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Jiordan Castle

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Whether you’re new to Salesforce or you’ve already hopped on the cloud-covered bandwagon, it’s time to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with Trailhead before Dreamforce ’15. Trailhead is an interactive learning tool by Salesforce designed to take you through the basic components of the Salesforce1 platform. Recently revamped with new content leading up to Dreamforce, there are now 30 projects and 7 trails. All you have to do to get started is sign up for a free developer environment and take on the trail of your choice.

How Trailhead works: guided learning and gamification

Trailhead content is broken down into trails, modules, and units. Here’s an easy way to remember the different classifications:

  • A trail is made up of a series of modules centered on one aspect of the Salesforce1 platform. (Different trails focus on different aspects.)
  • A module is made up of a series of units on a particular topic.
  • A unit guides you through learning objectives for a feature or tool of the Salesforce1 platform. At the end of each unit, there’s typically a challenge that includes all of those learning objectives.

Gamification is a fun part of the incentivized learning process; you earn points and badges simply for using Trailhead. For instance, you earn points just by completing a unit. And you earn badges by completing every unit in a module. Once you earn a badge, it’s displayed on your Salesforce Developer profile, so you can advertise your technical skills as you progress.

What’s new in Trailhead this season?

Gearing up for Dreamforce ’15, Trailhead has introduced one new module — Event Monitoring, located on the Intermediate Developer Trail — 5 new badges, and 2 new trails: the Admin Trail — CRM and the (aptly named) Dreamforce Trail. Four new badges are attainable by completing the 2 new trails and one is attainable by completing the Event Monitoring module; a great reason to revisit trails you may already be familiar with — new opportunities to learn and earn recognition.

The most interesting thing about the addition of an Admin Trail that’s CRM-centric is that Trailhead has traditionally only focused on customization and development of the platform side of Salesforce in the past. This new trail takes you to a radically different place — namely, through the concepts of Accounts, Leads, Opportunities, and Contacts. By traipsing down this trail, you’ll learn about creating records, setting up a sales process, assigning/converting Leads, and more. It’s a good way to get a great refresher in Salesforce CRM or initial experience with Sales Cloud.

The Dreamforce Trail is a single module broken into 3 simple steps. For Dreamforce newbies, this trail provides you with general information for admins, developers, and all other manner of first-time attendees. And even if Dreamforce ’15 won’t be your first go-round, this trail provides useful updates on different zones, keynotes, sessions, and even Salesforce prizes — complete with pro tips every step of the way.

And finally, the Event Monitoring module is a particularly useful addition to the Intermediate Developer Trail. It defines some basic concepts and explains what you can achieve with event monitoring, like greater data security for your Salesforce Org and insights into user activity. This module even goes into high-level facets of event monitoring, such as querying event log files, downloading those files, and creating visual representations of the downloaded data.

Best of all, Trailhead allows you to learn what you want, when you want — all at your own pace. By tackling a trail or 2, you’ll be better prepared for everything Dreamforce ’15 has to offer.

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