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Note: This is a second version of this text. First was discussing why SAP formal education or SCN self-studying are not the best ways how to learn something new  (at least not for everybody). After the reconsideration I realized that it is not like the SAP formal education is bad or something, it is the way how many people use SCN what makes me thing about other ways how to study, use SCN and move forward with your knowledge.

Attending last year of the high school and looking for suitable universities to apply for I found something what would be very nice to have on SCN: it was a correspondence course of Pascal held by few volunteers on one of the schools (it was the school where I spent 6 years of hard times and they made me who I am now)(hope you know the programming language Pascal? It is widely used in my region for teaching purposes – Through Pascal students are told how the programming works, what to do and what you´re not supposed to “try at home”. ).

The interesting thing about the course is the purpose:

  • Recognize which of the students which may come to study at the faculty,
  • what is the level of their programming skills,
  • recognize the people who are pro-active,
  • educate the possible future students BEFORE (!!) they come to study.

So far it is nothing new. But think about how this concept could work here, on SCN.

What would we get if we would try the concept on SCN

Many people come here to learn something new (even if they don´t have to. It is not like you have to learn it or you cannot finish the project – in that case you CV is a fraud, right? You do it to become even better consultant or developer, to widen you skill set etc.). These people, including me, come and look around and sometimes they spot something interesting they would like to try. So they sit by the computer and start recreating a tutorial or reading about the new concept/ technology etc. (but got stuck after completing the tutorial…).

I ask: what are the main pain-points about learning from the blogs, tutorials, materials you can find here? What problems can you name about trying to learn something new from SCN? I lack a leadership. There are no people who would turn the tons of materials into a sequence, into a flow, into something one can follow from the beginning to the end. So that one would be able to learn two fundamental things A and B and then be able to understand how to use A+B to learn C.

Implementation

We have the (so-called) topic leaders, the mentors and many “name-less” but educated and knowledgeable people here who could create these sequences, flows (when thinking about it, I call them the learning paths). We have enough materials: enough blogs, e-learnings, tutorials, howtos and manuals so we would not have to create the study content from scratch. We only lack a “methodology” how to glue this together.

Close your eyes and picture this: there is a twitter account you can follow. Every week (any other period) you receive a notification about a new part of the “learning path” (of course you can skip the Twitter part if you´re not a fan of it…). You click on a link, gets redirected to a page (would be cool to have the content on SCN, but none of the current categories are ready for this kind of content, in my opinion) and you can see the lesson.

The lesson would have two parts:

  • Recommended reading – the author would not have to do anything special here. All the content already exists, so he/she would only list the links and provide a short description why should one read this or that, what to learn from the text etc. By the way, this is something what you can get – if you´re lucky – when asking a question in a forum saying you´re a beginner and can do X, would like to learn Z and what are the steps Y to narrow the gap. I got lucky few times and got structured and detailed pieces of advice where to start, what to read, how to try.
  • Tasks/ exercises – the author who prepared the “reading section” knows exactly what is the reader capable of now. If the reader can understand and recreate certain tutorial or solve a given problem. Or better: such man/woman is aware of the existing tutorials which could one use to train what he/she read about.

It would not be obligatory to read the lesson or to solve the tasks. It would only be here if one becomes interested in the topic. It would provide a comprehensive path from knowledge A to B.

To complete the picture add a forum section, where one can talk with other people working on the same topic, reading the same texts and solving the same exercises. What do you think?

Conclusion

I think this would provide so many added values to all the pieces of content we have on SCN! It would help so many people, who ask their question in the “ordinary” (not in a “dedicated” one) forums to ask them in a more appropriate place. Beginners would not create so much “noise” – well, noise from the point of view of the experienced users who ask advanced questions and do not want to go through all the beginners’ questions over and over again (frequent objection of the people who use SCN for “some real work”).

 I have heard many so many suggestion about splitting ABAP General into two or more sub-forums, just to separate the basic questions from the advanced one. But how would one learn where to ask his/her question? If we would have what I suggest and he/she would follow the lesson, it would be easy to recognize one is supposed to ask the question in the dedicated forum.

I wonder what do you think about the suggestion? Would you follow such “paths” if there were any? Or would you be willing to create a lesson or two?

Best regards, Otto

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6 Comments

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  1. Martin Gillet
    Hi Otto,

    Thanks for bringing up the subject.
    It is indeed a real challenge nowadaws with Education. We should theorically use a ‘Learning Management System’ (LMS).

