Because we all know how well cramming for exams worked in college

Computerworld – The attractions of an accelerated tech training course are obvious. Why spend weeks or months reading boring computer books or lurching through online courseware when you can have high-energy instructors helping you to cram all that information in over a single long weekend?

Nicknamed boot camps for their abbreviated length and grueling methods — 12 hours in class per day, along with assigned homework at night, is not unusual — some even have students taking certification exams by weekend’s end — and still boast a respectable pass rate.
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Unsurprisingly, a number of boot camps aimed at training both system administrators and end users in Vista and Office 2007 are starting to spring up.

The courses aren’t cheap. Prices typically start at more than $1,000 for a long weekend’s course, and the costs go up rapidly from. But some experts see value in these crash courses. IT boot camps “are very helpful to get a team up to speed prior to a software deployment,” said Cushing Anderson, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

A constellation of camps

Training Camp, the boot camp division of TechTrain, will begin offering Vista boot camps in June with a three-day course aimed at helping Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists (MCTS) pass the certification exam for configuring Vista.

Jeff Porch, director of educational services at Philadelphia-based Training Camp, says the $2,195 course is aimed at people who provide IT support, both in person and via call centers.

All of the instructors employed by Training Camp are Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCT). Classes are limited to 10 students, allowing them to get a lot of one-on-one attention, Porch said. They are also worked hard. “The camp will run from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., with an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner,” Porch said.

Training Camp is also developing courses for Office 2007 and Exchange that should be available by the end of the summer, Porch said.

Other providers include Vigilar Inc.’s Intense School, which is holding a series of five-day Vista-Office 2007 boot camps starting in August. The $2,495 course will prepare students for the Vista configuration exam. Intense School Chief Technology Officer Barry Kaufman said 97% of students in Intense’s MCSE classes pass their exams.

Atlanta-based CED Solutions’ six-day, $2,995 course claims to go one better by preparing students for two MCTS exams on configuring and deploying Vista and Office 2007.

Meanwhile, Houston-based ETEC is, until the end of this month, letting students who register for a 14-day, $5,990 course for Microsoft Certified System Engineering (MCSE) certification also attend a three-day Vista boot camp for free.

Learn IT is offering three-day Vista deployment courses for $1,400 in San Francisco and Santa Clara, Calif. Compared to Training Camp’s courses, Learn IT’s weekday classes run at a relatively light pace — 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — and the company makes no mention of preparing students for passing certification tests.

Certifications less valuable today

One reason why not all training companies offer certification exam preparation may be because of the recent decrease in the prestige of technical certifications. The dot-com crash left many IT workers, even those with certifications and years of experience, unemployed for many years..

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