It's been since a while that I could write an article for this blog but alas, I was (and still am) very busy with customer's work. Which is actually good. So, what is this article going to tell you? Well, in general, just what I already tweeted, that life is constant process of learning - especially as software craftsman.
Due to an upcoming new customer project in ASP.NET I had to seize the opportunity to get my head deeper into latest available technologies, like Windows Azure and SQL Azure. I know... cloud computing and so on is not a recent development and already available since quite a while but I never any means to get myself into this since roughly two weeks ago.
Microsoft Virtual Academy
I can't remember exactly what guided me towards the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA), oh wait... Yes, it was a posting on Facebook from an old Community Leader/Insider Program (CLIP) community friend. He posted a shortened URL with #MVA tag that caught my attention. Thanks for that Thomas Kuberek. After the usual sign in or registration via Live ID I was a little bit surprised that Mauritius is not an available country option... Quick mail exchange with the MVA Decan, and yeah, apologies for the missing entry. So, currently I'm learning about Microsoft products and services, and collecting points under "Not Listed Country" until Mauritius is going to be added. Hopefully soon, as MVA honors your effort with different knowledge ranks that are compared to other students with public profiles. I think it's a nice move to add some game and competition factor into the learning game.
The tracks and their different modules are mainly references to publicly available material online, namely on either MSDN, TechNet, Channel9, or other Microsoft based sites. The course material therefore also varies in different media and formats, ranging from simple online articles over downloadable documents (.docx or .pdf) to Silverlight / Windows Media streams with download options.
Self-assessment and students ranking
Each module in a track can be finished by taking part in a self-assessment. Up to now, the assessment I did (and passed) were limited to 10 minutes available time, and consisted of six to seven questions on the module training material. Nothing too serious but it gives you a glimpse idea how Microsoft certification exams are structured.
Nothing really new but nicely gathered, assembled and presented to the MVA students. At the moment, I wouldn't dare to compare the richness and quality of those courses with professional training offers, like Pluralsight .NET Training, LearnDevNow, VTC, etc. at all, but I think that MVA has potential.
Give it a try, and let me know about your opinions.