This summer was one to quickly forget: although the lockdown ended, going out was still heavily restricted and clubs were still closed due to Covid-19. The Dutch government even managed to cancel all outdoor festivals, which usually form the highlight of many people’s summers. Having spent last year’s lockdown studying for, and passing my Windows Server 2016 MCSA, I didn’t really feel like spending another summer in the proximity of my Microsoft books. To be honest, I grew pretty tired of those green Exam Ref’s and the endless retaking of practice tests on Measur eUp.
However, in July, my employer launched a great initiative: Summer School. Their goal: get people to spend their summer in a productive way, by learning new skills using Microsoft Learn. No more diving into dusty and slow-reading books, but an interactive course on the internet. As a professional procrastinator, the deadline it provided was a great plus too. I decided to sign up for the Summer School and make sure that if this wasn’t going to be a fun summer, it’d at least land me with another MS certification.
With the deadline breathing down my neck, I navigated to the various sets of modules that was specifically set-up for specific Microsoft exams. Since I still want to take the AZ-104 exam, I decided to dive into AZ-900 as a nice stepping stone. Having never used Microsoft Learn before, I immediately felt like I’ve missed out on something great. I always thought Microsoft Learn was a short overview, not nearly enough to cover all exam topics and definitely not enough to pass an actual Microsoft exam. However, what I found was a very comprehensive and all-inclusive set of modules, designed to get you immersed into the subject matter.
Exam Ref vs. Microsoft Learn
I am not writing this review to be a sales pitch, but I really found myself very enthusiastic about Microsoft Learn, especially when comparing it to the familiar green Exam Ref books. For starters, it is not made of endless pages of text with some black-and-white screenshots of the Azure portal in it. No endless tables with facts you will need to know by heart. Microsoft Learn provides an interactive and visually appealing environment.
Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom
The interactive part of Microsoft Learn really works like a charm. Microsoft shows you the steps to set-up a free trial account, after which you can play around and practice in the sandbox they provide for you. Alongside the sandbox environment, the courses all present you with a case study, which is a schoolbook’s example of the DIKW-model (data, information, knowledge, wisdom).
A fictitious company will place their demands on the (virtual) table during nearly every module. The demands can be met using the information found in the things you have just studied. Knowledge is required to actually use the given information to meet the requirements at hand. And the sandbox provides you with the perfect opportunity to apply your new-found knowledge and reach the wisdom step of the pyramid. That is where you can truly say you have acquired a skill.
Focus with Microsoft Learn
Have you ever set yourself the goal to read an entire book? It’s really hard to get yourself started, because the task is so huge. One of the major pros is the fact that all modules are small bite-sized pieces, which can mostly be completed in under an hour. The MS Learn modules make sure that the course doesn’t feel like reading an entire book, but as taking on a small chunk each time. It also makes for easy and regular break moments, which helps in keeping your focus.
Being a professional procrastinator, of course I left everything until the last moment. I ended up studying in my in-laws garden, while they were cooking food. However, I did make it and I finished the challenge on time. This felt so much more rewarding than reading an entire book!
I also totally feel ready to take the AZ-900 exam. Due to work deadlines and personal project, I did not yet find the time to actually schedule it, but I am planning to take the exam before the end of September. Let’s hope I’ll pass, so this story is even much more of a success story.
Want to follow these modules as well? Check out this collection and let me know what you think.