Friday, July 29, 2011

How Do You Learn?

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A lot of brilliant people have spent a lot of time, some have made careers out of, learning about how we as people learn.  Whether you subscribe to the Kolb’s, Gregorc’s, Honey & Mumford’s Models, or Flemings VAK/VARK model, at this point in your career you’ve found a way to learn and it works for you. 

I once had a professor, Dr. William Perry, that said repeatedly throughout his courses “Learn to Love to Learn!”.  He would talk to us about how as IT professionals you had better enjoy learning because you would be doing it for the rest of your life.  He would also add that if you did not like to learn you were in the wrong field.  He couldn’t have been more right.

“So Balls,” you say, “How do you learn?”

Glad you asked Dear Reader, let’s dive right in.

MY FLASH CARDS            


 Here is a picture of one small part of my Desk.  If you’re someone who has worked with me you’ve probably seen my flash cards.  I started this pile of flash cards when I was working on beautiful Ft. Monroe in Virginia.  I was studying for my TS and then my ITP Certifications for SQL 2005.  I added to my flash cards next when I was working for the Office of the President up in D.C.  I was studying for my TS in SQL 2008 at the time.  As I would take the train in I would read my book and highlight sections that I wanted to make flash cards out of.  Then I would re-read the book making the flash cards.

After studying for and getting my Certifications, I didn’t want to just forget what I had worked on.  So I continued to review them.   Sometimes people would walk up and say “What are you studying for?”, and I would reply with the name of the Certification I was working towards.  Sometimes I would simply reply by saying, I just want to keep the information fresh in my mind.

As working situations arise, having this information fresh in my mind proved beneficial time after time.  Learning provided better situational awareness, which only served to reinforce how important it was to continue to learn. 

Pretty quickly on I started finding myself in situations where, I would have an issue resolve it, and I’d want to continue to learn from it.  So I would make a flash card on the script, or the situation.  My focus had been on learning from books alone, and that was pretty narrow.  I realized it was just as important to expand not only what I was learning, but where I learned it from.

Back in 2009 our VP of Microsoft Technologies had told me about this upcoming event called, 24 Hours of PASS.  It was an online event, so I could watch these 1 hour training sessions from my Computer.  I persuaded work to let me work remotely, so I could watch these training sessions.  This was my first exposure to PASS, and my first window into the SQL Community, (other than the forums for SQLServerCentral.com ).

There was amazing session after amazing session, I learned about NUMA from Thomas Grohser (@tgrohser), I first heard Louis Davidson (@drsql | Blog) discuss relational design, and got my first ever view of Brent Ozar(@BrentO | Blog).  I was hooked, and I had gotten a lot of good information.

“So Balls,” you say, “Where do you get your learning material from books and webinars?”

Great question Dear Reader, but the answer is I get it from just about everywhere.

LEARN FROM EVERYTHING


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When you look at my flash card pile up above, know that I’ve thrown a lot out.  I gave some to friends, and the flash cards have been a constant evolution.  Sometimes material in books are wrong, sometimes material on Books Online are wrong, and sometimes you never know what will be useful.

Here are the places that I take notes from that turn into flash Cards, and would be my recommendations.



A.      Books
Books are a great source of knowledge and there are a lot of really good SQL Server books out there.  Right now I’m reading Microsoft 2008 Internals, Click Here to View.   I’m also reading Professional SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting, Click Here to View.  The great thing about books is that when you buy them, you can always have them with you.  Nothing beats having knowledge at your finger tips.  IPAD, Knook, whatever buy them and study them.


B.      SQL Server Central
Whether it be the Question of the Day, an Article in the newsletter, or a really great discussion on the forums.  There is more information than you could ask for in a lifetime.  You can get help with your problems, and do plenty of learning as well.


Last month at MagicPASS we had a Microsoft Certified Master speak to us about the Relational Engine and how Cache works Internally.  It was free, we had tacos, and there are a lot of great DBA’s just like you at the meetings.  This is a fabulous place for networking and for learning.  Go to the PASS website and find the User Group nearest to you.  Don’t forget the Virtual Chapters which provide FREE webinars monthly, sometimes twice a month!


D.      24 Hours of PASS
This is another FREE event, I hope your sensing a trend here you don’t have to spend a lot of money to learn, and it will have the TOP names in the field of SQL Database Administration and Business Intelligence.  All it requires is your time.


E.       Channel 9
This is Microsoft’s online learning resource for the Public.  You can find Tech Ed Presentations, Informational videos by the Project Teams, and even new technology previews.  Another great FREE source.


F.       Webinars
Companies like Pragmatic Works, Idera, and Confio are constantly putting on Webinars monthly and for FREE!  You just need to go to their websites and sign up for their free training News Letters.


G.     SQL Saturday
Hey We have one of these coming up in Orlando on September 24thClick Here to Register!  This is an event where some of the top names in our filed present to you for FREE!  You will have MVP’s like Andy Warren(@sqlandy | blog), Rodney Landrum (@sqlbeat | Blog), or Jorge Serraga (@sqlchicken | Blog) just to name a few, presenting for you Dear Reader.


H.      MCM Videos
I wrote a Blog on this once already, MCM video’s You Should Be Watching These, and you should be.  They are a wealth of information, that scratches the surface on what you need to be a Master!


JUST GO LEARN!
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There is also a lot of great training that is not for free, SQL Rally, PASS Summit, and training courses offered by companies like SQL Skills or SQL Cruise.  They are worth their weight in gold, and you don’t have to look far to find a lot of people with the same opinions.

However you learn Dear Reader, just make sure you are learning.  I make flash cards from all these thing, and I review them.  I walk around and share them with the DBA’s I work with, and sometimes we have a quiz of the day on a topic.  I’m sure there are a lot of places that I’ve left off the list if you want to add any please do in the comments below!

Thanks,

Brad






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