Academic Training Revamped

Microsoft no longer offers the Authorized Academic Training Provider (AATP) program as of this year; company replaces it with the Microsoft IT Academy.

Starting at the beginning of this year, Microsoft no longer offers the Authorized Academic Training Provider (AATP) program. It's been replaced by the Microsoft IT Academy. Although the concept is the same—to train students in an academic setting on Microsoft technologies—at least one instructor believes the coming changes will force many schools to discontinue their official affiliations with Microsoft.

Under the new structure, the fee has gone from free to $5,000 per school at the post-secondary level (colleges, universities and trade schools) and $1,500 per school at the high school level. (High schools may also choose to pay the higher fee in exchange for a higher level of benefits.) Schools with more than a single physical location must pay a fee for each site where the program is in effect.

"The unfortunate thing is that a lot of schools aren't going to [continue their affiliation] because of the money," said Michael Rodgers, an MCT who has taught for Dyersburg State Community College and Jackson State Community College, both in Tennessee. Rodgers says that Dyersburg State has already dropped out of the program and he's unsure about what Jackson State will decide. He predicts that fewer than half of schools that joined the AATP program will continue to participate.

At the college level, the program requires that the courses be delivered by instructors who have passed the corresponding certification exam. The high school version only requires the teacher to pass the test before giving the class a second time.

Rules specify that participating schools offer classes that last no longer than 12 hours per week, including lab time.

Rodgers says that Dyersburg State will continue teaching its Microsoft-oriented classes. "However, when we market ourselves, we can't use the word 'Microsoft' in our title. No more saying, 'Hey, come take our MCSE program.'"

Details are at

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Feb 14, 2002 Rightontime Anonymous

It seems like every move Ms makes- creates buzz. whats next?
I pity this whinners- being bombard week after week with pathetic ms decisions.
The Funny things is Sweetny and co- are making millions in Redmond- Do you think they care??

Tue, Feb 12, 2002 Mike Oklahoma

The question here is, will this help the student get a better education. The colleges are getting what they need and the students are getting a better education as well. No instructor should get in front of the student and not be certified, not only as a MCT but on the course they are teaching. Now the education center/college can get the training for the instructors. The education center also gets the necessary marketing help it needs. The cost should not be a factor. I see the local community college spend more in one week on advertisment than the local ctec does in a year. For the college not to use the program would cost more. If they are going to teach they have to have the software. Even at the college discount rate it would cost more than the 5K for the program. I do not see any way for a college not to be able to do the program.

Tue, Feb 12, 2002 Perrin Tulsa

SO, What?... Let Microsoft eat the Cake- I teach at a Community Tech School for the MCSE Program. You dont have to be in bed with MS to hold classes based on the MCSE.

Mon, Feb 11, 2002 Matt Anderson Grand Rapids

Being an MCT I like this change. The college that I teach at switched over to IT academy and we are very excited. The students like the fact that the instructor must be certified to teach the class and that our school is certified by Microsoft to offer the class. $5000 is nothing when you think about all of the revenue the MCSE program brings in for colleges. It's like the people who complain about the 400 per year MCT fee and having to teach 10 days of MOC a year .... well if you aren't teaching at least 10 days of MOC a year then you are not a Microsoft Trainer as your primary job and you can probably drop your MCT status and not have it affect you! Go figure people : ).

Sat, Feb 9, 2002 Ron Anonymous

This short article is an editorial of sorts, meant to generate interesting conversation, or should I say whining, about a program that many people have not really taken the time to learn about, although the link to more information is right at the bottom of the article. Dian L. Schaffhauser is misleading readers, in my opinion, in that one side of the story is presented as an editorial, yet the title in the "News" section does not indicate this. I would have done an in-depth analysis of the program and its benefits, and identified the pros and cons to both schools and students. It's a shame , because the negative comments listed seem almost idiotic after actually finding out what the Microsoft IT Academy is really about. A little more info from the the author would have generated more useful discussion.

Sat, Feb 9, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

For years, schools have been complaining about the lack of support from vendors such as Microsoft and Cisco, and how the commercial training centers have succeeded in providing better IT training than academic institutions because of this lack of support. Microsoft seems to be saying, "OK, we will provide you more support to help you in your Microsoft training programs, but it will cost you." The true value of this program remains to be seen considering it has just started, but I'm sure Microsoft will have a lot of feedback (both positive and negative). For people who know the IT industry as well as the academic community that has struggled to keep up with the fast pace of the IT industry, we need all the help we can get to help prepare students.

