I’ll admit it: I am one of the worse participants you could have in your training room. I’m the type of student who has the attention span of a gnat. After about 10-20 minutes of content I’ve tuned out and am doodling in my notepad to stay awake. As a trainer, you could be the most captivating person there is yet I will still struggle to actively listen and pay attention. My brain seems to be mistaken in thinking inactivity means sleepy time.


I’ve known this about myself for years (university attendance rate was a dismal 30%). Although I am terrible at attending training I believe it is an imperative for my career. Learning did not stop the day I graduated university. SAP did not stand still the day I completed my training course. SAP evolved: new versions, components and concepts. With each evolution there was more to learn. The more I learned the more I realized my ignorance and felt like an impersonator when someone called me an expert. For me to remain employable, I needed to keep up. And at some point I would require that dreaded thing called training.


Barriers to learning

So as you see, I accept training is a necessity yet I know that classroom delivery is a key barrier for me to enrol in training. Another barrier for me is cost. As an Independent consultant I must factor in the loss of income for not working; the cost of the course; and travel and accommodation to attend training.

The most recent SAP course I attended was two years ago and it cost me about $5000 (AUD) – just for the course. I was signed-up partly due to my inner bargain hunter (2-courses with certification voucher as a packaged deal). But in truth, my main motivation for attending was to get my hands on the holy-grail-for-certification: the course guide. This course was GRC100/GRC300 Access Controls 10.0. The week it started, I also happened to get the flu. The trainer arrived a bit late, had never taught before (ABAP developer by trade who coded some of the product) and pretty much read the book verbatim. I lasted two hours before I put myself in a taxi and went home to bed loaded up on cold and flu tablets. Sadly, I was proud I lasted that long (was back the following day). As frustrated as I was with the delivery I was still happy to have my hands on the course guide. After all, how else could I study for the certification exam?


But the problem was I did not learn. The system access was minimal as you could not have everyone in the IMG configuration at the same time. Our access was restricted, so I could not look around the system (on a positive I can empathise with my users when I restrict their access). We only got to look at the steps but never make changes to see the impacts. Yet, hands-on practice is exactly how I remain engaged to learn and retain information. In the end, I passed my certification by using the course guide as a reference tool when configuring a demo system – almost a year after attending the training. I clicked buttons, got error messages and persevered until I got the outcome I was after. When stuck, I referred back to the training materials: I consumed the content as I required it. There was no information overload.


Should I wake up one day and learn differently and cost is no longer a factor, I would still face another barrier: availability. Most courses I want to attend in my country are not guaranteed to be scheduled in my city due to insufficient attendees. Or, when scheduled, I am too busy on a project to take the time off to attend. Then there is also the unpredictable parts of life like illness. The times I have attended, I appreciated the trainers were considerate of work commitments by allowing time for us to check our emails and return phone calls. But in reality, I would attend a day of training (which is mentally exhausting even for a gnat); use the lunch break to remote into work to investigate critical issues; and then work into the hours of the night to do my day job followed by a rinse and repeat for the rest of the course duration (typically 3-5 days). My opportunity to learn was lost as I attempted to juggle learning and work. Instead, I mastered being a caffeine-powered zombie on a sugar high.



A better way for certification

My current professional goal (well one of them) is to obtain my SAP Security Certifications. The ADM940 (SAP Authorisations) is one of the courses for this certification. I attended this training in 2004 – 10 years ago. Somehow I doubt referring to a 4.6B training guide is really going to help me pass this exam. This was my realisation when I recently culled a few boxes full of technical books and course guides. My hard copy training guide was no longer of value to me and already I see my GRC300 guide (my $5000 investment) becoming outdated. Yet, I need access to the ADM940 guide and several others but cannot justify the cost to attend each course. And I’m not the only one who seeks training for the course guides – how often have you asked or been asked if someone has certain training materials?


