May, 2010

  • Working with SQL Server 2008 (either original release or R2)? Check out the updated Infrastructure Planning and Design Guide for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2

    The guide helps:

    • organizations confidently plan a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 implementation.
    • database administrators and technical decision makers identify which server roles will be needed.
    • architects and administrators determine the infrastructure components, server placement, and fault-tolerance configuration.
  • clip_image001The Born to Learn crew is heading to New Orleans next weekend for TechEd 2010! If you’re attending TechEd as well, stop by the Community Lounge throughout the event and say hi

    We’ll have staff at the Community Lounge all week long, but we’ve got some special sessions and topics scheduled as well:

     

     

    Monday, June 7  11:00am – 12:00pm – Ken Rosen, Director, Community and Evangelism, Microsoft

    Ken leads Microsoft Learning’s Community Marketing and Evangelism team—their mission: to build strong relationships with MCTs and MCPs worldwide. Today, the MCT and MCP communities extend far beyond newsgroups. Stop by and ask Ken about new ways to connect with peers and with Microsoft—through Born to Learn, LinkedIn, Virtual Summits and more—and get a sneak preview of things to come through the rest of 2010.

    Monday, Jun 7  12:30pm – 1:00pm – Stephen Holcomb, MCP and Olympic Gold Medalist

    Steven Holcomb is the reigning four-man bobsled world champion, the 2010 Winter Olympic Bobsled Champion… and a Microsoft Certified Professional! Steven has a passion for technology--that’s why he went for a Microsoft Certification and a CompTIA A+ certification—and while Steven plans to be in the sport for quite a few more years, he is also planning for a career in IT. Stephen has been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated—stop by the lounge for a chance to win one of 3 autographed copies of that issue!

     Tuesday, June 8  11:00am – 12:00pm – Tjeerd Veninga, Senior Community Lead, Microsoft

    Tjeerd tends to call himself ‘your friendly neighborhood Community Lead’. As such he is the voice of Microsoft to MCTs and MCPs as well as the voice of those communities towards Microsoft . He takes your satisfaction with the very seriously: after a nice upward trend over the last few years, how do we take a leap this year? Which opportunities excite you, how can we support you further, if you could make one wish for the MCT/MCP Program – what would it be? Hear our plans and ask/suggest/demand/encourage--it all helps!

    Tuesday, June 8 12:30pm – 1:30pm – Barbara Birney, User Researcher

    Barbara Birney is our User Researcher. She’ll be interested in your response to some of our new designs that address CPLS business processes, MCT courseware reviews and student learning. The user experience research we do helps us understand and explain satisfaction scores through behavioral studies, prototyping, and in-depth interviews. User research is housed in our applications and platform group where we work closely with the teams that deliver solutions for trainers, students, authors, business employees, and independent learners. While you’re helping Barb better understand the customer experience, don’t hesitate to sign up with her to participate in remote studies of our MCTs’ experience and receive free technical software as a gratuity!

    Wednesday, June 9 – 12:30pm – 1:30pm – Jeff Hora, Product Manager, Community Courses

    If you’re an MCT, you may already be familiar with the Microsoft Learning Courseware Library and Community Courses. This session will be about the changes that are taking place to make publishing as a Community Author a better experience and how your contributions as a technical reviewer have direct impact on quality.  There will be a healthy Q&A session as well, so be prepared to share! If you’re interested in writing and publishing a course on Microsoft technology, Jeff’s the guy to talk to!

    Thursday, June 10 – 11:00am – 12:00pm – Matthew Roche, Quality Architect

    Matthew is our Quality Architect, helping us release best-of-breed courseware. But Matthew is not just about quality, drop by and hear more about title plans, our vision for the future, and course improvements and enhancements.

  • I love the IT Grand Prix, the teams are just fantastic and I can't wait to meet them at TechEd!

