Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
They’re the five stages of grief. I went through all of them over this long holiday weekend. Saturday morning, I woke up to an email announcing that Microsoft Learning killed the Microsoft Certified Master program.
I happened to be taking a road trip alone, giving me a dozen hours alone in the car to think through things. I must have written a dozen blog posts in my head, including:
These are the perils of working with closed source, for-profit systems. I’m the one who chose to make a living on SQL Server, and I can’t blame Microsoft as they evolve their business. They’re here to make a profit, and I can’t rely on their good will to keep something going.
I don’t know this, but I suspect that Microsoft Learning’s two primary metrics are the profit they make, and the number of individuals who get certified. They’re incentivized to get more people to take – and pass – more tests. Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised when you can search for the word “braindump” and any test number, and you can get the exact questions and answers for free on BitTorrent. Microsoft Learning gets a steady stream of unqualified candidates that boost their profit and their certification stats – so with a wink and a nod at the download sites, everybody wins. (Well, except you, the qualified candidate who wants some measure of your knowledge, but you don’t count here.)
Because the MCM required a hands-on lab, it was instantly out of reach for many people. The economics of a hands-on lab are tough: they’re expensive to build, expensive to run, and expensive to judge. Microsoft Learning can’t change that, and they need certifications that scale across the globe profitably, so they had to kill it. I accept that because their mission is to bring a profit. Heck, if it was up to them, Books Online would probably require a login and a monthly subscription.
I’ll remember so many good things about the MCM program. The wonderfully difficult lab exam questions. The long nights of studying with flash cards on the Microsoft campus. The horror stories about SQL Servers gone terribly wrong. The email distribution list with awesome questions and even more awesome answers.
But the best part about the MCM program has always been the people, and they’re not going away just because the program did.
I look back and think, “How can I bring this experience to more people?” I’m ridiculously blessed to know so many brilliant, friendly, and helpful database professionals, and my mission has always been to help people learn and bond together. From starting SQLcruise to FreeCon to our classes, I keep teaming up with people I love to run experiments on learning. I can understand that Microsoft Learning was running an experiment too, and they couldn’t get that experiment to succeed the way they wanted it to. Colleges are experimenting with online classes, coworking spaces are experimenting with journeyman programs, and this stuff will all keep going on as we figure out the next education formats.
What if I built a community event centered around a (nearly) impossible mission to fix a virtual lab environment? What if it pitted teams against each other to see who could figure it out and fix it faster? What if I made capture-the-flag with databases? What if one team worked to make bad T-SQL at the same time another team worked to fix it with indexes and server settings?
We can’t give up just because Microsoft Learning ended one experiment. If anything, just the opposite. I want this to be just as motivational for you as it is for me.
What can you do in your own community to bring more enjoyable education to those around you?