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Refreshed, reinvigorated and revitalised

01 Feb 2009

The ACE students return from their break for the final stretch – and have plenty to deal with.

Free time was at a premium for Shayna Bryers and Michael Lovell when it came to catching up for this month’s column back in December, for the two ACE diploma students were right in the middle of a hectic exam week.

Despite their gruelling timetable, ACE tutor and Microsoft Certified Trainer Paul Hooykaas said that all of the students took the course in their stride. “I think they’re going exceptionally well. They’re passing the exams; they’re enjoying them,” he said. “I was worried at the start that it might be a little too much, but they’re coping very well, so I’m happy.”

Being the inaugural diploma, the course follows a much different format than Hooykaas is used to when it comes to training others in the course material. He said, however, that the diploma allows the students to learn the material more comprehensively and at a more comfortable pace. “I’ve always taught this material to corporates because that’s been ACE’s customer base, so it’s been an interesting experience to teach this in a diploma. I’d normally do this in eight weeks, [but in the diploma] I can also do labs and a lot of extra stuff that wasn’t in the normal training.”

Both Bryers and Lovell’s exam results for the ‘Managing and maintaining a MS Windows Server 2003 environment’ course are a reflection of this. The students required a score of at least 700 to pass this module, and as always, they received their results immediately after sitting the exam. “I got 900 out of 1000,” said Lovell. “Not too bad. I was hoping to do a little bit better. It’s not the best score I’ve ever had in the class.”

Bryers was pleased with her mark, especially given the fact that her other commitments had forced her to miss this particular section of the course training. “I got 820. I was happy with that because I was away for the whole period they taught the content. I had to learn it at night. I had MBA exams as well; I was juggling both.”

Before the Christmas holidays the students wrapped up their class on subnet masking. “It’s all ones and zeroes, quite literally,” said Lovell, offering an example of when a company might use subnet masking: “If you’ve got, say, two offices – one in Auckland and one in Wellington – they have to have different IP addresses.” Bryers added: “If you need to share files, the first part of the IP address has to be the same because there’s a limited number of IP addresses available.”

It’s a concept that both Bryers and Lovell have encountered before in their previous experience, but it would seem they’re among the lucky few. “A lot of the guys in the class are finding it a bit difficult. If you haven’t done binary before, it’s a big ask,” said Lovell.

Needless to say, the students were well and truly looking forward to their upcoming three-week Christmas holiday after so many back-to-back intensive courses. Bryers had plans to go camping and train for her Waka Ama, while Lovell intended to stay in Auckland and relax.

When the students arrived back from their break, Bryers admitted: “I’m still in holiday mode.” Lovell said he didn’t study much during his break, which he spent with his family, and returned refreshed and revitalised for his first day back in class. “It’s been seven hours too much already,” he joked. And I could see why when I enquired about the rather large course book on the table, only to find that its whopping 444 pages consisted of that week’s material on DHCP servers alone. “We basically need to digest all the information in there in a week, but it’s not always a completely new thing every time,” explained Lovell. “Some pages you only spend a minute or two on, and we’re doing this full-time, so I guess we do have the time to go through it. It doesn’t actually require that much homework.”

This is just as well for Bryers because, as The Channel was going to print, she was still in catch-up mode after taking further time away from the course to compete in the Waka Ama Nationals at Lake Karapiro, which she’d been training for throughout the break.

The students have now moved on to the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) portion of their course, building on the knowledge learnt from their MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator) modules. You can check up on Lovell and Bryers’ progress in their weekly blogs.

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