Part of our processes here at Microsoft Learning is working towards creating relevant training and certification exams.  Over the past couple of years, we have introduced some new ideas and modified exisitng ones to work towards this goal.  Two of these processes create outputs known as Unified Skills Domain (USD) and Objective Domains (ODs).  These two outputs feed into our training and exam creation cycle. 

The USD and OD sessions bring together subject matter experts (SMEs) from the appropriate audience and focuses on the tasks associated with that techology, ie developing ASP.NET applications or functioning as an Active Directory Administrator in a Server 2003 or 2008 environment.

It's really quite amazing when you have a room full of SMEs take time to stop and think about what they actually do each and every day.  What is relevant to their job or role.  And even stranger still, is watching them try to put themselves in the shoes of their junior developers or admins.  Usually, by the end of a one week session, these SME walk out exhausted from the effort and somewhat enlightened from the whole process.

Of course, we are hoping that these sessions are helping us make better, more focused and relevant training and exams but it's also a great way for us inside Microsoft and Microsoft Learning, to see how our products or technologies are used daily by you, the industry experts.

So I ask you to stop and think about what you do every day in your job, what you expect from entry level and professional level people you work with.  Let me know if you think what we are doing makes sense to you and if it makes you think more about the validity of instructor-led training, eLearning courseware, books and assessments and certifications for yourself or those in the industry. 

In short, what makes training and certification valuable or not to you and why?

Gerry