Don’t mind me, looking out the window.

Oh, don't mind me, typing a little something from my new office.

We shuffled offices around again, as is our wont. Now I have one blue wall, instead of one red. And a window to the outside, instead of a window to the hallway and Jeff Hora's office.* And gifts from the previous resident, including but not limited to:

  • Salt and pepper shakers, one set
  • Toilet paper, one roll


Not too shabby.

But back to business.

We make all sorts of training (classroom courses, books, e-learning, webcasts, exams), and some people are researching how to classify the experience level so it works for all the different products. For example

  • 100-level, 200-level …
  • Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, Power-user….
  • Or: 1, 2, 3…

The idea is to help you pick training/skills development tools at the right level so you're not annoyed if it is too hard or easy; make it match/work with what training providers and students are using/used to; make it applicable to as much of the world as possible; be the same no matter what group at Microsoft made the training, etc.

You have probably tried different types of training from different companies. So what classifications do you think work?  

*Not that a view of Jeff Hora is anything to sneeze at.

Comments (16)

  1. Srinath says:

    Hi Trika,

    What happened to the lucky banana that you got back from the trip.

    Is it still there somewhere safe???

  2. Austin says:

    I think 100/200/etc. works pretty well – most people (in the US, at least – that’s all I have experience with) are familiar with this numbering system and its meaning.

    The real trouble is probably in rating anything at all – what’s a 100-level to some people may be more like 200 or 300 to others.  How would one "objectively" determine the difficulty of any material to know where to put it in any spectrum?  I don’t know…

  3. daveb says:

    100/200/300 are pretty common internationally too I think (well – it’d work for aussie/nz)

    Academically, in NZ we have a whole range of <a href=""&gt; educational levels </a> (i hope that link survives posting)  with first year uni being level 5. And it looks ok on the face of it until you try implementing things and look at the detail, then things get vague. Which gets back to Austin’s point.

    The thing about 100/200 etc levels is that (at least here in NZ but I think the US too) it implies that it’s similar to 1st/2nd etc year of a degree, and I don’t think that’s going to be the case for many training items you have. Oh many of it is at degree level, but sometimes you might want to day that A is a pre-req for B is a pre-req for C but when you examine it, no college would have C as a 3rd year paper or acknowledge the equivalence. They’re really 101->102->103

    I prefer foundation -> intermediate -> advanced -> specialist (or something god-like) – and definitely "foundation" – not "basic".

    just my 2cents

  4. Wayne Anderson says:




    Advanced or "Expert" or "Specialist"

  5. Kjetil says:

    What about a combination?

    One number giving the level off the content and one that shows who the content is ment for.


    Level 100 – Administrator

    Level 300 – Implementer

  6. says:

    I was just going to push for the 100, 200 etc levels becuase its simple and it works. Instead though I quite like Kjetil’s idea above combined with Waynes! (Im hitting all the boxs here 😉 )

    Level 100 – First-Look

    Level 200 – Introduction

    Level 300 – Intermediate


  7. Frizbit says:

    I like the 100-300 scale that has been used on webcasts previously.  I swear I used to see 400 level ones but not for a long time.  Did the scale change?

  8. R says:




    Professional or Specialist

  9. Lee... says:

    How to classify the experience level, what works?

    Ok, so first of all what do we have at the moment, 100, 200, 300. This is ok as a means of elevating the scale in a linear manner as experience grows, but is limiting on the basis of what happens if you want to grow further. Once at 300, is that it, should you learn no more, does that mean you have experienced everything Microsoft? Once at the top of the pyramid, how do you achieve more?

    What all the grading systems infer, is a sense of finality, a completion, you’ve got there so that’s it! A more holistic view of things might be a better approach. I.e. Does one branch of my knowledge complement another part? Which part of the territory does my map now cover? How far does the territory expand? After all, one man’s ‘specialist’ may be another man’s ‘beginner’.

    All we can hope for is that our approach be one where we continue to ‘question, learn and grow’ from each other as we progress through life. Rather than a ‘been there, done that, I studied at 300 level’ approach.

  10. Lukas Beeler says:

    An important issue no one has mentioned yet is scope.

    I mostly work with small business environments, so i don’t really care much about scalability on the enterprise level – and there’s lots of documentation that gives extensive coverage to enterprise specific stuff.

    I usually crossread that stuff, but it would be cool if there’s some sorting into environment size – so that i don’t have to read stuff that has no relevance to my working environment.

  11. Lucho Rozas says:

    I think that’s a good idea the combination between the numbers and words.. something that i read like:

    Level 100 – First-Look

    Level 200 – Introduction

    Level 300 – Intermediate


  12. ShawnMc says:

    How about something more abstract and fun?  Just because it is a test, doesn’t mean it has to be boring.

    Like Mild (100), Hot (200), Picante (300)!!  You could have a corresponding heat scale with flames.  If you’re sold on numbers, you could use the Scoville scale.


    Tadpole (100), Toad (200), Bullfrog (300)!

  13. Drew says:

    Really hoping to see an answer to the banana query?

  14. Alice says:

    Frizbit – I found a page that explains the webcast levels:

    "Q. For webcasts, how do you define Level 100, Level 200, Level 300, and Level 400?  

    A. Level 100 (Introductory)

    Through technical webcasts, you will be introduced to product and technology features, functions, and benefits. Business webcasts will introduce you to product functionality and include demonstrations of end-user tips. You may also learn how and why to invest in a certain product or technology.

    Level 200 (Intermediate)

    Attendees should have Level 100 knowledge of the product or technology because these webcasts drill down further into a topic than introductory webcasts. These webcasts often include product demonstrations, code samples, best practices, and high-level troubleshooting techniques.

    Level 300 (Experienced)

    These webcasts cover advanced material and assume Level 200 knowledge, an in-depth understanding of features in a real-world environment, and strong coding skills. These webcasts provide you with a detailed technical overview of a subset of product or technology features, covering architecture, performance, migration, deployment, and development.

    Level 400 (Advanced/Expert)

    These webcasts assume a deep level of technical knowledge and experience and a detailed, thorough understanding of the topic. They offer expert-to-expert interaction and coverage of such specialized topics as custom code, scripts, application solution development, and architect infrastructure designs and solutions."


    Lukas wrote: "An important issue no one has mentioned yet is scope. I mostly work with small business environments, so i don’t really care much about scalability on the enterprise level … it would be cool if there’s some sorting into environment size …"

    This made me think of a (slightly odd) comparison – Kellogg’s has this thing on their cereal boxes called "Nutrition at a Glance", which makes it easy to compare cereals up-front on multiple factors. (There’s probably an example of this kind of thing out there on some company’s training material, but I haven’t come across it.)

    Anyway, perhaps Microsoft could do something like this – have multiple separate factors clearly presented side-by-side, instead of just one.

  15. Remember back in the day when I moved to a window office ? I was flying high in 18 back then, staring

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