Digging Into Microsoft's Tech Support Vision via MPP Courseware
On April 4, Microsoft released a new Insider Preview Skip Ahead numbered Build 17639. In perusing the release notes, I came across a fascinating bit of information right near its end. I'll quote it verbatim so you'll see what I mean:
Recommended Training for Windows Insiders
We'd like to take this opportunity to highlight some training courses that might interest some Windows Insiders from the Microsoft Professional Program:
For Windows Insiders interested in taking the first step in becoming an AI engineer, check out this track here on Artificial Intelligence. You should also check out GeekWire's article covering the track too!
For Windows Insiders interested in diving deeper into the world of IT support, check out this track here.
The bottom link in that snippet (all those links are live, BTW, so you can check any or all of them out for yourself) takes interested readers to a page named "Microsoft Professional Program for IT Support track." Before I explain what's up (and available) here, let me first take a brief detour to introduce and explain the MPP (Microsoft Professional Program) itself.
OK, So What's This MPP Thing?
The MPP is a growing and emerging program of online training offered by edX in partnership with Microsoft. The content (and many of the instructors, plus all the slideware, artwork, web-based quizzes and exercises, and so forth) comes from Microsoft.
edX provides the hosting platform and the discussion/forum tools, interactive chats with instructors, and more, to the growing global audience of those seeking online training of all kinds. Any and all of the courses included in any of the MPP tracks may be taken for free (with no credit, nor certificates of completion).
Students may also elect to pay U.S. $99 per course, and receive a certificate of completion for each course passed, along with a certificate whenever a person completes a (paid-for) track in the MPP program.
Here's a list of the tracks currently available:
Data Science (10 required courses, U.S. $990 for credit/certificate)
Big Data (10 required courses, U.S. $990 for credit/certificate)
Front-End Web Development (13 required courses, U.S. $1,287 for credit/certificate)
Cloud Administration (13 required courses, U.S. $1,287 for credit/certificate)
DevOps (8 required courses, U.S. $792 for credit/certificate)
IT Support (14 required courses, U.S. $1,386 for credit/certificate)
Artificial Intelligence (10 required courses, U.S. $990 for credit/certificate)
Entry Level Software Development (13 required courses, U.S. $1,287 for credit/certificate)
The program is now in its third year and has already attracted several hundred thousand students. The materials are well-designed and well-executed, with high production values, interesting and useful content, larded with real-world scenarios and interactions with practicing professionals.
Thus, for example, the IT Support track includes regular video interviews/interactions with a 3rd-level technical support person from Microsoft (an "Escalation Agent" in their terminology) who explains how the course materials relate to his work experience and to doing the job of a support agent.
What's Interesting About the IT Support Track?
If you ever wanted to get inside Microsoft's mindset and vision for the role that technical support plays in an organization, simply digging through the Fundamentals module provides quite an education. For one thing, it explains the role of technical support within an organization thoroughly and explicitly.
Source: Microsoft Professional Program
Sure, one learns, the role of tech support is to be the first line of customer contact, to deliver technical support services, and to do what it takes to leave those customers happy and satisfied enough with their encounter to be ready and willing to come back for more. But there's a lot more to it than that.
The module digs into the internal roles that technical support can and should play in an organization — including advocating for the customer with management and developers, providing input and quality control for products and services, and developing a collaborative mindset to use one's skills and knowledge to help advance the organization overall.
There's a lot of great stuff in the Fundamentals module about the role that a support agent plays, and the other people inside and outside the organization with whom support agents interact. I especially liked the emphasis on developing and cultivating a growth mindset, which encourages support agents to learn as much as they can, to stay on the leading edge of technology, product and service information, and to collaborate often and well with peers, customers, and colleagues.
Microsoft's attitude toward learning also includes frequent exhortations to pursue and earn technical certifications as a way of exercising the growth mindset, and gaining credibility with customers, peers, and higher-ups. These materials do come across as a bit "Rah! Rah!" but they are well-designed, well-intentioned, and well-delivered.
To my way of thinking, this makes the MPP program well worth digging into for one's own growth and learning, and also well worth recommending to others so the can realize those same benefits. Be sure to check it out!