    SAP has its own LMS : Learning Solution (LSO). I’m still amazed this is not integrated yet with SCN and Education platforms…. I have a blog in the pipeline debating about that matter but still in draft mode as not enough time yet to go final…

    Hang in there, perhaps let’s discuss it further face to face at TechEd.

    Br,

    Martin

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    1. Otto Gold Post author
      Hello!
      I am afraid you´re a guy who fit in my taste and so I will have to bug with this or that time to time:)) Hope you won´t mind…
      I am glad I am not the only one who thinks about it, I am sure there are many more around and hope to see them commenting here so we can get some evidence about the interest (so the SCN guys can build a business case to get something like this for us) and to see what other ways can the community people see.
      Looking forward to read your blog. Promise to post the link here when it´s out. It is always good to add things together nicely.
      Hope to talk to you soon:))
      Br,
      Otto
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      1. Martin Gillet
        Hi again,

        Problem is : it’s more than a blog… it’s simply applying best LMS practices and part of a HCM ‘vision’… we have the tools, so why don’t we use them ?
        Certification is one of the Learning curve milestone but if you step back and take the helicopter overview, we need to convince them to redesign and adjust the Education strategy…

        Stay tune for more, hopefully soon…

        Cheers,

        Martin

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        1. Chris Paine
          Martin,

          I’ll be more than a bit cheeky and suggest that although such a crowd sourced learning path would be excellent – the chances of SAP implementing something that would directly compete with SAP Education’s revenue stream is – to me – unlikely. But then again, Thomas Jung’s multiple eLearnings on WD ABAP are proof that this isn’t always the case – I’m sure SAP could fill multiple courses the world over with WDA for beginners but instead they released the content for all to see.

          I’ll remain hopeful and look forward to your blog if/when it comes out.

          Cheer,

          Chris

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  2. Paul Aschmann
    Hi Otto,

    Nice post – very relevant and using the SCN for similar purposes as you – I do agree.

    But if you think about it in general – not only is this a problem here on SCN but to many other aspects of the internet. The web is becoming tangled 🙂 and a bit of a unstructured mess. I think your suggestion to provide people with a learning path to follow is a great idea. I too, have started many a tutorial or idea only to get half way through and be side tracked with minor problems or disconnected information. Having this path would somehow encourage me to stay on track and also be able to interact with someone who is experienced in the entire process versus a small unrelated sub section.

    My only concern would be that if a section of that learning path is simply referenced to an external site, what is the guarantee that the information is not going to change or be updated? Hosting everything on SCN may be too challenging since many writers/bloggers are making some form of revenue (monetary or reference) from their external blogs.

    Overall an intriguing idea and something worth thinking about, lets hope that the SAP team can provide some ideas and guidance.

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    1. Otto Gold Post author
      Hello Paul,
      many people think the same, many people use SCN in a similar way, so many would like to improve the “usability” of the content. It is like with software development (that is what I/we? do): you can reimplement every year, upgrade every year etc. etc. (especially governments are keen to spend same money:))) But the price you pay for the software is quite often bigger than the value you get. And compare with SCN: it is obvious how much time and effort people put in this site to create… lonely island of knowledge lost in a ocean of noise (what´s noise for me, may not be noise for other guys, so no offens meant here). If this “initiative would have a plan, a man/woman to drive it, a goal to describe the way from A to B, then less duplicate content or content out of the “flow” would appear (hopefully). So less energy, time, effort and passion would be lost, right? That would be just great, right?
      I still think about the topic and even if I am no fan of wikis, we could get some inspiration here. But instead of a “simple wiki” I would go for some “wiki-flow”.
      This is a place of collaboration, this is where we can count on crowdsourcing, drive the energy and create something amazing! If we would be able to make every memeber of the community to write a single sentence (which we can use, obviously), we would write new Britannica in a matter of weeks.
      I didn´t think much about how the people think about hosting or linking content. I do this for free and fun and so I sometimes forget some people can do this for money…
      Well, maybe it is my fault I cannot make some money out of this? But who would give me a job to let me talk about the dreams?:)))
      Anyway, I am glad I received your post, because it is full of positive energy. I hope I will be able to use this “energy” to fill the blanks… hope not to misss the “money thing” the next time. Thank you for pointing this out!
      Hope to see you around again,
      br Otto
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