Microsoft Learning Offers Many Avenues to IT Education
Last week, Microsoft Learning posted a blog about the company's many education options. Written by Nancy Tandy, Business Strategy Manager for Microsoft Worldwide Learning, the post lays out the kinds of learning materials available to current and aspiring IT professionals who have taken an interest in Microsoft technologies.
The post is titled "Microsoft Learn: Learn how and when you want." It's worth a read, but I'll summarize those options here as well. The basic point Ms. Tandy makes is that Microsoft offers a variety of learning tools and materials. Everything has been designed to help busy people find information and learning opportunities that map to their specific learning styles, pace, and availability.
OK MS Learning, Whaddya Got For Me?
The list of items that Ms. Tandy presents looks (and is organized) like this:
Free, self-paced browser-based training materials. This includes the following items:
? Step-by-Step Tutorials: These are task oriented by-the-numbers materials that show how to perform specific tasks, configure system capabilities, and so forth.
? Modular Learning Paths: These are sets of tutorials, videos, reading and labs or exercises to help individuals tackle specific topics. Ms. Tandy mentions a couple of Dynamics 365 paths that can be completed in 75 to 150 minutes (1.25 to 2.5 hours).
? Browse Microsoft Learn: Here you can see the full set of available hands-on learning materials and modular learning paths. This area is broken up into topics that include Azure, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and Windows Development.
Free, hands-on self-paced labs: These offer access to live lab environments where individuals can work with preconfigured, ready to run environments. Using guides designed to lead learners through these environments, learning comes from doing, and from interacting with the technologies made available in these labs.
Free walkthroughs, how-to-guides, sample code, test drives, and so forth: Walkthroughs show users how to complete the tasks involved in some particular process or procedure (Ms. Tandy, continuing the Dynamics 365 illustration, mentions planning supply orders and managing projects with jobs). This heading also encompasses "in-depth guidance and documentation, Quickstarts, API references, code samples, how-to guides, implementation frameworks, and test drives."
Instructor-led Training (ILT) with MS Certified Trainer Partners: Classroom or online live instructor led training is available from Microsoft directly at a limited number of locations. It's available all over the world, in most countries, though the Microsoft Learning Partner network.
Such training is intense and focused, and pricing ranges from $100 (at community colleges) to more than $1,000 a day (from big-name commercial training companies such as Skillsoft, New Horizons, Global Knowledge and so forth). Classes are intended to prepare candidates to pass Microsoft certification exams, but also to provide "real-world learning you need for the exams and for today's competitive job market."
Here's a nice tidbit: "When you work with a Learning Partner, you also get personalized learning plans that are industry specific."
Events: Under this heading, Ms. Tandy mentions trade shows and conferences such as Microsoft Ignite - The Tour where individuals can not only see and experience new tools and technologies, but also take courses or even schedule exams on-site. The same is true for other public conferences (Microsoft Build) and invitation-only conferences (MVP Global Summit) as well.
But Wait, There's More!
It's interesting to see the old Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) now completely subsumed under the Microsoft Learn umbrella. All current versions of the old MVA offerings now line up underneath this home page.
Your learning adventures don't have to stop with Microsoft's official offerings, of course, because there are plenty of other options available. Books (whether electronic or paper) remain a great source for learning and study, especially for certifications. Sites like MOOC List can help you identify free and low-cost online training options for Microsoft topics (and most other IT topics you can think of).
There's always more to look at and choose among than may seem tractable, but you can find your way to the good stuff if you try. Enjoy your learning adventures!