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What's your preferred study method?

By stretch | Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 6:05 a.m. UTC

I've been considering producing my own commercial training materials, and would like to get a better idea of what medium most people prefer to use. In the poll here I've listed the four methods I think are most common.

Text books - Includes any study guides or reference material in dead-tree format.

Self-paced videos - Prerecorded videos of training presentations (assume this covers audio-only recordings as well).

Virtual classroom - Live classes held virtually.

Physical classroom - Live classes held at a physical location.

If you have another you'd like to add please mention it in the comments below. Note that I'm only looking for actual training materials here; it is assumed that, like any networker worth his paycheck, you're labbing out whatever you're studying as well.

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May 14, 2009 at 6:14 a.m. UTC

Commercial Training! Sounds interesting mate. CCNP or CCIE ( R & S ) or non-cisco?

May 14, 2009 at 6:36 a.m. UTC

I like a physical classroom. Although I also use text books, videos, forums and a home lab to give myself a well rounded learning environment. I home lab may also be considered a physical classroom by some.

May 14, 2009 at 7:46 a.m. UTC

e-books, e-guides (univercd, articles, cisco.com, PEC, electronic instructor kits, wiki, blog posts, etc) most information in electronic(preferably searchable) variant, rarely hard copies.

May 14, 2009 at 8:19 a.m. UTC

are u going with CCIE SP also.

shivlu jain

May 14, 2009 at 8:42 a.m. UTC

I love and think nothing beats home study, so books and videos are a must.

Patrick Barber
May 14, 2009 at 9:16 a.m. UTC

A combination of all of the above is usual for myself...but prefered is selfpaced of some description either books or videos

Tim Walsh
May 14, 2009 at 10:50 a.m. UTC

I prefer classroom training purely from the opportunity to ask clarifying questions on the material. I'm realistic however and most of my study is done using text books or on line materials and videos due to the cost of classroom instruction.

May 14, 2009 at 12:16 p.m. UTC

I've been using the Cisco Press books, and CBTNuggets/TrainSignal for studying. These seem to work okay, but often times I still have questions about what was mentioned in a video or what that paragraph in that book really meant. The videos are provided by work and I have a pretty small budget for studying, so classes are out for me unfortunately. So I've resorted to forums, which I've had varying levels of success.

I don't know how viable this approach would be, but perhaps videos + a subscription based forum with access to asking you specific questions would be awesome.

On the other hand, I think I speak for most of your readers when I say your writing style is unsurpassed to many other Cisco authors. So perhaps a book?

May 14, 2009 at 12:23 p.m. UTC

A combination of books and videos covering the same books chapter by chapter with reference is a good idea.

May 14, 2009 at 12:43 p.m. UTC

Stick with basics.... Books!!!!
An attached CD for practice would be even better (just like ciscopress) :)

May 14, 2009 at 1:19 p.m. UTC

There is a serious lack of audio study materials in the market right now. there is a good market for this type of study material. might be worth pursuit.

May 14, 2009 at 1:35 p.m. UTC

Practical show-and-tell videos are very helpful study aids. Also, I'd love an audio-only podcast (probably for the more theoretical stuff), would be excellent for my car commute. Haven't really come across any good ones of the latter kind.

May 14, 2009 at 1:39 p.m. UTC

I prefer learning on live customer networks... the bigger the better ... ha ha

May 14, 2009 at 1:45 p.m. UTC

I like and think physical classroom training is the best but it cost too much if company don't pay for the training. Self-paced videos is the second, reading book is boring and don't get to the see the real world setup and config running. You should do videos like Jeremy Cioara but more in deep.

May 14, 2009 at 2:10 p.m. UTC

All of the above with maybe virtual classroom coming in last.

Ive attended a few physical classrooms and at night I would always hit the text books hard.

Mark Lah
May 14, 2009 at 2:17 p.m. UTC

My primary source of learning is also a combo of books and self-paced videos (and of course blogs)...

May 14, 2009 at 2:28 p.m. UTC

If or when you do training I will be standing in line for it you have a great deal of information to share

Chris Burwell
May 14, 2009 at 2:36 p.m. UTC

I prefer a combination of books (Cisco Press, since I found that other books tend to lack in content) and video training. My employer also provides CBT training with virtual simulations. Self study is my preference, but I try to mix the content so that I don't get bored!

May 14, 2009 at 2:57 p.m. UTC

I like the knowledgnet style training with video,labs,progress exam and reading doc at your own pace with progress measurement.

