Too cool for school? Use the Net to learn how to use your new software.

By Cat Schwartz

It may seem strange to learn how to use Outlook Express from a Martian, or Internet Explorer 5 from a TV-shaped cartoon. However, some of the best online tutorials I've come across are at actDEN.

The site is geared toward teachers teaching students about IE, OE, FrontPage, PowerPoint, and Office. Each of these applications has a section on these sites that offers great in-depth and easy-to-read information, complete with screen shots and funny cartoon characters. You'll see great animations over a screen shot and hear narrations while being entertained.

For some more traditional free learning, head to WritingDEN, TestDEN, the Skills 2000 IT Tour, and GraphicsDEN. If you register, you can also access the MathDEN and NewsDEN.

Each DEN has different sections of information accompanied by a cartoon character; some also sport RealAudio narration. The DENs will give you all the basics you need to prefect a desired skill.

In SkillsDEN I found an entire online museum dedicated to the history of modern technology. It's a lovely look at the progression of email, the Web, operating systems, and networking. I looked into the email section and learned some very basic info about email. I was pleasantly surprised to find a button that said "Show Me" on it. When you click the button, you'll see an animation that show you how to send an email. Yes, it may sound easy to you, but pass it on to your annoying uncle who keeps asking you to explain simple tasks on his computer.

Originally posted February 27, 2004