Gaining Knowledge - what’s the best way to do it?


NLI網站最近有一篇文章在討論到底如何學習知識是最好的方式,其實如人飲水冷暖自知。當然有錢上課最好,找個稱職的講師幫你消化整理絕對比自己矇著頭硬K來得有效率,但是也有些人是覺得寧願自修學習,因為也許本身功力已經到達一個水準,那時在教室中上課就會變成一種無聊的時間消耗。不過最後所談到的內容則是我個人目前努力的方向,透過Blog的形式來傳達我對各項課程的了解及額外教材的補充,希望可以讓學生更容易接納教材的內容,放眼望去國外有愈來愈多的講師/CCIE都朝這個方向努力(在我Blog右邊的blogroll現在已經成為我每天吸收新知最重要的集散地,其中更是不乏相當深入精闢的技術文章),希望我們台灣的網路先進們也可以共同努力,打造更容易的網路自我學習空間。


A few days after my “Knowledge or Recipes” post, Greg Ferro started his “Experience or Certifications” series with a radical “I would always choose certification over experience” approach that quickly moderated into “Knowledge is more fundamental than experience … but you need both”. It’s nice to see someone else thinking along the same lines as yourself :).

In his third post, he discusses various approaches to gaining the knowledge you need to pass a certification exam. It’s debatable whether the certification exams really test your knowledge or memorization of facts from the training materials (including all the errors in the materials), but let’s not go there. What attracted me in his post was the discussion of the methods you can use to study; one of my favorite not-so-technical topics in the last few years.

It’s absolutely true that the classroom training is not the best option for everyone. If you know too much, it can turn into an utterly boring experience (some of the worst time in my professional life was spent attending presentations where I was looking for the last 20% that I could not get anywhere else). If you aim above your knowledge level, you’ll just waste your time (I sometimes had students on an advanced OSPF course that attended ICND the week before … clearly a waste of time and money). But if you select the right course at the right time and get a good instructor that can answer your in-depth questions, the experience (and knowledge gain) can be invaluable.

Furthermore, the cognitive skills and the best method to absorb knowledge vary between students. Some like to read (myself included), some need aural input (listening to instructor or podcast), some need visual aids and diagrams, some learn best in an interactive questions-and-answers environment. If you prefer to read (and you read fast), classroom training might not be your best choice, but if you’re in any of the other groups, anything beats reading a textbook.

Obviously, the quality of the instructor and the course material is paramount to the added value you get from a training course. While it’s hard for a student to influence the quality of the course material (although we would all be delighted if bloggers would start commenting on what they get in the student guides), you can make an impact on the quality of the course delivery, as I’ve explained in the “Don’t despair, vote!” post published in Fragments, the official NIL blog.

Last but not least: if you’re attending a course as an individual aiming to pass a certification exam, you don’t have much choice, but if you’re a network manager that needs to get a group of engineers trained on specific topics, you should never stick to the standard vendor-developed certification courses. They always contain topics you don’t need and you usually you need more than one course to get the knowledge required in your network. The solution is customized training; you’ll find what we can do to help you in the “I want that course! … Sure, but do you NEED it?” post by Marjan Bradeško.

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