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Kalen Delaney

Did You Know: What’s a SQL Server Education Worth?

My latest SQL Server Magazine commentary discussed the fact that many people are reluctant to spend money for technical education. You can read it here:
http://www.sqlmag.com/Articles/ArticleID/102670/102670.html?Ad=1

In that commentary, I could only mention peripherally that I have a vested interest in the topic, as I primarily make my living from training. Yes, I also do some writing, but that doesn’t actually pay the bills.  Due to my husband’s stroke, I have had to cut back my travelling to no more than once a month, but so far, the few classes I have been organizing have continued to be successful. I am grateful to my training partners and all my students for their support. For the last few months, that one week was all the time I was comfortable taking. However, my husband is improving, and I can see a time coming in the not too distant future where I’ll be able to do more than the one week a month of work. However, I really don’t want to fly away from home, so I have finally rented a real office where I can start doing work away from home, but not too far away. It’s actually less than a 10 minute drive from my house but being out of the house will allow me to focus on work, and not on whatever else is going on at home.

I’ll be starting to plan some online training. My first foray into this area which be free, through 24 Hours of PASS, which I blogged about 2 weeks ago.  But I can’t continue to do just free training. There is still a mortgage to pay, and kids to feed and send to college.  And although my one class a month is ok for now, I need to start doing more. So, how can I make this work, if people are really so reluctant to spend money for training? I may be doing some online seminars through some of my training partners, which I’m no where near ready to talk about yet, but right now, that will only be an occasional occurrence. 

I’ll certainly post here as plans start firm up, but I am also interested in ideas. With all the free technical info available through whitepapers and ebooks, free webcasts, and BLOGS, what kind of training do you think people would be willing to pay for in order in order to gain a deeper understanding of the way SQL Server really works?

Or, if I’m not able to be on the road 2-3 weeks a month,  should I look for a new job and forget about training and writing?

I’d love to hear any ideas that anyone feels like sharing.

Thanks!

~Kalen

Published Thursday, August 27, 2009 8:29 PM by Kalen Delaney
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Jonathan Kehayias said:

Definately don't look for another job and forget about training.  I still have hopes of being able to attend one of your classes at some point in the future.

August 28, 2009 12:12 AM
 

Brent Ozar said:

I'd echo Jonathan's comments.  Just as you can't travel, a lot of us can't travel for training either, but we'd love to attend one of your classes.  I can see paying for one of your webcasts in a heartbeat!

As to what kind of knowledge I'd pay to hear, I think there's a select group of people that would make me drop what I'm doing and listen no matter what they're talking about.  You're in that group.  If there's something technical you care enough to present about, I'm going to find it interesting and useful, period.

August 28, 2009 7:47 AM
 

Lee Moody said:

I prefer the online training.  I like it because you can watch the videos when you have time and you don’t have to miss work so my employer doesn’t bark.  Videos are also more affordable, which is nice if you have to pay for your own training.  I have used two types of online training the 10 min topic oriented course (tutorial) and the multi-hour training videos, both of which I found useful.

Try making some online video training courses at a good price point and market to the masses.

August 28, 2009 7:51 AM
 

Jimmy May said:

I’ve always thought short-sighted to be parsimonious about training—whether as an individual or as an employer.

My skill set, my income, & my life have been vastly improved by investing in my own intellectual capital.  I began my geekly career in an entry-level help desk position about a dozen years ago.  It’s interesting to look where my colleagues are now with whom I started compared to my career progression.  The big difference is my enthusiasm—including my willingness to invest big bucks—my own hard-earned money—in training.

I’ve spoken about this at my local Windows user group & during the Indianapolis ITT commencement keynote last year:  http://blogs.msdn.com/jimmymay/archive/2008/09/21/commencement-keynote-itt-technical-institute-indianapolis-9-20-2008.aspx

I’ve never understood employers who don’t appreciate the value of training.  As Zig Ziglar said, “The only thing worse than training employees and having them leave is not training employees and having them stay.”

Likewise, I’ve never understood individuals who are reticent about investing in their own training.

Kalen, your webinars were the first I ever attended.  Lo these many years ago YOU taught me how to use Profiler.  Your training is superlative.  Your articles in SQL Mag are the first I turn to.  I thought your video was great, & I not only bought my own copy but did so for several members of my team.  Where would any of us be without Inside SQL Server / Internals?  I’ll put my money where my mouth is.  Whether you renew your video series or provide webinars, I’m in.

August 28, 2009 11:17 AM
 

WI-DBA said:

Please do not stop your training sessions, I got approval for your week long class early next year and have 2008 Internals sitting right next to me.  Everyone who I met in the field that has been at your class has had nothing but glowing recommendations. Not to mention, I think you have inspired several women in the field, which is a great thing.

Maybe you do an online conference with a couple of your cohorts.  

August 28, 2009 2:21 PM
 

Adam Machanic said:

WI-DBA, why wait until next year? You can take the class in October if you like :-)

http://bostonsqltraining.com

August 28, 2009 3:06 PM
 

WI-DBA said:

Adam - but then I would have to travel into Patriots country during football season... (its a bit easier to get approval when no travel expenses are involved)...

August 28, 2009 4:25 PM
 

Rakhi Bhatia said:

Online training rocks. While training is invaluable, budgets are tight. Plus when you add up the training costs + travel costs + soft costs from loss of man-hours, it adds up. Online training is the way to go. If I could sit at my office desk and attend a course I'm sure that would be an easier sell to my boss.

My 2 cents..

