What Makes the Best Reference Material

By Craig Jensen

What is the best material to use when you want to learn a new topic within development or IT? If you are an experienced developer or IT pro, what is the best reference material to use? These questions come up often, and typically developers and IT pros look at reference material and training material as coming from two different sources.

In my opinion, you need robust learning material that can first be used as training and subsequently as reference material. Generally if someone needs to learn a skill (like how to effectively manage a project), a programming language (like C# or JavaScript), or a technology (like SharePoint or SQL Server), they will look for learning material that is focused on that specific subject. Many will look for "courses" on the topic thinking that is all they need. Effective developers and IT pros will instead look for "solutions" that will give them the best approach to solving their issue both in learning the subject from beginning to advanced and for reference material later.

Great reference material...

  • Is very searchable, including the ability to easily filter and find the needed material quickly.
  • Is built with short learning bytes so the user can learn it fast and get back to work.
  • Fits different learning styles.
  • Is practical and thorough.

Great training material has many of the same attributes...

  • Is well-organized, taking the learner from intro level concepts to advanced development.
  • Includes varied learning resources that will work well for different learning styles - learning visually, plus learning by doing, listening and reading. Many people learn best from different learning modalities.
  • Includes labs and "try-it-outs" so a person can practice and reinforce what he or she has learned.

Once you have learned your new skill, language, or technology, you are not done learning. You will continue to learn on-the-job and through trial and error. And sometimes you'll encounter issues where you don't know or can't remember what to do. When reference material is needed to solve a problem, what do you look for? Ideally it is best for developers and IT pros to find training material that also can function as easy-to-use reference material, such as...

  • Providing a strong search/filter system so you can find what you need quickly. There is nothing worse than needing a quick answer on how to do something and then spending hours searching for that answer. You need to find it fast, learn it fast, and get on with your life.
  • Being concise to best address your specific issue quickly. You don't want to listen to someone blab on and on in a training video who never gets to the point. You need specific, practical advice-not training where the ego of the instructor gets in the way.
  • Training material that covers multiple learning modalities: read, listen, watch, do.

LearnNowOnline training has been designed to be excellent resource for both training and reference material, including:

  • Resources that will support all learning modalities: video training, ebooks/courseware, sample code, hands-on labs, and "try-it-outs."
  • The best search/filter system to help you to access what you need quickly and easily.
  • Videos built in 5-10 minute nuggets so you can learn exactly what you need fast.
  • Content that is thorough, deep and comprehensive, written and presented by the best experts in that technology.

If you need learning resources for SharePoint, Visual Studio, SQL Server, JavaScript, PMP or other Developer and IT Pro technologies, I invite you to check out LearnNowOnline for yourself and experience a solution that provides both excellent training AND reference material.

Craig Jensen

Craig Jensen is the President and CEO of LearnNowOnline. Craig has led the company’s change from instructor-led classroom training, to self-study CD/DVD training, to the award winning online learning solutions offered today. Craig is passionate about helping individuals and businesses of all sizes solve their problems through practical learning and technology. He is involved in setting direction for the company, including selecting training content for development with resources to support all learning styles. He is also involved in The CEO Roundtable organization in the Twin Cities as well as the Minnesota High Tech organization. In his spare time, Craig loves to travel, golf, and partake in water sports of all kinds.

This blog entry was originally posted August 06, 2014 by Craig Jensen