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In this post, I think about the different ways I learn, and wonder how that translates to how we learn in the SAP developer ecosphere. 

This will be a shorter post than usual*, as I’ve just arrived at the (second worst) airport (in the world) on my way to the third and final instance of this year’s SAP TechEd event, in Bangalore. As I sit here with some coffee, I’ve been thinking about my experiences at the recent Developer Relations Conference (DevRelCon) in London earlier this month.

*some of you may be breathing a sigh of relief!

I’ve written about some of my experiences already at DevRelCon in a previous Monday morning thoughts post on longevity and loose coupling, where I thought about some of GitHub’s features in relation to webhooks and serverless computing in general. But this time I’d like to dwell a short while on some other stuff that I learned during the conference. The bottom line is that technology is changing all the time, and to remain relevant, one needs to keep learning. That means that there’s a requirement for education. What sort of education is that, and what does it look like where the rubber meets the road?

 

A compete education experience

Conversations at the conference confirmed to me that rather than islands of information, developers are looking for that “complete education experience”. What does that mean? Well, to me, and based on what I heard from others, it’s long term learning based on focused paths through the myriad options and directions, with a personalised platform that keeps track of where you are and what you’ve achieved. Moreover, it includes a clear indication of learning goals, and definitions of “what good looks like” with respect to mastery of a subject.

I’m mindful of our tutorial system within our developer home space at https://developers.sap.com, and with the recent revamp for the start of the SAP TechEd season, I do think we’re on the right path, especially having heard from others at the conference, and what their and their companies’ aspirations in this respect were. If you’ve not tried the new tutorial experience, with groups of tutorials around a certain topic, and missions that cluster together tutorial groups, I’d definitely recommend you give it a try – kick those rubber tyres.

But of course there’s content beyond our tutorial navigator in the wider SAP ecosphere world. There’s the SAP Help Portal, various YouTube channels, such as the SAP HANA Academy, and who could omit the wonderful Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) openSAP with some excellent courses that run over weeks.

And we can’t forget the less structured but nevertheless essential content here in the SAP Community, written by and for the community members themselves (us, in other words).

 

How do you learn best?

What I’ve been pondering, though, is – moving a layer above – how do people really learn? What are the different media (mediums if we’re being post-Latin, but who wants to be post-Latin?) available, and what are the pros and cons of each. More importantly, what works for us? Conversations with work colleagues over the years has shown me that we’re all different, we all consume information our own way, at our own pace, and different media resonates differently with each of us.

I’ve even been looking into the modern realms of Twitch TV recently (based on some other conversations at DevRelCon). It has certainly been eye opening – who knew there were so many games out there and so many folks not only playing but spectating? I found the Science & Technology channel in which various folks teach, indirectly, I guess, by streaming their live coding experiences. Fascinating, and I learned stuff almost by accident while transfixed by the experience.

So, as I head to the gate to take my first flight of the day, I’d like to leave the rest of this Monday morning thoughts post in your hands. Let me know in the comments below how you learn. What’s your preferred medium, and why? What learning experiences have you had, what has worked well, what hasn’t worked so well? Are you a video watcher, or a reader? For a new subject, do you reach for YouTube, the SAP Help Portal, blog posts, Q&A or something else? As we move further and further into the cloud and merge with the wider developer ecosphere, what experiences have you had there that we could learn from?

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.

And if you’re at SAP TechEd in Bangalore, come and say hi at the Developer Garage, and tell me directly how you learn best!

 

This post was brought to you by the hustle and bustle of an early Monday morning in Manchester airport, by Pret-A-Manger’s filter coffee (not too bad actually), and by the prospect of the “travel-daze” that I’m going to be experiencing for the next 16 hours or so.

 

Read more posts in this series here: Monday morning thoughts.

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6 Comments

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  1. Ian Daniel

    Hi DJ,

    I’m definitely a conversational learner. My go to is YouTube directly, for topics I’m new to, where I’m after more general advice or learnings and Google as a sign post to more specific topics, where my questions is more detailed.

    I’ve also known for a long time that only by engaging in conversation or debate with someone do I really get to understand an area, and further, the adage “You don’t really understand something until you reach it” is very true for me.

    Enjoy your flight .

     

    Ian

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  2. Michelle Crapo

    Well, I learn through so many things, it depends on the day.  🙂

    I really learn through writing and reading blogs.  Or talking about / debating things.  But that just takes me to the next level or finding more information about something.

    OK – getting ready, bracing myself for some really interesting comments.  I learn a ton at SAP Teched.  The conversations/debates, the hands-on, it gives me so much data.  I learn many things at once.  I bring them home and play with them.

    Learning style – is probably hands-on.  I need to type it to remember.  I need to do it if I can.  I need to see it working if I can’t.

    A last comment – If I don’t use it, I lose it.  So if it is not relevant for my company, I might remember something small about it for the future.  But in detail, no, I’ve lost it.  Hence – I love my bookmarks.

    Guided learning.  Mmmmmm…  OK but only if I need to get to the next level for a projected.

    I guess I learn a bit from everything….   A non-answer.

    Have a great flight!

    Michelle

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  3. Mark Teichmann

    Hi DJ,

     

    to get real understanding I have to do things HandsOn without guidance, asking occasionally for help. For getting into new topics I prefer reading. Videos and lectures make me fidgety, taking too much time and are always too slow or too fast for my own learning pace.

    Of course teaching things is best for real understanding, but there is not enough time to always teach things to learn from it.

     

    Cheers,

     

    Mark

     

     

     

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  4. Gregory Misiorek

    Hi DJ,

    i haven’t really practiced it that much, but i’ve heard that the best way to learn something is to actually try to teach it to someone. as soon as you try to explain something or showing how it works you find out what you have misunderstood or didn’t quite get, and the students will be quick to point it out. as far as MOOCs go, i enjoy the video portion as much as the tests, and was really disappointed when someone else was charging me for a class but only offered some powerpoints to read and maybe some tests.

    both open.sap.com and open.hpi.de are top notch and i hope they will stay that way.

    cheers, greg

     

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  5. Steve Rumsby

    I learn from a combination of reading and doing, primarily. Give me a book/blog(s) and a system and I’m happy. That lays the foundations for me, but then, like Ian Daniel, I find that talking with others helps to improve/correct my understanding. All of those are essential to me, if I’m to learn something properly.

    I really don’t get on with learning from video. I tend to skim read and skip backwards and forwards through a book, and the video format just doesn’t work for me. Video also isn’t searchable!

    And as others have said, the true test of your understand is trying to pass it on to others. Whether that’s within your team or somewhere more public, preparing to teach will reveal things you don’t really understand (which you can fix in advance) and other people’s questions will reveal even more (which you just have to own up to). Inevitably, then, you end up learning through the teaching process, so it isn’t just about validating your understanding, but increasing it further.

     

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