As a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) you would never expect me to post a blog review on a product that could somewhat compete with my company’s business. Now my company doesn’t produce any streamed or Computer Based Training (CBT) so this technically isn’t a conflict of interest.
I realize that people learn in different ways. People have very different lives. So some people would just rather have a relaxed video to talk them through a process or technology and can pick it up easily. Others require interaction with a Instructor Led Training (ILT) session. A lot of people can’t carve out the time away from work for a full blown ILT classroom environment. A lot of times your company can’t afford a full ILT class either. They have the desire to learn but can only afford a 30 minute span here or 2 hours a few times a week. If this is the case (and it is for a lot of people out there) then CBT learning is definitely for you.
Now it’s very rare that I endorse products on here. I try to shy away from such things as they could be taken the wrong way or can be misconstrued. So when I do, you know I do so because I really believe in the product or service.
Now that the *disclaimer* is out of the way let’s get to the goods. Maybe goods isn’t a correct word to describe the product were about to talk about, GREAT is a better word. I had the pleasure of reviewing a product from our friends over at Train Signal, (Follow them on Twitter – @TrainSignal). I have personally met some of the Train Signal team in person and they are a real pleasure to work with.
I have heard some pretty bad things about other CBT’s and was a bit hesitant at first. Within the first hour I was completely sold. The particular products I have been review is part of their Exchange 2010 series. In particular the Exchange 2010 MCITP and the soon to be released Exchange 2010 backup and recovery packages. I enjoyed the choice of formats. All of train signal’s products are available in a DVD or streaming option. I chose the DVD for one as I like to use my Windows Phone 7/zune device for podcasts in long car rides and the train commutes. The additional files and free transcenders for those of you which are certification hungry is a HUGE bonus. You are really getting a lot of content here for your buck.
Let’s talk about the instructor for both of these series for a bit. One of the biggest things that any online / remote instructor has to tackle is connecting with the audience. This is harder to convey things like body language and looks and glances are unavailable. Your style of delivery and tone / pitch of your voice really becomes truly make or break. Our instructor on these series is the soon to be famous J. Peter Bruzzese. (Follow him on Twitter – @JPBruzzese) J.P is a Microsoft MVP for Exchange, Triple-MCSE, MCT, MCSA, MCITP: Messaging, CNA, CCNA, CIW Master, and CIW Certified Instructor! He is definitely well versed in IT! As a fellow instructor I tend to be a little more critical than the normal student. I also like to consider myself a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in Active Directory and Exchange. So when I started going through J.P.’s courses I was very refreshed in his great delivery, style and technical acumen. No one ever knows everything about technology, but he has to be close. I’ve been teaching Exchange for years and I was able to pick up a few things! He uses great real world analogies and doesn’t completely swim in the Microsoft Kool-aid. He regularly references technologies that aren’t always MS focused or delivered, to give you a sense it’s not a sales pitch.
Now the content itself covers almost every possible reach in the Exchange 2010 landscape. Everything from Backup, recovery, new SP1 features, message management, etc.. The content is in the right size chunks. You don’t have to commit 2-3 hrs for a lesson, nor does the content delivered feel overpowering. So between the right size, J.P.’s delivery I found it to be a perfect fit. The beautiful and best part is that it’s SO on point. If you’re an Exchange 2010 admin who’s been thrown into the mix, you will learn best practices and look for things to optimize in your existing environment. For you cert-mongers out there it’s almost a complete solution for exam readiness. If you are planning a deployment, these series will be able to fully understand all the mechanisms involved to properly plan your upcoming migration to Exchange 2010.
In summary I give Train Signals products in general and especially the Exchange 2010 series a 5 out of 5 stars!