It's Friday, the 5th and final day of Mindsharp SharePoint Power End User (Beta) class, which I've been attending online all this week. In case you've missed the previous day's recaps, here they are:
The Final Day
Kay McClure, our Mindsharp instructor for the week, started the day by finishing up the rest of the Site Collection Administration settings, which we started looking at yesterday. This was our "extra credit" section, normally an Administrator-level class topic. A note to those readers who deal with compliance and regulatory issues: SharePoint 2010 has a lot to help you out, even document Hold features to keep the lawyers happy.
There is a seemingly unlimited list of Site Administration settings, depending on what features are enabled in your site. I wish every possible setting was listed, and just grayed out if the feature wasn't enabled. Helpful tooltips could tell you what feature was required for that setting. As Kay said a few times in class, "Sometimes you don't know what you don't know!"
Moving right along, we cover another topic I was looking forward to learning more about, Social Networking. As those young whippersnappers who grew up with Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter start entering the workforce in droves, this is something companies are increasingly paying attention to. The new social networking features are central to the SharePoint user's My Site page. A Newsfeed lets you get keep track of all sorts of content and user updates, Facebook-style. The Profile page has been expanded, and we got a nice example from Bob, Kay's classroom helper, of how having a completed profile, including your Interests, could help people searching for subject matter experts (think "scuba" and "threat assessment"). Tagging, Notes, and I Like It all feature prominently, here and throughout SharePoint. I get the basic concept of these, but I'm a little fuzzy about how it will help me from a productivity standpoint. If you have a real-world example, please share it in the Comments.
We finished up a little early with some topics we had skipped earlier, like Document IDs, Document Sets, and Content Organizer. These were all worth spending a few minutes on, and I'm glad we got to come back to them.
As you may have noticed, there's a lot of information packed into these 5 days! And this was "just" a Power End User course! If you haven't realized it by now, SharePoint is a massive product. With all these features, planning and training are definitely important when introducing a new SharePoint environment. If you want to hear Kay talk more about this, make sure to catch her at the SharePoint Best Practices Conference August 24th-27th. She'll be talking about training best practices and end user adoption.
The rest of today's post covers my impressions of the class overall:
What did it mean to be in a "Beta" class?
Overall, I was actually impressed at the lack of "beta-ness", considering this was only the second live run of the class. While there were some labs and demos that didn't work exactly as written, and the course manual needs to go through some final editing, I did not find these issues disruptive. The presentation of the core material was excellent, and Kay showed her experience by not letting the classroom image's quirks stall the class. Perhaps the most "Beta" quality of the class was the fact that SharePoint 2010 is still pretty new, so even the instructor is still learning how every little feature works. But that never let it stop her from checking things out with us, and she did a lot of follow-up research during the week to make sure our questions got answered.
The online experience
This class was very small, so the online experience was, in my opinion, just as good as being there in person. The instructor was able to manage questions between the two groups easily, and there were few technical difficulties. My experience may have differed in the previous class, which I am told was much larger. However, I was online for a large SharePoint 2007 Power End User class, and was just as happy with that experience. I would not hesitate to recommend an online format, if your training budget does not include travel.
What about the course material…?
There was more than enough detail provided in class to satisfy anyone who is going to be a Contributor or Site Owner. We covered a lot of features and administration settings as well, so Site Owners should be able to help their organization make good decisions about what features they want to use. SharePoint 2010 is a very big product, and I can honestly say that I learned at least half a dozen completely new things I'd never heard of every day of class.
…and the labs?
The labs were on par with any technical course I've attended. In other words, they were pretty basic, meant to reinforce the chapter's core concepts. Kay was one of those instructors who does a lot of in-class demonstration, and urged the students to click along in their own images. I found this much more valuable than the actual labs, as it allowed me to explore the features I was interested in and ask questions while we were actually on the topic.
The instructor for this class
Kay McClure is an experienced Mindsharp instructor, which is clearly an advantage for a Beta class. She's also one of the authors for the course material and helped define the configuration for the classroom images, so she was very familiar with both. She usually does custom training, so if you see her as an instructor for your next SharePoint class, be assured that you're in good hands.
Were you there? Feel free to add your Comments below.