I spend a lot of time learning new skills and new technologies. After learning something new, my first reactions are to apply it that knowledge and to share that knowledge. When I was a consultant, I spent more time applying knowledge; generally, I was learning things that I needed to do my job, such as a technology that fit my current project.
Today, I am a Technical Evangelist and I spend more time passing on that knowledge to others.
I have found the following to be the most useful ways to pass on the knowledge I've learned: blog posts; technical presentations at user groups and conferences; screen casts; and hands-on labs.
Each of these media tend to appeal to different groups. There are a number of software developers, for example, who read blogs every day but never attend a code camp or user group. There are also different learning styles: some people learn more by reading; others by seeing it done; still others by doing it for themselves. (For me, a combination of all three works best).
Knowing that these different audiences exist has given me permission to package the same information into a variety of formats.
For example, for the past few months, I've developed and delivered a presentation on Azure Mobile Services. The presentation lasts about 90 minutes, which is perfect for a user group. I can cut it down to 60 or 75 minutes for a conference time slot.
Many people who saw this presentation told me they like the content because it covers all the basic features of Mobile Services and explains why they are important.
A few weeks ago, I had some extra time so I decided to commit to a adding more technical content to my blog. I was struggling to come up with ideas when I thought of the Mobile Services presentation. As often as I gave this presentation, only a few hundred people had seen it due to the fact that people had to travel to a user group or conference on a specific date and time to catch it.
I decided to transcribe the contents of my presentation into a series of blog posts. So far, I've written 9 different blog posts and I still haven't covered all the material in the 90-minute presentation. Writing blog posts makes the content available to people who prefer written material over in-person delivery; and it also makes it available to a much larger audience - you don't need to travel to where I'm speaking in order to learn what I am teaching. (I’ve linked to the posts at the end of the article)
After a couple weeks of blog posts, I scheduled a hands-on workshop at a large university in order to show students how to use Mobile Services. I decided to start the workshop by delivering my presentation. Afterwards, I wanted the students to try the technology themselves, so I wrote a set of Hands-On labs with step-by-step instructions for creating and configuring Azure Mobile Services. The labs were similar to some of the blog posts I had already written but I re-wrote them with a different audience and a different goal in mind - The blog posts could simply be read; but with the labs, I was expecting the reader to follow along, so I had to make each step as explicit as possible. You can download the current version of these labs at https://github.com/DavidGiard/Azure-Mobile-Services-Labs.
I haven't yet decided if I'll record a set of screencasts showing developers how to manage Azure Mobile Services, but doing so would not involve a huge amount of time, since I already have most of the script written (from either the blog posts or the labs).
I'm not sure what is my next step - expanding the labs, continuing the blog post series, or creating screencasts. Of course, there are other demands on my time that will keep me from doing all of the above.
My point is that I don't see any problem repackaging the same content in multiple formats. Different people learn in different ways, so it's a great way to scale your knowledge transfer. If you are in the business of educating people, I'd love to hear your opinion. Is it cheating to repackage the same content? Or is it effective use of time and good scaling of delivery?
Azure Mobile Services Blog Posts (so far)
- Azure Mobile Services, Part 1- Overview
- Azure Mobile Service, Part 2- Creating a New Mobile Service
- Azure Mobile Service, Part 3- “Create an App” wizard
- Azure Mobile Service, Part 4- Exploring the Sample Client Universal App
- Azure Mobile Service, Part 5- Permissions
- Azure Mobile Service, Part 6- Single-Sign-On
- Azure Mobile Service, Part 7- Push Notifications
- Azure Mobile Service, Part 8- Creating and Publishing a .NET Mobile Service
- Azure Mobile Service, Part 9- Exploring a .NET Mobile Service