Born to Learn

  • Have you ever wondered who is responsible for the quality of Microsoft’s exam content? Hint: Content development managers (or CDMs, because this wouldn’t be Microsoft if we didn’t have an acronym for this role!) with help from subject matter experts (SMEs). Super Sigma and Psychometrician interview Cari Mason, new to the ACE team and Microsoft, to learn more.

     

    In the last episode of our "Day in the Life of" and ACE Chronicles series, you will learn, along with Cari, about roles and responsibilities of CDMs on Microsoft’s exam development team, what they do every day, and how they work with SMEs to design the content domain and ensure that questions meet Microsoft’s item writing standards and measure the right skills. Because SMEs are so important to the ensuring the quality of the content, Cari has a special request for you…Stick around to the end of the video, and you’ll also learn how to become a SME yourself! You might find yourself working with Cari in the future! She’d love to meet you!

     

    Not only is this a great episode, but we have more great stuff planned for you. Stay tuned as we continue to reimagine how to keep you up to date on the latest breaking news and happenings in Microsoft Learning Experiences!

  • ​Microsoft Learning and Premier Field Engineering are off to a great start with the App Review To Cert Pilot Program launched on July 3rd, 2014.

     

    Over 60 MCPs have applied for the program to earn credit towards MCSD: Windows Store Apps certification through review and submission of a C# or HTML5-based Windows Store App.

     

    Space is still available, so review the program details here and sign up today at AppRevToCert@microsoft.com

  • You may have seen these advertisements: “Current IT Certifications could waive up to 25% of the credits toward your college degree.” I had ignored the ads in the past but thought it might be time to check them out.  If nothing else, I could see if the claim in the ad was real. If it turns out to be true, I could get accepted and finally complete my college degree. What do I have to lose, right?

    25 years ago…

    My first attempt at college was 25 years ago but at the time, it wasn’t my top priority. Instead, I earned my Microsoft Certifications and started an excellent career, even without a college degree. However, I had always promised myself that when the time was right, I would go back.

    Fast forward to 2014. After seeing the aforementioned advertisement, I collected my transcripts from Indiana State, Microsoft, and CompTIA to submit my application to return to college. A day or two later, I received a call from an admissions counselor who walked me through the entire enrollment process. In order for me to apply to the college, my first task was to take a readiness assessment. While the exam part was fairly easy, I wasn’t expecting to have to write an essay so I just wrote something about baseball and figured that was that.

    John Dearduff

    If not now, when?

    Well, about a week later, I received three emails from the college I applied to. The first email let me know that I had successfully passed my assessment test and essay. The second email was a transcript evaluation stating how many credits my certification exams would cover. The last email was an announcement of my acceptance into the university!

    At first, I was excited about returning to college but then it occurred to me: I am way too busy with my job to go back to college. How would I ever make this work? But then I thought to myself, “If I don’t do it now, then when would I ever finish earning my college degree?” So on April 1, 2014, I officially went back to school.

    Technical Certifications = Credits towards my college degree

    Now, I know you’re curious about my transcript evaluation, but before I get into it, keep in mind only current certifications earned in the last five years counted towards college credit. With that out of the way, here’s how my certifications translated to college credits.

    Of the 121 credits required for me to graduate, my Microsoft Certifications earned me 25, my CompTIA certifications earned me 18, and my college credits from Indiana State carried over for another 11. This left me with only needing 67 more credits to graduate. As of July 1, 2014, I’m happy to say I’ve completed five courses for an additional 12 credits, which leaves me with just 55 more credits to go.

    So can technical certifications help you earn a college degree? Individual situations vary, but in my case, they’ve certainly helped, and now I am that much closer to fulfilling the promise I made 25 years ago. I’ll be sharing more about my progress here on Born to Learn.

    How about you? Are you also considering going back to college?

    Read my other posts on Born to Learn

    Follow me on Twitter

  • |

    On July 20, 1969, I was among the millions of people glued to television sets worldwide and watching grainy black-and-white video as astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped from his lunar lander to the surface of the moon. “One small step for man,” Armstrong said. “One giant leap for mankind.”

    What an iconic moment. But one that followed by some nine years a moment perhaps even more iconic. It was May 25, 1961, when then-President John F. Kennedy set the audacious goal of sending a man to the moon before the decade ended. No one knew how to do that. No one knew if we could do that. But Kennedy set the goal, and the nation rallied behind him.

    Here at Microsoft, we’re accustomed to making bold goals. Thirty years ago the goal was a PC on every desk. We not only achieved that, we exceeded it – today computing is a ubiquitous part of daily life. Now we’re setting another big goal: Creating experiences that combine the magic of software, with the power of internet services, across a world of devices.

    Our job in the Learning Experiences Team is to support that vision. We can achieve that by providing education and training that speed technology adoption and unlock the power of Microsoft products. We want people to become proficient at using our software. And we want to give them great choices when it comes to how they become proficient.

    We have a lot of work to do in order to achieve our vision. We expect to see 6 million new IT job openings in the next six years. Six million. It’s going to be an enormous challenge to place people in those jobs, given the current difficulty in filling IT positions. Even within the Microsoft Partner Network there currently are 500,000 open IT positions. We need to meet the challenge of providing training that helps employers fill these open spots.

    We also need to work harder to steer women into IT roles. Today not quite one in four IT workers are women – a figure that is dropping. Given the demand for IT employees, it’s a shame that a full half of all possible working-age adults that could choose an IT career don’t

    These trends are forcing those of us in IT training to re-think our approach. Does everyone in IT need a four-year degree? Are there ways for people to start an IT career without spending a great deal of time in formal classes? It’s time to develop alternate training models.

