• Have you ever played a game of word association?

    If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an exercise where one person says a word and the other person says the first associated word that comes to mind in response. For example, if I say “dog”, you may reply with “fun”, “loyal” or some other word you directly associate with dogs. The idea is that people share their honest feelings about a word because they state the first word that comes to mind purely on impulse.

    Recently, I decided to play a game of word association with some MCPs. The word? "Microsoft Certification". See how they responded in this short video. Enjoy! 

  • By Jayden

    Sometimes people ask me how I, Jayden, got an internship at Microsoft. Honestly, I don’t know. I never believed I would spend my summer working here as an intern. None of my previous summers have been like this. They are usually always the same: wake up, babysit, maybe have some fun, and then the end. While being the oldest of five children has its pros and cons, I would never trade the world for it. I appreciated the trust my elders bestowed onto me, and hey, I think I’ve turned out to be an amazing babysitter.

    Recently I graduated from Highline High School, which is something to be proud of considering at one point the dropout rate was 25%. Not everyone enjoys Highline. Not because there are bullies around every corner, but because with each step you take you run a chance of getting hurt. Let me elaborate. Highline was built in 1924, and it hasn’t been upgraded even once since then, except for a few new buildings. That means brown rusted water flows from each sink and faucet. Ceiling tiles fall from above our heads. Even the books and sports equipment are outdated. Football pads from the 80s, books that are older than some teachers, and the list goes on. That’s why when people ask me how I, Jayden, got an internship at Microsoft, sometimes I don’t know considering my underprivileged school and family. But, I do know I can thank one thing for helping me land this internship—TEALS.

    Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (T.E.A.L.S) is one of the main reasons I believe I landed this internship. My mentors—John Fawcett, a Principal Software Engineering Manager, and Louis Bowman, an attorney here at Microsoft—made the drive to Highline each morning for the entire school year to ensure we had a computer science teacher. They taught me the fundamentals of coding and computer science. John taught me coding, while Louis taught me to think outside the box. Without them, I wouldn’t be an intern today.

    As I finish the first week of my internship, I can only say one thing—Amazing! The workplace is awesome. I got to meet so many new people, other interns, visitors like CS50 Professor David Malan from Harvard University, and my team members. So far, it’s been great. The first week went by fast even though it took up forty hours of my week. Since I job shadowed back in the winter with John’s group, I was expecting the same atmosphere. But the Microsoft Learning group is way different, but a good different. I love how energetic the team is about learning. Especially because I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger. Being able to use technology and help with learning is probably the best of both worlds.

    Honestly, I loved my first week. I thought I was going to fail and embarrass myself. It turns out even Microsoft has computer problems. It took me all week to sign up for the Connector—the shuttle system at Microsoft. I enjoyed every mistake. I’m looking forward to more weeks to come of technical difficulties and fun projects.

    --------------------------------

    By Behnam

    Being a Microsoft Intern might sound hard and stressful, but it is also amazingly fun and exciting. On the first day—after a super-long interview process—I went along with 40 other interns to do the technicalities to become an official intern. During the New Intern Orientation (NIO) process, we sat through a presentation about the basic “need-to-know” information and we were handed over to our future managers for lunch. During this lunch, my manager, Briana Roberts, told me and my co-intern, Jayden, a bit about the Learning Experiences (LeX) organization. She told us that each intern would get at least three projects throughout our ten-week internship. We tried to get her to share more details, but she held strong and explained that she would give us more info soon, with the rest of the crew (LeX Academic team).

    The second and third days went by quickly despite the fact that I was stuck outside, unable to get into the building because my badge wasn’t ready yet. I also encountered computer issues that were caused by my account not being set up in the system. On the second day, Jayden and I were introduced to the LeX crew and given a speech of who does what, who to joke around with, and who to take seriously. We were also challenged to create a game with PowerPoint, which took me about two hours of work, only to find out that it was a pseudo-joke. On the third day, LeX Academic team member Brian Swan gave me my first project! This project is related to TouchDevelop—this great project that is still being created and worked on by the Microsoft Research team. My project requires me to test every single step in the video tutorials, a total of around 48 links on browsers like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Firefox. It might take up to 20 hours to go through every single link and examine them. I am also noting each bug I find.

    My fourth day, however, was like a miracle. After receiving my badge, I was finally able to open the door using the magical technology chips inside the badge. In the morning, although I still couldn’t log in to Outlook, we moved into Microsoft Building 20 to help the LeX group connect with the Harvard crew to run a CS50 boot camp for 40 teachers from 12 states around the United States. This program is not only for students who have exhausted other computer science (CS) classes in their high school, but for others who have not even taken any CS classes before. Professor David Malan explained every single important step in this course to make a 13-week college credit class into a 36-week AP high school class and also how to attract students from other classes. David Malan is a great speaker and a smart educator. His methods of teachings are interesting and intense, which causes you to get completely pulled into his words and mini-games that he makes up in the middle of his speeches. I finished the day by spending time at TechLink trying to fix my laptop, but it wasn’t successful.

    On the fifth day, which was this past Friday and the last day of my work week, I finally got my account fixed and became a real Microsoft Intern. I had to go into the LeX Studio and answer questions about myself for this blog and my introductory video, and it made me really nervous because I am camera shy. And here we are. This is my first of what will be a weekly blog. I spent the afternoon at the Developer’s Experience (DX) Morale event, which was a fun time at Field 5. It was a great event to go to because it was filled with a lot of mini-games, like basketball shooting, RC car racing, and other fun events. At around 2:00 P.M., my crew left the field to go to Building 20 to wrap up CS50. However, I finished the day writing this blog instead of helping them out. :)

  • Dear Learning Partners,

    In our GM Alison Cunard's earlier message to you, she outlined what our team will be sharing with you at WPC this year. She and the Microsoft Learning Experiences team will give you an update on that journey of growing a proficient and enthusiastic ecosystem and innovating to reach millions more potential learners. You are a vital part of that journey, so please join us at all three of the "learning" track sessions at WPC 2015. Our sessions are live in the session catalog. Find them all at http://aka.ms/wpc15lex and add them to your WPC 2015 schedule builder today!

