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Thread: Learning is never a waste of time

  1. #1
    Nick Guest

    Learning is never a waste of time


    Interesting how negatively most people have reacted to certification. I think
    programmers should look at learning as opposed to certification, and should
    also look at skills versus talent.

    In my own experience, I learn in two ways:

    The first way of learning is "on the job". That's the most fun way of learning,
    because there's usually a clearly defined goal in mind. For example, a few
    months ago I needed to put an ad rotator on a website, so I found code examples,
    read up a bit on ASP and got it working. Only problem is I've completely
    forgotten how to do it. Isn't that the case with most things we do as programmers
    working with transient technologies ?

    The second way I learn is by studying for certification. It has no immediate
    use but it does give me a broader understanding of vendor specific technologies.
    It certainly doesn't make me a better programmer, it just gives me a "bigger
    picture".

    Employers should decide what they're looking for in a prospective hire. Experience,
    skills and certification do not equate to talent. However, if an employer
    is looking for someone with knowledge about a specific product/technology
    then it's likely they'll feel more comfortable with someone whose knowledge
    has been measured. Talent and problem solving abilities are WAY more difficult
    to measure.

    Programmers who deride certification are quick to say "nothing beats experience",
    but what does experience mean if you've done the same old thing for 20 years
    ? There are LOTS of COBOL programmers in our company that have done precisely
    that.

    The bottom line is, studying is time consuming and hard work that usually
    consumes personal time if you're going to do it without braindumps, Transcenders
    and so on - not everyone's cup of tea.

  2. #2
    Bob Guest

    Re: Learning is never a waste of time

    Nick,

    Learning can indeed be a waste of time. For example, back in the days of the
    WOSA exams, I was forced to learn something about IBM and LU-6 or whatever
    it was, to recite certain characteristics of levels of ODBC driver
    certification, etc. For me, and 99% of the people who took those exams,
    those items did absolutely nothing to help us see any bigger picture, become
    better developers, etc. It was learned for the exam and promptly forgotten.

    Bob

  3. #3
    Tracy Barlow Guest

    Re: Learning is never a waste of time


    "Nick" <coetzeenick@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >
    >Interesting how negatively most people have reacted to certification. I

    think
    >programmers should look at learning as opposed to certification, and should
    >also look at skills versus talent.
    >
    >In my own experience, I learn in two ways:
    >
    >The first way of learning is "on the job". That's the most fun way of learning,
    >because there's usually a clearly defined goal in mind. For example, a few
    >months ago I needed to put an ad rotator on a website, so I found code

    examples,
    >read up a bit on ASP and got it working. Only problem is I've completely
    >forgotten how to do it. Isn't that the case with most things we do as programmers
    >working with transient technologies ?
    >
    >The second way I learn is by studying for certification. It has no immediate
    >use but it does give me a broader understanding of vendor specific technologies.
    >It certainly doesn't make me a better programmer, it just gives me a "bigger
    >picture".
    >
    >Employers should decide what they're looking for in a prospective hire.

    Experience,
    >skills and certification do not equate to talent. However, if an employer
    >is looking for someone with knowledge about a specific product/technology
    >then it's likely they'll feel more comfortable with someone whose knowledge
    >has been measured. Talent and problem solving abilities are WAY more difficult
    >to measure.
    >
    >Programmers who deride certification are quick to say "nothing beats experience",
    >but what does experience mean if you've done the same old thing for 20 years
    >? There are LOTS of COBOL programmers in our company that have done precisely
    >that.
    >
    >The bottom line is, studying is time consuming and hard work that usually
    >consumes personal time if you're going to do it without braindumps, Transcenders
    >and so on - not everyone's cup of tea.


    I have been in the IT industry for 22 years, I've programmed in Basic on
    DEC PDP 11/70s, COBOL on WANGs, Assembler, C, Pascal, Layout, and Visual
    Basic on PCs, in DOS, WIN 3.1, Win95 through to Win 2000, I 've written an
    application to aid in the design of Speaker Cabinets (my first real Program),
    software for Financial systems, Inventory Systems, Billing Systems, Accounts
    payable/Receivable and a Patient Database system for a hospital, I've developed
    web sites, stand alone systems, Client Server and nTier systems. To be able
    to have done these things takes many hours of study.

    I hold NO vendor specific certification, and NEVER will, I believe them to
    be a waste of my time, and the cost benifit ratio is definately on the side
    of cost. In fact, if a prospective client requires that I sit a test on my
    knowledge of say VB or SQL server I refuse, in my opinion they are not looking
    for my skills.