    Meanwhile, we're making our way to TechEd on The Bus. We're talking about Windows 7, Office 2010, MDOP and Training and Certification. Yesterday, in New York, one of our attendees shared a fantastic story with us. Working in a retail store, he decided to invest in an MCTS credential and two weeks ago he passed the exam. He received a 20% salary increase and I really look forward to hearing about his next steps in certification. Today, in Philadelphia, I met John who attended our first bus tour. John told me that since that day he took and passed 7 exams.

    These are challenging times for many of us, still the current wave of products is very promising. Windows 7 for instance is our fastest selling Operating System ever. That's an opportunity for many of us in IT and for many companies that use IT or that offer IT services. It's a great time to update your skills.

    Check out the daily updates on www.thebustour.com  and please keep supporting the teams on IT Grand Prix.

  • clip_image001Head on over to our download center to download free hands-on labs for Microsoft Enterprise Library 5.0 and Unity 2.0. These labs were built by developers for developers, and they cover all application blocks and advanced configuration scenarios. For more information, see Grigori Melnik’s blog.

  • Project “Hilo” is a series of articles and sample applications for developers—you can learn how to use Windows 7, Visual Studio 2010, and Visual C++ to build high-performing, responsive rich client applications. Hilo provides both source code and written guidance to help you design and develop compelling, touch-enabled Windows applications of your own.

    Check out the first article, available now: Developing C++ Applications for Windows 7; and the code gallery here.

  • We just released two long-awaited courses to manufacturing—which means they’ll be available at a Certified Partner for Learning Solutions near you in just a couple of weeks. (But you can find and register for a class today!)

    Course 2310: Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SP1 is a five-day courses for beginning web developers with HTML (or Dynamic HTML) and scripting knowledge; the course will be available to order on June 7th

    Course 10233, Designing and Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 is a five-day instructor-led course for IT Pros responsible for planning and deployment of Exchange Servers in an enterprise environment; the course will be available to order on June 2nd

    MCTs can download both courses today from the MCT Download Center (private to MCTs only).

  • nh-logo As regular readers know, last month I travelled to Haiti with members of NetHope, a collaboration of 30 of the world’s leading international humanitarian organizations working together to solve common problems in the developing world.

    NetHope has been on the ground in Haiti since shortly after the earthquake, working furiously to rebuild Haiti’s decimated IT infrastructure. That effort has been complicated by the dearth of Haitian IT talent, already in short supply before the earthquake. NetHope member agencies’ IT Pros have been invaluable in the short-term, but in order to sustain and expand the rebuilt infrastructure over time, Haiti needs a permanent, resident IT Pro community.

    That’s where you come in.

    NetHope is launching the NetHope Academy training initiative--in partnership with Haitian organizations—to provide deserving individuals an opportunity to gain significant IT skills that will increase their economic opportunities and allow them to directly participate in the reconstruction of their communities. NetHope Academy will provide local IT skills training and build in-country technical expertise.

    The program will give priority placement and scholarships to women, secondary city natives and severely disadvantaged individuals. NetHope members will provide six-month training internships so that students can gain on-the-job experience. Participating members will co-fund tuition for their respective interns.

    How You Can Help:

    Microsoft and Cisco are sponsoring this initiative, but you can help, too. Your generous donation will help NetHope bring IT training to Haitians seeking to rebuild their country.

    You can give any amount you like through NetHope’s giving site, but here are some suggested donation levels:

    • For $50, you can help cover out-of-pocket expenses for instructors donating their time in Haiti
    • For $100, you can help fund computer lab time for 50 students
    • For $175, you can help fund the stipend for a Haitian IT student’s internship with a NetHope member agency

    Your gift may change someone’s life.

    Note: If you’re an MCT (or a Cisco trainer) and want to help in-country, stay tuned to Born to Learn to find out about NetHope Academy training opportunities in Haiti.