    Monday, July 13

    • 2:00-3:00PM (LEX01)
    • 3:30-4:30PM (LEX02)

    Learning Partners: The Online Opportunity (Part 1 and Part 2)

    Microsoft has transformed itself from a seller of packaged products to a provider of software services. As Learning Partners, you are facing the disruptive innovation of on-demand learning, a model Microsoft is embracing as the most effective way to scale training. In this two-part session, we will talk about what Microsoft’s shift to services—including learning as a service—means for Learning Partners, and how Microsoft will support you as you evolve your business.

    (This is a two-part session. You are encouraged to attend both.)

    Speakers: Alison Cunard, Carrie Francey, Chris Roy

    Tuesday, July 14

    • 9:00-10:00AM (LEX03)

    Learning at Cloud Speed

    In the new “Cloud Order,” learning never stops. Keeping your team up-to-speed at today’s incredible rate of change can be overwhelming, even without added budget and resource pressure. It’s time to rethink how you train your teams! We’re working with our partners to make training more accessible, affordable, and convenient so that your team can learn, assess, and certify at their own pace and their own place. Join us to learn about new ways to stay and stand out on the leading edge.

    Speaker: Ken Rosen

     

  • Because many of you were so kind to respond to our text entry survey (see this blog post: https://borntolearn.mslearn.net/b/weblog/archive/2015/05/11/help-us-evaluate-a-text-entry-scoring-tool), I wanted to follow up with some details on what we learned.

    Who responded?

    • 245 people responded to the survey
    • Most (81%) of the respondents considered themselves proficient in O365

    What did we learn about the scoring tool that we were testing?

    • The key finding was that the text entry scoring tool that we were testing does a fairly good job at helping us score simple text entry responses but doesn't work very well for more complex strings.

    What do people think of including text entry questions on our exams? Respondents indicated that:

    • Text based questions felt real world, relevant, and challenging, but they don't necessarily increase the value of the certification or their interest in pursuing certification.
    • Instructions on how to answer the questions were understandable (i.e., respondents understood what was required of them to answer the questions).
    • Text based questions should be on our exams where appropriate and if variations that are acceptable in the real world would be scored as correct on the exam.

    Overall, survey responses provided support for including these types of questions on our exams. So, never fear...although this scoring tool didn't work as well as we'd hope, we are not giving up. We continue to explore other options to creating an innovative solution that allows you "code" or write commands/syntax in such a way that 1) gets us closer to the real world experience than multiple choice questions, 2) takes into account the multiple different ways a solution could be implemented, and 3) is scored correctly on the exam!

    Thanks to everyone who took time to respond to our survey and provide this valuable feedback!

  • |

    Calling all Windows developers! Microsoft Learning is in the process of defining the next set of developer exams on the new Universal Windows Platform, and we would like your input on the importance, frequency, and rigor for each functional group and objective for these exams.

     

    If you wish to participate in the online survey, please click on the following link, and submit your responses by July 6th:

    http://microsoftlearning.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_bw1J4D0PP3KDlTD

  • |

    Hi everyone,

    A few weeks back I announced the retirement of Lync 2013 exams. See the post here. I want to let you know that we are moving the retirement date of Lync exams (335, 336, 337, and 338) to November 30, 2015. We’re updating the retirement dates on our web pages to reflect this.

    Remember, the new Skype for Business exams will count toward MCSE: Communication certification like Lync exams 336 and 337 currently do.

    Stay tuned for more information on the new Skype for Business exams!

    ------------

    FAQ

    Q: Should I hold off on taking exams until the Skype for Business exams are available?
    A:
    Not at all. Skype for Business builds on Lync’s features and functionality. The Lync exams provide you with a solid foundation for your Skype for Business implementation. See what’s new in Skype for Business.

    Q: Will there be an upgrade exam for those who have completed both Lync exams and want to move to Skype for Business?
    A:
    No. Once you’ve earned your MCSE: Communication certification you cannot re-earn it. You can, however, keep it current through recertification. If you’re not ready to recertify but want to gain some Skype for Business skills, check out this training video.  

    Q: What about recertification?
    A:
    Holders of the MCSE: Communication credential must recertify every three years. Recertification is a great way to ensure that you stay current in the latest technology, such as Skype for Business. We’ll be providing more information about recertification options for MCSE: Communication this summer.

    Q: I’m a partner with the Microsoft Partner Network. I have the Communications Competency and just took the Lync exams to qualify. Do I still qualify?
    A: Retirement of an exam from Microsoft learning does not retire it as a qualifying exam for a Competency. Lync Exams for the Communications Competency will still qualify for a period of time. Always check the Microsoft Partner Network competency requirements. You can view the current Communications Competency requirements here

  • Hello, Learning Partners!

    Did you see our GM Alison Cunard's message about WPC? Did you catch the part where she invited you to golf with her in Orlando? Smile 

    Microsoft Learning Partners are again invited to join our team for a fun evening on Monday during WPC week this year. Get ready for a round of golf with plush seating (yep!), play your favorite casino games, and enjoy some great food and beverages, including a signature cocktail from Pearson VUE! Here are the details. Send in a quick RSVP, and we'll see you there!

