In my last article, I focused on Microsoft’s decision to retire MCSE exams specific to the Windows NT OS. Judging from the volume of feedback you posted on the Web site and sent directly to me, it's clear that many of you are unhappy with Microsoft’s decisions. Because the exam requirements are likely written in stone, it's probably a good time to develop an action plan. December 31, 2001, the day your current certifications will expire, is just over 2 years away.

I wrote an application for a grant last week, and that experience reinforced the need for me to develop an action plan. The grant, offered by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and Microsoft, provides funding of up to $300,000 for member community colleges (for more information, click here). The purpose of the grant is to:

  • Develop or strengthen IT program content through IT certificate and associate degree programs and other certificate or associate degree programs with significant IT components.
  • Deliver quality IT education and training, with a special focus on attracting and graduating people from disadvantaged populations.

The program we're trying to develop at Sierra College, a community college in California, will focus on network design. Our objective is to provide courses about network OSs, hardware and infrastructure, and network management. We plan to offer Win2K MCSE, Intel Certified Integration Specialist (ICIS), and Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) Network+ certification opportunities.

A specific requirement for the application is that we provide a "Project Timeline with Action Plan," which includes faculty development. To reduce training costs for faculty, Sierra’s action plan specifies that we handle training internally—which means that a faculty member from our Computer Science department must learn the Win2K OS so that person can train other faculty members. Because I'm the only full-time faculty member with MCSE and MCT certifications, I was selected to fill this roll by default.

One of my character defects is my tendency to procrastinate. Fortunately, as the designated point man for Microsoft network training here at Sierra College, I'm forced to learn the Win2K OS in a short time. Unfortunately, the college’s training budget is limited, so I've been investigating non-traditional training alternatives.

My training objectives include passing four Microsoft trainer exams in addition to the regular certification exam—a new twist. In the past, MCTs had to pass the related certification exams only. For Windows 2000, Microsoft requires that MCTs pass the trainer exams in the following table:

Pass Trainer Exam ... To Teach Course
076-203 1560: Updating Support Skills from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2000
076-202 1561: Designing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Directory Services Infrastructure
076-201 1562: Designing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Networking Services Infrastructure
076-200 1563: Designing a Change and Configuration Management infrastructure for Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional

With the goal of finding inexpensive training alternatives in mind, I focused on the best source of educational information I know of¾ the Internet. Microsoft’s Web site provided a lot of useful information. What I uncovered and have listed below might be useful to you in your efforts to prepare for Win2K certification exams.

Course 1555: Getting Ready for Microsoft Windows 2000
Course 1555, a 6.8MB file you can download for free from the Microsoft Web site, gives NT 4.0 support professionals the strategy and skills necessary to prepare an NT 4.0 network for migration to Win2K. The course leverages a student's existing administration and support skills to present a strategy of best practices that, when deployed, will best prepare computers and networks for Win2K.

This course is a self-paced, HTML-based course that combines instruction and hands-on labs. Prerequisites for the course are Administering Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 course (803) and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Core Technologies course (922) or the equivalent skills and knowledge.

Microsoft Learning Group Courses
One of the benefits of MCT certification is that you get access to Microsoft's Learning Solutions Group (LSG) courses. Training organizations use LSG courseware to train Microsoft's technical support staff, such as its field system engineers, its technical sales staff, and its premier support organization. Written by internal Microsoft experts, the courseware is geared toward the technical support professional and contains in-depth technical information. By studying this courseware, MCTs can gain a deeper understanding of the use and support of Microsoft products and add value to the Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) courses that they deliver.

I've listed the Win2K-related LSG courses in the table below. Courseware cost depends on the type of media. For CD-ROMs, the cost is generally $20; workbooks are $75 each.

Course Description Course Length Type
1415/1434: Microsoft Windows 2000 Core: Directory Services 3 days Workbook/CD-ROM
1416/1435: Microsoft Windows 2000 Core: Networking 2 days Workbook/CD-ROM
1417/1462: Microsoft Windows 2000 Specialty – Networking 2 days Workbook/CD-ROM
1432/1463: Microsoft Windows 2000 Specialty – Storage & Fault Tolerance 2 days Workbook/CD-ROM
1442: Microsoft Windows 2000 Specialty – Security 4 days Workbook
1443: Microsoft Windows 2000 Specialty – Internet Information Server 5.0 Upgrade 2 days Workbook
1445: Microsoft Windows 2000 Specialty – Setup and Installation 2 days Workbook
1447: Microsoft Windows 2000 Specialty – Directory Services 5 days Workbook

If the course lengths are accurate, I’m looking at 23 days of self-paced training. The total cost ranges from $380 to $600, depending on the choice of media. I’d better stop writing and start ordering courseware if I want to keep to my timeline for completing the four trainer exams during my semester break.