    Beyond the obvious need for training, we’re aiming to build what we call an “enthusiastic ecosystem.” Of course, we’re always enthusiastic about technology. But we want to go beyond that and engage people with great content and services. We want to listen to our audience and act on their feedback. And we want to innovative in our approach to learning. If we can create IT professionals who are proficient and enthusiastic, that will help us increase adoption of Microsoft products. In turn, we’ll then see great new applications for our products.

    It’s an exciting time to be in IT training. We’re seeing things such as the dramatic impact of the cloud, which is driving training from in-person/instructor-focused to anywhere/anytime virtual training. We know things are changing and we intend to lead the way along with our partners.

    It will be a bold mission. Maybe not putting a man on the moon, but for us something just as big. We’ll have to figure things out as we go, take some chances, and be ambitious. We hope you’ll join us as we chart a new path for IT Training through modern learning experiences in this exciting new era for Microsoft.

  • We’re here in hot and sunny Washington D.C., ready to kick off the 2014 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. Booth is all set up, session rehearsals are underway, meetings (oh the sheer volume of meetings) are scheduled, and all we have left is to meet with our partners!

    So if you’re here in DC with us – let’s get a few items on your calendar so you don’t miss a thing:

    Day one – Monday, July 14

    • LeX Keynote: Driving Learning Innovation with Partners  (LS-275) | 4:00pm – 5:00pm | 146C

    • Learning Partner Reception | 8:00pm – 11:00pm | Daughters of the American Revolution

    Day two – Tuesday, July 15

    • LeX Session:  Driving Learning Innovation with Our Products  (LS-276) | 1:00pm – 2:00pm | 146C

    • LeX Session:  Making Learning Innovation Real and Profitable  (LS-277) | 4:00pm – 5:00pm | 146C

    In addition to our important sessions, we also have a booth located in the MPN Pavilion which we’ve morphed into what we now call the Learning Partner Lounge – a great space, perfect for our Learning Partners to relax a bit in between meetings. Our sponsors will also call this lounge home base throughout the week, ready to answer your questions about their offers and new abilities. Open long hours Monday through Wednesday (around 10am – 5pm) plenty of time to get your networking fix.

    That does it, our WPC activities in a nutshell. We hope to see you all here, but if you can’t make it, follow me here on the blog. I’ll update the blog with pictures each day to show you what we’re up to. It’ll be like you were there the whole time!

     

     

  • Are you planning on taking Exchange Server 2013 in the near future? Then I have an update to share that may affect how you prepare for it.

    Exchange Server 2013 exams – specifically 341 and 342 – have now been updated for Service Pack 1. Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1 introduced several new features and is compatible with Windows Server 2012 R2.

    Although Microsoft Learning Experience takes a few different approaches to exam updates related to service pack releases, in this case we had Exchange SMEs view all of the questions on both exams and update them to remove any possible ambiguity in those questions. When a question is specifically referring to SP1 functionality, it is called out in the question, making it easy for candidates to know when service packs matter in terms of answering the question.  

    The first service pack of any product is a very important milestone that usually triggers many large organizations to start planning and deploying that version of the product. So if you use Exchange Server in your role, now’s the time to get certified, stay ahead of the game, and show your organization that you’re committed to keeping up with the latest changes in technology. On that note, go register for your exam today!

    Related resources:

     

  • First things first. I’m sorry I have been a bit off of the map but I’ve been following the wise words of Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

    It has been an extremely busy couple of weeks. To give you an idea, I will give you some of my stats because, c’mon, everyone loves a good stat. Smile

    • Number of meetings: 40

    • Number of hours of flying: 28

    • Number of countries traveled: 3

    • Number of exams in queue: 1

    • Number of currents Projects: 4

    Anyway, the past two weeks I’ve been busy working on several projects and you will hear more details sooner than later in regards to them. But one of the things which is top of mind for me as a Project Manager is how I can work faster and more efficiently. One current project I’m looking to improve is the redesigning of the RFP process which I talked to you about before.

    A RFP is a document where we describe a project requirements, expectations, and deliverables. This is one of the first steps we do when we have assigned a new exam to ship, and the RFP outlines the contract that we will later sign with our content developer vendor. I went through the process of creating RFP two times and I always felt that we had some room for improvement. Since I’m one of the newbies and I tend to be a bit passionate about not wasting time, I got it assigned to me. Smile

    Usually, when I want to drive an efficiency, I think about 2 things: first, how long it takes and second, the cost of doing in it. Once I have that information in my pocket, I kind of challenge myself to make those numbers better. In this case, it was a no brainer; before, we were doing things a bit old school and using email to collaborate on the RFP (I know! I know! Bear with us) so to improve the RFP process, we will be moving towards using Visual Studio (TFS) to collaborate, which is what we use for exam development, too. Now, the challenge is how do I reduce the reviewing iterations (when creating the RFPs)? Do I have an initial and I closing discussion meeting? Do I leave just some working days for people to discuss offline? Anyway, these questions are yet to be answered so I would love to hear your thoughts if you have any ideas.

    Lastly, you know that I believe an image speaks greater than all my words so I want to leave you with some of the pics that I captured lately:

    My daughter in Prague watching someone doing her fav thing… bubbles J

    Beautiful Prague moment

    Anyway, talk to you soon. Ahhh… one last thing. Don’t forget my friends: CARPE DIEM!