    • Microsoft Learning Partner Reception
    • Monday, July 13, 2015
    • 8:00 - 11:00 PM
    • Dewey's Indoor Golf
    • RSVP: Please send your company name, party attendees' names and titles to: wpclpparty@microsoft.com

     

  • What are you doing on August 4 at 8:30am PT? If you're looking for something to do, I have an idea. Come to my keynote address at TechMentor 2015.

    I cannot tell you how honored I am to be invited to do this! I am SO excited about this amazing opportunity. Of course, it won't be your typical keynote address filled with a PowerPoint presentation because I've never been one to do the normal. Instead, it will be more like a fireside chat with TechMentor co-chair Greg Shields. I am planning to discuss research showing the benefits IT Pros receive from becoming certified and explain how Microsoft designs and develops its MCSE certification program to ensure ongoing relevance and value.

    I am going to reveal the "secret” sauce for how we develop valid and reliable certification exams and how we ensure that our exams AND your skills stay relevant and up to date. I will also be sharing some changes that are coming, not only to certification exams but to our certification program, and other great ideas we have in the pipeline. As you know, we continue to look for ways to improve our certification process, innovate, and increase our certification's value not only to you but to hiring managers and organizations... I hoping to be able to share some really cool stuff that I'm working on that should help with this!

    Want to know more about my session (or see what I look like)?

    https://techmentorevents.com/Events/Redmond-2015/Sessions/Tuesday/Keynote-Demystifying-the-MCSE.aspx

    Well, what are you waiting for? Register today! I would love to see you there!

    https://techmentorevents.com/events/redmond-2015/home.aspx

  • Take your next Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) or Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exam online, from just about anywhere! Since its beta launch in September 2014, online proctored (OP) exam delivery has expanded to more countries. Below is the latest list of thirty (30) additions. See if your country is among the list.

    Online proctored exams are the same exams taken in onsite testing centers. The difference being that it is administered by a remote proctor who will oversee your experience via webcam and microphone. There are security and system requirements that need to be met. Be sure to review the hardware, software, and protocol requirements located here. If you ensure that these requirements are met before you check in for your exam, the check-in process should only take about ten minutes. Note that greeter support, proctor support, and the proctoring software are currently only available in English.

    Learn more about online proctoring, and schedule your exam today!

    AUSTRIA

    BELGIUM

    BRITISH INDIAN OCEAN TERRITORY

    CANADA

    CROATIA

    CZECH REPUBLIC

    DENMARK

    FRANCE

    FRENCH GUIANA

    FRENCH POLYNESIA

    FRENCH SOUTHERN TERRITORIES

    GERMANY

    GREECE

    HUNGARY

    ISRAEL

    ITALY

    LUXEMBOURG

    MARTINIQUE

    NETHERLANDS

    NEW ZEALAND

    POLAND

    PORTUGAL

    ROMANIA

    SAINT MARTIN

    SINT MAARTEN

    SLOVAKIA

    SPAIN

    UNITED KINGDOM

    VATICAN CITY STATE

    VIRGIN ISLANDS, BRITISH

  • |

    Passing a Microsoft exam and earning a new certification is a result of a lot of different things: hard work, dedication and a passion for investing in your career to name a few. But why do professionals decide to get certified in the first place? We recently got the chance to ask a few MCPs in this short video and here’s what they said. Enjoy! 

  • Oh, I have your attention now, don't I?! Here's the deal. To help you get more from  your investment in earning Microsoft credentials, Microsoft Learning is exploring several options. Some popular ideas are: free retakes, free practice tests, free online training, free exam prep materials, etc. We would like your feedback. How much to do you value each of these options? Do you have other ideas we should be considering? Which ideas do you prefer?

    Please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey: http://microsoftlearning.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3UjGMTYmmc9pNQN

    Your input will be used to help us assess the value of each option. During the survey, you'll also get some insight into some ideas we’re considering for enhancing your exam and certification experience. So, what are you waiting for?! Complete the survey today!

    The fine print: While I always welcome comments on my posts, please be sure to respond to the survey so your input will be included in the results. Thanks!


  • During the week of June 28, 2015, Microsoft Learning Experiences team will join thousands of educators at ISTE in Philadelphia, PA. We’re bringing with us information that will help schools and teachers integrate Microsoft certifications into the curriculum, use them as learning and assessment resources, and prepare students for success in higher education and future careers.


    ONSITE CERTIFICATION TESTING

    We will be making three types of certification exams available to ISTE attendees onsite, at no cost.

    Testing hours (all times local):

    • Monday, June 29 -- 9:15am-5:30pm
    • Tuesday, June 30 -- 9:15am-5:30pm
    • Wednesday, July 1 -- 9:30am-2:45pm

    Testing location: PCC Booth 2800, Hall B

    Registration: Just walk up! Our team and representatives from Certiport can help you register for exams on the spot!

     

    ONENOTE EXAM PREP SESSION

    The Microsoft OneNote team is offering an entire day of OneNote training on Sunday, June 28, including a session designed to prepare you for taking the OneNote certification exam while at ISTE 2015. The session will be led by a Microsoft Certified Trainer. Passing the OneNote exam will earn you the title of Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS).

    Title: Prepare for Microsoft OneNote Certification
    Date: Sunday, June 28, 2015
    Time: 2:30-3:45 pm
    Location: PCC 203
    Presenter: Heather Fitzpatrick-Severino

    To learn more about this one-day focus on OneNote training, visit Microsoft Office's recent blog post.

    To see all Microsoft activities at ISTE, please visit this page on ISTE conference website.

