Guided Technical Enablement – Agile Learning
As technology professionals, we are working during some of the most challenging times to keep up with the volume of new cloud-based products and services. To survive in this environment, we need to adopt various learning techniques, and Guided Technical Enablement is an example of Agile Learning using a Learning Path is one of them.
I define Agile Learning as picking up what knowledge you need when you need it while going deep on a topic where you need to. You may not need to become an expert or do this all at once, but you will return to a topic over time. You also may need to go deep on a subject later and find more resources.
The key to a path is that it be kept up to date, adding new material as it changes and removing old material when needed.
For example, let’s say your organization would like to add Azure SQL Data Warehouse to the technology stack. You might start with a quick introduction to talk about solution architecture or need to pick up a specific topic and come back later. Once a project begins to ramp up, you may need to learn the tool in more depth. That is where this series of Learning Paths can help—a curated series of resources that builds from an introduction to more in-depth concepts.
Note – Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a good example as on November 4, 2019, it was updated and branded as Azure Synapse. The Learning Paths for this topic have been updated with new material and also a new Path for the Azure Synapse Analytics product set added. See bottom of article for listing of current paths.
Onboarding with New Technology
I have always wanted to give back to the community that has helped me get where I am today. As a Cloud Solution Architect for Microsoft, one of my primary responsibilities is the technical enablement of our Data & AI Partners and Customers. One of the most significant challenges is getting people within these groups up to the same level of skill and knowledge.
The goal of these learning paths is to allow those new employees or people new to the technology through a process that gets them to a higher level where they can be integrated into the production flow. Once they have a base level of knowledge, the more senior consultants/developers can provide more field knowledge and real-world experience. This is where learning paths come into play.
The Learning Paths are designed to take the student from an introductory level to an expert using a curated and guided set of resources. These resources are self-learn, accessible, and easily consumed. Some labs and tutorials require an Azure subscription or a copy of the software; however, a trial subscription or demoware is usually available.
Learning Path Structure – Levels
The process is structured by splitting the paths into different levels. I try to keep this consistent between the other Learning Paths. The classes defined in the table below provide a structure to the process. Feel free to take these and customize them for your organization by including code or client examples that introduce your practice and development techniques.
|000||Prerequisites||This level introduces integration, optimizations, and deeper concepts, including deployment and operations.|
|100||Introduction||Provides basic information on the learning topic. Review solution architectures and case studies that put the technology into context|
|200||Basic Concepts||This level introduces deeper concepts while building on the previous level. In addition, tutorials and samples are presented that help reinforce and better explain the topic by putting the concepts together.|
|300||Optimization and Deep Technical||This level introduces integration, optimizations and deeper concepts, including deployment and operations.|
|400||Best Practices and Use Cases||Use Cases, recommended practices, and deeper dives are reviewed to help bridge the theory into practice while showing the technology in a real-world context.|
|500||Resources||Other resources that can be included that provide value.|
Learning Path Structure – Learning Styles
Students have preferences regarding how they like to learn <sup>1</sup>. Each of the four main styles provides a more effective method of learning based on each student’s learning preference. The four patterns and techniques used in these paths are as follows:
|Learner Type||Preferred Training Method||Learning Path Example|
|Visual||Observing Others’ Behaviour/Watching||Methods other than words|
|Auditory||Best through listening||Video, Recorded presentations|
|Physical/Tactile||Moving, touching, doing||Tutorials and Hands-On-Labs|
|Observational||Observing Others’s Behaviour/Watching||Demonstrations|
These Learning Paths are constructed so that they provide various methods of instruction.
Learning Path Structure – Audience
The Learning Paths currently available are all technical. They will cover Microsoft Azure technologies for the most part. The concepts and skills that these Learning Paths cover would be beneficial for the following roles:
- Solution Architects who design overall solutions that include Azure products and services in end-to-end solutions.
- BI and Data Developers to understand how to design and implement Azure data solutions.
- Data Professionals and DevOps teams who implement and operate Azure solutions.
- 1 Learning styles, Wikipedia, Sept 15, 2019
- SQL Workshops – Opensource Microsoft project used as inspiration and formatting.
- Markdown reference for Microsoft Learn – Contributor guide | Microsoft Learn – Microsoft Docs Markdown reference