Network+ Sybex e-trainer CD-ROM, Boxed-Set

KT Solutions

Published by Sybex Inc, 2000
ISBN 10: 0782150012 / ISBN 13: 9780782150018
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Synopsis: Sybex offers new software products designed to help you make certification a reality. The A+, Network+, CCNA, and MCSE e-trainer products offer those studying for certification, adaptive learning, pre-assessment testing, and much more. The CCNA Virtual Lab provides those preparing for the CCNA exam the opportunity to practice in a simulated network environment consisting of three routers and a switch. Finally, the AutoCAD 2000 e-trainer provides customized training so users can learn the most essential techniques. Make the most of your exam preparation with Sybex e-trainer.

Review: The Network+ e-trainer is a substantial piece of software with a fair amount of depth for its price--if you're willing to overlook some minor (and they are minor) drawbacks when it comes to the interface design, this could be a one-stop shop for the networking novice who's looking to get certified.

The CD-ROM consists of two main parts: lesson modules and assessment exams. At the beginning of each section, you are asked to take an assessment exam, which then in turn suggests the test objectives that are your weak points. (Unfortunately, there's no support for multiple users, so if you're sharing the e-trainer with someone else, all of your assessment and progress exams will be averaged into each other--a drawback for corporate trainers.)

The lessons themselves consist of an audio narration accompanied by PowerPoint-like slides, using graphics and animations to clarify complex points. The depth of the topics is remarkable--many software programs in this price range are short on detail and don't provide much in the way of information, while this e-trainer has nearly as much information as an equivalently priced book.

The screen text that accompanies the audio narration is fairly sparse and gets quite boring at times. However, Sybex seems to have fixed the minor glitch, present in the A+ e-trainer, that cut off the audio narration whenever you switched programs. Now you can surf the Net and listen to the narrative in the background, switching back to the main screen whenever you need to look at an illustration or get further clarification. Also new to this version of the e-trainer is a button that gives you a text-based transcript of the audio track.

The graphics are clear and easily understood. Simple animations are shown at several points to clarify visual topics like physical network topologies, and they are also extremely well done--although the difference between logical and physical topologies might have been illustrated, since this is a topic that frequently confuses the networking beginner. If you are perplexed by any of the terms used in either the graphics or the text, selected words are hyperlinked to an electronic glossary. The glossary itself is comprehensive and explicit.

There is also the ability to take randomized tests made up of questions culled from the various pretests--the "Assessment" section of the software. Among the four 30-question tests from the "software" section, 20 out of 120 questions were repeats. This is reasonably effective but not as comprehensive as a dedicated testing program. The questions themselves were just right, being at about the same level of difficulty as the Network+ exam without being ridiculously hard. In addition, a number of notable typos ("Netbuei" and "Cleint" for example, and what brand of "NLMs" are used to "male Netware capable of storing files?") marred the professional nature of the product.

The major weakness of this e-trainer, however, is the post-game analysis. You get no feedback on what you got wrong in the preassessment tests, and when you take the assessment exams the process for figuring out what you did wrong is painful. Instead of being able to go back and look at the questions with your correct answers, you get a screen full of one-sentence facts, without the slightest reference to the questions that may have confused you. If, as many people do, you'd prefer to look at the questions and the multiple choices to see what might have confused you, doing so is a long process. You are forced to click on the wrong answer for every question you want to look at, drill down to the question screen, then exit out and scroll back down to get to the next question. Doing this 10 or 20 times for every single assessment test you take becomes very aggravating.

However, the topics are extensive, the questions are well-written, and if you can answer all the questions correctly, you'll be well prepared for the exam. If you can stomach a bit of trouble with the after-test assessment, this is a fine resource for the money. --William Steinmetz

Topics covered: Instruction on lesson modules and assessment is split up into 11 core sections that cover the knowledge needed for the Network+ exam, starting with basics like "Network Fundamentals" and "The OSI Model" and working all the way up to midrange topics like "Fault Tolerance and Disaster Recovery" and "Network Troubleshooting."

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Network+ Sybex e-trainer CD-ROM, Boxed-Set
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Publication Date: 2000
Book Condition: very good

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