skill Briefs". There are links from the aids and briefs. But I don't see a link to the actual course content.

There was an icon for "download", which brought up a pop-up window saying "You must install the SkillSoft Course Manager before downloading course content. Click OK if you would like to start this installation.". When I clicked on that it opened a further window telling me to print out the instructions before installing the "SkillSoft Course Manager" (whatever that is).When I then started the download, my browser crashed.

The instructions provided were somewhat confusing, saying the SkillSoft Course Manager was optional. But I could not find any way into the course, apart from downloading it. There is mention of being able to "play" courses on the web server while connected to the network, which seems to suggest the courses are in the form of video (or something else playable). There is then mention of security, licences, proxies, Windows Vista / Internet Explorer 7.0 protected mode.

At this point I have got as far as I can without asking for assistance. Normally I would send a mail message or enter one in the online help forum. But there was a live help chat window offered, so I thought I would try that. It displayed Please wait, you are next in line." so I started my stopwatch and waited. After about a minute I got a text message to say the helper was retrieving my details and under that a Flash window. I then had a text box to type into. The helper told me to click on the "play the course" link. It turned out this was a triangle on the screen with the ALT text label of "Launch Course ...".

Unfortunately clicking the course launch button crashed my browser. I was then asked to do a browser test, which also crashed the browser. I was then taken through checking the configuration of the browser. Then I was asked to delete all the Java temporary files. After 22 minutes we were still working our way through the process. It got complicated when I had to open the Java console and make some entries for SkillSoft.

When I tried to play the course it again crashed the browser. Impressively I was able to reconnect to the online chat and the help person was waiting for me. They suggested I reinstall Java, but as the application requires JRE 1.6.0_21 and I already have JRE 1.6.0_24, that should not be a problem. By now it was 35 minutes since asking for help and I was thinking it might have been better to send a message.

At the last minute it occurred to me to ask if it made a difference that I was running Linux. The helper advised that Linux was not guaranteed to work. Given I had spend more than thirty minutes trying to get the course to play and it was not guaranteed to work anyway, I decided it was time to abandon the attempt.

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