     

     

  • Just in case you didn't get a chance to read this week's MCP newsletter, here's info on an exciting new certification pilot program we launched today...

    To align with the needs of software developers for a real-world performance-based alternative to exams for validating their technical skills, Microsoft Learning is partnering with the Microsoft Premier Field Engineering (PFE) team to launch an App Review To Cert Pilot in July 2014.

     

    In this program, HTML5/WinJS or C#/XAML developers will receive their MCSD: Windows Store Apps certification by completing the following activities:

    1. A 2-4 hour live (via Lync) technical review of their applications by the PFE App Consult team, and successfully addressing any identified must-fix issues.  Apps will be evaluated based on implementation of features corresponding to key Windows Store Essentials (481 or 484) exam objectives:
    • Design the UI layout and structure
    • Design and implement Process Lifecycle Management
    • Plan for application deployment
    • Implement Search and Share
    • Manage application settings and preferences
    • Create layout-aware apps to handle windowing modes
    • Design and implement data presentation, the app/nav bar, and navigation in an app
    • Create and manage tiles
    • Manage input devices
    • Retrieve data remotely

    2. Submission and acceptance of their application to the Windows Store

    3. Passing the associated Advanced Windows Store (482 or 485) exam in the certification path

     

    Registration for the pilot program is open July 3-Sept 1 and is limited to the first 100 applicants meeting the following qualifications:

    1. Must reside in United States, Canada, United Kingdom, or India
    2. Must have an original application that they alone have authored which:

    • has not yet been submitted to the Windows Store
    • will be ready for submission within 2 weeks of registration in the pilot program

    To earn the exam credit, all activities must be completed within 90 days of acceptance into the pilot program.

     

    To apply for this program, please send an email to AppRevToCert@microsoft.com

  • Microsoft is developing Exam 70-517: Recertification for MCSD: SharePoint Applications, and we’d like your help.

     

    If you have experience with developing applications for SharePoint 2013, we need your feedback for our blueprinting exercise.  The blueprint determines how many questions each skill in the exam design spec will be assigned.

     

    This online survey should take no more than 20 minutes of your time.  If you’re willing and able, please complete the survey by July 16th.  Please also feel free to forward the survey to any colleagues you consider subject matter experts.  If you have any questions, please contact certquest@microsoft.com .

     

    Note: If you’re viewing the survey in Internet Explorer 9, you’ll need to switch to Compatibility Mode for the survey to function properly.

     

    Click here for the survey: http://microsoftlearning.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_cv8uWDukpqe7yVT

  • If there’s anything we’ve noticed at this year’s TechEd NA in Houston, it was that you love a good deal – especially when it comes to product training resources. Well, have we got a deal for you! Available now, you can save 40% on all TechEd NA 2014 top selling book titles, as well as any and all other books, or eBooks, available in the Microsoft Press Store.

    While at TechEd NA 2014, you were hungry for more info on PowerShell, Hyper-V and Windows 8.1, to name just a few. Now through July 12, 2014, save 40% by applying discount code TECHED during checkout. And if that’s not enough, the Microsoft Press Store offers FREE shipping to US addresses, all the time. And if you’ve ever purchased one of these books, you’ll know just how heavy these can get – and heavy typically equals expensive shipping!

    Want to take it with you wherever you go? The Microsoft Press Store has the flexibility to make that happen. This 40% discount also applies to your purchase of an eBook… and you’ll get three formats for use on your devices.

    Ready to save? We thought so. Get your discount HERE and enjoy your new book!

  • Ok, so for those following along at home, I offered some pretty cool ways to get access to free certification exams – well, for those registered to attend the Worldwide Partner Conference next month in DC. That’s a huge value if you do the math, especially if your aim is to certify your entire lot of employees. But I digress.

    Time to offer free drinks! Free food! Free casino games with free prizes! I’m telling you, if you’re a Learning Partner, MCT or their guest, this is the best way to spend your “free” time during WPC. And if you haven’t RSVP’d yet for the Microsoft Learning Partner Reception on Monday night, your free stuff, becomes someone else’s free stuff…

    We secured a very cool venue to have our party this year. Do you recognize it from the exterior picture? Kinda looks like the White House right? It’s actually where they filmed the television show “West Wing” and this building, called the Daughters of the American Revolution, will be the setting for our party.

    Here’s a fun, odd fact: it’s actually an official American historical site that they gave us the special privilege of occupying for our festivities, but, because it’s a historical site, made almost completely of white marble, we’re not allowed to serve any “red” food or drinks. Isn’t that funny? I guess the red coloring could damage the marble… Anyway – I thought that was sorta fun to know – so if you’re attending, come see what “white” options we came up with in terms of food and drink.  Here are the details:

    • Microsoft Learning Partner Reception

    • Monday – July 14, 2014

    • 8:00pm – 11:00pm

    • Daughters of the American Revolution

    • RSVP to:  lexwpcpa@microsoft.com

     

  • NOTE:

    My thanks to all that provided feedback on this thread.  Based on concerns you raised about maintenance of multiple MCSD and/or MSCE certifications, we have been able to make a change to the recertification deadline to ensure that all individuals will have a minimum of 12 months to prepare for and pass the associated recertification exams.  Below is the updated text, with an FAQ to address the additional points raised in the thread.

     

    UPDATE:

    Microsoft Learning has completed its review of recertification options, and will be releasing recertification exams over the next several months.

