My Online Training Experience
In my column on December 3, I wrote about Microsoft’s Course 1579: Accelerated Windows Upgrade Training. I mentioned that I planned to take the online version of the course that Training Associates, a Microsoft Certified Technical Education Center (CTEC), offers. I found the online training experience enjoyable, and I recommend it to self-motivated learners.

The key to success with online training is developing a schedule and sticking to it. Recognizing this, the people at Training Associates spread the course out over 8 weeks. Microsoft produced the course content (and depending on your experience with Microsoft Official Curriculum— MOC—that may or may not be a good thing). I found some technical errors in the course materials and pointed them out to the Training Associates people, but Microsoft’s copyright concerns prevent training providers from correcting course content.

Training Associates' software was a snap to install. I expected to have trouble accessing the Training Associates Web server through my employer's firewall, but I experienced no problems. I had no difficulty accessing chat and other class features.

You take an evaluation exam at the end of each module, and your scores automatically forward to Training Associates when you connect to its Web server. The feedback compares your test results with the results from the rest of the class, a feature that lets the instructor determine where students are having problems. Chat sessions occur twice a week. I wasn’t able to attend them all, but I still benefited because the Training Associates software has a sync feature that downloads the content of all chat sessions to your local machine.

Another factor to ponder when you're considering online training is your hardware. For Course 1579, you need at least two computers capable of running Windows 2000 (Win2K). The 100MHz Pentium system you’ve used for years won’t be adequate.

Motorola Certifications

Motorola has jumped on the certification bandwagon with its new collection of certifications. But these certifications come with an interesting twist: One of the courses is free, and the certification exams are all free. At Motorola’s Colleagues online learning and certification Web site, you can learn about Motorola’s two certifications that cover its Vanguard line of multimedia networking products. For a limited time, access to these programs is free.

To participate, you must create a user account, providing information "to ensure that any certificates you earn are mailed to the correct address." You can run the courses, which are in a NetMeeting format, either directly from Motorola’s Web server or offline after you download them.

The first course offering is Course DV100: Designing Vanguard Multimedia Networks: Training & Certification. To enroll, you must have a basic knowledge of Vanguard hardware and LAN and WAN networking concepts and terminology. Motorola describes the course as a "one-day seminar or a self-paced education package providing participants with information on how to design basic customer networks implementing Motorola MND's (Multi-services Networking Division's) internetworking product features and benefits."

The course consists of several modules:

  • Introduction—Provides an overview of the Designing Vanguard Multimedia Networks courseware.
  • Basic Design—Covers network design basics for Vanguard Multimedia Networking.
  • IP Performance—Describes how to measure performance and customer needs for IP network applications.
  • Routing Protocols—Describes important routing factors you should consider when designing a customer network.
  • Data Control—Covers important considerations for setting data controls in the customer network.
  • Voice Applications—Describes requirements and characteristics for voice application implementation in a customer network.
  • Digital Video Monitoring and Surveillance—Describes considerations and requirements for implementing video in a customer network for remote monitoring and surveillance of customer premises.
  • Quality of Service—Covers important requirements and considerations for implementing Quality of Service (QoS) in a customer network.
  • Internet Connections—Describes ways of handling customer requirements for access to the Internet.
  • Network Redundancy—Describes Vanguard Multimedia Network product options for implementing redundancy in customer networks.

A Motorola Vanguard Multimedia Network Design Specialist certification requires successful completion of the online course final exam, with a passing score of at least 70. Click Assignments on the course Web site to access the certification exam.

The second course, Course OV100: Operating Vanguard Multimedia Networks: Study Guide and Certification, isn't as complete as the DV100 course. Motorola apparently runs an instructor-led course for this certification. In the Course Documents area, Motorola provides documents that it has designed to help you successfully complete the exam. A sample exam that you'll find in the Certification Exam folder offers nine questions that are representative of the questions you'll find on the actual certification exam, which requires a minimum score of 70 to pass.

If you decide to try these certification exams, I'd love to hear from you. Picking up two additional certifications can't hurt, particularly when training costs and exam fees are $0.