  • Interested in Microsoft Dynamics GP? Then check out our latest learning snacks, just published:

    What's New in Human Resources with Payroll - US in Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

    What's New in Field Service Preventative Maintenance in Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

  • Yes, we’re on the road again, the Bus Tour has left the building and –as we speak- is on its way to Boston. ‘The Bus’ started at Microsoft Learning just over a year ago, we were responding to an economy that had changed. Today The Bus is a project that we share with many teams at Microsoft. The Bus is all about bringing events to you, it’s about careers and the career opportunities that new products present. It’s exciting, it’s fun and I look forward to our new tour!

    Windows 7 is the fastest selling operating system ever. Have you had a look at Office 2010? What about MDOP? Don’t miss these great opportunities to build your career and to build a more powerful IT infrastructure. Make sure you Get on the Bus!

    We look forward to meeting you on our tour that will take us to TechEd. (and we can only dream of being treated to the same warm welcome as last year :-) )

    meet the bus

  • Today’s MCP Flash included a program update from our MCP Program Manager, but for the first few hours the article didn’t display properly if you clicked on it. So in case you  missed it the first time around, here’s the article in its entirety:

    ---

    You spoke, we listened: over the next few months we’ll introduce enhancements to the Microsoft Certification Program—all based on your feedback. Many of you have shared your opinions through our MCP satisfaction surveys. We’ve analyzed the data, read your comments, and prioritized several focus areas:

    Career Development

    The number one reason (according to our annual survey) why MCPs get certified: to advance their career. Whether you want to start a new career, advance your current one, or stay relevant for a future move, we want to help. We’ve already launched a new portal for IT managers with information and insights on the value of MCPs and tools to help find them. Coming soon, look for opportunities to network with employers, along with tools and resources to help you best position yourself to employers.

    MCP Pride

    We know you’re proud of your accomplishments—we are too, and we’re committed to making it easier for you to show off you certifications. We started by making it easier to order paper certificates: you can now use PayPal to pay for shipping and handling charges. Next up: You told us you miss your MCP wallet cards, so we’re bringing them back—details to come in a future MCP Flash. You also asked for a better selection of items in the MCP e-store, along with better shipping rates outside the U.S.— we’re working on that, too.

    Member Site

    Many of your comments focused on the look, features and content of our MCP Member site, and we’re already at work on making improvements. Over the next few months, look for new sections for career resources, event invitations, our survey results, and more.

    This isn’t the full list of what we’re working on, but it’s a start—please keep your suggestions coming by sharing them in our MCP Discussion Forum.

    We’re getting ready to send invitations for our next MCP satisfaction survey to a randomly selected group of MCPs.  If you receive an invitation, please share your opinions. Your feedback—whether in surveys, blogs, forums, or events-- helps us shape the future of the MCP program, so thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  • WinSummit_BlogBling200x180 Windows Summit 2010 launches next Tuesday, May 25! At Windows Summit 2010 is a virtual event where you can learn about building great software, hardware, and systems for Windows 7. Content will be available 24x7, released on a rolling schedule, and you can select tracks or individual sessions based upon your interest level.

    May 25 - Device track: Discover the rich customization features in Windows 7 that enable partners to create a custom user experience for the PC or device. Targeted at software and device firmware engineers, this track will provide you with the direction and technical information to unlock the power of Windows 7 to create a great device experience.

    June 2 - System track: Understand the features of Windows 7 that you can leverage to create and deliver the best system possible. You'll see how implementing a few fundamental techniques can dramatically improve overall system quality and key user experiences.

    June 16 - Software track: The Windows 7 platform makes it easy for developers to create engaging, user-friendly applications by providing familiar tools and rich development features that allow them to take advantage of the latest PC capabilities. The sessions in this track will guide you through the key developer advances in fundamentals, richer application experiences, and the best of Windows and the Web.

    Learn more here.

  •                     Longboarding Behind a Car

    From time to time everyone wishes they could get a second shot. This guy certainly does...

    I don't know why they decided this would be a good idea. Kids, don't try this at home!

    Share/Bookmark

    This guy's Second Shot should have been reconsidering the risk of injury involved with this idea.

