Spiceworks 'Learn' Portal Delivers Crowd-Sourced IT Skill Lessons

The new Spiceworks Learn portal lets IT pros share their hard-earned knowledge and experience with others working on similar projects.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Busy IT administrators can now get technical help and advice from fellow IT professionals on a growing range of IT topics through Spiceworks' new Learn portal, a  crowd-sourced website that provides shared technical advice at no charge.

The Learn portal, which was unveiled by the company here at its annual Spiceworld user conference on Oct. 10, is designed to be a destination for IT professionals who need assistance and trusted sources to complete their business IT projects on time.

Learn serves as an online destination where IT administrators can quickly find and use information provided in detailed tutorials and other lessons. A key to the offering is that the lessons are provided in bite-size chunks that can be absorbed by busy IT pros in about 30 minutes, so they can work the self-paced lessons into their busy work days.

Learn, which has previously been operating as a beta project for months, covers a wide range of IT topics, including databases, DevOps, email, hardware, Linux, mobile, programming, security, software, telephony and Windows.

As part of its official launch, four new categories have been added—cloud, virtualization, storage and backup, and networking. In addition to written tutorials by other IT professionals, the Learn series includes webinars, videos and more.

Participants can grade the lessons that are provided as well as earn points and badges toward Spiceworks skills certifications that chart their continuing educations in IT topics.

The IT professionals who create the Learn content volunteer to provide the information, often using their own research and methods they used to complete their own projects. Contributors earn points to get Spiceworks recognition for their assistance to the growing Spiceworks user community.

An example of one such tutorial is this how-to guide to converting a Hyper-V Gen2 Windows virtual machine to Xen or VMware

Nicole Tanzillo, the executive director of product operations for Spiceworks Learn, told eWEEK that the company is always looking for ways to make its web site and offerings a daily destination for IT professionals, which helped inspire Learn as a new resource for users.

The concept for Learn works because participants are willing to share their expertise and want to help others who are in the same boat, said Tanzillo. "We have some amazing givers" in the project. "They feel compelled to give back" in reaction to similar help they have received from others over the years.

Spiceworks is a professional network made up of about 7 million members today who use the company's online user support forums on a regular basis. Often called the Facebook of the IT world, Spiceworks also offers a free help desk application that is widely used by businesses of all sizes.

The company's Learn program and skills certifications are not meant to replace existing formal certifications, which are available through a wide range of accredited groups, but help provide needed skills through crowd-sourcing, according to Spiceworks.

Spiceworks community forums began about nine years ago as a clearinghouse for IT administrators and others to share their experiences and expertise. The forums and the Learn offerings are provided free to users, but are paid for through banner advertising from IT vendors and other companies.