    It is possible to learn a great deal more about the specific technology by
    buying a $100 book than it is to spend the often thousands of dollars on
    the coursework and exams that these vendor specific certificates require.
    It seems to me that these certificate exist for one reason, and that is to
    provide the vendor with additional income.

    Yes I believe that nothing beats experience. But what do we mean by experience?
    Does 20 years of doing the same thing really count as experience? Isn't this
    just doing things by rote? Experience is more than just doing the same thing
    over and over again.

    Real experience is about whether or not one is able to generalise from the
    specific. For example a number of years ago when Word perfect was the word
    processor of choice, I was asked by a friend what to do in Word for windows
    (I had not used word at the time, I was working in DOS and used Word Perfect)
    but I was able to very quickly show my friend how to do the things they wanted
    to do, I had generalised word processors from a specific instance of a word
    processor. This is what I believe real experience is about. Like Nick, if
    I was asked to place a rotator on a web page I too would look up an example
    or consult the help files, but experience tells me that someone else has
    already done this, so why should I reinvent the wheel, I don't need to know
    how to do this.

    I believe that vendor specific certification is designed to benifit the vendor,
    I believe also that employers who fixate on vendor certification live to
    regret the decision, or at least don't achieve what they hoped to achieve.
    On the other hand an Industry sponsored certification system would, I believe,
    benefit the industry greatly. It would I believe help to ensure that programmers
    had at least a basic understnding of the skills that are needed. But it will
    always be experience that counts.

    Barlow

  4. #4
    Tracy Barlow Guest

    Re: Learning is never a waste of time


    "Tracy Barlow" <tracy@aic.net.au> wrote:
    >



    I wrote

    >I hold NO vendor specific certification, and NEVER will,


    As someone once said, never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

    Actually I do have one vendor specific certification, in the ehat of the
    moment I forgot I have it. I WILL however NEVER sit for any others.

    Barlow

  5. #5
    Phil Weber Guest

    Re: Learning is never a waste of time

    > It is possible to learn a great deal more about the specific tech-
    > nology by buying a $100 book than it is to spend the often dollars
    > thousands of on the coursework and exams that these vendor-
    > specific certificates require.


    Tracy: I obtained my MCSD certification without spending one dollar on
    courseware (or exams, as it turned out, because I took the beta exams, which
    were offered free of charge). If you really know the technology in which
    you're being certified, it's possible to pass the exams without having to
    pay for training.
    ---
    Phil Weber



  6. #6
    Tracy Barlow Guest

    Re: Learning is never a waste of time


    "Mark Hurd" <markhurd@ozemail.com.au> wrote:
    >"Phil Weber" <pweber @ fawcette.com> wrote in message
    >news:3bfadea4$1@147.208.176.211...
    >><snip>
    >> Tracy: I obtained my MCSD certification without spending one dollar on
    >> courseware (or exams, as it turned out, because I took the beta exams,

    which
    >> were offered free of charge). If you really know the technology in which
    >> you're being certified, it's possible to pass the exams without having

    to
    >> pay for training.
    >> ---
    >> Phil Weber

    >
    >Yes. I found this out about two years ago. The reason why you don't find

    this
    >out too easily, at least here in Australia, is that the exams are run by

    the
    >3rd party training companies.
    >
    >
    >Regards,
    >Mark Hurd, B.Sc.(Ma.) (Hons.)
    >
    >


    I was not aware that is was possible to sit these certifications for free,
    but then I haven't bothered to try to find out. But no I think I will not
    bother.

    Barlow

  7. #7
    Mark Hurd Guest

    Re: Learning is never a waste of time

    "Phil Weber" <pweber @ fawcette.com> wrote in message
    news:3bfadea4$1@147.208.176.211...
    ><snip>
    > Tracy: I obtained my MCSD certification without spending one dollar on
    > courseware (or exams, as it turned out, because I took the beta exams, which
    > were offered free of charge). If you really know the technology in which
    > you're being certified, it's possible to pass the exams without having to
    > pay for training.
    > ---
    > Phil Weber


    Yes. I found this out about two years ago. The reason why you don't find this
    out too easily, at least here in Australia, is that the exams are run by the
    3rd party training companies.


    Regards,
    Mark Hurd, B.Sc.(Ma.) (Hons.)



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