    Between Aug 2014 and Mar 2015, recertification exams will be released for all MCSE and MCSD specialties, starting with MCSD recertification exams in the Aug-Sep 2014 timeframe. 

    Recertification exams will cover material from the exams taken to originally earn the credential, with particular emphasis on the most recent product and process changes.  Exam details will be available from the Certification Planner tool at least one month prior to release. 

    Recertification deadlines for all MCSE and MCSD credential holders will be examined and adjusted, if needed, to ensure that these individuals have at least twelve (12) months to prepare and pass the recertification exam.  Please note that, if you do not recertify by the recertification deadline, your certification will become ‘Inactive’.

    FAQ

    Q: Is this certification update announcing any changes to recertification policy?

    A: No, MCSE and MCSD certifications have always had a recertification requirement to maintain the credentials, since their launch in Spring 2012.   The recertification period for MCSE is every 3 years, while the recertification period for MCSD is every 2 years.  The open issue that has now been resolved is the timing for the release of the associated recertification exams.

    Q: What certifications have a recertification requirement?

    A: Only current Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) credentials have a recertification requirement.  No other certifications - including, but not limited to, MTA, MCITP, and MCSA - require recertification.

    Q: I've already received "Microsoft Recertification Due Soon" email notifications.  How does the release of the recertification exams impact my status?

    A: The recertification deadlines for each of your MCSE and MCSD credentials will be adjusted to ensure that you have at least 12 months to take and pass the associated recertification exam.

    Q: When I take and pass a recertification exam, what will be my new recertification deadline?

    A: For MCSD certifications, your new deadline will be 2 years from the date you pass the recertification exam.  For MCSE certifications, your new deadline will be 3 years from the date you pass the recertification exam.

    Q: What will happen to my certification if I do not take the associated recertification exam by the deadline?

    A: If you do not take the recertification exam by the deadline, your certification will remain on your transcript in the "Inactive" state.

    Q: What actions can I take once my certification is in the "Inactive" state? 

    A: You should evaluate available certification paths at that time.  If a certification path with component exams different in exam number from those with which you originally earned the credential is available, you may pursue that path.  Per Microsoft Learning's Exam Retake Policy, if a candidate achieves a passing score on an exam, the candidate cannot take the exam again.

  • Super Sigma and Psychomagician are pleased to announce a new format for their show called "News Bytes." These are short videos (90 seconds or less) that provide quick tips and information about changes and updates to exams, certification program, and learning resources. To introduce this format, they highlight an amazing learning resource, Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA), that many candidates haven't found yet. And, they want to correct this oversight! Are you preparing for an exam? Do you want to know what's new or different in a new release of a product or technology? Do you simply love learning?

    Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) offers online training delivered by experts to help you continually learn about Microsoft's technology. The courses are offered in 11 different languages.

    Through MTA you can build your skills in the latest technologies and advance your career. Sounds too good to be true? It's not! Get a little taste as Psychomagician and Super Sigma provide an overview on what MVA is and why you should check it out today in their first News Byte video!

  • It wouldn’t be an amazing Microsoft event if we didn’t offer free stuff – and who doesn’t like free stuff? So here’s the deal:  if you’ve registered to attend the Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington DC, you’re in luck! For a limited time, all Microsoft partners can update their competencies with one of three exam voucher offers created exclusively for WPC 2014 attendees.

    UPDATE: Here's the link to purchase your discounted exam vouchers: https://www.microsoft.com/learning/mpn/

    Here are the offer packages available to you:

    BUY 10, GET 20 + 2ND SHOT

    Purchase ten (10) competency exams at full price and receive twenty (20) competency exam vouchers with 2nd shot attached to each exam

    BUY 5, GET 8 + 2ND SHOT

    Purchase five (5) competency exams at full price and receive eight (8) competency exam vouchers with 2nd shot attached to each exam

    BUY 1, GET 15% OFF + 2ND SHOT

    Purchase 1 competency exam at 15% off plus get one free Second Shot

    Purchase all exam vouchers online through August 31, 2014. Exam vouchers are valid for qualifying Microsoft competency exams listed HERE. All exams must be taken by December 31, 2014. Please allow 5 days to set-up an account with Prometric if not already a member. Qualified exams limited to the competency exam listed in link above.

    If you are a registered attendee or plan to be, information will be coming to you shortly!

    RSVP for the Learning Partner Reception!

    Join your peers and the folks from the Microsoft Learning Experiences team at the annual Learning Partner Reception, held Monday this year, July 14 at 8:00pm at the Daughters of the American Revolution building in Washington DC. Kindly RSVP to secure your space today.

     

  • Events have so many moving parts – sessions, onsite training, networking, parties, and the opportunity to learn more about up and coming offers and options that could possibly change the future of your business. We want to take a moment to recognize our event sponsors at WPC 2014. These dedicated companies are partnering with us during the week of the Worldwide Partner Conference to enhance the onsite experience of our attendees. Sponsorship comes from every corner of our learning business to provide you with new information, offers and options for future development. We’re grateful for these ongoing partnerships and encourage you to meet and interact with them throughout WPC at our Learning Partner Lounge located in the MPN Booth on the tradeshow floor, in our sessions, and during our Learning Partner Reception.

