8 Steps to Accomplish Your 2017 Learning Goals
It's a brand new year, and many of us are looking for ways to upgrade our skills. Several of my past students were changing careers or trying to upgrade skills in particular areas. Their general approach was always this: Attend a course, understand the exam objectives, and then pass this test. This approach, although very logical, may be a bit oversimplified. So what do you really need to accomplish your professional goals for the new year?
You need a learning plan, that's what, and below is my 8-step approach:
1. Clearly Define Your Goal
In Dr. Stephen R. Covey's words: "Begin with the end in mind." Which Microsoft certification are you going for? Which CompTIA certifications do you want to earn? Exactly which job skills do you need to brush up on so you can ask for that raise? Document these. Utilize our website in order to understand which exams you must pass in order to achieve the desired certification.
2. Understand Certification Paths
Certain exams pull content from certain courses, so make sure you're attending the courses that map to the exams you're going to attempt. And check our schedule to ensure those courses are available when you have the opportunity to attend them.
3. Create a Schedule
Create a schedule based on when the courses are offered, when your employer can make time available, and when your personal life allows your attention to be focused. Make certain your schedule is realistic. Remember there are several training modalities (ways of taking classes): Virtual Instructor-led, Mentored Learning, and Traditional Classroom Instructor-Led.
4. Respect the Exam
Be aware that it's not enough to attend a class, then take a test. You need to dedicate time to memorizing terms and understanding concepts. You should also get comfortable with any specific hands-on configurations, and you should thoroughly research anything you don't understand.
5. Get Organized
Organize your resources. This typically includes courseware, study guides, vendor web sites, blogs, Quizlet and more. I recommend a 3-5 subject spiral notebook dedicated to your particular goal. I currently have three of these going: one for Linux topics, one for programming/development work and one for adult learning/teaching improvements. A notebook gives you a place to centralize your materials, notes, resources, etc. I'm old fashioned, so I use pen-and-paper methods, but other folks will prefer some sort of digital method. As long as it works for you, it's a good system!
6. Set a Routine
Break your learning plan down into manageable chunks so you don't feel overwhelmed. Set up a daily or weekly routine. Adults have productive times of the day - use those. For me it's early mornings. So get up early every Saturday morning, for example, and dedicate 2-3 hours to your studies. Make it a routine, and make sure you're family knows this is your time.
7. Schedule Your Exam
Nothing motivates like spending money! Sign up for the exam on a particular date. Now you're accountable and you better be ready by that date. This is a great motivator.
8. Lean on New Horizons
No one expects you to know this process. Create a plan based on the above steps, then ask a New Horizons Account Executive or an instructor to review your plan and offer suggestions. Remember, we do this for a living. Feel free to send your potential learning plan to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is important to learn how to learn, especially if you've been out of school for a while. A learning plan can be a significant contributor to your overall success. Give it a try!
If you’re a current or past student of ours, we welcome your feedback on your class experience. What additional tips do you have for your fellow classmates? Drop us a comment below—we would love to hear from you. See you in class!
Author: Damon Garn, Technical Instructor
MCT, MCSA, MCITP:SA, MCSE:S, ITIL, Linux+/LPIC-1, Security+, Network+, A+
Damon has nearly 16 years of experience as a classroom and online instructor, specializing in Windows Server and Linux courses. He is an experienced admin who enjoys empowering students with knowledge and ideas. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and playing guitar.
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