16 August 2007

Taking a Microsoft Learning course - my experience so far

I am currently studying for a Microsoft ASP.NET qualification
MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications.
I have paid for and begun one of the Microsoft Learning training courses:
Collection 5160: Core Development with the Microsoft® .NET Framework 2.0 Foundation.

Here are my first impressions. I have posted most of this content on the private boards of the course provider.

I've been pretty pleased with the course so far. The coverage of the material seems good, and I have already learnt quite a few extra things even though I have been using ASP.NET in earnest for a couple of years commercially. The mix of presentation of content works well for me, with the video presentations, factual content, puzzles, quizzes and final lab sessions combining well to reinforce the new material.

The ability to use a virtual machine at the end of each module, loaded with Visual Studio 2005 is essential for those without a copy, handy for those of us who are no longer trapped in Bill's world and a neat trick even if you do have an msdn subscription.

Most of my feedback is minor annoyances. In my experience any form of education is often imperfect, and this would appear to be on the good side of such things, though it remains to be seen if it gets me through the exams!

My comments:
- Firefox support could be improved (except for activex stuff of course). I couldn't get into the course at all in firefox. (I don't atually run windows at all at home, so had to fire up a vm just to get in, even though most of the content is no more than html, css & flash).
- Page width and font size seem to be linked, so if I increases the text size I have to scroll side to side, which is a PITA, as i run a super hi res screen so default text is tiny. Particularly noticeable on the lab exercise pages.
- Providing a zip of the starter and solution files would be much better for those of us who have visual studio installed locally.
- As someone else said, why do you have to log in to the lab machines? It's trivial to get windows to automatically log a user in.
- I had a connection drop on me (while reading up), it would have been good to be able to reconnect to same session.
- It would be good to see the remaining lab time in the same window as the rdp activex control.
- The keyboard in the VM is set to US, which is a PITA as I have a UK keyboard, so " comes out as @.
- It's not clear if the forum emails you if someone replies. I'm not likely to monitor it, but the answers I get will affect my decision to buy the rest of the courses I'm planning on doing.
- The forums seem to be lacking in input from course staff in helping struggling (paying) students, and in providing technical support.