    Here’s a brief introduction of our three sponsors at WPC 2014:

    Pearson VUE

    Pearson VUE delivers millions of high-stakes tests a year across the globe for clients in the licensure, certification, academic admissions, regulatory, and government testing service markets. It boasts the world’s leading test center network, with over 5,100 test centers in 175 countries, 400 of which are fully-owned and -operated Pearson Professional Centers. Pearson Professional Centers utilize a patent-winning design, which was created specifically for high-stakes testing and offers a carefully controlled, consistent testing environment. www.pearsonvue.com

    New Horizons

    As changes in technology have accelerated, it’s become even more essential for people to master technology to be productive, invaluable employees who optimize, program and invent solutions—and even grow companies of their own. For 30 years, New Horizons has provided more than 30 million students with industry-leading technical training that delivers the most relevant and intuitive computer courses and certifications. We’re now the world’s largest independent IT training company. www.newhorizons.com

    Arvato

    As an outsourcing service provider, Arvato – along with their customers – are active in a business environment that is characterized by tensions and subject to constant and rapid change. They design intelligent business processes to meet the challenges faced by their customers. Arvato solutions truly add value! www.arvato.com

    RSVP for the Learning Partner Reception!

    Join your peers and the folks from the Microsoft Learning Experiences team at the annual Learning Partner Reception, held Monday this year, July 14 at 8:00pm at the Daughters of the American Revolution building in Washington DC. Kindly RSVP to secure your space today.

    Here's a sneak peek at our party venue. Do you recognize it?

      

  • You may have heard that Microsoft is changing the score report based on feedback from key stakeholders such as yourself. In this installment of ACE Chronicles, Psychomagician and Super Sigma provide a high level overview of the improvements coming to score reports, including changing the anchors on the bar chart to reflect the percent of points earned in each functional group, a comparison of the test taker's performance to those who have taken the exam in the last 6-12 months, more detailed information about available learning resources, and, for those who fail, a list of the three skills (objectives) that by practicing should have the most effect on the test taker's overall performance on the exam.

    These updates will roll out as exams are published either because they are new exams or as a result of our sustainment efforts (you know the process that we use to ensure that the exam continues to be valid and reliable over time). They are already generated as part of our most popular exams, such as Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8. If you haven't seen one, watch this video to learn more, take an exam, and let us know what you think.

    Oh, and Psychomagician has a surprise for Super Sigma that changes everything... curious? Watch the video!

  • Remember when I last posted about our Learning Partner sessions, I had included a caveat that things may change? Well, things have changed. The WPC Event Team has worked through their sessions and timing, and moved some of the major keynotes around. This, in turn, has affected our sessions – both how we will be delivering the content, and when they will be occurring. Yep, things are always moving when it comes to events… Welcome to my world!!

    Here’s how things are laid out now – we’ve got three (3) total sessions designed specifically for our Learning Partners and those associated with them – MCTs, MCPs, etc. So if you fit into one of these audiences, these are for you. You’ll notice that one of our sessions is scheduled for Monday, along with our Learning Partner Reception later that evening – RSVP information below – and the other two sessions will be hosted Tuesday afternoon. This is to accommodate the other sessions we think you’ll be interested in attending – and we certainly encourage you to attend any session that may be beneficial to your business, even if it’s not one of ours.

    L1 - Driving Learning Innovation with Partners 

    The LeX Agenda is about driving learning innovation to foster customer adoption of Microsoft technologies and to scale customer productivity. We invite you to learn how you play an essential role in the LeX vision.

    Monday, July 14 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm | Room 146C

    L2 - Driving Learning Innovation with Our Products 

    The momentum of a ‘One Microsoft’ unified in a cloud first, mobile first world is rapidly growing for both Microsoft and our partners. In this session you will understand how this vision is transforming our learning ecosystem and product strategy. Our goal is create a set of learning products with our customers and Microsoft vision in mind, while providing a path for our partners to support new business opportunities. Please join us as we show our end-to-end business services approach.

    Tuesday, July 15 | 1:00pm – 2:00pm | Room 146C

    L3 - Making Learning Innovation Real and Profitable

    Find out why it’s important for your business to prepare and take full advantage of advances in learning and skills validation, and how you can stand out from the crowd. This session will provide Learning Partners with insight for how they can integrate into Microsoft’s upcoming sales and marketing activities.

    Tuesday, July 15 | 4:00pm – 5:00pm | Room 146C

     

    GET READY TO PARTY!

    Join your peers and the folks from the Microsoft Learning Experiences team at the annual Learning Partner Reception, held Monday this year, July 14 at 8:00pm at the Daughters of the American Revolution building in Washington DC.

    This year, Microsoft has joined with New Horizons, Arvato, and Pearson VUE as our WPC 2014 event and party sponsors, to bring you the opportunity to informally kick off the week of WPC sessions and festivities. Come enjoy a night of networking with fellow partners about the learning industry and what’s to come, chat with Microsoft folks about the newest changes and announcements, or simply enjoy an evening of good food, conversation and company. All Learning Partners and their guests are invited.

    Kindly RSVP to secure your space. You will receive a confirmation email shortly after for your reference.

  • Last week we introduced you to Ed Baker, the former UK law enforcement agent who earned (many!) certifications and became a technical evangelist for Microsoft UK. Here's an update from Ed on his experience working in his new role, "selling people the art of the possible."

    I Am…

    A job candidate.

    I had always thought that getting into Microsoft was so far above my level of ability and knowledge that I didn’t ever apply for any roles. It wasn’t until I heard that one of the UK IT pro evangelists was taking a global role with Microsoft in Seattle that I plucked up the courage to send my CV to the team in November 2013.

