FAQ: What is e-Learning?



Whenever I meet people in the industry at conferences, etc, I always ask them this question, ‘What is Microsoft e-Learning?’. I usually get a varied set of responses from a web casts, to online books, to the MSDN. I put together this small FAQ of what we are, and what we aren’t and how we build our content.

What is Microsoft e-Learning?

Microsoft e-Learning is a self-guided online / offline interactive learning experience that is delivered through the use of various interactive components including text content, animations, demos, games, and virtual labs. Additionally e-Learning products also track student progress and provide self-tests.

How is e-Learning content different than the MSDN?

MSDN content consists of various online resources including SDK documentation, Web casts, Tutorials, Articles, and Hands on Labs that are accessable from http://msdn.microsoft.com. e-Learning is interactive, instructionally sound courseware that is accessable from www.microsoftelearning.com and viewable through a proprietary course viewer either online or offline for a period of one year. 

How is e-Learning created?

Microsoft Learning works with various product groups (i.e. Visual Studio, Office, Windows Mobile) within Microsoft and with SMEs in the industry in order to create the content.

What are e-Learning virtual labs?

Essentially we give you a virtual box loaded with Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, a set of source files and a set of tasks to perform in the lab. In some cases we may provide you multiple machines to work on for completion of the lab.

How do e-Learning virtual labs differ from MSDN virtual hands on labs?

Hands-on labs walk you through performing tasks in a lab environment. With each lab a student manual is provided which includes all the steps necessary to perform the lab. e-Learning virtual labs provide you a set of tasks to perform that are based on the concepts you have learned either within the course, or within the workshop resource toolkit. Because the goal of these labs is to validate skills, we do not give you the answers outright. We do provide a solution project that you can reference if you are unable to complete the solution.

Does e-Learning align with Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC)

In general we try to align pretty tightly. Often we will take MOC / Instructor led training content and convert it to e-Learning. During this conversion we will make signficant changes to the content in order to ensure that it is appropriate for a self-guided experience. For example we may take the classroom labs and rework them based on an instuctor not being present. Additionally we may take an instructor slide and convert it into an animation.

How does e-Learning align with Certification

Certification is one of the major drivers behind our e-Learning catalog, for example in the last year 95% of our new titles align with cert. If there is a choice between building content that aligns with cert and content that does not align with cert then probably 8 out of 10 times we will build the cert content. We actively work with the cert team on an ongoing basic to ensure that we are building content for the newer exams. That being said, there are technologies that warrant having training although there is no cert to align with. Our pre-release courseware is one such case as there is no cert available for pre-release products. When it comes to building the actual cert-aligned courses, we leverage the publically available study guides for the exam in order to ensure that we cover the appropriate topic areas.

What are the types of developer e-Learning products?

E-Learning comes in 3 different flavors – Courses, Workshops and Clinics

Courses – In-depth technical training along with virtual labs / simulations. In a course 50% of the course is spent learning the material, while the remaining 50% is spent applying the learned concepts in a virtual lab environment.

Workshops – Learn by doing (85% lab). In a workshop you dive in to the lab environment and learn through applying the technology in real-world scenarios. Within the lab your are provided a resource kit of reference information about the scenario and the technology to aid you in completion of your tasks. Workshops are not appropriate for beginners and target intermeddiate and advanced learners.  

Clinics – Promote awareness of a new technology. Clinics tell you why you should care about a technology? What are the benefits it provides, how does it differ with other similar technolgies. Clinics do not include virtual labs but do include demos where you can see the technology in action. 

Is e-Learning free?

Pre-release clinics are free up until product launch after which they retail for $9.99. Courses and workshops retail for $39.99 each. Titles can either be individually purchased or as part of a collection (at a 20% discount). Once purchased, e-Learning content is available for a year.

How do I get it? 

Go here

Can my organization purchase e-Learning at a volume discount?

Yes, your org can purchase e-Learning through our Volume Licensing program at a substantial discount. For more information click here.

Glenn Block

Sr. Program Manager, Azure

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