How Much Can You Learn?

One of the things we’ve tried to do at SQLServerCentral is provide a way for SQL Server professionals to continue to learn more about the platform over time. Andy Warren and I have debated how to best do this over the years, and Andy has built a great presentation on Building a Professional Development Plan that I’d encourage you to watch or attend if you can.

One of the parts of any good plan is finding time to learn. While there are many ways in which to learn, many people seem to want an organized way of working through a particular topic. Books provide one method, while online courses such as those provided by Pluralsight are another.  There are also pre-cons at SQL Saturdays or other conferences, weeklong training classes, and other methods available. Which you choose might depend on how you best learn.

Any of these methods work, but all require some investment, both time and money. Setting aside the money for a minute, how much can you learn in a year if you use some on-demand method such as books or on-demand video. Is there some limit to what you can absorb and work with in any particular month or year?

I think there is. Certainly the amount you learn depends on how much you can practice and focus on a topic, as well as how closely the new skill is to your existing capabilities. The further you move away from an area you’re already comfortable with, the slower you may learn, and the greater investment to become competent in a new subject. Given that a month (or year) is a fixed amount of time, and we all have other responsibilities, how much can you actually learn and retain?

I used to think that a few months would build some competence, but I’m finding that after I learn for a few months, I really need a few months, or at least some time, of not learning, where I can practice and work with new skills I’ve been developing. I find that if I don’t take this time, too much of what I’ve learned becomes hard to remember, and even newer skills are hard to acquire.

Is it the same for you?

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

Listen to the MP3 Audio ( 3.1MB) podcast or subscribe to the feed at iTunes and LibSyn.

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