Sat, Feb 9, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

I was at the League for Innovations conference in MN last November during the launch of the Microsoft IT Academy Program. Having worked with numerous community colleges over the years, there is definitely money that can be found to fund a program such as the Microsoft IT Academy. For instance, the program provides faculty training support. Colleges often have money that is reserved for faculty development, and thes funds can be used towards the annual $5000 subscription fee. There are marketing dollars that can also be allocated in the same way. Although there are a number of colleges that have said they will not join the new program, only a few of those have said they will never join. The others have simply said they will have to wait till next year when the can forecast the expense. In the meantime, they will evaluate the program's performance. For those schools who have opted not to join the program at all, they have several options: run their Microsoft classes as a non-authorized training center using third-party materials, partner with a local CTEC to use the Microsoft branding, or become a CTEC themselves. Whatever a school chooses, this shouldn't affect the price for students. In addition to lower prices provided by colleges, there are a number of grants that are available as part of workforce development programs to get people into IT training.

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

I am a MCT. I worked at a CTEC and an AATP. I think the big money has won again. Where are our hard pressed comunity schools going to get the money?
Most of the people who can afford the CTEC are not at the community colleges.
If you are poor and need to get a good job where do you go?????????????

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Just a couple notes:
1. Microsoft IT Academies can use MOC or the Academic Learning Series (ALS) books. Most books are almost the same anyways (whether MOC, ALS or ElementK), but the instructor is the one that makes the difference. The nice thing about MOC is that they come with 120-day evaluation copies of the software used in class, such as Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

2. CTECs are applauding the "leveling of the playing field" because of the $5000 fee (versus the CTEC fee of $2500), but Microsoft IT Academies also now have access to a number of services and technology that match or beat value-added services offered by CTECs.

3. Several people talked about AATPs not siging up because of a lack of funds. Compared to start-up costs associated with other programs such as the "free" Cisco Networking Academy ($15K or more in equipment costs are not mentioned by Cisco) and the Sun Academic Initiative, the Microsoft IT Academy is actually relatievly inexpensive. Even schools that didn't budget for it this year will potentially plan for it in the next budget.

Bottom line: Whether you like or Microsoft or not is irrelevant. The Microsoft IT Academy Program will succeed in its mission to raise the bar that schools are measured by in providing Microsoft training. Let the whining begin...

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

After reading comments from different people, both representing CTECs and academic institutions, I have only seen one person who appears to have done some research on what the Microsoft IT Academy is offering academic institutions for $5000 a year. To compare it to the former "free" AATP program is like comparing "apples and oranges" in that the AATP program only offered product licenses and MOC discounts. The new Microsoft IT Academy provides academic institutions product licenses, MOC discounts, faculty training and support, technical support, marketing support, a co-branded education portal, a Technet subscription, academic discounts on practice exams and assessments, and program support. Some schools will walk away from the program because they can provide quality Microsoft training on their own and do not need all the benefits of the new program. Other schools will sign up because they desperately need more support than just product licenses and MOC discounts. As a project manager, MCSE, and MCT, I have heard "techies" blame Microsoft for everything under the sun, and it doesn't surprise me that a number of readers have accused Microsoft as being "greedy" for trying to help schools with a number of services they have asked for time and time again. The fact that Microsoft is making schools pay for a small part of the support (the total package is worth way more than $5000) doesn't make them "greedy"... it's called running a business.

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

We've been an AATP for years, but no more. I'm tired of MS's greed and feeling that wherever they go, the world will follow. We're switching to ElementK training materials which are cheaper and better.

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

WAY TO GO Microsoft! Since the early days of the PC I have competed against a college and a university for market place dollars. They will always win the bid because they can sell the products cheaper because of their academic discounts -- and they can provide serives cheaper because they do not pay for their certifications (not to mention that part of my taxes contribute to their pay). It is about time someone had the courage to level the playing field. THANKS!

