It's Microsoft's world and the rest of us are just living in it. Especially for people who work in a modern office setting, that's the proverbial perception that equals reality. If you need to create a document, then you use Word. For a spreadsheet, it's Excel. And PowerPoint is one of those brand names, like Kleenex and Xerox, that's essentially become synonymous in the English language with the product it brands. Having a strong working knowledge of Microsoft Office products is a skill that's richly rewarded: In our recent 2014 Salary Survey, Certification Magazine tracked an average annual salary of more than $59,000 for the Microsoft Office Specialist - Expert certification.
So there's a clear rationale behind TestOut Corporation's development of its newest courseware and certification product, the brand new TestOut Office Pro. This is a training tool and certification combo that seems certain to have staying power. Office Pro, which has a formal release date of April 1 — no foolin' — is targeted at high school and college students who want to master Microsoft Office 2013, and covers the database tool Access in addition to the power trio of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Office Pro takes its place alongside an impressive array of products in the TestOut Pro line, which includes PC Pro, Network Pro and Security Pro, among others.
According to TestOut media materials, Office Pro contains 112 interactive training videos (including optional text-based resources) to give students an overview of Office tools and functionality. The real gem of TestOut courseware, however, is its LabSim simulations that let students walk through real-world technology tasks in a simulated environment. Each section of the new Office Pro contains three different types of labs, and a student who completes the entire course will work through 149 different simulations. OfficePro also comes with a certification exam that confers TestOut's Office Pro credential on those who pass it (and is an excellent precursor to Microsoft's Office Specialist exams).
Helping students build a strong foundation for successful careers in IT is TestOut's stated mission, but Pro products are also designed to make life easier for overworked technology instructors. With video instruction and simulations easing the burden of lectures and homework, Office Pro frees up time for teachers to work one-on-one with struggling students.
TestOut CEO Noel Vallejo said a statement to media that TestOut's focus on helping students succeed and acquire long-term learning skills is what makes the company unique. "“We created a learning model and certification which will benefit students even after the class is over,” Vallejo said. “Guessing how to complete tasks in Office is different than knowing how to do it. We don’t want students guessing with any of our courses, we want them to know how to do something with confidence."
As with other TestOut products, Office Pro is available free to technology instructors on a 30-day trial basis.