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MCT Day Zero & TechEd Europe

Well, I’m back from TechEd Europe in Amsterdam, and what a week it was!

The week started with a get together of fellow MCTs at an event we call ‘MCT Day Zero’ (as it falls the day before TechEd properly starts).  This year, I was the organiser and host of the event, and we had around 90 MCTs assemble for a day of content around certification, courseware, community and other topics.  It was a stressful and time consuming process to get the event to come together, but seeing MCTs from all across Europe and the wider world, (in fact we had registrations from over 30 countries!) made it all worthwhile.  We had some fun talking about certifications, Murphy’s Law and some MCT face time with myself and fellow MCT Advisory Council members Marc Michault and Peter De Tender.

The following day was the start of the conference proper.  I conducted two Exam Cram sessions and a Birds of a Feather session. If you are not a regular attendee at TechEd, let me explain.  Exam Crams are a fairly recent idea from MS Learning to aid exam candidates get a final push towards getting certified. They help to highlight where someone needs to improve, or indeed, may show that they are ready for the exam.  Exam Crams were an important track at TechEd this year, and experienced MCTs got to present on some of the most popular exams, including the Windows Server 2012 exam 70-410 which was available as a beta for free for TechEd attendees.

I presented on 70-640, 2008 AD exam, and also 70-642, 2008 Network Infrastructure on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I also presented a session on 70-662 and 70-663 Exchange exams.  All three seemed to be well received, and I really enjoyed taking them again this year. 

Birds of a Feather sessions at TechEd are 45 min discussions over the lunch breaks that are led by a community leader or GITCA member for example.  It encourages the sharing of ideas, and discussion of topics of interest. I participated in leading the session called ‘College Degrees versus Certification’.  We got some good discussion around the value of both, and where future direction may take us. We are already seeing some college/university courses offering certification training and exams as part of their courses, and it seems that is the shape of things to come.

My second BOF session was ‘Avoiding Obstacles in Running a User Group’. I shared some of my experiences in running the Yorkshire IT User Group at York, and we also shared some great ideas like streaming content online as well as face-to-face meetings, and getting together with book publishers to give out books in advance, then having the author along to the meetings.  Some great ideas, and some awesome people out there doing their bit for the communities they run.

My final contribution to TechEd was also enjoyable, as again this year I was selected as an MCT Ambassador, which in part was delivering the Exam Cram sessions mentioned, but also working the MS Learning lounge area, advising attendees about the new generation of certifications that were launched in April (see here for the lowdown- I’m even there halfway in! 29:33 mins).  One of the highlights was giving out 3,500 free books on Windows Server 2012 to attendees, and in fact, Prometric testing on-site was maxed out with exams rolling all week, including the Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, and HTML 5 beta exams, and the two Private Cloud exams, all FREE! 

Till next year, see ya TechEd! <Just waiting for my Beta exam results now to see if I’m Win8 and Server 2012 certified!>Smile

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