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From Beginners to Advanced Users

Zoran Bekic <Zoran.Bekic@CARNet.hr> , Miroslav Milinovic <Miroslav.Milinovic@srce.hr>


1. Introduction
2. Training Activities
3. Complementary User Support Activities
4. Future Plans
5. Conclusion


A wide range of educational activities is required to increase average user's knowledge and keep him in touch with the development of the new services and tools on the Net. These activities should be complemented with intensive and extensive publication activities and dedicated events. Each type of user requires continuous helpdesk/hotline services.

1. Introduction

Croatian Academic and Research Network - CARNet, primarily ISP for A&R community, has a specific role in spreading and implementation of the new information technologies. With the rapid growth of the Internet we have experienced an immense increase in the volume and range of the information available on the Net. In order to give users the possibility to exploit Internet as an information resource a special effort in spreading necessary network skills and upgrading user knowledge about information technology has been made.

A wide range of user support activities is required to increase user's knowledge and keep him in touch with the development of the new services and tools on the Net. Training activities (courses, workshops) should be combined with a variety of the other activities such as user support activities, pilot projects, dedicated events and publication activities.

One should not underestimate the importance of the trainers training. It is important to plan and carry out training activities for trainers and user support personnel. Permanent improvement of all educational activities is an absolute necessity.

2. Training Activities

Central role in our training activities is reserved for the courses. In order to fulfill the needs of the A&R community wide range of courses is planned, prepared and delivered. So called network courses are emphasized. Nevertheless, the topics connected with the PC platforms (MS-DOS, MS-Windows, related software) are not neglected.

In 1994. the whole system of the courses that were held in the University Computing Centre has been reorganized. Using the results and tradition, a new system based on short and focused courses prepared to improve user's network skills has been designed.

Goals were:

The courses have been devided in five main groups:

The full list of courses for the end users (course groups A, B, C) in the school year 1996/97 is listed in the table bellow.

Code Title Duration
Days x Hours
Required Knowledge
A Presentations
A00First Day on the CARNet
(Introducing Internet and CARNet)
1 x 3 ---
A01Access to the CARNet: Local Network or Modem 1 x 2 A00
B Base Level Courses
B11Introduction to UNIX 1 x 5 basic knowledge about computers
B24Telnet and FTP 1 x 3 A00, A01, B11, B51
B25Electronic Mail 1 x 5 A00, A01, B11, B51
B26Mailing Lists and Netnews 1 x 3 B24, B25
B27Gopher and WAIS 1 x 3 B24, B25
B28World Wide Web 1 x 4 B24, B25
B51Introduction to MS DOS (6.2) and MS Windows (3.11) 2 x 5 ---
B57Introduction to MS Office 4.3
(Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
5 x 5 B51
C Advanced Courses
C31Searching the Internet 1 x 6 B26, B27, B28
C32Information Publishing with Gopher 1 x 5 B26, B27
C32HTML Authoring 2 x 5 B26, B28

The network courses' schema, presented bellow, has been designed to help users in finding the proper individual course schedule.

A schedule for basic and full training is also recommended.

In addition to the above WWW pages as a support to our user training activities have been prepared. On URL: http://www.srce.hr/tecajevi (Croatian language only) users can learn about our training activities, read basic information about each course and examine the timetable of courses held in current and next month.

Since the decision to permanently develop our courses by improvement of existent and adding the new ones has been made, we are constantly examining the results of training. Users are encouraged to fill in the questionnaire after the course. Through their opinions and reactions we get the valuable data. Nevertheless, we use input from other support teams especially from user support service. At the end of each school year training activities for the next period are planned.

One of our major results was spreading the courses delivery outside of Zagreb to the other university cities in Croatia. To fulfill that task we have chosen and trained the suitable trainers.

Our helpdesk service participates in the courses' organization as an information and reservation desk.

Since 1992, when the first network course was delivered, over 600 courses for over 11000 attendants were held. These figures are presented in the table bellow.

Network Courses Other Courses Total
School Year Courses Attendants Courses Attendants Courses Attendants
1992/93 10 66 57 591 67 657
1993/94 --- --- 79 1460 79 1460
1994/95 120 2478 61 885 181 3363
1995/96 135 2266 53 856 188 3122
till 01.03.97.
86 2099 28 536 124 2635

3. Complementary User Support Activities

As we have learned in the past five years traditional and even network based learning is definitely not enough. Some complementary user support activities are necessary.

Our Helpdesk service has been organized to become a single, competent contact point for end users. Users can contact our service by e-mail (helpdesk@CARNet.hr), phone, fax, post or by personal contact during working hours and ask for help or an information. E-mail contact is preffered. Helpdesk has proper connection with the experts in all fields to assure quality of the response. Our helpdesk service handles over 250 questions and comments per month just by e-mail.

Such an activity has to be enforced by proper publication activities. The collection of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers gopher://regoc.srce.hr:70/11/.novosti/FAQ (only in Croatian language) is being constantly developed. On CARNet's central WWW server (http://www.carnet.hr) WWW pages with advices on selected topics and services (http://www.carnet.hr/news/praktk.html - only in Croatian language) are prepared.

It is very important to give the user proper information at the right time. Netnews and mailing lists together with our information services (WWW, gopher) are used to achieve this goal.

In addition, pilot project and dedicated events are also important activities. Through the pilot projects information technology penetrates in some fields of interest or communities. Such a project improves the network skills in a traditionally closed or disinterested environment. Organization or participation in dedicated events is also an important opportunity for widespreading the information and basic knowledge.

At last, we must mention paper publications. In the present situation printed material is an absolute necessity especially for the beginners. Besides the short reference materials, that are parts of training activities, "CARNet - User's Manual" was prepared. This book was designed and published to be suitable for fast and permanent changes. Second edition has just been published and it is popular among users.

4. Future Plans

Besides the plans we wrote about in the above text we have two additional goals in the future.

First, we want to enlarge our activities in planning and carrying out training for trainers and user support personnel. Through this we will improve the quality of the whole user support service.

Second, we will emphasize network based methods of training. We plan to design and develop WWW based tutorials accessed over the network.

5. Conclusion

Analyzing CARNet's experience we reached the conclusion that a wide range of educational activities is required to increase average user's knowledge.

Three of these activities must be stressed:


  1. http://www.srce.hr/tecajevi
  2. http://www.carnet.hr
  3. gopher://regoc.srce.hr:70/11/.novosti/FAQ
  4. Zoran Bekic, Hana Breyer, Ana Marija Cecuk, Cedomir Igaly, Darija Meter, Miroslav Milinovic, Mladen Vedris: CARNet - User's Manual, second edition, Zagreb, October 1996.

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