June 5, 2017

Old Office 365 Training: Navigating the Minefield

Posted on June 5, 2017  •  4 minutes  • 643 words

I’ve been doing a lot of research around Office 365 and Azure over the past couple of weeks. As a fan of video training, and as a Pluralsight subscriber, I’ve been devouring the Pluralsight library.

One thing I’ve had to become good at very quickly is figuring out the age of the content I’m watching and deciding whether it’s still relevant.

Unlike traditional (on-premises) technologies, you can’t tell from a title whether you’re studying the latest version (Exchange 2016 vs Exchange 2013 for example.)

How bad could it really be?

At first, I figured this wouldn’t cause me much of an issue. Information is information right?

Some of these video courses are long. I watch most courses, depending on how fast the author speaks, at 2x speed. Even at this speed, a four to six hour long course is a large investment.

I found myself settling in for a four our long course (which was the start of a 20 hour long series), pretty soon into it I heard the following quote and had to backtrack to make sure I heard it right:

“At this Office 365 tier, you’ll be upgraded to 25 GB of SkyDrive storage.”

Oh… SkyDrive… this is that old.

Also, 25 GB?! Current minimum storage for enterprise plans these days is a terabyte.

And the problem is?

Ok, sure. A sub product name has changed, and storage limits have been updated. These are easy to ignore/adapt to.

But now consider, with something that changes as often as a cloud service, how much of this course is still going to be relevant?

We’re probably talking about an admin interface that is three or four major revisions behind. With cloud services, these sorts of courses are going to be out of date to some extent as soon as they are published, but at least the details of a recent course should be transferable to the latest iteration of the product.

Chances are if you follow a course that is too old, you’re going to be learning about features that have substantially changed or been removed outright.

Can you really justify hours of time for something that might no longer be relevant?

Picking what to watch

At least on Pluralsight, there seems to be a clear point in time where a lot of Office 365 content was updated. A lot of the older courses seem to be from 2014 (three years ago.)

As a general rule for myself, if the course is from earlier than June 2015, I’m ignoring it outright. Chances are there is something newer that overlaps with these courses.

The only exception to this, which I consider on a case by case basis, are PowerShell courses. Most of these courses, regardless of age, seem to be easily transferable.

Main takeaway

Given it’s the main training provider I use, this post has obviously had a slant towards Pluralsight, but the broad strokes apply to other video training sites or even blogs.

Check the date of publication.

Consider; is this content worth your time, or would you be better off spending a bit of time checking for something newer to watch/read instead?

Final thoughts

I follow a lot of TV shows. Once a year, I need to consider for each show “is continuing to watch this show worth the time it takes to watch an episode every week?”

I’ve had to take the same sort of approach to my online training. There is so much content on Pluralsight, with more coming every week, that I can’t hope to watch all of it. If I can’t watch everything I’d personally rather watch newer (with a better chance of it being relevant) courses than a backlog of bookmarked courses from 2014.

How do you pick which training you’re going to pursue? Please let me know in the comments or over on Twitter .

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