    This is part 4 in a series. Watch the previous video here: Things You Don't Get A Second Shot At #4: Breaking the Championship Cup

    Learn how to get your Second Shot voucher here.

  • |

    Registration is now open for the SharePoint 2010 beta exams. If you pass the beta exam, the exam credit will be added to your transcript and you will not need to take the exam in its released form. The 71-xxx identifier is used for registering for beta versions of MCP exams. When the exam is released in its final form the 70-xxx identifier is used for registration.

    By participating in beta exams, you have the opportunity to provide the Microsoft Certification program with feedback about exam content, which is integral to development of exams in their released version. We depend on the contributions of experienced IT professionals and developers as we continually improve exam content and maintain the value of Microsoft certifications. The following exams are a part of this beta offering.

    71-667: TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring counts as credit towards the following certifications:

    · MCTS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring

    · MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010

    71-668: Pro: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Administrator counts as credit towards the following certifications:

    · MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010

    71-573: TS Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Application Development counts as credit towards the following certifications:

    · TS: SharePoint 2010 Developer

    · PRO: SharePoint Server 2010 Developer

    71-576: Pro: Designing and Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Applications counts as credit towards the following certifications:

    · PRO: SharePoint Server 2010 Developer


    Availability

    Registration begins: May 19, 2010, 12 AM Eastern Standard Time (What time is this in my region?)

    Beta exam period runs: May 21, 2010–June 11, 2010

    Receiving this notification does not guarantee you a seat in the beta. We recommend that you register immediately. Beta exams have limited availability and are operated under a first-come-first-served basis. In some cases, the number of eligible SMEs in our database exceeds the number of available beta slots. Once all beta slots are filled, no additional seats will be offered. We will post a notice on the Born to Learn blog when the beta slots are filled. If you register, please ensure you are committed to attend.

    Testing is held at Prometric testing centers worldwide, although this exam may not be available in all countries (see Regional Restrictions). All testing centers will have the capability to offer this exam in its live version.

    Regional Restrictions: India, Pakistan, China


    Registration Information

    You must register at least 24 hours prior to taking the exam. Receiving this invitation does not guarantee you a seat in the beta. We recommend that you register immediately. If you have difficulty registering online, try calling Prometric instead.

    Please use the following promotional codes when registering for your chosen exam(s):

    · 71-667: SPTSJ

    · 71-668: SPPROJ

    · 71-573: SP573

    · 71-576: 576SP

    To register in North America, please call:

    · Prometric: (800) 755-EXAM (800-755-3926)

    Outside the U.S./Canada, please contact:

    · Prometric: http://www.register.prometric.com/ClientInformation.asp


    Test Information and Support

    You are invited to take this beta exam at no charge.
    You will be given four hours to complete the beta exam. Please plan accordingly.

    Find exam preparation information:

    Exam 71-667, TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring

    Exam 71-668, Pro: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administrator**

    Exam 71-573, TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Application Development

    Exam 71-576, PRO: Designing and Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Applications

    **Please note that the preparation guide for 71-668 will be available on or around May 12th.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    You can find answers to Frequently Asked Questions about beta exams here:

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/exam-dev-release.aspx#tab2.

    For Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) help and information, you may log in to the MCP Web site at http://mcp.microsoft.com/ or contact your Regional Service Center: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/help/assisted-support.aspx.

    For updates and information about exams, visit the Born to Learn blog at: http://borntolearn.mslearn.net/.

    If you have questions or comments about the Microsoft Learning Subject Matter Experts program, contact mslcd@microsoft.com.

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  • Back in 2007, the Microsoft Certification Application Specialist (MCAS) credential was introduced to support Microsoft Office Suite 2007. In less than three years, hundreds of thousands of students, professionals, and home users have become MCAS-certified on Office products.
     

