Back in September, Oracle used its OpenWorld user conference to pledge that it would deliver more training via the web and other virtual channels. Over the last several weeks, the software giant has begun to deliver on its promise. New training resources are coming on line that will make it easier and less expensive to get up to speed on JD Edwards products. That’s welcome news in these tough economic times.

If you have ever traveled hundreds of miles to attend an Oracle University workshop, you know that such training can burn a hole in the pockets of your corporate budget. Acknowledging this problem, Oracle University used OpenWorld to announce a new Live Virtual Class format. In this format, instructors teach the same content provided in off-site workshops, but do so over the web. Participants are able to ask questions, get answers, and perform exercises in much the same way as they would in a traditional classroom. The Live Virtual format lets JD Edwards professionals enhance their skills no matter where they may live, eliminate expensive travel, and minimize productivity losses.

That said, don’t expect Live Virtual Classes to come on the cheap. Right now, Oracle University offers a two-day CNC Foundation virtual class for $1,500 and a four-day Report Writing class for $3,000. Since Oracle’s standard pricing for off-site workshops is $750 per day, it is not giving virtual attendees any price breaks. Of course, Live Virtual Classes eliminate travel costs, not to mention poor to non-existent airline meals and hard mattresses in budget hotels. That makes the new format a solid option when off-site workshops are not available in your immediate area.

More Free Web Resources

Besides its Live Virtual Classes, Oracle is also delivering more free training opportunities via the web. If you want to learn more about JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.0 or EnterpriseOne Tools 8.98, for instance, Oracle is offering a series of one-hour webcasts on various components of the new releases. You can sign up for the webcasts, which start on November 18, via Quest’s training web site.

In addition, Oracle has created a new Best Practice Center for companies that want to use Oracle Fusion Middleware to service-enable their EnterpriseOne applications. The Center features webcasts, podcasts, and documents that provide step-by-step examples of how to use Fusion Middleware components such as Oracle BI Publisher. The new center is just one of a series of Best Practice Centers for Fusion Middleware that cover other applications, including Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, and Siebel.

If you’re one of those people who still prefer a book that you can dog-ear over dozens of PDF documents, I have good news for you. In mid-December, McGraw Hill is releasing “JD Edwards EnterpriseOne: The Complete Reference”. While we have not yet seen a table of contents for the book, the authors of the text are top-notch JD Edwards experts. To pre-order the book, pop over to the E1 Tips and Tricks blog, then click on the picture of the book.

A Good Start…But There’s Work to Do

While Oracle is making definite progress in bringing more training resources to JD Edwards users, it has miles to go before it sleeps. First and foremost, there is a crying need for more JD Edwards World training. Currently, Oracle only offers self-paced online courses to World professionals. While these courses are inexpensive compared to instructor-led classes, they cannot deliver the benefits of an interactive classroom environment. The software vendor should do more to bring cost-effective virtual classrooms to the World community.

In addition, Oracle University should remember that it is not the only training provider in town. There are other organizations, such as JDETips University, that sell comparable classes at lower prices. To remain competitive, Oracle University needs to not only deliver its offerings in new formats, but also improve the quality and reduce the cost of its content.

While improvements are still in order, it is refreshing to see Oracle doing more to help JD Edwards professionals get the education they need. But what do all of you think about Oracle’s training offerings? If you have an opinion or suggestion, feel free to use the comment box below to share your thoughts with the rest of us.