There is a thriving market for independent books and training courses about Lotus Notes and Domino. Last year, I reviewed one such offering from Wellesley Information Services, the Notes/Domino Security, An Administrator's Guide.
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This month I look at a somewhat different product from WIS – its three-day training course titled Domino Administrators Bootcamp. This course was previously offered as a live seminar in various cities around the world. Now, it has been repackaged as a self-training product for $995.
The training package consists of four video CDs that allow you to watch the training sessions, a printed copy of the class handouts, and a fifth CD with a fair amount of additional material. That CD contains an electronic copy of the handouts; articles from The View magazine that relate to administration topics; and databases, tools, custom views, and product demos used in the course. The class is taught by Rob Axelrod and Andy Pedisich, both well-known Lotus experts.
The course modules, each with its own video section, are:
- Best practices to configure and manage Domino directories
- How to master your Domino infrastructure's security
- Effectively manage your users
- Implement key processes for application management
- Client administration, part 1: Optimize workstation configuration
- Client administration, part 2: Increase performance and stability
- Exploit Domino directory services
- How to optimize server configuration
- Monitor and analyze statistics and server activity
- Leverage schedules and procedures for easy server maintenance
- Configure your Domino Web server for peak performance
- Take control of your messaging and scheduling
- Configure a rock-solid SMTP environment
- How to master mail file management
While the overall list of topics is enticing, creating a good course outline is fairly easy. Delivering quality material is harder. This training set does deliver quality. Rob and Andy present expert-level lectures on basic and advanced Domino topics. The sessions include a great deal of information that would take years to learn through trial-and-error.
The way that the sessions are presented visually on the CDs is also first-rate. The lecturer is shown as a talking head in a small window on the upper-left. Below the lecturer is a rolling outline of the broad session topics. The majority of the screen, to the right, is taken up with the detailed slide for the current topic.
To watch the training, you do not have to do anything at all. Once a module is started, you can put your feet up, sip some coffee, and maybe take notes about items of particular interest. Of course, you can also jump around among topics and watch the modules out of order.
Should you consider purchasing this self-paced training, instead of attending one of the competing live classes? Self-paced training has several advantages:
- It is almost always less expensive. Live classes often cost $1,000 per day for tuition, plus the cost of hotel, airfare and meals.
- As the name suggests, you can take self-paced training at your own speed, within your own schedule. You can set aside one hour per day for a month to complete the class, or four hours per day for a week.
- The articles from The View magazine that are included in this package are worth something themselves. Since The View is a paid magazine, you cannot find these articles via Google.
- The two instructors on this video are among the best in the Lotus Notes and Domino business. At a live class, you might run into a junior instructor who is just learning the material.
On the other hand, live training has some distinct advantages:
- You can ask questions and talk to the instructors during breaks about your special issues. With video training, you are stuck with whatever is on the CD.
- You can interact with other students, which is often the best way to learn and to make contacts in the industry.
- When you go to another city for training, you are out of the office and away from distractions. For many people, this is the only way to have focused time to learn something new.
- Live training is simply more interesting. It is more enjoyable to be in a class all day, surrounded by other students learning the same material, than watching slides scroll on a computer screen for the same length of time.
My opinion is that this training set is worth its price, if it is hard for you to leave the office for several days, or if your training budget is tight. But viewing these videos will require some discipline to sit still and watch, even if you break the experience into one or two hour chunks. Keep in mind, also, that the $995 price is per-person. If three people in your organization want to view the course, you should purchase three copies.
About the author: Chuck Connell is president of CHC-3 Consulting, which helps organizations with all aspects of Domino and Notes.
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