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Microsoft Learning, Microsoft Partners Coming Together

Two groups to become more closely aligned; new "blended training" tools also being added.

October has been quiet for Microsoft certification news, but back at the Redmond campus, Microsoft has been busy in the background, preparing to announce some structural changes to the Microsoft Learning program that will benefit Microsoft Certified Partner members. Hints of the forthcoming changes were revealed in a Q&A interview with Lutz Ziob, general manager for Microsoft Learning, which appears on a press release on the Microsoft Press Pass site.

"New integration between Microsoft Learning and the Microsoft Partner Program enables Microsoft Certified Professional certifications to be applied toward multiple Microsoft Solution Competencies," said Ziob. It's expected that Microsoft will officially announce details for its newly branded Microsoft IT Specialist certifications and will integrate these titles into the current Microsoft Partner competency requirements, but the company would neither confirm nor deny. Ziob says the group will release details in the next few weeks.

Other changes are afoot and some of the changes will come in the form of additional training delivery methods that Microsoft Learning will offer. In the interview, Ziob totes the flag for the "blended learning" concept, a term that denotes training delivered to students through various methods -- instructor-led classroom training, computer-based training seminars; e-Learning courses, which are on-demand classes taken online; traveling training roadshows such as workshops or local seminars; printed study materials from Microsoft Press; audio presentations; or a mix of these methods.

One new training delivery method is the "clinic," which Ziob describes as "half-to-one-day training events [that] provide detailed 'how-to' presentations of technical information on existing or new Microsoft products or technologies, including descriptions of the features and functionality, and product demonstrations." Microsoft uses clinics as a grassroots marketing effort to highlight significant changes, updates or new features. Events are often hosted at Microsoft regional centers worldwide.

In addition, Ziob mentions one new tool aimed at Microsoft Partner members: "lab-intensive, scenario-based 'workshops'...[which are] built around scenarios and troubleshooting in hands-on labs, targeted reviews, information resources and analysis of best practices."

Microsoft also plans to release official details of the new Microsoft Certified Professional program later this month, to precede the official launch party for Server 2005 and Visual Studio Team System 2005 on November 7 in San Francisco.

To read the Q&A with Lutz Ziob, click here.

About the Author

Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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