    I won’t say it was a short and simple process, but it was handled impeccably at every stage. I received feedback from all the face to face interviews and Lync calls, and always had a named HR contact to discuss concerns with.

    An IT pro breadth evangelist, Developer and Platform Evangelism, Microsoft UK.

    I am now at the end of my sixth week and my feet really have not touched the ground. The role is one where you really do make the rules (within reason). We are encouraged to think laterally and try unusual approaches to resolve problems.

    My role is so open and varied that I guarantee that boredom is not in the vocabulary of an evangelist at Microsoft. I get to sell people the “art of the possible” (as my colleague puts it), to assist them in discovering how our infrastructure solutions can solve their business problems. Essentially it is all about presenting, writing and informing a wide audience of IT pros about the best-in-breed solutions that Microsoft develops.

    In the last six weeks, I have been “in the office” on a handful of occasions, the rest of the time I have been on the road at a variety of events: presenting at user groups, career evenings and IT camps all over the UK—literally living the dream.

    It is great to be part of something so great, and to work with so many excellent people. The attitude and creativity of all the colleagues I meet is inspiring. I look forward to many more years.

    Resources:

     

  • Every journey from certification to career is unique. Sometimes, certification is the start to a career in technology. Other times, it's the catalyst for a change into a dramatically new world. Ed Baker is a prime example of a successful career shifter. Read on to learn how this former law enforcement agent in Hampshire, UK, became an IT pro breadth evangelist with the Developer and Platform Evangelism group at Microsoft UK.

    I Became…

     A bobby.

    I started work in 1985 as “bobby” on the beat in Hampshire. I was interested in technology, as most of us are, but it wasn’t until the advent of the Amstrad PC 1512 (computer) that I actually got proper hands-on.

    A Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP).

    In the mid-1990s I was engaged in my first networking role, to provide a useful crime-mapping system for frontline police officers. This led me to a secondment to the national Police IT Organisation (PITO). In this role, I became an MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) on NT 4.0.

    A project manager.

    I was “headhunted” into Global Professional Services Computer Associates (CA) in 1998 as a project manager. I then held several roles within several US ISV’s and UK startups as a project and programme manager.

    A Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT).

    In 2010 I became an MCITP Enterprise Administrator and Server Administrator. [And] I had been teaching and training for several years with the Open University in the UK, so was able to become an MCT with the premium qualification and the teaching experience required at the time. I spent the next four years teaching all levels of technology students, from apprentices to MCSE candidates, on topics from CompTIA A+ to MCSE Private Cloud.

    A guest blogger and curriculum writer for Microsoft.

    I have always been an active blogger, tweeter and evangelist for technologies that work well, so this led me to an invitation to author content for Microsoft Official Academic Curriculum courses for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8. And I became active in guest blogging for Microsoft UK and the Microsoft Learning Born to Learn pages.

    Erstwhile, a test-taker.

    Phew, between 1998 and 2013, I took more than 100 technical exams, with some failures and lots of fun consulting, teaching, training and generally enjoying technology.

    A Microsoft employee.

    I had always thought that getting into Microsoft was so far above my level of ability and knowledge. I plucked up the courage to send my CV to the team in November 2013.

    Check back to read about Ed’s Microsoft “dream job”—coming soon on Born to Learn!

    Resources:

  • Last week on Born to Learn, we published the story of John Deardurff, one of two brothers who set out to get certified, on a dare. This week we hear from Frank Deardurff, the other brother—a “family guy” who became an MCP and later a successful web developer. “Push through the hard stuff, don’t sweat the small stuff, and never give up,” Frank says. Read the story.

    As my brother John stated, that night back in 1999 made a huge impact on our professional careers. But I was no stranger to certification testing.

    I had been working as a desktop publisher and technical illustrator for a company that was growing. The company needed someone to step up to handle IT and system administration for an out-of-date network. This turned out to be both a blessing and a hindrance, later on, as I started my Microsoft training.

    A consultant recommended Novell, so I was sent to learn and get certified in Novell administration. We ran Novell for a short time, only to switch to Microsoft Small Business Server Network. It was after that time that I received the email about the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) Boot Camp.

    I talked with my employer about it, but they weren’t interested in sending me, having just spent money on the other certification. I still felt called to check it out.

    “The challenge was on.”

    As my brother mentioned, it was a big step for us to take that financial risk—I had already started a family and was a father of two girls (12 and 14, at that time). I talked to my wife about what John had planned, and we agreed that, if worked out, that’s what I would do. So the challenge was on.

    As for my earlier comment, the fact that working as an IT guy for an evolving network was a hindrance came to light as we moved through the course labs. You see, I had to change my way of thinking—from what I had come to know in a hodgepodge network environment to what our instructor was teaching and what the manuals were showing as the correct way to configure a network.

    This was difficult for me, since I was working my day job in a mixed environment and taking evening classes in a straight Microsoft environment. This also was a challenge as I started my testing.

    “I was a terrible test taker.”

    Unlike my brother, I was a terrible test taker. I tended to overthink things as I read the test questions, heard the ticking of the test clock (knowing I only had so much time to complete the exam), and saw the credit card emblems sitting on top of the testing computer, which I took as a taunt about the test cost.

    I did get my Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certification that summer. Looking back, I can see that the challenge and the mental determination required by the course and the testing actually set me up to succeed at the next level.

    Within a year or so after the Boot Camp, I went on to take the next big step and started a network consulting and web development company. With my background in graphic design and with my newfound networking knowledge, I felt it was the right direction for me.

