Microsoft Launches Distance Learning Initiative
New training method allows those who want to take advantage of instructor-led training to do so -- without leaving the office.
Microsoft launched on Nov. 14 its Microsoft Official Distance Learning initiative
(MODL), a blended learning program that uses Microsoft Office Live Meeting to
conduct MCT-led classes, which students then reinforce with self-paced homework
assignments and scenario exercises.
According to MODL Innovations Product Manager Wendy Johnson, MODL is a more
productive and convenient alternative to previous learning program models, which
typically cram lessons into a mere five days, and require students to leave
their offices for the classroom.
By contrast, Johnson said, each MODL class is spread over a five-week period,
with ample time between classes to review and practice the concepts covered.
And since the classes are online, employees will have to worry less about sacrificing
"This model ... breaks it down in such a way that the student is able
to get that learning, but spread out over time in such a way that they can keep
up with their daily tasks," Johnson said. "The core of the course
experience is about trying to provide enough time."
A typical MODL session is divided into four parts, according to Johnson: a
two-hour virtual classroom session via Live Meeting, one hour of homework, one
hour of scenario exercises and a 10-minute feedback assignment.
The scenario exercises, hosted by Pleasanton, Calif.-based Toolwire, are the
centerpiece of the MODL program. Each scenario is designed for a specific IT
position, and outfits the student with access to a live server to perform "day-in-the-life"
While much of the emphasis of the MODL program is on the convenience of self-paced
learning, equal importance has also been placed on increasing student interaction,
which risks getting lost in a distance learning environment.
"There are going to be a lot of interactions and a lot of activities that
students have to reply to, write on, et cetera," Johnson said. "There's
a lot of great interaction, students working together to solve the problems.
And there's also a nice anonymity, where the students can feel free to answer
the question -- even if they aren't sure of the answer -- because they're sitting
there at their desktop and not being watched by their peers."
MODL is available exclusively through Microsoft Certified Partners for Learning
Solutions. According to the program's
Web site, there are currently three courses on Microsoft Server 2003 available,
with more courses to come next year. For more information on MODL, including
course availability, go here.
Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.