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Training On-Demand

A week or so ago, I visited my local video store and rented a few DVDs. I couldn't remember the last time I set foot in Hollywood Video -- it had been well over a year, maybe even longer. Instead, I'd been "renting" movies on-demand by sitting on my couch with my remote control. Despite the somewhat generic selection from Comcast, it was immediate and just easier.

Microsoft training company AppDev started to offer on-demand courses in December. The Minnesota-based company has focused almost exclusively on instructor-led training for Microsoft dev tools and platforms since 1995. The on-demand learning libraries offer developers a lower price point for anytime online access to instructor-led courses that also include reference materials like coding exercises, sample code and exams. For $995, developers can access up to eight courses on Visual Studio 2008, or for $295, eight courses on Visual Studio 2005. The new delivery model has proved popular, representing 33 percent of AppDev's sales in December and 49 percent of sales in January.  

Next month, the company is introducing "AppDev/edge," a free member Web site for anyone who takes a course that will include weekly tutorials, learning videos, blogs, member forums and interaction with popular instructors such as Microsoft MVP Ken Getz and former Microsoft program manager (Visual Basic) Robert Green.  

In this economic climate, development teams at many companies are interested in new technologies but are primarily "hunkering down" and focusing on their existing projects, tools and platforms, said AppDev President Craig Jensen. "Of all the [training] products, SharePoint has by far the biggest demand," he said. Often, outside consultants build the company's SharePoint application and developers are left to maintain it. If this process is not managed well, it can introduce a lot of pain points.

So much so, that AppDev is introducing its first custom training course aimed at the high-power business users of an enterprise client. The three-to-four-day training course will likely serve as a model for end user SharePoint training. "That's one of the biggest issues for companies," Jensen said, "teaching all these business users how to get the most out of a custom SharePoint application."

Keeping up with Microsoft developer tools and platforms can become a full-time job in itself. How do you train your staff on new technologies and platforms in a down economy? Are new projects on hold at your company? Express your thoughts on training and what's needed to help you get your staff up to speed and projects completed in tough times. Comment on the Web or contact me at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 02/19/2009

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