    While this certification is recognized worldwide as the official credential for Word 2007, Excel 2007, and other Office 2007 applications, it is often confused with the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification, which is used to validate individuals’ skills using previous versions of Office, including Office 2000, Office XP or Office 2003.

    To simplify the Microsoft Office certification program, starting on June 1, 2010, MCAS will be formally renamed MOS 2007. If you earned an MCAS certification, your certification is still relevant and valued in the marketplace! The program’s name change does not change program requirements or exam content, nor does it affect your credential. And don’t worry, you don’t have to go get recertified. Starting June 2nd, you will be able to view and print your updated transcript as well as update your virtual business cards here. You will also be able to print out or order an updated certificate and proudly display the new MOS logo from here.


    You can find more details about these changes to the Microsoft Office certification
    here, including answers to many of your questions.

  • OneNoteLogo Eighteen months ago, Microsoft Learning released beta OneNote Trainer Packs for 7 courses as part of an effort to test if consolidating MCT prep materials was a worthy endeavor. The answer came back from MCTs: yes, if done thoroughly. So that’s what we did.

    It’s my pleasure to announce that Microsoft Learning is releasing OneNote Trainer Packs (aka OTPs, because we love acronyms) for all 32 available “KonaH” (or “Nextgen”) Microsoft Official Courses (MOC). We’ve improved on the original concept and are providing MCTs a single location for the most relevant content needed to prepare for a MOC class. OTPs include the following content for each course on each page in the OTP (and in this order):

    1) Slides
    2) Instructor Notes
    3) Book Content
    4) Companion CD Content

    Also included for each module are the Lab Answer Keys (LAKs). OTPs, of course, require OneNote to run. Luckily, OneNote is available as a free download for all MCTs (as part of the MCT program) via the included TechNet Plus subscription. Currently 20 OTPs are available for immediate download from the MCT Download Center: 2778A, 6215A, 6231A, 2262BK, 6232A, 6234A, 6235A, 6214A, 6367A, 6424A, 6461A, 6462A, 6420A, 6421A, 6446A, 6463A, 6427A, 6445A, 6451A, 6434A. The remaining 12 (6425B, 6236A, 6292A, 10135A, 6426B, 6294A, 6368A, 6460A, 6464A, 6416C, 6419A, 6430B) will be available in mid-June.    

    Moving forward, Microsoft Learning intends to release a OneNote Trainer Pack for each new course released (the OTP would come out soon after the course itself is released). We hope this will make the life of our trainers at least a little easier. For more information, you can check out the on demand virtual summit session entitled “The Future of MOC” during which I give a demo of OneNote Trainer Packs in action (and talk about some other exciting stuff). Otherwise, if you are an MCT, check out the OneNote Trainer Packs for yourself on the MCT Download Center.

    *Update* More OneNote Trainer Packs are now available!

  • As a hiring manager, I’ve had my share of interview war stories, but none quite like this.  If you can top these, we’d love to hear your stories!

     

  • Interested in Microsoft Dynamics? Check out this new, free learning snack: What’s New in Payroll: US in Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010

  • New SQL Sever 2008 R2 training available now, over at Channel 9. Hear from the experts on the latest capabilities with SQL Server 2008 R2:

    • See how StreamInsight provides real-time monitoring and analytics on incoming event data that would otherwise not be possible.
    • Find out how PowerPivot for Excel 2010 and SharePoint 2010 enables information workers to analyze huge amounts of data from multiple sources with lightning fast speed.
  • Earlier this week, Steven Holcomb visited Microsoft Learning. Steven is the reigning world champion four man bobsled and the 2010 Winter Olympic Bobsled Champion. He is also a Microsoft Certified Professional.

    Steven has a passion for technology and, had it not been for bobsledding, he would likely be in a career in IT right now. That’s why he went for a Microsoft Certification and a CompTIA A+ certification, but then bobsledding happened and the rest is history. Still, there is of course life after bobsledding and while Steven plans to be in the sport for quite a few more years, he plans to update his skills on Windows 7.

