The IT Certification Resource Center

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Thanks to the Internet and World Wide Web, generic certification training and preparation materials are only a few mouse clicks away.

In the early days of certifications explosion into our consciousness (way back in 1997) it took a lot of time, money, and initiative to get certified in an IT specialty. But those dynamics have changed dramatically; today you dont even have to run out to a bookstore, never mind travel to a distant training center. All you have to do is log on and tune in.

A growing pool of certification-specific material, combined with the power and convenience of the Internet, have brought certification training directly to the desktop of anyone with a computer and Internet connection. But with the millions of Web sites to wade through, it can be difficult to discover exactly whats available and how to reach it. You can save a lot of time and mouse clicks if you start off with a basic understanding of certification e-learning options.

The first thing youll need to know is which kinds of certification resources are out there. Internet-based certification training comes in a variety of formats, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. These include online courses, subscription-based learning communities, practice exams, cram sites, and informal study sites. I covered practice exams in a previous article, so this time well take on the rest of these lovelies.

Online universities are extensive Web operations that come complete with instructors, virtual classrooms, cyber-classmates, and, yes, even homework. A growing percentage of these offer certification training allowing students to enroll in individual courses or a series of courses leading to a particular designation. Some of these courses are even accepted for credit toward a traditional degree, enabling you to get double duty out of your training dollars. Vendors in this category include CyberStateU, DigitalThink, and SmartPlanet, among others.

Although most online universities also offer self-paced tutorials, their key product is instructor led training via the Web. Each vendor puts unique touches on its offerings, but most online courses adhere to a similar format. Every course will have a predefined starting date, ending date, syllabus, and one or more instructors. The classroom is a collection of Web pages outfitted with message boards and other resources that enable students and instructor to interact with one another. The interface varies substantially among vendors, but relies heavily on the message boards.