It’s Friday, and the weekend is coming. As I wax lyrically on the fun we will have this weekend with the party for my son’s sixth birthday, I had some thoughts about the upcoming USPJ Academy (USPJA) I wanted to share. (Weekends for a couple who both run home-based businesses aren’t so weekend-y, actually. Try it: you work pretty much all the time because you either want to or have to. For me, it’s because I want to.)
As I’ve been putting together the material for my courses at the USPJA (I’ll have two courses initially — Enhancing the User Experience with jQuery and Data View Web Part Basics — with more in the offing), I’ve been thinking about what will make the USPJA different, what will make it worth the trouble to attend, why you should bother. After all, each of us on the faculty blogs regularly, we answer questions in forums, we speak at SharePoint Saturdays and the larger conventions. We must already have said all there is to say about what we know, right? Not to mention the fact that everything you need to know about Sharepoint is out on the Web somewhere and Bing or Google can find it all for you.
Well, yes, sort of. But I think the good reasons for the USPJA come down to two basic, important things: context and access.
Yes, that’s context with an ‘x’, not content with an ‘n’. There is a plethora of content out there that can teach you how to work with SharePoint, and work with it well. If that’s your learning style, then I would encourage you to go out and do it! In fact, there’s so much content out there these days that it’s amazingly daunting to me. (When I first started working with SharePoint, there may have been a few bloggers, but they weren’t saying much, and I wasn’t yet ready to trust random, Internet-based content.)
The USPJA will offer great content (each of us on the faculty is able to pull from everything we’ve ever published), but more importantly, we’ll offer context. We’ll be able to tell you what works best, and when. Even more importantly, when things aren’t a good idea or don’t work based on specific circumstances. I’ve found plenty of things on the Web that are just plain wrong, and I haven’t always known it until I’ve been in the rabbit hole for a good long stretch.
Yes, each of us on the faculty has our own opinions, and sometimes we even disagree. (See Bjørn’s recent post Why Out-of-the-Box Makes No Sense in SharePoint and my “Why Out-of-the-Box Makes No Sense in SharePoint” – A Rebuttal.) What you’ll get at the Academy is the discussion around these ideas in an online, academic setting with the context which we can provide.
Part of offering the context is us offering you access to us, the faculty. Each of us knows something about some part of using SharePoint that you don’t [yet]. We will be available to you both in the course sessions themselves, whether they are live or recorded, plus in the forums and other online mechanisms which surround each course. We’ve committed to making ourselves available when we facilitate the courses.
You’ll also have access to the other students so that you can run those zany ideas by them in a safe, academic setting. The USPJA will offer a real virtual campus setting. Once you’re “on campus”, you can wander into the library or participate in discussions that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Just like with a brick and mortar college, some of the best learning may well come from these serendipitous, chance encounters.
I’m really looking forward to what the USPJA will be and what we hope it will become. The clock is ticking down to the Early Access Program launch (only maestro Bjørn knows exactly what day that will be, but trust me: it’s soon). Want to come along for a ride?