Online Training for XML (1/2) - exploring XML | WebReference

Online Training for XML (1/2) - exploring XML

Online Training for XML

The Web is used for many purposes these days, and educational training is no exception. Many sites provide online courses that require nothing but a Web browser and an Internet connection. Not surprisingly technical training is at the top of the list, since the targeted audience is mostly already Web-savvy.

Now the first courses on XML started appearing on the Web, and I took a look at some of them to see what they could teach me. The offerings I examined were:

FirstClass Systems

FirstClass Systems focuses on Technology Based Training (TBT) with extensive libraries covering Information Technology, Professional & Business Development Skills, PC End User, and Certification Paths. They carry a broad range of courses with more than 10,000 hours of training. The browser based internet and intranet training management systems allow them to service individuals and corporations alike.

FirstClass Systems was so kind to provide me with an account on their site to investigate their recently added XML curriculum, developed by

I took the first course, which is pretty much a condensed version of the other courses. The XML programmer curriculum is designed to guide students from the basics of eXtensible Markup Language (XML) to an intermediate level. Students will learn how to define their own XML-based markup language, including the creating of a Document Type Definition (DTD). Coverage also includes a module on the XML Linking Language (XLink), the standard for linking XML documents that permits a much more robust type of hyperlink than HTML, and the XML Style Language (XSL), which allows style information to be assigned to XML markup elements. In addition, the library covers more advanced features of XML such as namespaces, schemas, etc.

In addition to running the course in your browser you can take a multiple-choice test to verify your newly acquired knowledge and fill out an evaluation form for feedback. Running this course required Internet Explorer 5.0 or later, though.

An introductory page covers most beginning questions on XML such as the relation to HTML. XML Comprehensive is entirely self-paced -- you can log on and off any time, and use the bookmark tool to mark your location for future reference. The course is comprised of five modules. Each module includes three or four lessons, for a total of 18 lessons. There is also an appendix of online resources. The course is interactive -- it utilizes audio streaming pop-up boxes, several practice exercises, practical and theoretical assignments, end-of-module tests, and a final exam. In addition, there are various help tools, including an XML Comprehensive Chat Room, a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), a Glossary with XML-related terms and definitions, and XML Email Help.

The module test consists of ten or so questions, most of them multiple-choice, some of them short text entries. The employed scheme of clicking a button for submitting the answer and then clicking another button to move on to the next question is a bit awkward but bearable. On the first test I got 3 of 10 wrong, the answers aren't always obvious but the subsequent test feedback always includes 2-3 sentences explaining the rationale for the correct answers. The final exams works exactly like the module tests, but simply covering all the modules' topics. Lucky for me I got many of the same questions back from the module tests, so I scored slightly better this time, although not good enough for the required 75% to pass the test. Also lucky for me I call myself XML explorer, not XML expert... anyhow, more concentration might be in order. Fourty questions are a lot indeed , and the response time of the site could be better from where I am coming from, across the Atlantic.

On a humorous note:
For the question: "When is it appropriate to use XML?"
I picked the answer: "When I want to add a buzz word to my resume."
I am still wondering why this is deemed not true, it seems to work for many resumes I have seen in the recent past.... oh those academic guys have no idea... ;-)

The account history keeps track of all course activity and taken exams, which might appeal to people who want to have their progess tracked and reported, and to companies in countries where this sort of employee performance check is not illegal.

Let's look at other offerings...

Produced by Michael Claßen

Created: Feb 27, 2001
Revised: Feb 27, 2001