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. 🙂
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.