Over the years, I have taken (and given) a lot of training.
I’ve had self-paced tutorials (printed and electronic), in-person lectures, hand-on labs, small groups, formal classes, one-on-one tutoring, and virtual instructor led training (VILT).
I’ve seen two distinct types of VILT – good and bad. I have yet to see any “ok” training. It’s either great or horrid.
Some initial thoughts on this class:
(this class was excellent, btw – only matched by the HP Operations Orchestration 7.0 training I took 3.5 years ago shortly after the product had been renamed post-acquisition of Opsware by HP)
- Our instructors, Steve & Rebecca, did a fantastic job both in playing off each other, alternating to keep the class interested, and presenting the material
- Labs are always problematic – some folks are fast, others slow; some have issues, others none
- Team / partner labs are even more problematic – making sure that both partners are learning in the process and neither is outstripping the other
- Formal organization is good – ability to change based on class needs / interests is better
- Engaging the class with humor, “relevant” Q&A, and other interaction is vital
- Learning your [randomly-assigned] partner’s strengths, weaknesses, background, and expectations is important as early as possible
Other pros that should be taken and applied to all classes:
- Clear learning objectives – stated and repeated throughout
- Labs which directly connect with the lessons
- Labs which logically build upon one another
- Team labs that are still workable by an individual if there is no available partner
- To the point slides and lectures
- Few enough slides in each lecture to keep our attention
- Few enough lectures between labs to be able to apply what we have just covered
- Presenter/Lecturer/Teacher with appropriate knowledge of the material being presented
- Remember what it’s like to not know the material
Cons from this class (which I think are true of all VILT classes):
- Keeping attention on the lectures is entirely up to the student – it can be easy to get distracted, especially if taking the class from home (this also applied to telecommuting – a topic for another time)
- Lab time is given on an as-needed basis … so once most of the class has gotten it done, a timer is set (eg 10 minutes)
- For those in the class who finish rapidly, this can give a great opportunity to study, get work done, or goof off
- For those having issues and/or who work more methodically etc, it can artificially limit their efforts
- Because of the semi-random nature of lab length, some days can run long and others short
Characteristics of bad VILT classes I have attended:
- Unclear objectives – if any
- Overly-long presentations
- Unrelated labs
- Long separation from lecture to lab
- Too much lab, too little lecture
- Too much lecture, too little lab
- Presenter with poor / non-existent knowledge of material (ie, read from slide only)
- Broken labs (often related to poor product base, over-subscribed lab, etc)
- Inflexibility with regards to lab and lecture start/end times
I really liked the vSphere ICM class – I learned a lot, and finally saw what I knew connected in an organized way that brought into focus my extant knowledge and helped me apply it in more useful ways in the future. Personally, I cannot recommend the trainers higher – Steve and Rebecca did a fantastic job, and I think we were fortunate to have good trainers: it made the material far more fun to learn, helped keep our focus, and made the whole week a positive experience.
Given the opportunity, I think all system administrators and system integrators should take a class like this one – even if virtualization is not in play: seeing the concepts, understanding the architecture, and learning how to design a virtualized environment will carry-over well to other arenas in the IT world.
My lab partner is a DBA for Yahoo – never saw virtualization before, hasn’t been a sysadmin, etc: but seeing how the environment works, how to build it, and how to apply architecture to systemic thinking helped open his eyes a bit to the world beyond data … and, I think, will make him a better DBA.