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Howard Fayetteville, AR

The biggest problem with Microsoft training whether it be AATP or CTEC is the wrong audience. Go to MS site and you will see that they recommend a one year of experience support a network BEFORE undertaking the MCSE program. They weren't kidding. Microsoft Official Curriculum is NOT written for students new to the industry. Microsoft Official Curriculum is NOT designed to be test prep material. I've taught MOC for over 4 years to both career changers and IT professionals. Many of the IT professionals aren't even interested in the Exams. They took the class to learn how do their job better. CTECs and AATPs are doing a disservice the entire industry by trying to take people with zero networking background and make them MCSEs in a few months time. Yes we can teach to the test, and you can use brain dumps, and exam crams, and pass the tests, but if you don't really understand the products you will NOT be able to do the job. I promise, if you understand the product, you will be able to pass the test.

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 RickH Columbia, MD

Mr. Gimp is obviously bitter. He allows his personal experience to trap him into the mistake of generalizing from a single example. Some AATPs require instructors to be BOTH MCSE and pass the exam for which they were teaching (not required for CTECs). Some use a combination of MOC and MS Press materials depending on what is best for the students. Some wouldn't teach more than 12 hrs per week even if allowed because the students need a slower pace to fully absorb the material. Some CTECs use unqualified instructors. Unforturnately, neither keeping the AATP program not implementing the IT Academy program will solve the aforementioned problems. It would have been nice if Microsoft had given sufficient warning of the new program to allow for careful consideration and insertion of the additional costs into budget planning. It remains to be seen if the new program "works" any better than the old. Does the public understand the difference between CTEC, IT Academy, and Microsoft Certified Partner, all of which can offer training apparently "approved" by Microsoft?

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Anonymous Netherlands

Well, those certifications serve just one purpose for MS, and that is to make money. Period. As the market slows down and gets saturated by mcse-people, this $5000 move is in line of what we can expect from a company whose marketpower is equivalent to that of a monopolist. M$ rules, alas.

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

NO MORE PAPER MS Certificates.

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Help!!! My MCSD instructor at an ACCSCT and CTEC school is an IDIOT. How can I pass the exam when he is not teaching according to Microsoft's standards??? He has not been MCSD certified...nor a MCT. Please give me more information on how to deal with this situation because I got financial aid from WIA. What should I do now?

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

I am an MCT and have taught in AATPs, CTECs and Technical schools. of them all I would have to say that the AATPs care the least for their students. The programs are contracted out and the college staff's only concern is that they get their cut and no complaints. The company that runs the program is one of the sleisiest that I have met in this industry. They would tell the students any lie and then blame the instructor.

What seems to be missing from the article and comments is that the MOC is one of the worst courses around to learn a Microsoft product. It is intended for someone with 2-5 years of field experiance. But the program is being sold to people with no experiance.

The way the entire MOC system is set up is a failure. There either needs to be prerequistes or the program needs to be done at the level that the students can learn what they need to know

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

I agree with raising the bar, but this is driven by greed. Microsoft needs to raise the bar by using some of that money to send evaluators periodically to schools around the country to examine what is being taught. When there is poor instruction, you get poor MCSE's. The MCT program should be revamped in my opinion.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Pretender Congo

Whether it is CTEC or AATTP , Microsoft certification is of sub-standard. There are no stringent rules and regulation to governs the MCT standards. As MAD from BAMA mentioned, most of the CTECs are teaching using third party products but they still allow to carry the CTEC or AATP title. Microsoft doesn't really bother about all these whole damn misleading business. We are certified , but in what aspect ? braindumps or text books ? I am from Asia Pacific and I must admit that the local Microsoft do not even bother to check all this so called certified training institute. They only interested in pushing their damn software license. What a shame !!!

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 AnonyMCT Florida

After seeing schools charge as much as $20,000 for a two year degree and MCSE package with students coming out ill prepared to pass the tests and/or do the jobs, I am glad that some of these schools are going to have to compete on a level playing field with CTECs.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 JH Virginia

This is a good thing. You don't take a class to be an IT professional-- you work and learn things by doing. If this means that every trade school and community college in the country will stop offering test-passing (oops, MCSE) programs, I say good riddance.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 neil carey india

wonderful ! icrosoft must be congratulated for showing by taking this wise step just to put a check on those ill-equipped ATCs with no proper structure or the experienced faculties but making money duping gullible candidates by offering their alliance with MICROSOFT and thus robbing both , MC as well the stiudents by charging exorbitant fee !
This way atleast this mushroom shoddy growth would definitely put a check on the otherwise ineligible ones !

