In August 2018 I became a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT). I had just passed MCSA Office 365 and having been a secondary school teacher (QTS) prior to IT (a Geography Teacher no less) it was a fantastic opportunity to dive head first back into the field. From a personal perspective, I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be a learner. With so much uncertainty in the job market and in such a competitive market (at least, here in the UK) it is really important to get certified for both job security and career prospects. With Microsoft overhauling certifications with roles as opposed to products it really is an exciting time to follow the path for the job you do, or the job you want to do.
As trainers, we ask ourselves how we can deliver Microsoft Official Courseware (MOC’s) to help students achieve their certifications and give them a great learning experience whilst doing so.
Of course, there are many – many – different ways to do that – and many trainers will have differing opinions on the applications and approaches to use. There is ultimately, no right answer and no one-size fits all policy since trainers train differently and student’s learn differently. Yet I have found a great delivery mechanism in Microsoft Teams where I am having a lot of success – so I thought I would briefly (since I could literally write an essay on this) share how I run a MOC (no pun intended). This is leveraging a regular commercial edition of Teams, not the education version.
A week or so before the course starts I will create the Team and any Channels required and then invite the students as guests. As they will have access to the Team, they can ask any questions they have ahead of time.
I can put any pre-populated materials in Files or direct to prior learning using URL previews in the conversation tab
I often leverage the Wiki for prior learning, to cover the course articles and protocols pertinent for students to know.
But I often go a lot further than this. Utilising tabs I can begin to add such things as
- A Web tab to show the exam linked to the MOC
- Videos from YouTube or Stream, including setting up a Stream Channel if there are several videos pertinent for the course. These can also be used to provide a more personalised instructor or course introduction prior to the day.
- Web tabs for Sites like Microsoft Learn or integrating demo environments from demos.microsoftonline.com for labs which can be used to supplement the course (pre or post learning) or used for exercises throughout
- A Whiteboard for visuals or note taking using InVision
If I choose, I can also add other things in Tabs such as
- PDF’s for outlining the course rubrics/structure/content or exercises
- Visio for process diagrams
- MindMeister for building out Mind Maps
- Web Tab for the MOC labs provided through XTreme Labs
- GitHub for code repositories
I could even use Connectors to pull in content from sources such as Twitter which could be effective to enhance learning or provide updates/reminders on the go.
During the MOC, I often find that it is more effective for students to have the choice between looking at the board and the screen in front of them which Teams allows by allowing users to scroll through the PowerPoint or Office Document from within the Teams app. This is also effective in rooms where students are sitting further away – or if specific students have visual challenges
Forms and Poll Apps such as Polly can be used for both Formative and Summative assessment where required – or even Mock exams prior to the real thing. These may be used with Microsoft Flow to notify the trainer of the responses.
Throughout the training, students can use the Wiki, OneNote or the Conversations tab to feedback or raise questions throughout.
At the end of the MOC, Forms can also be used to also provide feedback. Docusign (via a Web Tab) or Adobe Sign used to sign off the training – and as an added bonus for MCT’s they can link Metrics that Matter to a Web Tab so students can rate their performance for MCT status renewal
The value of the Teams also extends beyond the MOC itself. Depending on how long the Team remains open before it is archived or deleted
- Students can continue to raise questions in the conversation tab or Wiki
- Exam guides or Practice Tests can be added as Files, Tabs or Forms
- Regular Meetings can be held prior to the days of the exam
- Exam Cram Sessions can be set up in a Teams Conference
All of the above has assumed that the MOC is held in person – all of this can be done online from anywhere – cutting down on travel time and expenses and bringing it to market in a very quick timeframe.
In summary, Teams is providing a platform to deliver high quality MOC courses which have had great feedback so far from the partners I work with – all of which have had candidates sit and pass new role based exams such as AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals and MS-900 Microsoft 365 Fundamentals. I am looking forward to using it with longer courses such as AZ-103, MS-100 and MS-101 over the summer and the autumn, and the new functionality that will arrive over the course of the year will surely enhance the learning experience even further.
I hope this has given you inspiration for your own training. Hope to see you on one of my courses one day.