I’ve just read a really thought-provoking blog post from Patrick Sledz (@patman2520) on Microsoft’s approach to bringing SharePoint to market.
SharePoint Comes of Age
It strikes me that SharePoint is a product that’s taken a while to mature, but mature it certainly has. The several first iterations of the technology stack didn’t really have very much in the way of targeted Developer or IT Pro learning.
In fact, looking back at WSS 3.0 and SharePoint 2007, the only real, official Microsoft courses were for the IT Pro community (courses 5060 and 5061). I don’t think it’s a matter of Microsoft leaving things up to the community, but more the case that even with Microsoft’s man-power and financial might, SharePoint was a comparatively niche product and Microsoft simply couldn’t get the support and training to all the different groups who needed it, and remain cost effective.
Microsoft Courseware Library
But what they did do for learning in the SharePoint community was to make use of the already growing Microsoft Courseware Library. The Microsoft Courseware Library programme allows 3rd party vendors of training courses of sufficient quality to get a Microsoft seal of approval, and achieve a semi-official status.
Through this channel there have been some great training courses (and some not so good). Some of the good ones covered:
SharePoint 2007 Advanced Development (e.g. from Architecting Connected Systems or MindSharp)
SharePoint 2007 Business Intelligence Training
SharePoint 2007 Branding and Content Management
SharePoint End Users and Information Workers (or "Functionals" as Patrick calls them.)
To teach these courses to a paying audience, you’d need to be a Microsoft Certified Trainer /* like me! :o) */ but there is also a thriving community of other training companies who make terrific SharePoint courses outside of the Courseware Library programme (e.g. Ted Patterson / Critical Path).
As always, Microsoft leaves gaps for Microsoft partners to fill. Big partners like Firebrand Training, and not-so-big partners like JFDI Phoenix. /* my company! :o) */
Who Wants SharePoint Certification?
But possibly there is a case for certification for Information Workers – maybe a SharePoint equivalent of the Office User certification.
However, I’m not convinced everyone who wants training also wants certification. I assert that the Venn diagram of Set A: "SharePoint Information Workers", Set B: "SharePoint Developers/Administrators/Architects" and Set C: "People Who Want SharePoint Certification" probably has those last two sets almost entirely overlapping, and only slightly intersecting the first.
The Changing Face of SharePoint Certification
The training landscape is definitely changing with SharePoint 2010:
- If you’re an Administrator or Developer, the certifications are aligned to the MCITP and MCPD tracks respectively – that’s got to be better than the ragtag collection of 4 MCTS certifications we had with SharePoint 2007!
- Microsoft are releasing Official Courses for Administrators and Developers alike! Look out for courses 10175 and 10232 for Developers, and 10174 and 10231 for IT Professionals.
- If you have the MCITP and MCPD certifications for SharePoint, you could consider going for the SharePoint Certified Master certification… but that takes three weeks of your life and earning ability and about $15,000 and you have to pass a CV screen and interview before gaining a place on a course that only runs in the States.
- And STOP THE PRESS! It seems that there may be Information Worker training in the near future!
The Microsoft ‘Get The Point’ Blog mentions an upcoming List training course.
Microsoft’s guide to End User training resources (OK, not classroom based)
Great free, third party End User SharePoint 2010 training videos.