    You’ll see and hear more about his visit to the Microsoft campus on these pages soon. Steven shared an amazing story about how he won the Olympics and the role that technology plays in his life. For now though, Born to Learn could not resist posting a ‘Making Of’ clip.

     

  • If you’re not aware, Microsoft Learning participates in discussions on Twitter via @MSLearning. There, we met Eric and learned his story. For a while Eric was very anti-certification, but he is now glad to be pro-certification. What turned him around? We connected with him to learn more.

    - Eric, what gave you the mindset that certification had no value and did not show experience?

    I’d say this all started off when I had first heard about an “MCSE Boot Camp”… where you could attend this grueling course and come out certified. For me it gave the impression that you could take anyone off the streets with minimal to some computer knowledge and in X days turn them into a certified individual who’s ready to administer an enterprise. I also felt that just because you had a certification did not mean that you could actually use the product, which I have since then learned is a major misconception.

     

    - How did you come to this conclusion about certification?

     I’d say it’s 70/30. Seventy percent of believing certifications had no value had come from me being poorly informed and not seeing the big picture of how being Microsoft Certified provides value for your employer. The other thirty percent came from peers fueling my poor choices.

    - Despite all of this, you mentioned you took 14 certifications exams in one year! What changed your mind and made you decide to get certified?

    I’m sure the SharePoint team would love to hear this… but it all started with SharePoint 2007/WSS 3.0. We were going through the phases to migrate from SharePoint 2003 to 2007. One of my co-workers had said to me that he was sure I could pass the certification… and I should take it just to see how I would do. That November (2008) …I took the plunge and registered on Prometric for the SharePoint 2007 exam. After walking out with the score report that said I had passed… I was on cloud nine. A few weeks later, I found myself returning for what I would consider the other half of the exam… WSS 3.0. This was the start of a series of self-challenges I would endure to mirror everything that I do to a certification.

     

    - As someone who was anti-certification, was taking 14 certification exams worth the time and energy? Have you noticed any benefits?

    Finding time was not easy. I spent many nights, weekends and holidays studying. It took a year to get there, but it was worth every drop of sweat or hour of sleep I lost to get them!  It has definitely added to my confidence in my job and my certifications show in the level and quality of work I produce.

    - After becoming Microsoft Certified, how did your workplace/peers respond to your decision to become Microsoft Certified?

    At first, I’m not too sure they were happy with it because of this new level of competition in the workplace. I think at the end of the day, I’ve encouraged my peers to seek certification and further their professional development. We have found worth in certification and its contribution to the company ten-fold.

    My name’s Eric Olson and I’m certifiable!

     

    Thanks, Eric, for sharing your story with us, and best of luck with your future!

    Do you have an exciting story about Certification? Post about it in the comments, or tweet us @MSLearning. We’d love to hear it!

  • In honor of our brand spanking new Office 2010, here’s a new free Learning Snack for your noshing pleasure: Introducing Common Features Across Microsoft Office 2010 Programs.

  •   Dropping and Breaking your Championship Trophy

    From time to time everyone wishes they could get a second shot. This guy certainly does...

    During the 2008 Memorial Cup for ice hockey, the winning Spokane Chief's Captain dropped and broke their newly earned tournament cup!

    Share/Bookmark

    Luckily this was a replica, with the real Memorial Cup resting in the Hockey Hall of Fame; however, I bet he wishes he had a Second Shot!

    This is part 4 in a series. Watch the previous video here: Things You Don't Get A Second Shot At #3: Grenade Fail in Halo Reach

    Learn how to get your Second Shot voucher here.

  • |

    Join us tomorrow as we focus on your career and kick off Information Worker and Collaboration month!

    If you’re an IT Professional interested in the Technology Specialist or the IT Professional exams for SharePoint, here’s your chance to lean what you need to know from an expert. Microsoft Certified Trainer, Telmo Sampaio, will help you prepare with an exam prep session for SharePoint exams 70-667 and 70-668.

