Microsoft Virtual Academy – “Free Microsoft Training Delivered by Experts”

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What is it?

Microsoft offer various types of learning materials on their www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com website, sometimes known as MVA. These learning materials are delivered through papers, slides, videos and interactive online labs, see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/virtuallabs for more labs.

What do I need?

Access to a basic web browser should allow you to use most media on the Microsoft website. I have used Chrome and IE, both work very well. I have not tried accessing the materials from an Apple device, so results may vary. Although not strictly required, you can link a Microsoft or Google account, this will help you track progress and create a learning plan.

Is it worth my time?

This is a difficult question to answer. While the learning material is free, it is not always helpful in specific issues you might have with a Microsoft product. If you are new to IT you could find the topics covered not always easy to understand. I have worked through the Getting Started with PowerShell 3.0 Jump Start course and found it interesting and informative. I understand many people want to learn to be a cool ‘hacker’ or want to learn Linux because Microsoft is ‘too easy’, but I encourage all to have a general idea of what all their products do.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • It is ‘free’ to use
  • Allows you to get a general idea of how and where many Microsoft products are used
  • Allows you to track progress
  • Videos put a face and personality to training
  • Labs show the User Interface and brief practical use.

Cons:

  • Topics vary in amount of learning material available
  • Topics covered can be vague or very niche
  • Requires an online account to track progress and create a learning plan
  • Unlikely anybody will recognise the training as credit for college or job interviews

Final thoughts

I accept that I might not have made a compelling argument for or against MVA, but I think it warrants a few minutes of your time to try it. The MVA learning materials are not going to teach you to pass an exam alone, but are a good start and a pleasant change from just studying with books.

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below, or even better sign up for an account and post on GeekBrainDump.com about your experience.

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