[Point of VIEW] How Do You Learn?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Today’s post is part of a series exploring areas of focus and innovation for NI software.

Shelley headshot.jpg


Today’s Featured Author

Shelley Gretlein is a self-proclaimed software geek and robot aficionado. As NI’s director of software marketing, you can find Shelley championing LabVIEW from keynote stages to user forums to elevator conversations. You can follow her on Twitter at @LadyLabVIEW.




The days of the droning instructor—whether in undergrad or executive education—are (thankfully) long gone. No one has the time or patience to learn new techniques and technologies the old way. 


The pace of technology is ridiculous, the Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding system complexity, and we’re all finding it hard to keep up. The facts are undeniable, you and your teams have more to learn in your field and have to learn beyond your field, too, if you really want to be competitive. Learning formats must be compatible with your lifestyle.


Thankfully there’s good news. Technology, investments, and management trends are in our favor. I’m seeing a rise in learning technologies and techniques from massive open online courses (MOOCs) at universities to in-product learning from customer education departments. But I’m also seeing innovation outside traditional spaces. Options like Connexions, TechShop, and Khan Academy are popping up everywhere.


The 70:20:10 Rule: Learning Is More Than the Classroom


We need to expand our definition of ‘training’ beyond the classroom to all forms of learning. The 70:20:10 rule reinforces this concept. Traditionally, "customer education" content lives in the 10% (formal learning). NI is also providing the 20% (social) heavily rooted in peer to peer (user groups, summits, developer days). We are evolving our portfolio to include more content that lives in the 70% (experiential learning). Learning spans tutorials to online modules, YouTube to code snippets, mentoring to code reviews, and seminars to white papers. Learning is popping up online, in cubes, and in-product.


One key learning enhancement in LabVIEW, shaped by the LabVIEW Community, first came in LabVIEW 2012 with the introduction of templates and sample projects. These recommended starting points are designed to ensure the quality and scalability of a system by demonstrating recommended architectures and illustrating best practices for documenting and organizing code. More than a conceptual illustration of how to use a low-level API or technology within LabVIEW, these open-source projects demonstrate how the code works and best practices for adding or modifying functionality, so you learn by doing.


But we aren’t stopping there, we have learning built into LabVIEW Communications Design Suite (the revolution in rapid prototyping for communications) to minimize design flow interruptions and encourage seamless learning. "Just-in-time" learning and access to learning material in product allows you to learn by doing—commonly referred to as "performance support." 




Overcoming the Access Hurdle


Regardless of the learning format you prefer, it’s clear to me that access is the key hurdle to overcome. If you know what you don’t know and can access the right training to learn what you need to learn—study upon study demonstrates you will be significantly more productive.




We are doing our part here as well. For the past several years, NI has included online training with most of our products as part of staying on active software service. This online format is optimized to fit your schedule while complementing other formats including live instructor-led virtual training, classroom training, and on-site custom courses. The online courses respect your time and your budget as Thomas Sumrak from PAR Technologies reported, “I estimate that the training courses have saved me more than 150 hours in self-paced learning time to get to an equivalent skill level.”


It’s All About Proficiency

As your intuition would tell you, learning, and more importantly—proficiency—really matters. Everyone knows someone who takes every corporate course available and doesn’t learn a thing. You have to learn, not just listen, for the investment to matter. When you do—it does. After becoming proficient (via certification), customers reported the following:


  • Over 54% said the quality of their work improved
  • Nearly 45% said their peers’ perceptions of them improved
  • Nearly 30% received new project opportunities

Take your learning into your own hands and take advantage of the many new resources available and suited to your learning preferences, time constraints, and budget needs. Don’t just check a box, but take the time to do, and cement your understanding through experience. It’s at your fingertips.


Identify the skills you need and find learning resources to help you successfully develop your application. Visit ni.com/training/learning-paths  or download the course catalog to review the training courses, certification exams, and proficiency events available in your area of interest.