     

    MICROSOFT IT ACADEMY

    In addition, we will have information about the Microsoft IT Academy program. Please come by PCC Booth 2800 in Hall B, and chat with our team. See you soon!

     

     

  • |

    Hello to Microsoft Learning Partners around the world!

    Here in Redmond, we’re busy getting ready for July’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando, Florida. I’m really looking forward to welcoming you to this year’s event.

    On Monday, July 13, after the keynotes, we have an entire afternoon devoted to talking with you about the training business. At WPC 2014, I spoke with you about the journey of growing a proficient and enthusiastic ecosystem and innovating to reach millions more potential learners. This year, we’ll continue those themes and update you on how the journey described is unfolding.

    Monday night, we’re throwing you a party! This is our chance to celebrate the successes of the past year and raise a toast to the promising year ahead. It’s going to be at Dewey’s Indoor Golf, so when you get home you can say “I went golfing in Florida and didn’t even break a sweat!

    On Tuesday morning, for the first time ever, we’ll have a session for your audience: Microsoft partners who want to understand how Microsoft’s learning programs can help them get trained and certified. You can bet you’ll be part of that story, so please join us.

    Our sessions are live in the session catalog. Find them all at http://aka.ms/wpc15lex and add them to your WPC 2015 schedule builder.

    During the week, we hope you’ll also visit us at our booth in the expo hall. Tell us how you’re doing, ask questions, and give us feedback. You can find us in the MPN area this year.

    I personally look forward to meeting as many of you as I can at this year’s Worldwide Partner Conference. If you have any specific questions or topics you want us to address, let us know. We’ve set up a dedicated email address: LeXatWPC2015@microsoft.com, and would love to hear from you. 

    See you in Orlando soon!

  • After you passed your MCP exam, what did you do? You probably updated your résumé with the MCP logo or posted on social media about your achievement. All these things let employers know you have skills. But we know that job searches have evolved. Hiring managers find Microsoft Certified IT pros and devs by searching keywords, hashtags, and videos now. Job seekers must have a compelling online profile to help set them apart from the crowd. That’s why our team just made it easier than ever for you to show off your skills through your MCP Profile Page. 

    The new MCP Profile Page replaces the old "virtual business card" system with a modern, customizable online page. You can create your public profile to highlight your skills but maintain your privacy with granular control over exactly how much info you share. The new MCP Profile Page integrates with LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and other social media sites for one-click sharing of your Microsoft Certifications.

    Sharing your MCP Profile helps your visibility with potential (or, if you want a raise, current) employers. Hiring managers can search and connect with you based on the region, technical specialty, and years of experience you enter into your MCP Profile.

    Show Don’t Tell

    Learn more about the new MCP Profile Page in our MCP Insider Series video. Our team created these three short video modules exclusively for MCPs to show exactly how the new MCP Profile Pages look, feel, and can help job seekers and hiring managers:

    1. Introducing the New MCP Profile Page – See a hands-on demo of the new Profile Page and get tips and tricks on setting up your own page with the help of Microsoft Project Manager Laura Martelli
    2. MCP Profile FAQs – Get answers to the questions most MCPs have when setting up their new MCP Profile Page direct from Laura Martelli
    3. Why Hiring Managers Will Love the New MCP Profile Pages – Microsoft Marketing Manager Caroline Yeh outlines the key value props of an inherently-social online MCP profile delivers to hiring managers

         Watch Module I
     Watch Module II
     Watch Module III

    When you are ready, visit the MCP Dashboard to update your MCP Profile.

  • |

      

    At Certification Central during Microsoft Ignite, I had the chance to meet an uncountable amount of incredible people from all over the world, many of whom had great stories about how they got started with Microsoft Certifications. One of those people in particular is Elias Mereb, a Microsoft Certified Trainer from Florida.

    In this short interview, get to know Elias as we talk about: 

    • How he first got started with Microsoft Certifications.
    • What Microsoft Certifications have meant to his career.
    • One word that comes to his mind when he hears the words, "Microsoft Certification and Training".

    Enjoy!  

  • CountriesIf you’re planning to advance your career in cloud, the current opportunities are vast and growing. A recent study from Wanted Analytics places the existing US workforce at approximately 3.9 million cloud professionals, with a further 385,000 cloud-related jobs currently advertised. Europe also presents significant employment markets with 446,000 UK cloud professionals and 445,000 cloud professionals based in Germany.

    Making up a substantial and growing proportion of the demand for cloud professionals are those with Microsoft Azure skills. The launch of the new MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification offers you the opportunity to tap into that demand by learning and validating those Azure-focussed cloud skills.

    In this article, I’ll be shedding light on the expanding Azure opportunity, the unique value of the new MCSD and pathways to achieving it.

    The growing Azure opportunity

    Microsoft’s public cloud offering is expanding at an unprecedented rate. To give context, I’ve collated a series of Azure stats uncovered during my research:

    • Every day more than 1,000 new customers sign up to Azure. That’s 365,000 new customers a year! (Microsoft by the Numbers)
    • 57% of Fortune 500 companies are already using the platform
    • Microsoft’s commercial cloud revenue has grown 106%, driven largely by Azure, and is now on an annual run rate of $6.3 billion in revenue (ZDNet)
    • Microsoft Azure has received OFFICIAL accreditation from the UK government (Cabinet Office)
    • Backed by the US Government there is even a Microsoft Azure Government offering

    As mass adoption continues to accelerate, so to does the demand for cloud professionals with the skills to architect, develop and administer Azure solutions. That demand is only set to accelerate with the impending End of Support for Windows Server 2003.

    On July 14, 2015, companies running the estimated 8 million WS2003 systems will have little choice but to migrate away from the defunct system, or else face huge security and legal risks as well as astronomical maintenance costs. The logical migration pathway for these workloads will be Windows Server 2012 R2 and Azure.

