There are so many good training resources available today, that it’s difficult at times to know which source to trust your money with. Let’s be honest, deciding to tackle IT training of any sort requires #1 money, and #2 time, which are both hard to come by it seems. To commit to a week of training with your local IT training company, and to commit the money required, you need to make sure you are going to get the best possible training that will align you with the certification exams objectives in order to help best prepare to pass that exam. This is hard to come by usually, and there have been times when I’ve made the wrong decision on training and then it’s too late to turn back and get a refund. Let me give you an example; Being new to the networking field and having just passed CompTIA’s Network+ exam, I was in the market for CCNA training that would help me prepare for the composite exam. CCNA is a huge step up from Network+, but I wanted to solidify my networking skills by obtaining this industry standard certification. I found a training broker (no names) that set me up with a company (no names) that was offering CCNA training. It was a boot camp style course, 5 days 10 hours+ a day. It was basically a fire hose of information and I just wasnt’ getting it. On top of the amount of information, the student to instructor ratio was 60:1, packed class! Three of us shared one workstation that we could do Cisco router simulation labs, and it just wasn’t enough information. This class cost me a week of work, and $3500 bucks! Needless to say I took the exam that they swore I was prepared for and I bombed it!

A Better Approach To Training
There is definitely a better approach to IT training than getting flooded by fire hose, boot camp style, take your money and run training, Train Signal computer training videos. First off, let me point out that aside from just a straight review of the product from a blogger’s viewpoint, I also have used their IT training videos for my own professional training, in this instance CompTIA’s Security+ Training. I’m planning on taking the exam on Monday November 1st, so it will be interesting to see how well it has helped me prepare for the exam. I also have their CCNA training videos, which I will tackling as soon as Security+ is out of the way, and I’m sure they will be helpful as well. Since this is a product review, I’ll take you through what you can expect by investing in Train Signal’s training videos and investing your time as well. Right off the bat, I found that each of the courses that I have I am able to actually contact the instructor via Twitter or email and ping them for any questions I might have, this is a very helpful perk. Also, note that the student:instructor ration in these courses is 1:1! You can’t beat that. The videos really play out like you are in a room with an instructor and a whiteboard while they go through the course objectives all while sharing their real life scenarios with you.

Right off the bat, the Train Signal website is top-notch. Everything you need to find is easily accessible from the home page, if you haven’t visited it yet, do so now! Like I said earlier, I’ve got several training videos from Train Signal, what I will focus on is CompTIA Security+ which is offered by Train Signal and taught by Paul Gadbois an expert in the security field with over 14 years of experience and numerous certifications to boot. Aside from actually receiving the training videos in the mail, you can opt to receive them online as well, this way your videos are accessible anywhere you are that has wifi connection, which I found to be helpful as I studied during my lunch break at work. When go to their website you will have the option to login to “my online training”. This will give you an overview of all the training courses that you’ve purchased and that are accessible online. This is your starting point.

This is your launchpad for all your Train Signal Courses

After I’ve selected “view course” on the Security+ training, it takes me to my actual course interface. Here I can read about the instructor, I can choose which video I want to watch (30 videos in all totaling 20 hours), download and read the instructors notes, and see the outline of the course. This is also very helpful when I get busy and have to stop, I can always click on the video I was watching to resume my training, this comes in handy when life interrupts your training. Each video gives a short description on what it covers, this way you can go back and watch a video over that covers a topic you might be weak in. The interface of these videos is simply beautiful, the text is easy to read, the pace is not too fast and at the same time doesn’t put you to sleep. I found myself watching 6 videos in a row the other night, they are engrossing videos that come from the viewpoint of an expert who was seen many of the scenarios play out in real life.

Security expert Paul Gadbois is your instructor for Security+

Helping Prepare You For Your Exam
Ok, so the videos presented me with the information covering the objectives of the exam, but now what? How do I prepare? Towards the very end of the training, there is a video titled “Preparing for your CompTIA Security+ certification exam.” This video gives you some insightful tips on what to expect from the exam, how to prepare, even what’s best to eat before an exam (oatmeal and a banana for me). Make sure you watch each and every video in the training series that you have bought, and make sure you follow the instructors tips on how to prepare for the exam. Let’s be honest, we are not investing money and time into our training just to not take the test at the end, so make sure that you are prepared. It’s good to note that the instructor also offers a couple of other resources that will help to ensure you have full confidence when you sit down to take the exam. Train Signal has also partnered with Transcender to provide you with a practice exam engine full of practice questions that will help you get an idea of how the exam will go, and also times you so you can practice your time management in an exam setting.

Preparing for CompTIA Security+ exam video

The Verdict
I fully recommend this product to anyone that is attempting to tackle an IT certification, or just wants to gain more knowledge of their given field. Train Signal has come up with a great way to offer you instructor led training that you can tailor to best fit your needs, no matter how busy you are or what you have going on in your life. Training is time and money invested by you or your company, make sure that you get the most out of it, with the help of Train Signal I promise you will.

Train Signal Products I Use:
VMware vSphere Pro Series Training Vol. 1 & 2
CompTIA Security+ Training
Cisco CCNA Training
Exchange Server 2010 Training

************THE CONTEST IS CLOSED. THANKS FOR ENTERING.****************
Train Signal Training Package Contest
Since I’ve had so much success with Train Signal training videos, I want you to have the same success too. Being that my blog is focused on VMware and with the help of Train Signal, I’m giving away the VMware vSphere Training Package. This is not a random drawing! Such a great prize deserves a good contest entry. To win this prize I’m looking for the worst training nightmare! It doesn’t have to be long, just tell us about your bad experience with training so I can help erase it by awarding you this Train Signal training package. The winner must also be a follower of both @TrainSignal and @gregwstuart on Twitter (this will be verified). The entries will be judged by a panel of Train Signal instructors. The contest is open today, and will close Monday November 15th at 8pm EST. The winner will be contacted via email on Wednesday November 17th, and announced via a blog post that same day (please note your twitter handle in your contest entry as well). Just to sweeten the pot, Train Signal has agreed to throw in one of their popular “vNerd” t-shirts, and I’ll be adding a vDestination t-shirt so be sure to note your t-shirt size in your contest entry. There is no purchase necessary to enter, only one entry per person will be accepted, contest is open to anyone regardless of your location.

Train Signal's Matt Elias showing off the vNerd t-shirt at VMworld 2010

Greg W Stuart
Greg is the owner and editor of He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He works as a Sr. Consultant at VMware and resides in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes west of Washington DC.

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