I am currently taking two Microsoft MVP Academy courses - VB.NET Intro & XML Intro and I thought I'd add an blog entry to explain what MVP Academy course are all about.
Firstly, the courses are only open to you if you are a MVP ! However, they are made available free of charge to MVPs :) They are run periodically - typically lasting 6 weeks (but there are also some shorter courses also being run) and cover a wide range of topics (all MS based). The idea is to allow MVPs to gain knowledge outside their normal MVP area of expertise. A tutor is assigned to each class, usually with a backup tutor to help out and cover for sickness etc. The classes are run via newsgroups and email. A CD is sent out to all attendees with the class material on, although some material is made available via a private FTP download. Note that all course work is covered by a NDA. A private newsgroup is opened up for each class and assignments are posted to the newsgroup. Some assignments are for open discussion and so replies are posted to the newsgroup - other assignments are private and answers are sent to the class tutor via email. Because the classes are on-line and participants are spread all over the world there is no set time to complete the assignments (other by the end of the course of course) but you need to do it within a few days to keep up with the discussions in the newsgroup and ensure you don't fall behind. The number of assignments per week varies from class to class. The assignments are generally to read through a particular module, answer some questions on the module and perform some labs or a group assignment based on what you have read.
This is a good example of one of the ways MS is helping to support its products. Despite the many people who knock MS (sometimes quite rightly) it should also be pointed out that MS can and do put something back into the community FOC. With the knowledge I am accumulating from these courses I can be of more help and benefit to the posters at vbCity.
I'll cover my experiences with both courses in later posts :)