May 14, 2009 at 5:35 p.m. UTC

Videos and books/study guides. My limited experience with classroom training has been largely negative, and I frankly can't see spending $200 less for webinar style training. I, of course, jump at the chance for work-provided classroom training, but that's largely a mythical beast akin to the unicorn, IME.

May 14, 2009 at 5:50 p.m. UTC

don't use dead ways of teaching. text books are good for content but not on delivery. videos/audio is useless because your attention span wont last more than 10 minutes, especially if video isn't at your pace. virtual classroom fails for the same reason. physical classes are the best bet for learning, which is why we all learned so much from college classes right? i couldn't tell you what we covered in my DataBase Administration class in college.

If you want to really make a name for yourself in training create a new method for content delivery. An interactive online self paced learning platform would make waves if you did it right.

It would be easy to make profit off of it aswell. For example first few chapters of CCNA exam training free, for the rest charge money. and the best part is that your audience would be people looking for technical information online.

May 14, 2009 at 6:32 p.m. UTC

I prefer classroom for the reason mentioned above, I like to ask follow-up questions. Realistically, that isn't practical with my schedule and budget, so most of my study is good old fashioned book learnin'. Audio would be fantastic. I have watched a fair amount of video, and it is great too, but audio would work on the commute...

As for a good video podcast, check out ciscohandsontraining.com. He's pretty good. I don't mean to be pimping your possible competition.

May 14, 2009 at 7:34 p.m. UTC

Physical classroom, supplemented with home study - preferably with 1 or 2 others from my class. I find it easy to get distracted during the virtual classes/videos.

May 14, 2009 at 8:34 p.m. UTC

I prefer electronic documentation that is easy search and reference.

I would also be very interested in some form of question and answer mechanism, be it email, blog, or the likes. This would provide a way for people to get the clarification on things from afar like they would in a class room environment.

I like the electronic formats as it brings things down closer to my price range. (I personally pay for things as my company does not have funding to do so.)

May 14, 2009 at 8:47 p.m. UTC

RFCs are the best way to cut the fluff and get what you need.

May 14, 2009 at 9:30 p.m. UTC

I prefer a mix of materials. I'm studying for my CCNP right now and enjoy the ability to read over the chapter, view a video walk through of the material, then go over the labs for that particular topic. But if I had to pick only one source, it would be the "dead tree format."

May 14, 2009 at 10:17 p.m. UTC

If you can pull off self paced video the way Jeremy Cioara does i'd buy your product.

May 14, 2009 at 10:39 p.m. UTC

I much prefer classroom training and getting "hands-on" experience

May 15, 2009 at 12:33 a.m. UTC

I second audio training. It would be sweet to put in a CD and listen while driving.

Peteris Krumins
May 15, 2009 at 12:56 a.m. UTC

Thanks for asking. My preferred study method is watching video lectures and taking notes.

Here is an example of how I studied algorithms by watching MIT Algorithm course and taking notes, then writing fourteen articles about them. Here is the first part:

MIT Algorithms, Part One - Analysis of Algorithms

Peteris Krumins

May 15, 2009 at 1:03 p.m. UTC

Video's with a classroom in a close second.

I love the videos as hearing the theory behind whats happening on screen is the best, but classroom as you can ask questions and rephrase things when required.

May 15, 2009 at 2:46 p.m. UTC

Physical classroom is my preferred method because it is easier to prevent distractions (read: specific time is assigned to learning) and there is the teacher is available to solve questions, or extend the content with personal experience. HOWEVER:

Sessions of 8 hours a day during a week are not as effective as 2-hour sessions during a month (or even longer). In this case, it is better to have a remote classroom. Most of the information, doesn't move from short-term memory to long-term memory, and eventually gets lost.

My vote goes for physical classroom, because audio and video is way better than remote classroom.

May 15, 2009 at 4:37 p.m. UTC

After taking a boot camp and realizing how stupid it is to take one and after all these years of doing self-study which encompassed all the above minus the physical classroom, hands down to everything above MINUS the physical class room. I'd consider class room training if it wasn't a boot camp.

May 17, 2009 at 3:46 a.m. UTC

I got throught the CCIE written by reading the book then watching Jeremy Ciora's videos for clarity and using the lab I built myself. I'd love to go to a class, just so I can ask questions, it just costs too much.