Knowing what works for you and does not is important to succeed in learning. I know I need flexibility to consume content in my own time and at my own pace (and in my own home in my comfy PJs is even better). This is why SAP Learning Hub appealed to me. I signed up to the Discovery Edition, excited that it would be the answer to overcome my training barriers (delivery style; cost and availability). But I was disappointed to learn that none of the courses in the Discovery Edition were in my disciplines: Security and GRC. However, I did log in and have a look around. I needed to make the decision if it was worth investing in the Customer Edition so I decided to look at the platform. The fact that the Customer Edition would give me access to the security certification material was appealing but was I prepared to pay the subscription?

I know I will stop and restart a course a few times over before I complete it. I know I will more than likely switch between three or four courses by the time I finish the first one. But I know I can always come back to them and chip away at a chapter – up to 20 minutes at a time. I can use my lunch break; or before work; or after work. I can dedicate time on my weekend. I can become busy, push training to the side and then pick it up later. And finally, I can get my hands on the course material I need to prepare for my certification.

And I was right, after spending the day in the Customer Edition I already have a few courses on the go as I happily learn! I felt like a kid in the candy store adding so many courses to my learning content – even one unrelated to Security that will help me at work! It’s a good thing I have a year to get through them all. šŸ™‚

Disclaimer: I had intended to purchase Customer Edition but delayed my purchase when I learned I would receive access through an employer in the future. My decision to invest was based on a financial cost benefit: a one-year subscription to SAP Learning Hub ($AUD 3625) is almost the same as attending the ADM940 course ($AUD 3600). And in the meantime, SAP Education invited me to be part of their SAP Learning Hub Champions Program by providing me with a free 12-month subscription to SAP Learning Hub Customer Edition, which includes access to the Learning Rooms.

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20 Comments

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  1. Gretchen Lindquist

    Colleen,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences to date with SAP Learning Hub. It is disappointing that there is nothing on Security or GRC in the Discovery Edition. It would have been nice to sample some work-relevant content instead of taking a blind leap of faith into the Customer Edition. I enrolled in the Dsicovery Edition but, as is so often the case, I am having trouble getting it to work in the corporate browser, so I am mulling over investing in the Customer Edition for myself at home. It helps to know that you found it valuable.

    Gretchen

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    1. Colleen Hebbert Post author

      Hi Gretchen

      My inner nerd got really excited when I opened up one of the course guides. It was a bit like a iBooks where you flip the page. I had sound on and it made the swishing page movement. Also, you can search the course guide for key words. I think back to lugging a training guide to and from work when I start a new topic and compare that to logging on and accessing it when I need it (no highlighting and sticking notes appearing everywhere). Also, latest version is published so it remains current….mmm methinks I might have a new topic soon šŸ™‚

      I plan to check out the Process Controls and Risk Management topics at some point but I have a few other items I need to get a handle on first (SuccessFactors product suite is just one of them – spent an hour going through the Intro course for Security topic)

      Regards

      Colleen

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    2. Jan Meyer

      Hi Gretchen,

      if you continue to have browser or other technical troubles, pls. send a mail to elearning@sap.com and describe the error messages / problems you encounter.

      Regarding the availability of content in the discovery edition, I can understand your frustration. When we designed the discovery edition we wanted, as Tim has mentioned below, to provide a sense of SAP Learning Hub. It was a very difficult task to chose a representative amount of titles out of the pool of >4000 titles. In other words, we knew we couldn’t make everybody happy. We are currently re-evaluating the discovery edition and are evaluating ideas like rather than providing permanent access to a limited catalog to provide time restricted trial access to the full catalog, e.g. like the Netflix and Spotify’s of this world are doing. I would appreciate your view on how we could improve the experience.

      Best regards,

      Jan

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      1. Steffi Warnecke

        I don’t have a problem with the Discovery Edition not having all training courses included or even all areas that there are in the big SAP world. It’s a demo environment to have a peek, so that’s all good.