    “I still use many of the skills I learned that summer.”

    To this day, I still use many of the skills I learned that summer. I handle many web servers—not only for my company’s web-hosting services but also for my customers, who have me monitor their web servers to keep their businesses running smoothly.

    I’ve also discovered a passion for branding and marketing psychology. I use this passion to help individuals and small business owners (via my website at ThatOneWebGuy.com) take their business online.

    I think that a big part of what got me to where I am today is that challenge with my brother, along with the willingness to take a risk, plus good leadership from that Microsoft Boot Camp. As John said, “If two brothers from a small town in Indiana can do it, you can, too.” I think you just have to push through the hard stuff, don’t sweat the small stuff, and never give up.

    Read John Deardurff's story on Born to Learn.

    Resources:

  • Did you know that you can help us improve our certification exams? It’s easy! We have three different ways that you can provide feedback on our exams.


    Did you see something that you thought was technically inaccurate, unclear, or had multiple correct answers while you were taking an exam? Let us know through the 1) exam challenge/escalation process or 2) by providing comments when you have the opportunity to do so at the close of your exam.

     

    What did you think about the overall quality of the exam and exam experience? 3) Tell us by completing the Exam Satisfaction Survey!

     

    Curious about how each of these works? Super Sigma and Psychomagician investigate how YOU play a role in improving the quality of our exams and how YOUR feedback is used to drive improvements in existing exams as well as our exam development process! Learn more by watching this video!

  • “If we can do it, you can, too,” says John Deardurff, a man who started his certification journey on a dare from his brother, knowing he would need financial help. Here’s John’s story, in his own words:

    Back in 1999, my brother Frank received an email from a friend about a Microsoft training event. At first, I was hesitant. I thought: They will try to sell us something. He said, “Come on, it is just a couple of hours, what is the worst that could happen?”

    In fact, they did try to sell us something: a boot camp for an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) on Windows NT 4.0 certification.

    Now, neither of us really had the money to spend on training classes. We went home that night and thought about it. They gave us a link to get loans. I said to my brother, “Let’s try to get a loan. If it goes through we take the class. If not, we study on our own. I’ll go first.” Well, my loan went through, and so did his.

    A whole new world of computing

    For six months, every Tuesday and Thursday, we went to class. And I thought I knew computers, but this was a whole new world of computing. My brother was my lab partner, and one night in class he looked at me and said, “The more I learn, the less I really know.” It was a challenge.

    I earned my first MCSE that December. But I was hooked. I needed more. So I took out another loan and signed up for the Visual Basic 6 MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) classes.

    “I never gave up.”

    All I have to say is there is always that slow student in every class, and if you look around the room and can’t find them, it’s you. I was definitely in the deep end of the ocean. I passed one exam for my MCSD, but I would not finish it until two years later.

    But I never gave up, and I definitely earned that certification. 

    In my second week, I was hired by the training company as a network consultant. They paid for the rest of my MCSD classes.

    Let me tell you, they threw me into the fire from day one. The first week I was building networks on my own. I was nervous and afraid. I thought I would break anything I touched. But I got through it and owned every job I was given.

    “I was hooked.”

    Well, a month went by and they needed someone to teach an Outlook class. The boss said, “Hey, can you teach Outlook? Your class is tomorrow.” I stepped in front of that class, and I was hooked. A month later, I was an MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) teaching MCSE classes.

    That training event changed the lives of both me and my brother. He now owns a successful web marketing company. As for me, I found my dream job as an MCT, working with a Microsoft Learning Partner.

    Two brothers from a small town in southern Indiana are now successful technology professionals, all starting that one night when together we took a chance.

    If we can do it, you can too. It only takes that first step.

    Read Frank Deardurff's story on Born to Learn.

    Resources:

  • Headed to the Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C. this year? Let me see if I can make your planning easier with the completely locked schedule of our Learning Track sessions and reception. Well, completely locked may be a dangerous statement to make at this point, I mean, we are over a month out from the conference. So let me rephrase – here’s our “locked” sessions – and I promise to let you know if anything changes. Oh, and you may also notice that some of the session titles or descriptions may have changed as well – welcome to the world of Microsoft and events – if we’re not changing things around all the time, we’re doing something wrong!

    Here’s a quick way to understand these: the front end (e.g., L1) is the session identifier, allowing you to see that these sessions are in a set, and specify “Learning” and the order in which they are meant to be consumed. It’s the way you can do a quick search for them on the Digital WPC Schedule Builder prior to the event, or onsite, to find specific room numbers.

    L1 | Driving Learning Innovation with Partners

    Monday - July 14, 2:30pm-3:30pm

    The LeX Agenda is about driving learning innovation to foster customer adoption of Microsoft technologies and to scale customer productivity. We invite you to learn how you play an essential role in the LeX vision.

    L2 | Driving Learning Innovation with Our Products

    Tuesday – July 15, 9:00am-10:00am

    The momentum of a ‘One Microsoft’ unified in a cloud first, mobile first world is rapidly growing for both Microsoft and our partners. In this session you will understand how this vision is transforming our learning ecosystem and product strategy. Our goal is create a set of learning products with our customers and Microsoft vision in mind, while providing a path for our partners to support new business opportunities. Please join us as we show our end-to-end business services approach hosted by Tim Sneath, Senior Director of Products, Learning Experiences Group.

