Online Learning Business Opportunity Ahead for Microsoft Partners

Microsoft partners not only are interested in participating in the newly minted Microsoft Professional Degree program (MPD) announced in July and currently in pilot, they’re also excited about the business opportunity around online content.

Microsoft's Gavriella SchusterThat’s according to a recent blog, in which Microsoft’s corporate vice president, worldwide partner group, Gavriella Schuster, reiterated that partners soon will be able to offer learning solutions built on the Open edX platform powered by Microsoft Azure.

Just six weeks ago, Schuster gave us an inside look at the new (MPD) program pilot discussed as part of Microsoft’s partner enablement efforts. At that time, the first Data Scientist degree candidates were scheduled to complete curriculum in September. Microsoft rolled out MPD to address the skills gap in critical fields in the industry. The Data Scientist degree is the first of many degree programs in the works, according to the vendor.

While Schuster didn’t flesh out details of what the partner business opportunity will look like, she said that more info will be shared at Microsoft Ignite, Sept. 26-30, in Atlanta, and the co-located Microsoft Data Science Summit.

She also references the expansion of Microsoft cloud competencies that include a learning option. According to Schuster, the update allows partners with a cloud competency to offer Learning as a Service using Microsoft online courses and leveraging Open EdX on Azure as a platform. In an April blog, Schuster outlined changes to the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) competencies that entailed adding new competencies and retiring others. The competency changes were being rolled out over an 18-month period.{ad}

The MPD program was announced at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, held in Toronto, in July. The vendor touted the initiative as employer-endorsed, university-caliber curriculum that combines online technical skills fundamentals with hands-on labs and a final capstone project.

In a press release in July, Steven Guggenheimer, corporate vice president and chief evangelist, Developer Experience and Evangelism Group, Microsoft said, “The proliferation of cloud technologies and the delivery of software as a service has opened up tremendous revenue opportunities for our partners.”

He also mentioned that MPD “will be offered via edX, as well as through learning-as-a-service offerings delivered through partners, to meet customers’ evolving training needs and to help close the skills gap we are seeing across a number of industries.”

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