Microsoft launches online training program for LatAm

Microsoft Corp.’s Latin America unit has launched a free, online training program aimed at giving IT professionals a basic-to-intermediate understanding of some Microsoft software.

“We want to help all IT pros who are interested in gaining a technical understanding of our platforms,” said Jorge Cabeza, Microsoft Latin America’s marketing manager for IT professionals.

The program, called TechNet Learning Center and announced on Friday, is being rolled out first by Microsoft’s Latin America team with an eye to extending it to other regions later, Cabeza said. “The pilot program is being carried out here in Latin America for the rest of the world,” he said.

The online courses, each divided into eight modules, are designed for students to take at their own pace. Online chat sessions will be hosted periodically for students to exchange information with each other and ask the moderator questions. Students will also be able to e-mail course-related questions to Microsoft. Both the chat sessions and the e-mail question-and-answer service will be hosted by Microsoft partners in the region, Cabeza said.

“IT professionals these days don’t have much time to study about new technologies or products, nor to do it in a methodic, step-by-step manner. With this program, we want to give them the tools that will take them by the hand, and lead them step-by-step, in learning about our platform and products,” he said.

The courses, which come in Spanish and Portuguese, end with a test that students pass if they answer at least 70 per cent of the questions correctly. Students who pass earn a certificate of attendance. However, to be formally certified as a specialist in the technology or product in question, IT professionals need to take a fee-based course in an authorized Microsoft training centre, Cabeza said.

“We’re not certifying the student as a specialist. The natural progression is for an IT pro to take the free TechNet Learning Center online courses to gain a basic-to-intermediate understanding and then become an expert at Microsoft training centre,” he said. In fact, some authorized Microsoft training centres in Latin America are considering making it a prerequisite, in certain cases, for its students to take TechNet Learning Center courses before enrolling, Cabeza said.

One course is currently available at the site: Windows Server 2003. Next month, Microsoft will add two more courses: one on deploying Windows XP and Office, and one on security, which covers security in Microsoft software and touches on general security topics related to networking, administration and processes, Cabeza said. Three other courses will be added starting in July: one on messaging, one on databases and one on portals, Cabeza said.

Work on the TechNet Learning Center began about six months ago. The testing phase was carried out in December and January. TechNet Learning Center can be found at: TechNet Learning Center joins a similar initiative rolled out by Microsoft Latin America in February 2003 called “Desarrollador Cinco Estrellas” (Five Star Developer), a .Net online training program for Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking developers.

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