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Some thoughts on Self Study

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by neutralhills, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. neutralhills

    neutralhills Kilobyte Poster

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    This came up in a separate thread, but since I keep seeing posts from people who say, "I can't self-study!", I wanted to offer my thoughts on the issue.

    I can't self study!

    Yes, you can. You probably just don't know how. Worst case scenario: you've gotten used to people handing things to you rather than having to retrieve things for yourself. It's a tough habit to break, but it can be done.

    Self studying is cost-effective

    Most of my knowledge has been gained through self-study and self-practice on home networks, and on equipment graciously provided by employers. The few courses I've actually sat have been prerequisites for certifications (e.g. Train the Trainer) or were provided gratis by companies seeking publicity in the form of a positive review. If I had paid for a course for each exam I have sat over the years, I would be in the hole over $50,000 USD.

    The ability to self-study makes you competitive in the workplace

    Has anyone looked at the economy lately? General Motors is probably going bankrupt, as is Chrysler. Companies are shutting down left and right (e.g. Linens n' Things). Those companies that weather the oncoming global recession will be the ones who cut back on frivolous expenses.

    Now.

    If you have two employees, and one says, "I can take over as Exchange Admin, but I need a $1500 course" and the other says "lemme buy a book and give me a month, okay?", which one do you think the employer will make the Exchange Admin if the two are equal in all other respects? If you can't self-study you're going to get your arse kicked out of the job marketplace by those who can because employers can't afford you any longer.

    What to do if you truly can't self-study because of some cognitive deficit

    Find a career other than IT. Really.

    Look, not everyone can do everything, and there's no shame in that. No amount of desire and well-intentioned thinking will get a blind person to the point where they can fly a passenger airliner or drive a taxi.

    I've got some health issues that make it impossible for me to do telephone support. If I can't actually see the computer in front of me and fiddle with it, I can't fix it. That's just the way my brain works and I've not found any method of working around it. So I'm precluded from doing phone support. Rather than trying anyhow, I stay out of the way of people who can do it and probably find it rewarding.

    The bottom line is that if you can't -- or won't -- self study, you simply won't be able to compete in the job marketplace with those who can. They can gain more skills than you with less outlay, and that makes them the better bet for employers. It's either change your habits or change careers.
     
    Certifications: Lots.
    WIP: Upgrading MS certs
  2. obsolete

    obsolete Bit Poster

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    True. What if your cognitive deficiency prevents you from not finding any career? I don't want to sound bad, but there's a possibility that a person not meant to be good at anything that is more career-oriented. Take for example, most jobs require good communication and writing. If a person is not good at it and that's whom they are, then there's nothing they can do about it. Also most jobs are judgemental on a person as well. Take for example, most jobs don't tell you what you did wrong or what you need to improve on. Also, in interviews, they don't tell you want qualities they like about you. If a person not aware of their weak qualities, how you expert them to improve on them? They will fall in those bad habits on each interview and NEVER get a job. I reside in the US and 25. I recently diagnosed for a learning disability at my 2-year community college. They tell me ways that I can improve. Instead, they just give you more time and provide other services such as using a tape recorder or someone take notes for you. Now, if a student uses a tape recorder in class but didn't provide documentation of a learning disability to the professor, the professor won't allow the student use a tape recorder in class. I asked many professors and it's school policy. But shouldn't students find different ways to boost their learning? By doing this, you are hindering students capabilities. I always thought something was wrong even when I was in elementary, but the school didn't listen and I had difficulties during my years in the public education system. Spending time everyday over an hour with teachers on material that most students able to understand. I noticed that the teachers are very frustrated. But I feel very frustrated as well. As soon as I got into college, everything changes. Teachers rarely have time to spend with students due to the hectic schedule. Also, tutors are limited to a few courses and not for every course. Now, I don't have luxury in spending time for extra assistance. I'm all alone on my own and not prepared to take these vigorious college courses. Instead of the public education trying to find ways for me to improve, they let it slide. I wonder if society wants me to fail. Society messes up a lots of individuals but they blame the individual instead. Anyhow, my intake on the world not making sense at all. But by all means, sprout your wisdom. Some people are inspired and enjoys the advice.
     
  3. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    If I could rep this post twice, I would.
     
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  4. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    While I agree with some of what's been said, I do not agree with all. Playing Devils advocate...

    Some people just don't want to and some people do alot better in a class or group environment. There are 5 ways of learning

    1. Verbal (geared up more towards people that prefer class/group based lessons)
    2. Visual
    3. Tactile
    4. Kinesthetic &
    5. Aural (geared up more towards people that prefer self-study based lessons)

    Most people are a combination of 2 or more of the above. Plus people do go thru different phases of learning during their lives.

    Not all the time, there are alot of factors to consider:

    1. If you have the equipment to begin with
    2. Not all certifications can be done via the self study route (VMWare for example)
    3. How many time it take to pass/fail the exam, eg the voucher cost for a MS exam is about £88, however the cost of the voucher in conjuction with a course done at a college which does MS courses is alot cheaper.
    4. Where & who you take the course with, eg courses in London will be more expensive (in general) than the same course, say, in the Midlands. Also there are the costs of the private training providers vs local colleges that get subsidised funding for their courses.

