I see the "What's your learning style?" question posed on social media from time to time, mostly from people in the SQL Server community. I rarely think about it, but I've been giving it some thought lately. In my completely unscientific estimation, when people in technical fields discuss their preferred style, the runaway top responses are learning by doing and learning by studying.
When I learn by doing, it's usually a time sensitive situation. Something is broken, needs to be fixed, and the customer is waiting, for example. When I learn by studying, I can struggle without a real world scenario to apply it to. Neither learning style by itself feels like a great way to learn.
The hybrid approach is the big winner for me: learn something first by reading about it, and then apply that to a real world situation. This of course only works if you study ahead of time, even when there may be no immediate return on your investment. It's here that I want to espouse the pursuit of certifications. I'm sure many of you have seen the infamous Dilbert cartoon about certifications. There's some truth to it. But when the real world problems arrive, they're a lot easier to tackle with some certification knowledge in hand.
It's been nearly two years since I earned a certification, but I'm trying to get back on the path. I've got an exam scheduled for this week. As always, I'm nervous and cautiously optimistic. Hopefully I'll have some good news to pass along soon. And maybe another blog post about the experience.