Today was the first day in the AIIM SharePoint Master Class.
The class is being taught by Bill English. Bill is the CEO of Mindsharp, and has authored quite a few books and whitepapers. In fact, Bill’s whitepaper on SharePoint Indexing really helped me when I was struggling with the whole crawl/index process when I first got involved with SharePoint.
AIIM offer three SharePoint Certification tracks:
- SharePoint Practitioner – concepts and technologies;
- SharePoint Specialist – best practices for implementing solutions in SharePoint
- SharePoint Master – provides a thorough understanding of SharePoint with the main elements from Practitioner and Specialists tracks.
For a detailed description of what each of these tracks offer, refer to my post where I also compare the AIIM offering with the Microsoft “equivalent”.
This course is the Master course, and covers both the Practitioner course, as well as the Specialist course.
As well as myself, there are 13 other people in the class. Some are there for just the Practitioner part.
We were supplied with a very thick book containing the course material for the first track.
And Bill started off going through it. However, one of the real advantages of having Bill English give this course is that he has an incredible amount of “real world” experience. This was apparent when he would (frequently) diverge from the course material and give us in-depth explanations on things as well as describe many real-life situations he has experienced. Bill is also not a fan of teaching by PowerPoint reasoning that we all can read the PowerPoint slides ourselves in the handout material. He takes a more “sum up 10, or 12 PowerPoint slides into an overview, and a discussion.
Before I go any further, I also need to explain that the course is more focused on the “Best Practices” approach to planning & deploying SharePoint implementations rather than a pure technical discussion. This fact meant that we often looked at things more from an “architect”, and business user, perspective than just from an IT perspective.
Two other things that I really found valuable: the first was that even though Bill “knows” SharePoint, he is a “SharePoint Realist”. He was not afraid to tell us of the weaker sides of SharePoint 2010, as well as the down-right bad sides of the product.
The second was that the people in the class all come from a Records Management/Content Management background. They all have their own real-world stories and experiences as well. And this would open up some really great discussions.
What is interesting (and this is something Bill mentioned) is that, in the stable of courses/certifications that AIIM offer, this is the first one that is product specific. All the others are more concept specific. For example AIIM has courses on ECM, BPM, ERM, E2.0, Information Organization and Access, and Email Management (for a full list refer to this site), but the SharePoint course is the first one that is focused on a particular product. And this is good, because the main design philosophy behind SharePoint is self-service. That is, SharePoint is designed to allow the end-user to be in control of what SharePoint is used for. This in the form of site collections, sites and sub-sites. The end-user is able to create, and design, and administer sites without the (direct) involvement of IT. And this is where it can be dangerous. In fact, at one stage, someone described SharePoint as a cancer – it just spreads, and spreads. It can take on a life of its own. One of the main messages being given by the course is the undeniable need for governance and training. And thus, this is most likely the reason that AIIM have a product-focused course.
I am very impressed with the course so far. I found the combination of real-world experience by the instructor, as well as the input and feedback offered by the other students gave richness that on-line course, or course taught by “full-time trainers” (without any real-world scars), don’t give.
This has just been day one of the course….