    L3 | Proving Your Value: New Opportunities in Skills Validation and Certification

    Tuesday – July 15, 10:30am-11:30am

    Validating your customers’ skill development is essential to proving your value and ensuring repeat business. From in-class assessments to on-line exams, there are many ways to ensure your customers have the proof they’re looking for. In this session, you’ll be among the first to hear about brand new opportunities and future capabilities with Microsoft skills validation.

    L4 | Making Learning Innovation Real

    Tuesday – July 15, 1:00pm-2:00pm

    Learn why it’s important for your business to prepare and take full advantage of advances in learning and how we can help you differentiate your business with options in the channel program and the marketing opportunities that surround them. This session will provide Learning Partners with a roadmap for how they can integrate into Microsoft’s upcoming marketing activities and how they can participate in these campaigns.

    Last thing to ensure you have on your schedule is the Learning Partner Reception, Monday evening, July 14 from 8:00pm-11:00pm. RSVP information to follow in next week’s update – stay tuned!

    So there you have it. Our Learning sessions in all their glory. Now don’t forget, these sessions aren’t just aimed at Learning Partners, if you are an MCT and work with a Learning Partner, or would like to, these sessions, and more importantly, this event, is for you. If you haven’t registered for WPC 2014, do so today, not only will you lock your spot for the conference, guaranteeing you the best way to learn about opportunities across the Learning landscape, but you also won’t get stuck in a hotel near the airport once all the good ones are taken… Believe me, you’ll want to be in the center of it all!

    SAVE THE DATE!  Don’t forget, we are hosting two (2) WPC 2014 Special Edition Learning Partner Live Meetings on June 5. Want the opportunity to learn about what and why we’re doing things the way we are WPC? You’ll have the chance to ask questions directly from one of our speakers. Register TODAY!

     

  • IT professionals and developers in the United States are invited to participate in online forums and self-paced events leading up to "National Certification Day" on Saturday, May 31, 2014. During the month of May, take advantage of free Microsoft Virtual Academy training and participate in our Yammer group to connect with experts and find resources to help you prepare for exams that meet your company’s competency needs or your personal certification goals. Then, on May 31, visit your local, participating New Horizons office to take your exam.

    Learn more about Microsoft IT certifications.

    How to participate

    1. Join Microsoft and New Horizons experts in the National Certification Day Yammer group. Request your invitation.
    2. During the month of May, take advantage of free Jump Start accelerated certification prep courses from Microsoft Virtual Academy for select topics and exams (see the exams and competencies section at the end of this post). Partner learning paths may also be helpful in your exam preparation.
    3. Before May 31, purchase your exam voucher through one of these offers. You may also use an exam voucher you have already purchased.
    4. Choose your New Horizons testing location and call to schedule your exam (see participating locations below).
    5. On Saturday, May 31, show up at your New Horizons location with your voucher to take your exam between 8:00AM to 5:00PM (onsite exam registrations will be taken until 1:00PM).

    Each participating New Horizons location will offer door prizes (two Dell Venue Pro devices) and there will be a drawing for one Microsoft Surface Pro 2 from all National Certification Day participants. Ask your New Horizons office for details.

    Purchase your exam voucher at up to 40% savings

    On May 31, you’ll need to bring an exam voucher with you to New Horizons. This is a great opportunity to use a second shot voucher before it expires! But if you don’t already have a voucher, here are two options to purchase yours prior to May 31:

    For more information about this "National Certification Day" offer, please visit the U.S. Partner Training and Certification Blog.

  • I remember going to my very first WPC – or “Fusion,” as it was called back then – and I was working on the Fusion Awards. I had gone to my fair share of tradeshows for Microsoft by then – Windows World Open was my all-time favorite – that tradeshow was HUGE, filled with massive signs, overflowing tables of food, attendees practically crammed into each session room, everyone so eager to learn and hear what’s next. But Fusion was different.

    Smartly dressed businessmen and women walking with purpose, holding their briefcases, closing sales on their cellphones. The vibe was different, and the intention of their attendance at Fusion was completely on gaining business knowledge, rather than technical knowledge. The energy was more focused on the end game – and for me, I enjoyed feeling like I was part of their business success.

    I loved it immediately – what’s not to love about the Worldwide Partner Conference? Serious planning begins very early for this event here in the Learning Experiences offices. It’s important to us that we listen to our partners, select the right presentation topics, and have good, solid conversations with our partners throughout the week. That results in practically everyone from our team wanting to go to WPC - that’s over 300 people worldwide!

    And while we can’t take all 300 of us to DC, I have been chatting with our staff and speakers to find out the number one thing that gets them excited for this year’s WPC – here’s a few of their responses:

    • “I love sharing our plans with partners and learning who is on board and who is not – and who is way out in front of us already.”
    • “I start planning early for the extravagant meals I’ll have with partners throughout the week!”
    • ”I find that it is a great opportunity to network with folks across Microsoft to hear what they’re doing for/with their partners.”
    •  Ok – I just thought of another reason I love WPC:  “I love walking the halls of the convention center and randomly bumping into a partner or Microsoft employee I worked with in a completely different capacity – such a great way to revitalize an old working relationship!”

    Want to hear more? Stay tuned over the next several weeks as our speakers tweet about what motivates them to deliver the best information, year over year. They may even leak a bit of information about what they plan to say during their sessions at WPC!

    **UPDATE**

     The Special Edition: Learning Partner Live Meeting has just been rescheduled to June 5.

    We will continue to host two Live Meeting sessions on this date. Please register here for one session of your choice. See you online soon!