Today I would like to talk about how to learn anything. Any kind of topic, especially in IT for the beginner. The first thing you have to do is whenever you want to learn a new topic, let’s say a new language, a new product, anything, you have to realize how you personally learn. A lot of people learn differently. Some people learn from books, some people learn from video, written content, that sort of thing.
I’ve came up with a few ways that somebody can get started learning a new concept. First, figure out the best way you learn. Now, by this point in your career, you probably already know this. You have probably already gone through a few different kinds of training or some learning material and have realized that you digest stuff better certain ways.
The first one is books. You can self-pace books. There’s a lot of different books out there for just about anything. For PowerShell, it would be Learn PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, my Pester Book, etc. There are all kinds of different PowerShell books, but really it doesn’t matter what the concept is.
If you’re a self-taught learner, you’ll enjoy books. Me personally, I can’t sit in front of an instructor or training course or anything like that. I’ll just get bored to tears. I have to constantly go back and forth and go all ADHD, and kind of gather all that information myself rather than having somebody feed it to me in a certain form. My brain goes all kinds of different directions and I have to follow it so I can understand these things more.
I could never go by a certain script or a certainly prescribed training regimen to do these things but some people can. This is why books are normally good for me because I flip through the pages, stop on one chapter for a while, code it up for a little bit and figure out what’s going on there, then maybe go to another chapter and that sort of thing.
The next one is online training courses. I do online training courses, too. However, I don’t go through them from zero to the end because I again have to flip around a little bit. Normally, the instructor talks a little too slow for me, I have to increase it two or three speed. But, this is another good one because I can flip around back and forth.
As for resources, there are a few out there, Pluralsight, obviously is a really good one. Udemy is another good one and Free Code Academy. There’s a lot of good online training sites. LinkedIn Learning is another good one.
The next one is instructor-led training courses. This is a good option if you tend to get distracted with work and do other things that aren’t necessarily good for your learning. If you’re doing online training courses or a book at work then you’re going to get caught up in the day-to-day fires and having to deal with everything else you normally deal with.
The instructor-led course is nice because you’re able to come off-site and truly focus just on your learning. Maybe you’ve got your phone out or your laptop out doing work, but you don’t necessarily have to do that. I would just cut off completely from work for a while to be able to fully embrace the learning. Instructor-led training courses are really good for that sort of thing so you can get out.
They’re bad for me because I can’t skip around. I can’t tell the instructor, “hey, can you go back to this one?” You can be an asshole in class. The instructor-led one is good just for the fact you’re going to get some good content, especially if you have a good instructor, and you’re off-site so you don’t have the excuse that you have to work. The downside is that you can’t skip around.
The next one is self-taught articles. What I mean by self-taught articles is you don’t follow a particular course or book, you tend to just kind of follow whatever comes at you. I found that whenever you’re a newbie at something, you tend to require more guidance because you don’t know, what you don’t know yet. You need to be introduced to all these concepts at first to get a kind of primer going, once you get that primer going then you can take that foundation on the knowledge you have and start an actual real project.
This is where I learn the most knowledge because I go all over the place and I solve a real-world problem. I feel it’s more rewarding because I can apply that knowledge directly to something I’m struggling with in real life. Let’s say that I have this process I need to automate at work and I want to learn Python or I want to learn PowerShell or I want to learn SCCM. It’s all about your problem.
Define your problem. Once you define your problem then you take that foundational knowledge that you have and just go off and do that. In a script, let’s say I need to grab AD users. Google, PowerShell get AD active directory users. Boom. An AD user will come up and then the active directory or will find out about the active directory module and so on. It builds upon itself that way. Once you do that over and over again, eventually what you’ll find is a real-life script that you can use every day. It’s very rewarding.
I think this is the best way I learn. To do that, just use a whole lot of Google and a whole lot of article viewing. Maybe you will get some snippets from a training course, a forum, or you may read a bunch of blog posts. It’s all about Googling and consuming information on that particular topic.
The real-world works best for me but if you’re just starting out, start with training courses and instructor-led training courses or perhaps a book. If you can get away from the work environment, do the instructor-led. Sit through it, get bored, if you have to consume it, work ahead. Once you get the foundational knowledge in place, then start on a small real-world project and go from there.
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