Life is all about learning. This is especially true if you’re in the IT field.
As I was reading through the essays that so many of you submitted for our contest I realized that there was a unanimous agreement between most of the writers — learning is the most important part of being in the IT field.
Many of you chose learning as the most important goal you have set for yourself. Others talked about how important learning is in the process of breaking into the IT field. While still, some of you mentioned that staying abreast of changes in this field is the most challenging and most difficult part of being an IT professional.
Reading all of this motivated me to start researching blogs, websites and other useful learning resources. In the upcoming weeks I’ll be listing more of them, but for now here are 3 great learning resources for seasoned as well as aspiring IT Professionals.
Microsoft TechNet Plus
Microsoft TechNet Plus is not free, but it’s great value for your money.
Among many things, TechNet Plus offers you full-version software licensed for evaluation that you can use without any time limits or feature limits.
There’s no better way to master a new Microsoft OS, a server, or an office system than to have an opportunity to use it yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, books and training videos are great but to really know how to do something you have to get your hands dirty, you have to try it out yourself. And TechNet Plus gives you this opportunity.
The downloadable full-version software is meant to help you make informed decisions about new technologies but it is also a great way to learn everything you need to know about them.
The only limitation is that you cannot use the software in production environments. So if your work doesn’t provide you with the Microsoft software that you want to master, TechNet Plus is the next best thing.
TechNet Plus has a lot to offer including technical resources, e-learning courses, professional support and much more.
Here are a few main things that TechNet Plus has to offer:
- Microsoft Software — the most recent, full-version software, including operating systems, servers and Office System software. You can download (or get them delivered as DVDs for an upgrade to the TechNet Plus Single User subscription) and use these for evaluation, testing and training without time or feature limits.
- Beta Software — pre-release versions and beta candidates of operating systems, servers and business applications. Being able to experience software before it’s available in the stores can be a great advantage.
- TechNet Library — technical resources for Microsoft products including security updates, service packs, resource kits, technical training, product documentation and much more.
- Help and Support — unlimited managed newsgroup support so you can get feedback from other IT Professionals, access to online concierge chat service with a Microsoft Search Assistant plus two technical support calls for those tough technical questions that no one else can help you with.
- TechNet Magazine — the latest hands-on information on Microsoft related topics. You can actually get this free even if you’re not a TechNet Plus subscriber — but only if you qualify; here’s where you can find out if you do.
So how much will all of this set you back?
The TechNet Plus Direct subscription starts at $349 (USD) a year; it goes up to $599 (USD) for the TechNet Plus Single User where you get the hard copies of the software (the renewal rate is $249 and $449 respectively).
But there are plenty of special offers and discounts to go around. Right now you can save 15% on a the TechNet Plus Direct subscription with this coupon code: TNTS02.
This offer expires on December 31st this year, so if you’re thinking about subscribing to check out it out today.
Cisco Learning Network
The Cisco Learning Network was recently launched in an effort to provide an online community for Cisco professionals and those looking to gain training and support on Cisco related topics.
The site is free but you do have to sign up for an account, which is well worth it. The Learning Network offers information on Cisco certifications, careers, news, events, and much more.
There’s also plenty room for discussion and learning. The Cisco Learning Network offers learning resources including articles, product documentation and best of all short training videos on a variety of topics.
Now you must be thinking we’re crazy for even mentioning this since, in a way, this is competition for our products. But the truth is, we want you to succeed — whether you use our training or not. And the new Cisco Learning Network is an invaluable resource for any Cisco Professional.
The site is very well laid out and it’s easy to find the information you need; it’s also designed to facilitate exchange of ideas and provide a sense of community.
So if you’re interested in Cisco I’d definitely recommend you check out this resource.
CompTIA IT Pro Worldwide
CompTIA’s IT Pro membership program is available only to CompTIA Certified IT professionals and the membership rate is at $79 per year.
Although this is a great place for learning, it is a different kind of resource and I would recommend it to those who want to continue learning, connect with other CompTIA certified professionals and have access to information and career resources.
I would strongly recommend this membership to anyone interested in obtaining another CompTIA certification; here’s why.
The main benefits of the CompTIA IT Pro membership include:
- Books24x7 Reference Library — access to hundreds of books covering different technology topics.
- 25% off — full price of a CompTIA certification
- 20% off — access to the full Books24x7 BusinessPro Library
- Forums — access to information and communication forums
- Link library — access to online resources
- IT career information — access to IT Pro research report and articles on careers in the IT
- And more — check out the complete list here.
I also heard through the grapevine that CompTIA has launched a new Career Center; however I haven’t been able to confirm this yet. A friend of mine emailed me about a new web-based career center that connects job seekers with prospective employers in the IT industry.
I emailed CompTIA to get more information about this but I haven’t heard back from them yet. If you’re a member of IT Pro let me know if you’re able to confirm this by leaving me a comment.
What’s Your Favorite Learning Resource?
If you’ve had experience with TechNet Plus Direct, Cisco’s Learning Network, CompTIA’s IP Pro or any other IT related learning resource let us know your thoughts.
Are the resources helpful? Are you glad you signed up? How often do you utilize them? Which one would you recommend to your friends?