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I have attended six or seven of these things in the past two years and have the following information to pass along to those who are considering enrolling in a Microsoft Instructor-Led course:

Most of these courses are 5 days long. The instructor will spend the first two hours of the first day of class discussing such important matters as where the bathrooms are, where you can smoke, what everybody's names are and the like. He/she may even get into a rough outline of what will be covered each day (this is subject to and very likely to change through the week however, depending on the amount of bitching the students provide). Regarding class times and length of the day:
  • No matter what time the class agrees to show up in the morning to save time at the end of the day, most people will still show up at 9am.
  • Even though most of the class showed up at 9am instead of 7:30 or 8, they will expect to leave at or before the agreed upon time.
  • It is unwritten but definitely understood that class will let out at the half-day mark on the final day regardless of how much material there is left to cover. This is non-negotiable.
  • Roughly one-third of the class will be absent at any given time due to cell phone calls or pagers.

  • Once class is finally underway and all the bullshittery is done, you will note that the instructor sticks strictly to the Microsoft course material, sometimes reading verbatim from the text. All of the slide presentation material as well comes directly from the text. The only time the instructor will part with the course material is when asked a direct question by a student. This often produces amusing results. Some natural laws of Microsoft instructor lectures:
  • The Instructor does not like to be interrupted while reading from the text.
  • In the event the Instructor is interrupted, he/she will make an attempt to ignore the raised hand or the voiced question.
  • Should the interruption continue, the Instructor will acknowledge the student and listen politely to the question.
  • If the question concerns something already covered, the Instructor will repeat the material. If it has not yet but will eventually be covered, the Instructor will inform the student of this and move on. If the question does not appear in the text but is relevant to the real-world application of the subject being covered, the Instructor will politely direct the student to information on another Microsoft course that will answer his/her question.
  • The Instructor may at any time deviate from the text to impart some uninteresting anecdote which has no bearing on the subject at hand.

  • Classroom activity during lectures is usually minimal, with most of the students either surfing the internet, checking their mail or alternating between a semi-conscious wakefulness and a disturbed sort of slumber. Occasionally you may observe someone in a perpetual nod-state, chin dropping as they lose consiousness and snapping back up moments later. If some students know each other, they may take this opportunity to net send each other concerning anything but the subject at hand.

    Between lectures come the labs. These must be some kind of inside joke for Microsoft course designers because they serve No Purpose At All. Some traits of the Microsoft labs:
  • The labs are 'designed' to take anywhere from 30-60 minutes. This is odd as I've never seen one that takes more than say, five.
  • The Instructor will always allow the full time for the labs, often incorporating them into 'snack breaks'. Much of this time however, is spent learning how to work the Solitaire and Pinball applications.
  • The labs have excellent flow. They read like this: Point here, click here, type this, open this, point here, click here. There, you're done. Wasn't that great? No. What did I just do?

  • After class the final day, the remaining students are rewarded with an official-looking certificate stating that they somehow managed to sit through the entire drudgery and should be commended for it, regardless of any knowledge gained.

    My serious recommendation to anyone considering taking one of these courses is, save your $1500-$2000 and buy a couple books on the subject online or at your nearest bookstore (some of these will include evaluation copies of the product you're studying).

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