Access Beginner and Intermediate Course Outline.  Summary of Microsoft Access training course content.

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Course Outline for Access Beginner Basic Training. Training course by Microsoft Master Instructor
All training is not the same
  High quality 100-200 page course manual
  Buffet lunch
  Laminated quick-reference card
  Instruction by Mike Smart (A Certified Microsoft Master Instructor)
  Held at excellent air-conditioned training venues throughout the UK and the world
Access Training Course by Microsoft Master Instructor
About our courses
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Course FAQ
Course Level Duration Prerequisites Covers
Microsoft Access Logo Competent
None Basic and Intermediate features
Who is this course for?
We call this our Competent User course because that's exactly what you will be at the end of the day.  There is a level beyond this (The Expert Level) that you can achieve by taking our Expert course - but for many general office requirements Competent User level is sufficient.

Just because this course covers Access from the very beginning, with no assumption of any existing Access skills, doesn't mean that it is only for beginners.  IT Professionals and Access users with more than ten years experience often take this course and are amazed by how much they have learned.  Even if you use Access every day you'll probably be doing some things the wrong way.  This course will eradicate all of those bad habits.
  • If you are a "self-taught" Access user, or have just picked up Access by being shown things by others in the office then this course is definitely for you. 
  • If you've never even seen Access before and need to be proficient with the product quickly this course is also designed for you.

Check out the things you'll be able to do after taking the course  by reading the outline below.  We really can teach you all of this in just one day.

Database Design

It is not possible to be a proficient Access user without also understanding how to correctly design and implement a relational database. We do not list "Database Design" as a separate topic in our course outline. Design issues are covered throughout the course so that by the end of the course each delegate is extremely proficient in both the advanced use of all Access features and relational database design best-practice.

As well as learning Access you'll also pick up many "golden rules" of database design - things we've discovered the hard way after over 20 years of designing and implementing commercial databases for some of the world's largest companies.

At the end of this course delegates will not only understand Dr Codd's Third Normal Form rules but also appreciate why they are important... and the problems that will occur if they are not observed. You'll also learn some of The Smart Method's database design rules that you will never find in a textbook!

Read the outline below but remember that you'll come away from this course with far more than simply the topics listed.

Lessons and Sessions
We structure our courses into sessions.  A session usually takes about an hour and a half and we have coffee/cigarette breaks between sessions.  Each session has a set of objectives that you'll achieve (there's no doubt about this, the teaching method ensures success)!  Here's what you'll learn in each session:
Before starting the course we need to explain what Access is all about.  Many people don't realise that Access is a tool for designing databases and applications as well as a tool for reporting and querying databases.

We de-mystify the concept of client-server data-centric computing in the introduction and completely explain how SQL fits into the equation.

We also explain how Access can work with the Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle data engines.

The Client Server Model.  How Access, SQL Server, Oracle and SQL are related to each other
One of our introductory slides

Session 1 The Fundamentals - Objectives
  • Describe the seven main Access 2003 objects
  • Start Access and open a database
  • Understand the Access Program Screen
  • Add, Edit and Delete Records in Table View
  • Add, Edit and Delete records in Forms
  • Open and run a query
  • Open and run a report
  • Close down and exit Access
Even though this introduction only takes about an hour you'll already be way ahead of anybody that ever tried to figure out Access from a book or by experimentation.

You'll totally understand what Access is, how it works, the interaction between data engines and Access via SQL and how to create and run simple queries, forms and reports.

You'll even get an insight into how macros, pages and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) fit into the big picture.

The seven Access objects, Tables, queries, forms, reports, pages, macros and modules and how they interact with the database using SQL (Structured Query Language) and return recordsets
Session 2 Creating and Working With A Database - Objectives
  • Understand Primary Keys
  • Understand data types
  • Create a database
  • Create a table
  • Create a query
  • Create a form
  • Use the form wizard
  • Create a report using the report wizard
This session really picks up the pace in explaining what a database is really all about. 

You'll understand all about data types and learn how to correctly name tables and fields (even IT professionals regularly get this wrong)!

The all-important concept of the Primary Key is introduced and de-mystified in this session too.  Once again the instructor will use our unique animated interactive slides to simply explain complicated relational database concepts that are difficult to get across using only words.

The Primary Key, why it is important that each table has a primary key
This slide helps us to explain Primary Keys

We usually have a bit of fun with this session.  We create a real database, perhaps one that is relevant to your own business.  Instead of reading from a script and using sample files we usually get you to build a real and useful database that represents part of your own business area.  You'll learn faster and more effectively when you associate the skills you are learning with an immediate real-life productivity gain when you return to work.
Session 3 Finding, filtering and formatting data - Objectives
  • Find and replace information
  • Sort records
  • Filter records
  • Adjust and re-arrange rows and columns
  • Freeze fields
  • Hide columns
This is often a short session but it provides some essential Access skills.

Some users want to use Access as a "super spreadsheet" because they have hit the 67,000 row limitation of Excel.  This session shows how you can use Access in this way.

We'll also show you how to export data to Excel in a couple of clicks.  This is usually (but not always) the preferred method if you want to analyse a result set with less than 67,000 rows. We'll explain when you should export to Excel, and when you shouldn't.
Session 4 Working with tables and fields - Objectives
  • Understand field properties
  • Index a field
  • Change a field’s data type
  • Apply formats to number and text fields
  • Set default values and apply field validation
  • Create input masks
  • Create and modify lookup fields
  • Create value lists
By now you'll have enough database theory on board to understand some of the more interesting capabilities of a relational database.  You'll discover the magic of indexes and how a query's execution time can change from several hours to several milliseconds once you understand their correct application.

We touch upon relational database theory in this session by creating a multi-table database but there will still be some blind spots in your perception of the big-picture.  Your knowledge will become complete in the last session when we'll bring everything together.

Session 5 Creating Relational Databases - Objectives
  • Understand table relationships
  • Create relationships between tables
  • Understand referential integrity
  • Implement and test referential integrity
  • Understand relationship types
Now you have all of the skills needed to understand the real power of a database and why they are called "relational databases".  You'll learn how to join tables together with relationships and you'll learn what a Foreign Key is.

Best of all, you'll learn how to build a database that has Referential Integrity.   In other words it will police its own integrity and refuse any attempts to corrupt the data. 

We regularly see corporate databases that weren't properly constrained and have no integrity at all!  After this session you'll never fall into this trap.

Flat File and Relational Databases.  How Microsoft Access differs from Microsoft Excel
Where you will be at the end of the course
When you've taken the Competent User course you'll be streets ahead of most of the world's Access users, even if they have been struggling with Access for years. 

Relational database design is a big subject, however, and one that even IT professionals often struggle with.  If you really want to create useful and sophisticated Database applications Competent User level won't be enough.  You'll want to also take our Expert one-day course when we introduce concepts such as Access Macros and advanced query, report and form design.