    Be careful with this one, else you will find that the company does/will not invest in you - whether it is in time or money. The training budget will be allocated to other people in other depts while you are expected to self study in your own time. While in short bursts it is ok, I can tell you over 5 years of doing this while watching other people in other depts getting money to traing and develop, it's not a good feeling. Luckily this does not happen with me and the IT Dept at our current place, that much... And besides investing in staff to get the best out of them for the business is not what I would consider as a frivolous expense.

    Again while I agree with some of this, you can't generalise the whole IT industry with that sweeping statement. That statement is mixing the person's ability to do the job well with the way a person learns.

    I'm a very technical person, just take a look at my profile. Yet I can't stand the Data/MIS side of IT, I do not want to self study something I'm not interested in, nor waste my time on trying to understand something I really do not want to learn. So I go on a course to teach me what I need to know, when something goes wrong, presto, I can do it. I've learnt something new and the company has someone who can work on the MIS system when needs must.

    What I am saying is that everyone is different, you can't group everyone into 1 nice pile and expect everyone to do and learn the same way. We would not progress otherwise.

    -Ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  5. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    I sympathize with your problem... but it's not everyone else's responsibility to find ways to help you improve - it is YOUR responsibility. That's life. It may seem rough and callous, but nobody's going to hold your hand out there. Companies are going to hire people who perservere and overcome on their own, regardless of disability.

    NOW is the time for you to try to overcome your difficulties, DESPITE not getting assistance. And don't let anyone tell you that you CAN'T, because you CAN.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  6. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    It's a bit different in the UK. Over here you can request feedback after the interview, plus more and more companies are bringing in yearly appraisals. These appraisals are a two way thing 1. To let the employers tell you of any things that need attention as well as the good and 2. For you to let the employers knows of any issues, etc...

    As for your college education, doesn't the US have a vocational education route like the UK/EU? Something like the NVQ program that in certain fields/sectors goes up to Master's degree level.

    -Ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
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  7. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    In my experience, it's the same over here.

    Not... really... at least, it doesn't look like anything we've got over here.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  8. neutralhills

    neutralhills Kilobyte Poster

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    Obsolete,

    I'm a diagnosed schizophrenic. I have weird thoughts, hear voices, have problems working in groups with other people, and have to take mind-numbing drugs for all of the aforementioned. This has been my life since 1994. I've had to learn some tricks to cope for those cases where not taking classroom training was not an option. It was a condition of my employment so I had to.

    It was frustrating, but I had to re-learn to do things I could do easily before the illness hit. Many of the things I'm doing now I was told that I wouldn't be able to by the "experts", so don't get too worried by whatever labels they stick on you.

    The bottom line is that as an employee, either I add value to a business or I don't. I've had to find ways to work around my illness so I can add value. I don't want or expect an employer to make concessions for me to work for them. I have my pride, too.

    The point of the original post was that self directed learners are the better value proposition for employers when it comes to working in IT.
     
    Certifications: Lots.
    WIP: Upgrading MS certs
  9. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Not sure how it is now, but I remember that junior colleges used to offer support for students who had learning disabilities. Also, not all jobs are created equal which means that not all require strong skill sets in communication. You say below that you don't have time for extra assistance, but if your future depends on it, could you rearrange your schedule to make time for it?

    My son David is 22 years old. When he was five, he was diagnosed with various learning disabilities and ADHD. He tests out with higher than average intelligence, but the learning disabilities kept getting in the way. He didn't learn to read at his age level until just before high school and he still doesn't like to read. He's a Lance Cpl in the Marine Corp, married, with a baby on the way. I don't think he's sure of what he's going to do after the Marines, but he did find that he can be good at things.

    As an interesting side note, his wife has started buying books and is reading with him. I used to do this with him when he was a kid. We worked out way through the entire Chronicles of Narnia series together.

    I agree that different people have different learning styles and that learning for you, might take a different path than learning for other people. It's sad, but the American education system is set up to teach on the lecture model, but many students don't learn well that way. As far as I know, I don't have learning "disabilities" but I learn a lot better when I can see something in action. Telling me how it works does nothing for me. My partner at work is even "worse". She literally needs to see my computer screen and watch my actions before she understands how I've performed a certain task, such as navigating a SharePoint site to get to a particular folder.

    If I were you, I'd find a counselor or adviser at your school and see if they would advocate for you to use alternative methods of learning such as recording a class. I don't understand why that's an issue frankly, since I recall students regularly taping classes both in undergraduate and graduate school.

    My son David has a twin brother. They aren't identical and in fact, are about as different as two brothers can be. When they started going to school, David was very aware that Michael had a much easier time reading than he did, and it just about tore him apart. He knew he "should" be able to read, but no matter how much effort he put into it, the gains came very slowly. Unlike a lot of kids in his situation, he refused to give up and even when I would try to help him with the words he was reading, he's slug me (he was 5 at the time) and tell me he wanted to do it himself. It's tough to feel different, be different, and have people treat you differently.