    Above all else, Microsoft’s creation of the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect pathway is a defining indicator of demand. As is the way in IT, the tech comes first closely followed by the demand for those who can demonstrate the skills to best utilise the technology. Only then does training and certification to facilitate said demand.

    Why the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect is unique

    The new MCSD is different. Unlike traditional Microsoft certifications that typically focus on individual disciplines, the Azure Solutions Architect requires a mutli-skilled approach. You’ll need to step outside your comfort zone to learn and demonstrate a range of knowledge across Developer, IT Pro, Dev Ops and Architecture.

    Whilst this may seem challenging, the knowledge you gain will give you a far deeper understanding of Azure, provide you with a more rounded knowledge and ultimately make you a better and more dynamic cloud professional.

    The MCSD is comprised of 3 Microsoft Specialist certifications, meaning you’ll have to pass 3 exams but, walk away with 4 certifications. The 3 component parts are:

    • Exam 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions - this is the Developer focus where you’ll learn to construct Azure Virtual Machines, create and host Azure websites and design resilient cloud applications.
    • Exam 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions - is the IT Pro focus developing skills to migrate existing on-premise infrastructure to Microsoft Azure. You’ll learn to integrate on premises Windows AD with Azure AD, plan and implement data services based on SQL and deploy websites in Azure.
    • Exam 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions - is the final and hardest exam which requires knowledge gained from 70-532 and 70-533. You’ll need to demonstrate skills to design Azure infrastructure and networking as well as create websites and advanced applications.

    How to earn the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect credential

    It’s never too soon to start building the knowledge to achieve the MCSD certification and career success. Despite the MCSD only launching last week, the 3 composite parts of the certification have been around for a while, meaning there is a wealth of material available.

    Sidney Andrews already launched an excellent Born to Learn post - study resources you need to know. You’ll find a series of books, Channel 9 exam prep sessions and learning resources from the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). I suggest getting started with the MVA Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions and Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions modules.

    If you’re planning on heading down the official training route, Firebrand are a Microsoft Gold Learning Partner and offer accelerated classroom based training with a 7 day MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect course.  You can also check out a series of alternative training paths and partners via Microsoft’s Learning Partner Finder tool

    So what are you waiting for…

    Author Profile


    Edward Jones is a Technical Writer working for Firebrand Training, a leading provider of accelerated IT certification and training. He writes across a series of topics including certification trends, emerging technology and industry news.

  • This is the final part of a series of posts that is a walk-through of the AppToCert program. Be sure to check out Adventures in AppToCert - Part 1 and Adventures in AppToCert - Part 2.

    We have now reached the thrilling conclusion to our journey. However, as I wrote part 2 of this series, I had not actually received the report from the Microsoft engineer. Before I move forward, I want to loop back around to the report. It took about a day to receive the report. That day was well worth the wait. I had expected a simple checklist. What I received was a 19 page document that included detailed descriptions of the objective areas, screen shots, links to articles, and personal comments and suggestions from the engineer. Even if you don't manage to pass the review, this document will give you more than enough information to exponentially improve your app.

    Armed with the aforementioned document, I proceeded to take a few days to improve my app. In all honesty, the features were not difficult to implement. It was more difficult to decide where to put them. Fortunately, the report included suggestions with where to implement the features. I used some of the suggestions; I came up with my own ideas for others. During this time, I had the engineer’s email address and was able to ask him a few clarifying questions. Within days, I had an app that fully met every objective.

    Once I was finished, I emailed the engineer to schedule the follow-up review. Again, the process was reasonably quick, and we scheduled a time within the next couple of days. It is worth mentioning that the original review was scheduled for a 2 hour time block. The follow-up was scheduled for 30 minutes.

    When it was time for the final review, we reconvened on Skype for Business. I knew what we were going to cover, so I had Visual Studio open, the project open, the emulator open and staged, and the relevant files open and positioned to the correct places. This allowed me to quickly show him the relevant improvements. 15 minutes later, I was given the congratulations. I had passed the app review.

    Our tale does not end here. Now that the code had passed inspection, the app still had to be published. Most of you would publish the app to the store at this point. My app was already published, and we had agreed that I wasn't going to publish a few the required changes. This is a key point. They don't want your app to be a carbon copy of the template they define. They want you to produce the best possible app. A few of the requirements for the review did not make sense in the flow of my app. As such, I was provided a secure location to upload the app package with the required features.

    After I uploaded the app package, I sent an email containing the location of the uploaded app package, a link to the published app in the store, and my MC ID. Later that evening, I received an email saying my package was approved. The next morning, I received an email congratulating me on achieving my MCSD.

    There is one additional step most of you will encounter. After you pass the review, you then have to pass the next test to receive the credit. This means that if you pass the review to get credit for either exam 70-480 : Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 or 70-483 : Programming in C#, you must pass exam 70-481 : Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps Using HTML5 and JavaScript or exam 70-484 : Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps Using C#, respectively. If your review was for exam 70-481 or exam 70-484, you must pass exam 70-482 : Advanced Windows Store App Development Using HTML5 and JavaScript or exam 70-485 : Advanced Windows Store App Development Using C#, respectively. However, if you recall from the first post, I had already passed 70-485.

    This brings us to the end of our journey. I can't speak highly enough of this program. After going through the process, I now know, and feel validated, in my real world knowledge of developing Windows Store apps. Furthermore, I can now say that I will have much more respect for others who obtain their MCSD through this method. I truly hope Microsoft Learning finds other ways to validate people’s skills with this type of certification.