August 31, 2009 9:24 AM
 

Lara Rubbelke said:

I just had a customer ask (again) when your next set of DVDs would be released.  He still declares the first DVD as the best training ever.  This particular customer is in a very small town far from a major city where your class would be held.  His travel budget has never been good, and is worse in recent months.  I think online courses would reach a new audience in the smaller communities and in the states where you don't currently teach.  

August 31, 2009 4:50 PM
 

Phil Brammer said:

Don't give up training!  I haven't yet attended one of your courses.  ;)

August 31, 2009 5:42 PM
 

Tony O'Grady said:

Has anyone considered a model where training is delivered over the web on a long term basis, I am talking months to years here. I would like the opportunity to sign up to a program where you get material each month, in the form of webcasts, papers etc. You get the ability to ask a limited number of questions each month and the program builds your knowledge month by month over time. There could be real value here as unlike all the free stuff on the web, which although excellent can be a bit sporadic which in my opinion is the big downfall of free training. An approach where you tell a DBA start from here, learn this, then this, use this to build on that etc. could be really valuable.

September 1, 2009 6:03 AM
 

dan said:

Personally, I have begun doing training/buying consultancy via webcam and Office Live Meeting.

It allows me to share a problem that I am working on from my laptop VM's and for the trainer to demonstrate at their end, or run through a training presentation/demos.

This is a great way of "getting over the hump" on a project or task which is going to take some time - investing for one on one time from an industry leader, even a few hours, is the best investment you can make, and mutually good for kudos and travel free.

September 1, 2009 8:17 AM
 

Smitha Reddy said:

Hi Kalen,

I've attended your class and loved it.  I also remember a comment you had made about how you wished you could teach the same content over a longer duration - kind of like a college course so you wouldn't have to deliver so much information in five (not-so-short!) days.  The problem with the 9-5, 5-days a week class is that it is a lot of information to take in and not enough time to digest it all... so maybe you had it right and can try a longer term online course in which you can teach a couple of hours a week, even include optional assignments, etc.  You could run maybe two (or more) such classes in parallel so if a student has trouble being there on a Tuesday, he/she can make up by attending the same session on a Friday(?).  You could offer a session geared towards experts, or those with intermediate experience...  lots of permutations & combinations. :)  But for someone who is as good an educator as you are - I'd request that you not stop teaching altogether. Sincerely, Smitha

September 1, 2009 8:27 AM
 

burt_king@yahoo.com said:

The same thread I see now I've seen for years in this field.  Yes, employers want us to be able to support the latest and greatest.  And no, there isn't money in the budget.  

For me, this means just bucking up and purchasing my own materials and hammering through it over time.  I personally use books (a lot), the Microsoft learning web site has an excellent section allowing access into the line or Microsoft press books.  And there is one site out there offering video training I've used for around $100 per course.  

Personally I spend minimally $300 up to perhaps $1000 per year on training.  I'd love to sit in on your week long course, but, well, the money isn't in the budget.  

September 1, 2009 9:11 AM
 

RichB said:

Hi

I have attended one of your courses, very educational - and been a fan of your books for a while.

However I do find most courses - yours included - tend to get quite in depth theoretical (obviously good) but often seem to bypass realworld application (not so great).  They often also seem to spend a lot of time on relatively basic stuff.

Some more 'hardcore' sessions in practical dba'age, and wide open QA sessions where people can toss out things for discussion might be popular?   Certainly would for me :)

September 2, 2009 11:42 AM
 

Vickey said:

Hi Kalen,

I've always been a fan of SQL Internals series and all your courses. I just will not be able to make it to your sessions in person, but am surely willing to shell out money for any online training & would prefer if there is an archive of your previous presentations rather than a 'Live' training session.

Thanks

September 4, 2009 12:15 PM
 

Mike said:

Your Training is damn expensive & nothing that great .... I would rather prefer buying a good SQL book & learn it myself.

September 8, 2009 8:13 AM
 

Kalen Delaney said:

Hi Mike

Without your last name, I can't tell when you took a class from me. Was it recently? Yes, my classes cost more than a standard Microsoft course, which can sometimes be taught by people who have hardly used the product. My live class costs about twice as much, but many students have said it's the best class they ever had, and they learned 10 times as much as in a standard MS course.

I understand that everybody has a different learning style. Some people need a live instructor to point out what the critical features are, and explain the trickiest parts and answer questions, and then use books and whitepapers for reminders and further reference.

If you can learn solely from a book, that's great! But in that case, you are not in the target group I was addressing in this post. I was interested in getting ideas from all those other people who are interest in getting training from me.

Thanks

Kalen

September 8, 2009 1:08 PM
 

D.T. said:

Have you looked into the SSWUG.org Virtual Conferences?  I have no idea how much presenters are paid, but me and a co-worker signed up for those last year, and it was about all the training our company was willing to spring for :-Z.  It was online, so we were on our own to watch the presentations we were interested in, but the topics were in line with what we were trying to learn.  There were some really great topics and presenters.

It doesn't cost a significant amount for attendees (actually, it's TINY for a conference fee), but I would *guess* that because there's no physical limit to how many people can sign up, that the opportunity exists for a massive number of participants.

I thought of that immediately when I read your post.  I'll say a prayer for your husband's improvement.

September 14, 2009 2:19 PM
 

Kalen Delaney said:

Hi D.T.

Yes, I was scheduled to speak for the SSWUG conference last April. But the way Stephen works it is that the speaker have to fly to his location to record their session and I was supposed to fly out right after my husband's stroke, so I had to cancel.  So it's still travel for me and travel is what I am trying to avoid.

Thanks

Kalen

September 14, 2009 4:39 PM

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