    Bummer about not having tutors for every course. The last time I was in school, I had to take a math class. I could have taken the "bonehead" math class, but my basic math skills are quite good and I thought I could handle algebra. I was wrong. While I'm fairly good in other areas such as writing, I suck at Algebra. My son Michael was much better (he excels at math) and he was in junior high or high school at the time. I got a tutor, plus had a friend who's good at math tutor me. I spent extra time in the teacher's office and studied my "arse" off (well, not literally). I needed to pass the class to graduate and barely managed a "D". I was happy to get it and my other grades being quite good, it barely "dinged" my GPA.

    Long story short, even with lots of help, sometimes things are hard. I'll never be good at math (now I managed to learn how to subnet is a miracle), but there are other things I'm good at. There'll be other things my son David will be good at. The same is true for you.

    Society doesn't have it in for you for one simple reason...you are only one person. "Society" as a body doesn't have any more awareness of you than it does of me or anybody else. Yes, the educational system could be better, but (amazingly enough), it's still one of the better educational systems on the planet. Unfortunately, it's no more geared to educate people with your learning issues is than General Motors is geared to build a good, fuel efficient car.

    I know what it's like to try to learn and be frustrated. My algebra class experience is a perfect example. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, but regardless of how much time and effort I put into learning, getting down the basic concepts was like pulling teeth. By the final exam, I could barely "feel" myself starting to finally understand some of the material that had previously escaped me. If I could have taken algebra in "slow motion" rather than conforming to a standard university semester, I might have been able to get it.

    I've actually considered "self studying" algebra, just because I hate the thought of the subject getting me down, but there's only so much time in a day and I've got so many other things I need to be doing. I wish I could be more helpful and encouraging, but each of us is unique and ultimately, we find our own path.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  10. delorean

    delorean Megabyte Poster

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    As the (unfortunate) owner of a Chrysler motor car, I can safely say I can not wait until they go out of business in the hopes that they are forgotten or replaced by a company that actually knows how to design and produce a quality car.

    Additionally I hope they are replaced by a company that makes cars that do more than 5 centimetres per gallon (that goes un-xenophobically for all US car manufacturers) and without the suspension equivalent of a marshmallow.

    Pulling my post back on topic, rep firmly and respectfully given. :wub
     
    Certifications: A+, MCP 70-270, 70-290, 70-291
    WIP: 70-680, S+, MCSA, MCSE, CCNA
  11. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Theres many quotes about success and failure.

    "It's how you deal with failure that determines how you achieve success."
    Feherty, David

    Many people are really successful and crumble at the first sign of failure, they haven't experienced it before and can't cope. Others get used to failure and fear success.

    One thing is certain we will all fail at some point. Trips has it spot on, everybodies different, I'm not good with communication, maybe if I work at it I can be average.

    We live in a competative world, that generally means finding stuff you can do well and making the best of it. We've got great artists, sports people, actors, musicians because many of them decided they didn't fit into the standard system.

    Competition isn't always necessary, sometimes if you enjoy something thats reason enough, I for example play guitar badly ! :oops:

    I was in remedial english for a long time, I think my english is ok now. Later I fortunately found most other classes not too bad, at points I got a little lazy and in A-level math I started to struggle, these other people in the class found it so easy and I wondered why I couldn't breeze through it at breakneck pace like them.

    Well first thing is they probably did put more work in than I could see, like a duck paddling under water, while I slacked off a little too much. Second thing was, one guy went on to become a cambridge don, there was probably no way I was going to be able to compete !

    Since then like trip I've tried self studying small bits of math, I read books and I'm now doing an OU math course. I figure I'm definitely not a mathematician, more of an engineer but even engineers need a little math ! :D
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  12. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    In Steven Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the first habit boils down to saying "I can" rather than "I can't". Going a little bit more specifically, a person needs to identify what is and isn't in his or her locus of control. Chances are, we have "control" over more of what goes on in our lives than we think. Once we identify what we do have control over, it's a matter of exercising that control. We may not have control over something someone does to disappoint us (like turning us down for a job), but we do have control over how we react to it, what we take away from the experience, and how we proceed after the disappointment.

    By the way, this is a really great book and I highly recommend it. For those of you who aren't into reading, I think it's available on tape (or CD by now). Try your local library if you can't afford a copy or try buying a used copy.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  13. delorean

    delorean Megabyte Poster

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    Tripwire, that book jogged my memory of one I listened to on CD a while ago called The Now Habit which was very interesting if a bit overwhelmingly heavy on 'Quack Speak'.
     
    Certifications: A+, MCP 70-270, 70-290, 70-291
    WIP: 70-680, S+, MCSA, MCSE, CCNA
  14. Markyboyt

    Markyboyt Kilobyte Poster

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    I know very little about learning difficulties so i'll comment on this instead :lol:

    delorean, with all the symptoms you list I would diagnose you with a requirement to switch to a German car manufacturer of which there are now a few making very good, very nice cars (except the awful Mercedes) :lol:
     
    WIP: A+

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