Tech Trek – 2011.07.30
Just recently completed a four-day workshop for SharePoint 2010 Administration this past week. This blog post is part review and part recommendations for such training courses.
What did I like about the workshop? I loved how the labs were structured since it gave a couple of scenarios where students have to break the system first before completing the exercise. Why is it important? In real-world business setting, most installations will not be perfect and may not go as planned for many different reasons. Granted that a training cannot cover all the use cases but doing a problem solving situation and troubleshooting is a better learning experience than reading a book. This is why I rarely cover step-by-step guides in my tech journal since many other people specialize in the “how-to” of things with regards to SharePoint and other technologies.
Also, I liked how virtual machines (VM) have matured these days so that instructors could create copies and catch up other students as needed. This similar to a “cookie-cutter” approach, or watching a cooking show where you get to see the finished recipe without having to actually wait.
The assessments are also nice so that students can have an idea of their knowledge of the subject matter especially if one sees score improvements for the outgoing assessment. But more importantly, a better approach is to consider the “retention” factor for concepts and topics covered in the class. Thus, my recommendation to measure such case is to have an “optional” format for training courses i.e. evenly spaced full-day sessions per week over a period of a month or two. Here are some of my rationale for the suggestion:
- First, this gives students enough time to have the concepts sink-in by going back in the work environment and see if they have further questions about the topic. The training can be dull and easily slant into a one-way “brain dump” if students will not be able prepare questions based on real-life scenarios and share the obstacles in our day-to-day jobs.
- Unfortunately, this is what usually happens in a four-day straight session since the instructor will have no choice but to go over the course material. Believe me, any sane teacher will not be able to go over the details if you have a handbook that is over 680+ pages. I can totally relate since I also do volunteer teaching to kids ages 10-12 on a weekly basis and it is a constant challenge for me if I’ll settle on just finishing the training content.
- Having at least a full-day session per week allows us to focus on the training but also gives us breathing room to go back into our work and not get inundated with tasks when coming back to the office. The course could then include review materials so that retention is enforced by repetition.
- Lastly, I’d rather have modules structured to particular business scenario rather than mindlessly numbing to go over certain features and terminologies that may not be applicable when I go back to work. A perfect example is “architecting and designing high availability systems” as compared to doing “backup and restore” in SharePoint. Although, these topics may be similar, the subtle difference is the course don’t have to go over each individual option but rather explain the use cases available to different organizations.
Note, I’ve highlighted that this is an optional format since logistics may not prove otherwise, but I’d prefer going to one if I am given such choice. In summary, I’ve had the opportunity attending Microsoft classes now in different countries over the “course” of my career and things have definitely improved over the years. I don’t expect to have these suggestions implemented overnight but I’d welcome if Microsoft folks considers them and acknowledge it.
Next up, attend a two-day course for “Train the Trainer” this August.
SharePoint 2010 Administration Workshop PLUS