        But if you include a training in the overview page and say, it is available in the Discovery Edition and it’s not and there is confusion not only on our (consumer) but also your (Hub-people) side, why it’s not available… well, that’s when I’m not happy anymore. šŸ˜‰

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  2. Joao Sousa

    Thanks for sharing. I’m sure many many many people are like you (I know I am) and find that room lectures are not worth the time and money you end up spending (especially the former).

    I have to say I’ve been delaying having a look at the learning hub, will have to check it soon.

    PS: As a side note, SAP should really make sure the trainer’s quality is appropriate for the cost of the course, and some times it isn’t. Paying top dollar for a bad lecture makes SAP lose money in the long run.

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    1. Colleen Hebbert Post author

      HI Joao

      I’m hoping my situation was a one-off. I think it was a case that the topic was relatively new in my country and the original training has to cancel last minute. But it would have been nice if the trainer was given some better support (even a course on time management).

      Give SAP Learning Hub a go – even to see the platform of SuccessFactors for what everyone has been talking about  – the only cost of discovery is your time šŸ™‚

      Regards

      Colleen

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  3. Florian Henninger

    Hi Colleen,

    thanks for sharing. I saw a newsletter, that the learning rooms massively grow during the next months so the Learning Hub might be a good alternative to the classic classroom-trainings.

    ~Florian

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    1. Colleen Hebbert Post author

      H Florian

      I did see a message of a heap of Learning Rooms being released. So far I haven’t joined any – partly not my area. It will be interesting to hop in on one and see the interactions.

      Regards

      Colleen

      Ps – I saw the article and can see GRC and Security rooms on the list for Q3. I hope so as I will definately jump in and have a look at these (at least I’ll understand the content).

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  4. Steffi Warnecke

    I have to say, I like classroom training, because there you have one advantage that learning through books or via the Hub is lacking: exchange

    With the trainer and the other participants. If something is unclear, you can ask and the confusion is lifted.

    Even back in school my main way of learning was through participation in class, asking questions, answering questions, exchanging ideas etc.

    Of course, if you have a bad trainer, that advantage is gone. ^^ And yes, there are those digital, magic rooms in the Hub. But I still feel it’s a difference.

    But on the other hand, I have similar problems like you: time, money and of course, that the training course I need and want even exists (that was a big problem with IDM *sigh*).

    So it would be great, if I can get my hands on training materials without having to book the course itself to do the studying in my own time.

    I haven’t yet looked at the Hub too much, since in the Discovery Editon the IDM-training, that was advertised, wasn’t there back when I registered. Since it wasn’t added in the weeks that followed, I have lost a bit of drive to open the Hub to see what’s what. šŸ™

    Maybe I’ll give it another shot.

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    1. Colleen Hebbert Post author

      Hi Steffi

      I would not say classroom is 100% bad for me. There are positives and you are spot on with the ability to interact with others. However, in a call of say 10 people you might have some with zero experience and others with a year or more. The people with zero may not understand the conversations (though the might still benefit) and it can be difficult.

      I am yet to try it yet, but I wonder if Learning Room access might be a sufficient replacement to the interaction with other class members. Part of this comes down to learning preferences and also your experience.

      Another positive of classroom is networking. I have received job offers from attending the training and getting to know others in the industry šŸ™‚

      Where was IDM advertises as part of discovery but not there? I can make an inquiry for you if you like?

      Regards

      Col

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      1. Steffi Warnecke

        Colleen Lee wrote:

        Where was IDM advertises as part of discovery but not there? I can make an inquiry for you if you like?

        It was one of the free courses on the SAP Learning Hub Free Courses Overview. But they took it out and the cover page for it, too (the only comments there were pointing out, it isn’t available, anyway). I stand corrected, the cover page is still there: Free SAP Learning Hub Course:  OIDM72 – OKP SAP NetWeaver Identity Management 7.2     

        I guess they changed their mind about putting that training in the free version of the Hub.

