Microsoft Official Courses (MOC) Now Online and On-Demand
Microsoft now offers its official courses at your convenience via MOC On-Demand. These courses match the content that Microsoft has long offered as part of its official curriculum for classroom training, itself now available in both physical and virtual forms.
These training materials combine video-based instruction, text-based reading materials, hands-on labs accessed online, and ongoing "knowledge checks" (questions to answer, and problems to solve) to make sure that students are successfully learning the materials and grasping key concepts, practices, and principles.
The on-demand nature of the offering means that students can proceed at their own pace (within limits: most MOC On-Demand offerings provide 90 days of access to course materials), on their own schedules, and using their own PCs or laptops wherever they want to use them.
MOC On-Demand doesn't appear to be available directly from Microsoft (those willing to pay to travel to Redmond or other key global MS office locations can still make the pilgrimage to drink in MOC direct from the source).
Instead, the new service is available from Microsoft Learning Partners, or through a Courseware Marketplace for those who work for (or attend) member education outlets belonging to the Microsoft Imagine Academy.
The "Find on-demand training" page that lets prospective buyers identify education partners who offer MOC On-Demand currently lists 18 companies in the USA (and MOC On-Demand is currently only available in English), so it looks like the program is launching domestically right now. I'd be surprised if international offerings didn't follow later this year or next, with an increasing variety of languages as well.
MOC On-Demand Partners (United States)
The best thing about the MOC On-Demand program appears to be its pricing. If the Global Knowledge prices I looked up are any indication, then MOC On-Demand classes are significantly cheaper than other forms of MOC courses.
This could be just the ticket for IT professionals looking to stretch their training dollars further, or for companies seeking to get employees certified with the best bang for their training budget bucks. I'm going to ask my contacts at Global Knowledge if they'll comp me on a course to try out the materials, and if I can get access to them, then I'll report back later in detail on what's involved in these offerings.
In the meantime, this looks like a pretty good deal. Those interested in "real training" on the MOC — who don't want to spend the "real training dollars" required for instructor-led training in a physical or virtual classroom — may want to go ahead and check this stuff out on their own.