Microsoft Virtual Academy Offers Worthy Stockpile of Free Training Resources
With more than 2 million members signed up, Microsoft Virtual Academy is a popular stopping-off point for Microsoft-related online training courses. They're deliberately structured to steer clear of giving away all the materials from Microsoft's for-a-fee training curriculum, so as not to cannibalize the company's training revenue.
That doesn't mean, however, that the MVA courses are either content-free or of negligible value in building new IT knowledge. As the list of topics on the right is meant to illustrate, there's plenty of good stuff — and even some great stuff — in the MVA course library. I'd venture to say, in fact, that almost anyone in IT could find something of interest.
This valuable content, too, material that most IT professionals (and a great many other workers who must use Microsoft products or operating systems on the job) will find both useful and helpful. As a quick perusal of the topic list shows, there's something at MVA for developers, system administrators, power users, content creators, business users and more.
First launched in April of 2011, MVA is a cloud-based learning environment (Microsoft calls it a "learning experience," as per Matt Hester). The most popular offerings include "Jump Starts," which are courses designed to bring already experienced IT professionals up to speed in a hurry on new products, platforms and technologies.
I've partaken of such offerings for modern Windows desktop and server operating systems (Windows 7, 8, and 10 on the desktop side, and Windows Server 2008 and 2012 on the server side), various Visual Studio components and languages, and Office components. The topical coverage is especially useful, because it lets you zero in on new or hitherto unexplored subjects — as well as related products and platforms — quickly and easily.
I strongly recommend that those who work with or use Microsoft products and platforms on the job (or as part of their actual work assignments) visit MVA to see what's available there. Given the wealth of information to be found there, I also recommend that you do it sometime when you won't suffer overmuch by getting sucked in and losing track of time while you're visiting. That's what usually happens to most people — including me — when they wander past the virtual transom into their incredible collection of courseware.