Microsoft has launched an e-learning platform to equip students with practical ICT skills. At its second annual Open Door event, Microsoft East and Sourthern Africa announced the launch of the Microsoft Virtual Academy, a fully cloud-based learning experience.
The online academy will allow students and professionals to study and do mock exams on the platform with the aim of spurring local innovation and improving employability.
“All a user needs is a Windows Live account. Choose a curriculum, do the exam, and compare your results with others doing the same test,” said Dele Akinsade, Platform Development Manager, West and Southern Africa.
“Five tracks have been released so far, with one being added every week,” added Dele.
The subjects of the tracks range from technologies and products to different solutions, each of which contributes to contextualizing and/or updating the knowledge acquired.
“However, the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) is not a certification centre,” clarified Dele. “You will have to enroll with an examining body or certification centre to sit for certified tests. What MVA does is prepare you for the exams and for your professional career.”
The e-learning solution, which is free, provides access to a variety of online and offline training content allowing students to learn at their own pace. It also aims to build the necessary Information Technology skills critical to most careers.
MVA complements the recently launched Microsoft Student Partner (MSP) programme, an educational and promotional program for undergraduate and postgraduate students majoring in technology related disciplines such as computer science and information science.
Students on the MSP programme undergo extra training in technical areas as well as leadership and management. Any tech student qualifies to be in the program, but off course not everyone is picked.
“Students have to be conversant with Microsoft programmes and software including .net and Visual studio. It will help if they are student leaders and are active in the online community,” says Vincent Mugambi, Platform Development Manager, East and Southern Africa, Microsoft.
So far, the MSP program has visited 10 universities including Strathmore, JKUAT and UoN, out of which 20 students have been selected to represent Kenya. In addition to skills building, MSP’s get an opportunity to represent the country in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup.
“We are striving to develop a culture conducive to innovation. As we recognize that the potential to innovate must be nurtured earl-on, Microsoft will continue to provide appropriate and superior learning tools to encourage innovation,” said Mugambi.
Following completion of the program, Student Partners are expected to share their knowledge among the academic community through presentations and initiating projects.
“It is a thrilling experience to study Microsoft technologies and advance my career,” said George Mbuthia, a student at JKUAT. “By earning points for downloading and studying materials and passing the self-assessment tests the program also keeps me motivated and encouraged, as I can constantly see my progress.”