    I did it. Now, it's your turn. Let's hear about your journey.

  • Got your attention, didn't I!?!

    In this NewsByte, Briana and I share some great improvements and program enhancements that Microsoft Learning has introduced to make skilling up easier:

    1) Our amazing partnership with edX.org,

    2) Free eBooks if you pass a MCSA, MCSE, MCSD, or Specialist exam before June 30 (while supplies last),

    3) Improvements to lab linking in Digital MOC and interactive assessments, and

    4) The MCP Insider series--getting answers and insight from industry leading experts

    Watch the video to learn more!

  • This is the second part of a series of posts that is a walk-through of the AppToCert program. Be sure to check out Adventures in AppToCert - Part 1.

    Shortly after I posted the first installment, I received an email from Microsoft Learning asking me for a few times when I would be available for a two hour Skype for Business meeting with the Microsoft engineer. I responded with my availability, and received a meeting invite from Microsoft later that day. The appointment was within a week of my initial inquiry.

    If you're curious about the exact timing, most of the delay was on my end. I applied for the program mid-day on a Thursday. I received the original email from Microsoft learning the next morning. Due to my own availability, I said the best times would be the following Thursday or Friday. Later that day, I received the appointment invite, which was scheduled for the Thursday afternoon. Considering the time zone differences, this was the earliest I was available.

    When it was time for the appointment, I joined the Skpye for Business meeting. I entered the lobby a few minutes before the scheduled time, and I was joined by the engineer within a minute of the scheduled time. After a few moments exchanging introductions, he explained the process.

    He first asked if I was the sole developer of the app. He then verified that the app did not rely on any heavy external frameworks, such as Xamarin, AppBuilder, or Apache Cordova. Then, I walked him through the app in the emulator, explaining the rationale behind the app and displaying all the features.

    Once I had gone through all the features (and had a great time telling the story behind the evolution of the app in the same way I love telling stories about my children,) we went through the feature checklist. He would bring up a feature, and I would show him where I implemented it. We would discuss how I implemented it, and, occasionally, he offered suggestions on how I could improve my implementation.

    Of course, now for the part everyone is waiting to hear. What happened with the parts of the checklist I didn't implement? There were a few features in the checklist that just not fit my app. When we approached these features, I explained that it wasn't implemented. We would discuss the feature in detail. I would justify why I did not implement the feature, and he would offer suggestions as to how it could be included.

    Even with this discussion, we decided that there were still a few features that did not make since for my app. At this point, he explained how passing the review required every feature to be present. However, I was presented an option. I was told I could create a version of the app that implemented all the required elements in some way. It didn't have to make sense; it just had to be present. Once I implemented those features, I could upload that build to a secure site that he can sideload onto a phone. This way, I can demonstrate that I can implement all the required features, but I am not tainting my app with gratuitous features that just did not make since.

    As we concluded, we talked about the timing of the follow up meeting. He said I could have a week or two to update the features into the app. At that point, I could directly email him to arrange the follow-up appointment. He would also create a report with the details of the meeting and email it to me.

    At this point, I need to place the few features into a branch of my app. None of these features will require drastic changes to my app. I expect that I should be able to add these features within the next week and schedule my follow-up.

    Until then, I will leave you with this. I found the appointment extremely helpful. Any developer that works on a large project knows the value of code review. Sometimes, an extra pair of eyes and an outside perspective can be invaluable. If you're working alone on an app, you don't have as much access to this. The appointment offered that experience. By explaining the app and walking the engineer through the features, I was forced to remind myself of the rationale of the features. I was forced to look at areas of the code that had been implemented and forgotten. I was given the chance to atone for the sins of my past. It was an incredibly positive experience that I would recommend to anyone.

  • Awhile back, in the comments of one of my blog posts, there was a bit of chatter about what happens when someone escalates an issue or concern that they have with a question on an exam. How does this work? What really happens?

    Let's start at the beginning...

    So, you're taking an exam and find a question that you feel is technically inaccurate, doesn't have a correct answer, or has some other flaw that prevents you from answering it correctly. What do you do?

    You have to let us know!!! Sometimes, there are issues with a question or even the exam delivery that we aren't aware of... unless you tell us. Don't assume that we know! We are not trying to trick you. Really!

    To escalate an issue with the content of an exam, you need to complete the exam item challenge form found here (expand the section "Challenging a Microsoft Certification exam item"). Complete the form within three days of taking the exam, and submit it following the provided instructions. Once we receive the form, we start our investigation into the issue or concern raised.

    Using the information provided, we will identify the question being challenged. This means that you need to provide as much information as possible about the question and your concerns so that we can identify the correct question. Some tips to help us identify the right question: What was the context of the question? What was particularly memorable about it? Did it mention a company or server or code? What type of question was it (multiple choice, build list, hot area, etc.)? Currently, we are unable to see the order in which you saw the items, so telling us that it was question #5 doesn’t help. We need as many details as you can recall!

    Once we have done so, we work with subject matter experts to determine whether the question is flawed. Based on their feedback, we will provide you with a response. To protect the integrity of the exam content, we can't provide specific details about the feedback that the experts provided, but we will provide a general summary of the results of the investigation. It can take up to six weeks to receive a response from us, although we do our best to provide one sooner.

    If we determine that there is no issue, nothing changes in the exam. It is not uncommon for someone to misremember the content of a question, leading them to believe it to be flawed when it is not. There is some interesting psychology at play here... Humans have notoriously poor memories, which are shaped by our expectations and self-fulfilling prophesies. If something doesn't align to our expectations or if we don't know something, we have an amazing ability to recreate our memories to fit our expectations and our existing knowledge. And, sometimes the person raising the issue is simply incorrect.