Peteris Krumins
May 18, 2009 at 12:56 a.m. UTC

Continuing what I said above, I think the best way to learn is watch like 10 lectures a day (takes around 15 hours with taking notes). I like getting a lot of information in me in short amount of time.

Krzysztof Wilczynski
May 18, 2009 at 4:13 p.m. UTC

Books for the theory and videos for "hands-on" i.e. plug this into this hole and the plug itself might look like this, etc etc. What also works very well is a re-cap section at the end of the chapter, plus something to practice.

May 18, 2009 at 8:43 p.m. UTC

I think it all depends on whether your company is paying or you are. If they are then Classroom, if you are, then cheap, which is usually just books.

May 18, 2009 at 8:49 p.m. UTC

i must preferred is Physical classroom and text book.

May 19, 2009 at 11:02 a.m. UTC

I prefer things like KnowledgeNet's old CBTs, especially since they came with student guides anyway (erego, textbooks). Some of the Cisco Press books are pretty good, like ones written by Pepelnjak (or however his name is spelled).

Classroom training is awesome, but it is a luxury few can afford, and I've had the opportunity to compare a QoS classroom training to the KnowledgeNet CBT, and the slides in KWNet are identical to the instructor's slides, and the student guides are the same. The difference is, when you're studying after the class, you have color / motion / sound, etc.

Mark Paquette
May 19, 2009 at 12:45 p.m. UTC

I might add, that COLOR study material is important. I always get pissed that you pay $$$ for a class and they can't even provide the material in color. It is virtually impossible to follow what's going on in a slide based on shades of gray.

May 20, 2009 at 12:22 p.m. UTC

I prefer to meditate on the content. aka osmosis.

May 20, 2009 at 4:45 p.m. UTC

practice questions , flash cards

May 22, 2009 at 1:42 a.m. UTC

I wish you success with this endeavor; as you do have one of the best independent blogs--anywhere! You're not only a great technologist, but you're an exceptional writer, with the astute ability to make the arcane understandable. I do hope to see you published in some format, and reaping the benefits. CiscoPress books are great, you just need to write a few of them; or do what Chris Bryant does, but in your way. As polished as this website is, and with your ancillary web skills I'm sure your delivery would immediately rival or surpass what he's done!

As far as preferences: Dead-tree format for command guides/lab workbooks; electronic format with highlighting/commenting ability for study guides; complete audio books of study guides, not verbatim but extensive summaries; and cbt videos.

May 24, 2009 at 8:01 p.m. UTC

I enjoy pre-recorded videos, since I normally have a wealth of text-based resources available. This gives me a different medium to study through. The downside is that pre-recorded videos tend to be pricey -- more than the cert exam I'm studying for -- so I usually don't buy them.

If you're going with a text book, some type of supplemental CD media would be a nice touch.

Mel Beckman
June 17, 2009 at 7:22 a.m. UTC

If you haven't checked out acm.org (Association of Computing Machinery), you should. A membership is just $200 for a year and they have loads of top notch Cisco (and other IT) training courses. You get live lab sessions with actual Cisco hardware in a first-rate network garden, accessed via multi-tabbed telnet sessions in a browser window. Phenomenal quality at an unbeatable price. You also get unlimited access to select Oreilly Safari Books Online content, plus back issues in perpetuity to all ACM research publications.

July 21, 2009 at 6:28 p.m. UTC

The best information i have found exactly here. Keep going Thank you

August 5, 2009 at 8:24 p.m. UTC

I am am venturing from the Windows side and starting the Network stuff. I find that BookVideosForums are good. But nothing can beat hands on. I have read a lot of info here on your site and i must admit it's Really good. Some of it is way over my head but, i do understand it (does that make sense?).

IMO opinion i think you should do a book and a video combo. you really know your shit and explain it really well and i thank you for having this site with all the info you have posted up here it has given me a leg up on my studies :)

wish i would have known about 3C2X1 when i joined back in the day got stuck as a 2w1x1

September 28, 2009 at 1:49 p.m. UTC

Don't you need permission to write Cisco commercial training?

September 28, 2009 at 3:50 p.m. UTC

@triton: Not in the free world, no.

March 21, 2010 at 8:06 p.m. UTC

Mobile Training!

Ex.. Iphone apps (video, audio, flashcards, etc...)

March 26, 2010 at 6:39 p.m. UTC

Self-paced videos personally... I love Jeremy from CBT nuggets

November 7, 2010 at 7:27 p.m. UTC

I stick with books and lab. I read to refresh and I do to really keep it in my mind.

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