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  5. Jelena Perfiljeva

    The only SAP classroom training I did was a basic ABAP class (BC400?) back in 2005. The training center itself and the whole area (Foster City in CA) were beautiful and there was also, ahem, some “eye candy” in form of two dashing local Java developers in the motorcycle jackets. (They were clutching their ABAP Objects books like a safety blanket and looked utterly lost on day two, poor things. šŸ™‚ ) But the whole curriculum could’ve been easily packed in 2 days instead of 5 (well, technically 4 – we had like 1 hour class on Friday). So all in all I felt it was not a great value (my employer paid for it, fortunately).

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    1. Steffi Warnecke

      BC400 – I did that one, too. In 2011 I think. ^^

      Maybe since then more content was added, because we were still going on Friday Afternoon and the end of the planned content wasn’t reached. Sure, some chapters could have gone faster… for me. But we were a pretty divergent group and there were some that were struggeling. No cute bikers though, darn it!

      I think, for those basic classes they are starting from the point, that you have absolutly no idea about anything (just how to turn on a computer) and build up from there. For this, the tempo was okay. If you already know your way around some stuff, then those courses can feel pretty stretched out.

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    2. Colleen Hebbert Post author

      Hi Jelena

      I’m that type of learner. In school I used to finish en entire semester of work in the first two weeks. My teacher would then give me something to work on for the rest of the time. in exam conditions, I seem to finish using half the allowed working time. And yes, I can cover a SAP course in 2 days instead of 5.

      A 5 day training could easily go for 5 days if there is a lot of active participation and discussion OR a lot of juniors who need more time to go through the content. Normally, Friday is an early finish to allow everyone to fly home who commuted.

      The perceived value does change when your employer fits the bill. If any employer offers to send me on training I won’t say no but I’m not the type of person to seek out a specific course if I have another way to access the content. If you have a sandpit system at work and know enough about SAP you can teach yourself new topics – but you need to content to follow. I hope SAP Learning Hub will be that for me (so far it seems to be).

      Regards

      Colleen

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  6. Tim Breitwieser

    Hi all,

    Glad to see people are experiencing SAP Learning Hub and getting some benefits from it. Regarding the content in the discovery edition, I’d just like to give you an update and clarification.  While we did offer a range of full standard courses when we launched SAP Learning Hub in late January 2014, moving forward we will adopt a different approach. The discovery edition was intended to provide people with a sense of the overall SAP Learning Hub experience — offering a partial view of the learning content library vs providing a full learning experience.  Going forward, rather than full versions of select courses, SAP Education will be providing excerpts of all new courses.

    Best regards,
    Tim

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  7. Simone Milesi

    i felt exactly like you and Jelena (like her, my employer paid for the 2 courses i attended): my first experience was literally shocking for me.

    Even if junior on sap (never know its existance before), i got already some years of development under the belt and attending BC400 and getting as answer a “This topic is related to another course” to a question like “But if i click there instead?”, made me feel…sick.

    i’m struggling to attend a certification course (even i feel there is too many theory for my taste) but costs and timing and last experiences are slowing me down (and i still have to persuade my boss about its utility šŸ™‚ ).

    As Jelena, i never took care about Learning HUB, but given these good feedbacks, i’ll give a try soon.

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    1. Colleen Hebbert Post author

      Hi Simone

      As mentioned before, I feel that we have to continually upskill to remain current. At the same time, on the job training and self-teaching may be a better way for some of us to learn. I’m working through SuccessFactors material at the moment as I’m on a project using it. I am going into certain parts of the content to obtain the information I need to understand the data and security.

      I’m also looking at the course guides to use them for my own certification study. I have 10+ years experience so I do not want to re-enroll in my subject area to attend classroom training. If I have access to a Sandpit then I can refresh my skills with the latest course guide by using my system to follow it. If I did not have system access then I would investigate SAP Live Access

      Regards

      Colleen

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