    However, if the feedback has merit, we will fix or remove the flawed question. It can take a little time to make these types of fixes because of the psychometric implications of fixing questions on or removing questions from an exam. That means that if you retake the exam soon after providing feedback about an issue, you might see the flawed question again. What happens to your score in these cases? I check to see whether removing the question changes your score as well as the score needed to pass, but it is unusual for the removal of a question to change either. Why? Well, sometimes you answered the question correctly even though it was flawed, so removing the question actually "hurts" your score--you now have one less point. If you didn't answer the question correctly, then your score doesn't change. What might change is the cut score, but even this is surprisingly rare because we always round up to the nearest whole number when we set the cut score. Rounding up ensures that you have demonstrated at least minimal competence in the content domain. If the cut score does change, you and everyone who saw that version of the question will be rescored and contacted by VUE with an explanation of what happened. And, sometimes, you are more than one point away from passing although you may not realize it.

    The most common question I get at this point is: Why not just give me the point? Because I can’t assume that you would have answered the question correctly without the flaw. I have to ensure you are at least minimally competent. I cannot make any assumptions about your performance. I have to use the answers you provided to our questions to make this decision. I can remove questions from this consideration if they are flawed, but I cannot assume you would have known something if the question had not been flawed.

    This is an overview of the exam content escalation process. We take your feedback very seriously. I wish I could provide specific examples of changes that we've made not only based on your escalations but also on the comments that you provide during the exam, but I cannot for the same reasons why we don't provide detailed explanations about the results of our investigations into the issues that you raise - providing too many details might undermine the integrity and security of the exam content.

    Know that your comments and feedback help us identify content that is flawed or outdated. You also help us find typos. Yes, typos shouldn't ever make it on to our exams, but there's no such thing as a perfect question and sometimes, they do. So, I really want to thank you for being passionate enough about our exams to take the time to provide this type of feedback. I believe our exams get better every day because you do.

    Now, what questions do you have?

  • Hello MCPs,

    It has been two weeks since the “Light up the Night” MCP Party at the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago. I hope that those of you in attendance enjoyed yourselves, and a special congratulations to our Surface 3 winners! If you were not there, you missed out on a great venue, great community, the photo ops, MCP Auditions, Pop Rocks, Glow sticks and much more… Check out the highlights reel and see all of your #IgniteMCP photos at http://eventstagr.am/view/microsoft-ignite-2015 .

    Not an MCP yet but want to join the fun next year? Check out the exam prep sessions on Channel 9 and get certified!

    It was truly a pleasure spending a night celebrating the MCP community and we really did “Light up the Night”. We can’t wait to see you all next year! 

  • I blinked, and it was over. It’s been just about a month since I took the stage at the Microsoft Build Conference (//build) in San Francisco, CA. It all happened so fast. My heartbeat was spiking, my smile spreading. Lights flash and the Twitterverse explodes. GeekWire reports “Microsoft adds Minecraft mod support in Visual Studio.” VentureBeat writes “Microsoft announces Minecraft modding add-in for Visual Studio.” Aidan Brady and I walk off stage and high-five. Beaming, we walk back to our green room and watch the aftermath unfold.

    Keynote Badge

    The previous 48 hours leading up to that moment were a blur with endless rehearsals. My eyes wide as I take in everything going on behind the scenes to pull of the show. In contrast to the thumping pulse of the conference, behind the stage is a soft quiet. Lights are muted, Microsoft executives sit in their green rooms and rehearse their lines—yes, and they even pace while doing so! There are more computers, services, screens, and gadgets than I’ve ever seen.

    Behind the scenes Behind the scenes with Aidan

    To say the experience was surreal is truly an understatement. Working in my office in Redmond, it’s sometimes hard to remember what drives me. When I can’t see the faces of the students I am trying to reach, when I briefly stray from understanding my audience. A highlight of my job is when I get outside my office and into a classroom, and I get to talk to students and teachers and find out what devices they use and what technology is important in their daily lives. Multiply any one of those experiences a hundredfold and that’s how //build felt. I was honored to be a part of it.

    Satya Nadella has been completely transparent about the fact that Microsoft must focus on education. Microsoft needs to win the hearts and minds of students. It has to become our lifeblood. Without students, there will be no enterprise in the future. We have to understand that the concept of learning has changed—it now happens everywhere. And students are technology natives. Yet, one of the biggest things I notice when talking to students is that they don’t see the power and opportunity behind the devices they hold. It starts with coding, but it’s about computational thinking and problem-solving, the creative process behind programming.

    On stage with Aidan

    At //build, not only did we highlight an amazing example of a student whose story is an inspiration to others, we highlighted that we—Microsoft—have listened. We understand the audience we need to reach, and we understand that we have work to do. Minecraft is the rage right now for students of all ages, and Microsoft is committed to engaging these student developers. The Visual Studio extension I announced allows programming in Java—the programming language behind Minecraft—within Visual Studio. This is a huge step to winning the hearts and minds of students who will get to play and change the game they love, all within Visual Studio, building a positive relationship in association with Microsoft.

    student leader

    Here’s a glimpse, including some photos, into the milestone moments along the way on my journey to //build.

    • Friday, April 3: Steven Guggenheimer asks me to participate in a //build keynote.
      Note I couldn’t talk about the demo at all, so it was mum’s the word.
    • Wednesday, April 8: Book hotel reservations and flights from Seattle to San Francisco.
      Note: Our fabulous internal booking tool wanted me to stay outside of the city and commute over 25 miles to the conference. Hello [insert travel tool name], have you been to the Bay Area?
    • Friday, April 10–Sunday, April 12: Sequester myself in my living room in front of my Xbox to master Minecraft.
      Note: I’ve played before, casually, but this is different. This is learning how it all works, behind the screen.

