The range of Red Hat courses is impressive. Red Hat provides course material on a wide range of topics from deep-diving into low-level Linux practices, such as performance tuning, through cloud computing up to digital transformation path with Kubernetes, strong automation, and much more with the Red Hat Learning Subscription.
In this post, we'll explore how to make the most of the benefits you can get from the Red Hat Learning platform. If you are looking at how to get every last ounce of knowledge out of Red Hat, you’ve come to the right place.
Phase I. Planning
Getting a clear idea of your goals, and the path towards your goals, is the first step. In this section, you’ll get an idea of what you can do before even contacting Red Hat to optimize your learning, and getting an idea what the path to success is for you.
Choosing a Red Hat specialization
When you get access to the Red Hat Learning Platform, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of courses you can take. Start by analyzing what courses you are interested in. Learn about the certification paths you can take, and explore the whole curriculum. Alternatively, you can browse all the courses and certifications Red Hat offers.
When choosing your courses, think about the future you want to achieve. A DevOps engineer needs a different set of skills than an integration developer. Another good indication for a course selection is technology that your company or organization is already using. That way, you can immediately put your newly gained skills to use.
Choose course(s) you’ll finish within the next year.
Analyze whether it’s likely you’ll have the time to dedicate to your learning.
Analyze the purpose of the technologies, and align that with your interests or aspirations.
Mastering the basics
There are a number of topics we won’t spend too much time on due to time constraints. We will explore just two: networking and databases.
Networking is highly important for both the System Administrator and DevOps paths. Without the knowledge of networking, you will have a difficult time understanding the reasoning behind some configuration and settings. As bare minimum, brush up on subnetting, packet routing, firewall, VLAN and NAT concepts. The more you know of networking, the better.
For the developer path that Red Hat learning offers, make sure to delve into databases. While networking is still very useful to know, databases will likely be a large part of the job for most Java-focused developers.
It’s useful to understand the concepts of joins, primary and foreign keys, unions, constraints, normalization, and generally to be familiar with SQL. Be comfortable with backing up and restoring a database using command line. A useful skill is also to quickly spin up databases in containers or VMs so that you can practice and quickly prototype ideas in your development environment.
Note that there is some overlap, for example an integration engineer would use more of their networking knowledge, and a DevOps engineer absolutely must understand the basics of databases as well.
Additionally, some might say storage is another skill set that should be included here. You may find lack of storage knowledge an obstacle in the real world, when using Red Hat technology. Keep storage in mind as well, and dedicate some time to it if possible.
Analyze the outline and outcomes of courses you have chosen. Ensure you have sufficient knowledge so that you can focus on the course and not be slowed by missing the prerequisite knowledge.
Phase II. Implementation
At this point, you’ve chosen your path, you have a clear vision of where you want to go, and you are reasonably confident you’ll be able to understand the course materials. In this section, you’ll get an idea of how to optimize your learning speed and retention.
Managing Time and Energy
Whether you choose to learn in a class with an instructor, on-line as a self-paced learner, or via virtual training, ensure you have enough time and energy to focus on the content. The courses are often demanding of your attention, and contain a number of hands-on exercises.
If there are events competing for your attention, such as an ongoing release you’re responsible for, you’ll have a hard time focusing.
Dedicating certain time and place to the training, especially if you make a habit out of it, is the key to learning quickly and efficiently.
Make a schedule for your learning. Dedicating at least an hour or two to studying per session would be ideal.
Ensure your scheduled time is as distraction-free as possible.
Make your learning sessions recurring.
Training beyond the Course
Learning new skills is a complex, multi-layered process where you build on top of the previous lessons and information. The theoretical information is the foundation for forming a deeper understanding. Then, you acquire practical skills by implementing what you learned and understood in the theoretical part.
You can get both with Red Hat Learning, neatly pre-packaged and ready to go. If you want to maximize your learning, however, you should implement these concepts and knowledge outside of the lab environment, on your own. You will run into issues you did not encounter in the labs, and learn crucial skills, such as troubleshooting and debugging the technology.
Do not think of this process as a one-way street, however. Feel free to go back to either concepts or labs, and re-explore the content you've already covered with a new perspective.
For example, how did the labs solve a problem you were seeing in your environment? How exactly should it work? See whether the source code for course applications is available on the Red Hat Training Github page. If so, deploy the applications in your environment as well.
If you require more theoretical information on concepts, again, do not hesitate to bring outside materials into your learning. Curiosity can help you form deep, new connections.
Check the Github page for source code of applications used in courses.
Re-implement every lab exercise outside of the course environment.
If your course has an exam, analyze the exam objectives for some additional ideas of what you can do outside of the lab environment.
Phase III. Review
When you finish a course, the last thing you want to think is that you’re done with the subject. In this section, we explore what you can do to continue with enhancing your understanding of the materials even after completing the course.
Teaching and Asking
Teaching is an interesting way to learn more about the subject. It forces you to consolidate your thoughts, and form well thought-out materials in order to get your point across. However, even answering questions can count as teaching.
You’d be amazed how much you can learn from answering questions. You might encounter questions you would not have thought of yourself. Answering questions like this may give you more insight into the topic, and help promote deeper learning.
On the other hand, asking questions is equally important. Red Hat instructors, consultants, and course creators often monitor the Red Hat Learning Community for questions from learners. You can both ask and help in answering questions with us.
Join the Red Hat Learning Community and say hello.
Browse Stack Overflow tags for the technology you’ve learned.
If possible, organize a lunch and learn at your work, and teach your coworkers.
Continuing and Validating your Knowledge
The easiest way to deepen your knowledge is to continue with a course that builds on top of it. Red Hat often provides a number of related courses, such as Automation with Ansible (DO047), Advanced Automation (DO448), and Automation with Ansible and Ansible Tower (DO410). After taking all of the courses, there’s unlikely to be many Ansible-related problems that could surprise you.
Getting certified is then another way of solidifying your knowledge. Red Hat certification thoroughly tests knowledge of any given topic, and helps to uncover gaps in your understanding. While the certification exams do not aim to teach, you can certainly learn a lot from them.
Analyze whether your course has any follow-up or pre-requisite courses.
Analyze whether your course, or it’s follow-up course, leads to a certification.
Following the steps above is one of the more optimal paths of gaining deep knowledge in the Linux world. Whether you want to learn the internals of Linux, embrace the DevOps technologies, or learn how to develop and deploy microservices, the Red Hat Learning Subscription is probably the easiest way to achieve all of the above. And, if you choose to pursue the certifications, it’s also a great way to become a Red Hat Certified Architect.
If you have any questions, feel free to come to the Red Hat Learning Community and ask us for help. We’re happy to help with your learning path, or evaluation of courses. We are, after all, stronger together.