I often get requests and questions related to training, along with general questions about how I keep up with technology.  They range from general requests (“How do I get started with database administration?”), to much more specific (“How can I implement High-Availability for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 without purchasing expensive shared storage?”).  There’s often a wealth of information available online, with sources including blog posts, product web sites, training videos, White Papers, and industry publications (online and offline).  The challenge often becomes trying to organize the available information and to manage your learning.

The Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) site is a free resource that includes a huge collection of free, online learning materials on dozens of topics.  The content provides both topic-specific (Virtualization, Hybrid Cloud, etc.) and product-specific (Hyper-V, System Center, etc.) content.  In addition to standard online courses, there are also live events.  The content is presented by industry experts (such as Microsoft MVPs), along with Microsoft’s own product developers and managers.

I recently participated in a multi-day Windows Azure Jump-Start series (if you’re interested, the content will be made available on-demand).  You can find, sign up for, and attend events using the Microsoft Virtual Academy Live Events page.

The MVA site also offer some other convenient features.  You can earn “points” on the site for completing training courses and evaluations.  It’s kind of like Xbox Live Achievements, and it helps to see how much time and effort you’ve put into keeping current or learning something new.  You can also add various courses to your My Learning Plan queue, so whenever you have some free time, you can jump quickly into a course.  You can even download an unofficial Transcript to keep track of which courses you’ve finished.

Overall, if you’re looking for a good way to keep up with Microsoft products and industry best practices, I highly recommend visiting the MVA site.