Over the last few months I’ve seen a lot of comments about Microsoft Virtual Academy being retired, in addition to a fair amount of traffic going to an article I posted about Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) being retired January 31, 2019. It’s important to note that Microsoft hasn’t abandoned the learning community. They’ve actually been heavily investing in the new Microsoft Learn platform with tons of new training content targeting the Microsoft ecosystem.
Microsoft Learning Platform
The Microsoft Learning platform offers a new approach to learning that differs from the older Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). The old MVA site was primarily built out of recorded training videos organized into learning paths for specific topic areas. The newer Microsoft Learning platform is primarily built out of learning plans made of written content with embedded hands-on labs. This change in content type for Microsoft Learning is a move in the direction towards a more “hands-on” approach to learning, instead of watching videos and demos.
The organization of Microsoft Learn takes the training content and organizes it into Learning Paths, Modules, and Units. Each Learning Path is made up of multiple Modules; which are made up of multiple Units. Each Unit is a relatively short hands-on piece of content to consume.
In addition to the “hand-on” approach of Microsoft Learn, the site also integrates some gamification as a means of incentivising you to learn more. Each time you read a unit, you earn XP points. The site even shows a progress bar of your progress in earning points, along with your progress “LEVEL”.
Each time you complete a module you earn a Badge that gets added to your Microsoft Learn profile. There is also a “Share” link in your profile that lets you share your badges with others.
Also, when you complete a Learning Path, you are issued a Trophy. These trophies are a great way to see that you’ve completed an achievement in a specific learning area. These also have a “Share” link to let you share your trophies with others.
More Alternatives to Microsoft Virtual Academy
Microsoft Learn represents a large investment by Microsoft in providing learning and training materials for many different products and categories in the Microsoft ecosystem. However, it’s not the only learning option from Microsoft provided for the community. There are still a few options, some new / some old, that provide addition benefits.
Here’s a list of some of the alternatives available, along with the learning media type they offer:
- Channel 9 website (Video)
- Microsoft Azure YouTube channel (Video)
- Microsoft Cloud YouTube channel (Video)
- Microsoft Developer YouTube channel (Video)
- Microsoft YouTube channel (Video)
- Microsoft Office 365 YouTube channel (Video)
- Microsoft Ignite YouTube channel (Video)
- Microsoft Visual Studio YouTube channel (Video)
- Azure Friday (Video)
- Microsoft Azure Video Center (Video)
- docs.microsoft.com (Written / Documentation)
- .NET Learning Center (Written / Hands-on / Video)
- .NET Community Standup (Video)
- Microsoft Tech Community (Forums)
- Office 365 Training Center (Video / Written / Hands-on)
- Microsoft OpenHacks (In-Person / Hands-on)
- Microsoft Cloud Workshop (Written / Hands-on)
I’m sure there’s a ton more out there, this is just a list of some that are popular or notable in my opinion.
As you can see, even though Microsoft Virtual Academy is no longer available, there are still great and viable options for FREE learning from Microsoft. While, this is great, please don’t discount some of the many, great paid learning options available from third-parties as well.
We all learn differently, and different mediums work for different people. Regardless of your preferred learning style, there is certainly a learning / training option available for you; either free or paid.