Learning Paths Introduction: Guided Technical Enablement

Guided Technical Enablement – Agile Learning

As technology professionals, we are working during some of the most challenging times in our ability 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 will come back to a topic over time. You also may need to go deep on a topic at a later point, find more resources. The key to a path is that it be kept up to date, adding new material as it changes and also removing old material when need be.

As an example, let’s say your organization would like to add Azure SQL Data Warehouse to the technology stack. You might start off with a quick introduction, to talk about solution architecture or need to pick ups specific topic and come back later. Once a project starts 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 had a desire 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, free and easily consumed. Some of the labs and tutorials require you to have an Azure subscription or a copy of the software; however, a trial subscription or demoware is normally available.


Learning Path Structure – Levels

The process is structured by splitting the paths into different levels. I try to keep this consistent between the different Learning Paths. The levels, 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.

Level Topic Description
000 Prerequisites This section contains background information and recommended base skills recommended before starting the learning set. It can also include an overview of other technologies that the topic relies on.
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. Tutorials and samples are introduced that help to re-enforce 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 as to 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 Methods, other than words Video, Labs
Auditory Best through listening Video, Recorded presentations
Physical/Tactile Moving, touching, doing Tutorials and Hands-On-Labs
Observational Observing Other’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 covers 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.

Current Learning Paths

More paths will be added over time.

What are Learning Paths? – Background information on these Learning Paths.

Learning Path: Azure Synapse Analytics – This learning Path covers Azure Synapse Analytics This service is not only the next evolution of Azure SQL Data Warehouse, but combines enterprise data warehousing and Big Data Analytics into collaborative projects to ingest, prepare, manage and serve data together in a single pane of glass experience.

Learning Path: Azure Synapse (Formerly Azure SQL Data Warehouse) – In this Learning Path for the Azure Synapse (Formerly Azure SQL Data Warehouse), you are provided with various online resources in a structured learning format. Each level contains the objectives delivered through articles, labs and tutorials.

References

1 Learning styles, Wikipedia, Sept 15, 2019

SQL Workshops – Opensource Microsoft project used as inspiration and formatting.

How to use Markdown for writing Docs (Docs.Microsoft) – Microsoft Docs Markdown reference

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