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 MAD BAMA

I just think MS has lost all touch with reality. I see what is happening to the CTECs, AATPs, and MCTs. They are just giving up on the MOC path and teaching the same thing with third party products. This is my last $400 to renew my MCT. Not worth it. No one uses it. Just another nail in their on coffin.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Jonathan Robinson Houston, Texas

The more stringent requirement for Trainers makes perfect sense and I wonder why this wasn't done before. The way Microsoft is now greedily charging to train more people to use their products is absurd.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Mr. Gimp Virginia Beach, VA

This pleases me. I just left an AATP, after working there for about a year. The stupidity being practiced there was jaw-dropping. They had instructors teaching classes for exams they have not passed, and instructors who told students, "You should just dump the exam, and study just enough to pass... No one ever asks you what your score was..." Paper MCSE's abounded. They had one "MCSE" instructor who didn't know how to configure his 2000 Server as a router. I think most AATP's are just people too lazy and too cheap to become CTEC's. I am amazed at the number of instructors who couldn't teach their way out a paper bag. Microsoft is wise to raise the bar. Poor instruction equals poor IT people...which completely devalues the certification.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Let's be honest about this situation. None of these "former" AATPs are going to get out of the MCSE training business. They are just going to use another text like Microsoft Press to teach the courses. In my opinion, Microsoft has done the STUDENTS a favor. The MOC was a good starting point but I have met only a few students who could pass the MCP exams using only the MOC as a means to prepare. These former AATPs will now be able to offer courses that will meet the needs of the students, such as 5 day courses rather than 10 week sessions, etc. As a MCT, I have taught at both CTECs and AATPs as well as non Microsoft Authorized sites. Those classes that are taught with text other than MOC provide the students with as good a prep course as those with MOC. Even in CTECs and AATPs, it is buyer be ware. The course is only as good as the trainer. Every Student should check out all the training sites and be certain that they are getting their money's worth.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Gene Mason Springfield, VA

I think it's a great idea. We see ENTIRELY too many incompetent MCSE's out there as it is. This should decrease the subpar people as having a dedicated shop that is more accountable and held to higher standards for instructors is a great idea. Hopefully when the number of MCSE's dies down we can get our TechNet back?

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

It's about time! You'll find that the vast majority of the AATP schools where BLATANTLY violating their contracts and competing directly with the local CTECs by offering courses at the normal 2-5 day pace or only slightly slower. They paid no fees, got books for 25% of the cost and weren’t required to use instructors with even the absurdly minimal “requirements” that CTEC’s were supposed to observe. Add the government subsidy that most schools get into the equation and it’s a seriously unfair competitive position.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

I've served public education for over 15 years. I've never been "spolied", by any vendor. As a pure MS shop, my staff is grossly undertrained for 2000. In my state, public schools simply cannot procure the training funds.

Call it what you will, in the real world this is driven by pure, unmitigated, uncontrolled greed.

Enron ethics.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Cisco is not a free ride. Academies must invest in teacher training, hardware, dedicated labs etc. It is a very expensive program to implement.
The IT Academy Program gives back to the Academy free trainer preparation, free TechNet Plus, licenses, web portal and more. $5,000 is cheap, we've been spoiled in the past. The dollar payback in support & training is much more than the cost of the program. We're giving it a trial year to see if it meets what is advertised by the program. We are a Cisco Regional, a Sun Academy as well as Microsoft. Beleive me the Microsoft Program pales in price in comparison.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Microsoft seem to believe that people should pay for the privilege of learning to use and support their products when the reality should be the opposite. I hope that someone will see sense soon.
I'm an MCSE NT4 and it is financially impossible for me to upgrade. Even Technet has to be paid for by MCSE's and MCP's which is insane as they need to have access to the Technet information to be able to do the job.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

It's true! Microsoft has made the incredibly idiotic decision of eliminating a huge portion of training in it's own products. Logically, the more people trained to use Microsoft products, will use Microsft products. The college I teach at has dropped the program because of the cost. It would have cost them $5000 per location. The closest Microsoft training to where I live now is 70 miles away. A lot of students on the MCSE track had to drop out. Smart move Microsoft!

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Mike Montgomery, AL

Bad move. Cisco is suceeding by providing the Academies. Clearly this is a sign of what not to do or either a sign of greed. You make the call.

Thu, Feb 7, 2002 Michael Anonymous

That is a real pity! Especiallly now, when the difference between the marketplace and technical education curriculum is becoming critical!

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