      Double Note: At this point, I stock up on sour gummy worms and ice cream, close all the blinds, and change into pink pajamas with Day-of-the-Dead skulls on them. They’re PJ Salvage if you’re going to immediately look for them online.

      Minecraft prep
    • Wednesday, April 15: Book time with a co-worker’s 12-year-old son to help me tackle Minecraft on the PC.
      Note: I much prefer the Xbox controller and have decided Xbox is my medium of choice for my gaming.
    • Tuesday, April 21: Script writing, downloading bits, and debugging, oh my!
      Note: Visual Studio Preview 2015 is SWEET.
    • Wednesday, April 22: Final Minecraft lesson from a co-worker’s 5-year-old son.
      Note: He wore a Minecraft shirt and hat for the occasion—clutch.

    • Tuesday, April 28: Away we go!
      Note: #iFlyAlaska

      #IFlyAlaska #IFlyAlaska

  • |

    Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs) are some of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to understanding the world of Microsoft training and certification. Why’s that? It’s because they’re in front of professionals like yourself every day, teaching and answering questions. With hundreds upon hundreds of hours of experience doing it, MCTs are certainly your go-to for tips, advice and insights on how to best prepare for your next certification exam. But of course, like everyone else, they were once beginners and brand new to the world of certifications. So, how did they get their start? I was curious too, so I asked three of our most knowledgeable MCTs,

    Question: What’s your certification story? Why did you first get started with Microsoft Certifications?

    Rachel Jones, MCT

    I took my first exam in 1995 and have continued the process of upgrading my certifications along the way. Certification provides me with the credibility I need as a contract trainer and software developer to get my foot in the door with clients.

    Armando Lacerda, MCT

    My first certification was in Visual Basic 4.0 back in 1996. The company I was working for down in Brazil was required to show expertise in the programming language/environment. It felt good to pass that first one and to be able to present myself as a skilled professional for that project.

    Beth Canterbury MCT

    I have always enjoyed working with software and helping others. In the late 1990s, I became a Microsoft application instructor for a training company (that was also a certified testing center) and was able to take Microsoft exams onsite–of which, I have been fortunate to continue on that path and have been certified in Microsoft Office up to the present day.

    Thanks to Rachel, Armando, and Beth for answering my questions!

    Want to see more MCT Answers posts? Read the following posts on BTL:

  • Not too long ago, I was in the process of finishing my MCSD in Windows Store Apps. When I began my journey, I wasn't too familiar with Windows Store Apps; most of my work was in Windows Phone Apps. With the introduction of Universal Apps in Windows (Phone) 8.1, I decided to completely rewrite my flagship Windows Phone App, The Krewe, as a Universal App.

    While re-writing the app, I learned a ton about the internals of Windows (Phone) 8.1. I was able to leverage this knowledge to pass 70-485: Advanced Windows Store App Development Using C#. I'm sure I could pass 70-484: Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps Using C#, but that's not good enough for me.

    I wanted to put my app up to the challenge. Earlier today, I registered for the AppToCert program. This, currently free, program allows you to get certification credit for the apps you create. The process is simple. You create or update any Windows Store or Windows Phone Store app. Once you're ready, you enroll in the program and make an appointment with the Microsoft Developer Support Experts. During the appointment, you get one-on-one time with a Microsoft engineer while your application is evaluated. Not only will the engineer review your app for the necessary criteria, they can also offer tips and tricks to make your app even better.

    After the initial review, you will either pass the review or be given a list of items to fix. You are then given a few weeks to implement the suggestions of the engineer. This will lead to a second review. Once you are given the approval of the support engineer, all you have to do is publish or update you app.

    After your app is published, you are given a limited amount of time to pass one of a selection of certification tests. Fortunately, as mentioned above, I already passed one of the required test.

    I must admit; I'm a little nervous about the review. I know my app is solid. However, as any developer knows, there is a huge difference between knowing my app works and knowing my app works correctly. I'm excited to receive feedback from the engineer, and I know it will help me produce an even better app.

    I'm also a little worried because my app doesn't implement every feature in the required elements list. It's not for lack of ability to implement the features. It's for lack of having a necessary use case for the features. I'm supremely curious about the feedback I'll receive over these few things.

    But, for now, I must wait for my appointment. After it's over, I'll post the next installment of this series with details about the process.

  • Who doesn’t like a second chance to get something right? With our Second Shot offer, you can do just that. But if you want to take advantage of the offer, you better do it soon because time is running out!

    What is our Second Shot offer?
    It’s simple: Take any Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) or Microsoft Dynamics exam on or before May 31, 2015, and you’ll receive a free Second Shot to use within 30 days of your initial attempt.

    To qualify for Second Shot:

    • You must complete a Microsoft certification exam on or before May 31, 2015. Simply go to https://www.microsoft.com/learning, log in, and schedule your exam.
    • After your exam, log in to check your personal dashboard at https://www.microsoft.com/learning to verify testing results. Please allow up to 24 hours for results to show up on the dashboard.
    • If you did not pass your initial exam, select retake within 30 days of the exam to schedule the retake.
    • Please review the Pearson VUE testing center availability for your specific exam and then schedule your retake. 
    • For complete terms and conditions of this offer, visit the Second Shot page on our website.

    Good luck on your road to a new Microsoft certification title! Don’t forget—if you want to take your exam from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you may be), be sure to check out Online Proctoring. And of course, once you earn your new certification, add it to your CV and LinkedIn profile. And if you're on Xbox, put an MCP shirt on your avatar!