    For Developers looking for guidance on 70-573, we’ve got MCT Christopher Harrison lined up to guide you through your exam preparations on May 20th.

    Finally, we’ll finish off the month with MCT Russ Kaufmann sharing his secrets to “Career Specialization for Network Administrators: Skills necessary to become a SharePoint Administrator.”  During this insider’s guide to the exciting career of a SharePoint Administrator, Russ will share his field-tested advice on how to get from here to there.

    Certification Preparation session: SharePoint Server 2010 TS and Pro Exams: 70-667 and 70-668 by Telmo Sampaio

    Certification Preparation session: SharePoint Server 2010 Developer: Exam 70-573 by Christopher Harrison

    Career Specialization for Network Administrators: Skills necessary to become a SharePoint Administrator by Russ Kaufmann

  • We have a boatload of training now available for newly released Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010! Take your pick from on-demand "deep dive" sessions, eLearning and/or brand new Learning Snacks for time-challenged students. Sign into Microsoft Dynamics PartnerSource | Training & Certification  to see the entire list, or contact mctdyn@microsoft.com   for more information.

    Tracey | Microsoft Dynamics WW Partner Readiness

  • logo Launching an event like IT Grand Prix can be a little nerve-wracking. Even more than the intricate planning and logistics (ably managed by Dana Calleja on a ridiculously short schedule) and the technology (Erwin Chan manages the slick new mini-site on our Born to Learn platform, currently experiencing its highest traffic ever), my biggest concern was:

    Would you understand the event enough to want to play?

    The concept isn’t too complicated: four teams of two MCPs race to TechEd, earning points by helping non-profits along the way. Each team is supported by an on-line pit crew of MCPs from around the world, who earn their team points by completing certification-related challenges. The team with the most points at the end of the race wins a $10,000 donation for the non-profit of their choice.

    But that’s a lot to get across on an event web site, so when we sent our MCP and MCT Flash announcements, we waited with baited breath to see what the uptake would be. So far, so good: after 33 hours, we’ve got about 800 registered pit crew members and no forum posts expressing confusion, so that bodes well for the rest of the race.

    So since you guys seem to have grokked the what pretty quickly, I thought I’d spend a few paragraphs to share the why.

    Regular B2L readers know that my team piled on a bus and went on tour—twice—during the last year to promote training, certification, and career opportunities around Windows 7 and our other launching products. The tour was successful enough to warrant a third “season” (kicking off soon), but we received a lot of feedback from folks disappointed that we weren’t going to visit their town. Even though we tried to keep a steady flow of interesting blog posts and videos during the tour, let’s face it: events are a lot more fun when you can participate rather than just watch.

    So I challenged my team to come up with an event that anyone could participate in—whether or not they lived along our route. And moreover: instead of promoting training and certification, could we come up with a way to promote our trained and certified professionals—in other words, you.

    Those two concepts—“Everyone Plays” and “The Value of MCPs” formed the core of what became IT Grand Prix, and you should be able to see it reflected throughout the event:

    • The “ground team” challenges, in which our four teams of MCPs will help local non-profits with their technology challenges
    • The pit crew challenges, in which you can earn points for your team by promoting the MCP community
    • The grand prize award of $10,000 to one of the four non-profits supported by our teams, thanks to your efforts

    We wrapped it all up in competitive framework, recruited our racers (who gamely signed on even though we’re keeping the details of the race itself under wraps even from them until the flag is dropped on June 1st), partnered with NPower, and launched the on-line phase of the event yesterday.

    For those of you playing along at home or at work, keep it up: for the rest of this month, and through the race itself, you’ll earn points for your team every time you take an exam, get a view or a click on your VBC, post to a team-related discussion forum thread, play “Are You Certifiable,” and update your MCP or MCT Flash subscription preferences.

    In addition, through May 21st, your team will earn points for every new pit crew member that joins your team.

    So join a team, join our community, and help a favorite charity advance a worthy cause.