Judging by the countless number of discussions that are taking place in the Spiceworks community at any given time, there's no shortage of new things that IT professionals can learn. Tapping into the wisdom of the tech-savvy crowd that gathers there, the company today officially launched Spiceworks Learn, a new crowdsourced learning environment, at its annual Spiceworld conference here in Austin, Texas today.
Last year, the helpdesk and network monitoring specialist debuted Daily Challenges that help IT workers sharpen their skills while waiting in line for coffee or during those rare moments when there aren't fires to put out. Building on the success of the Daily Challenge feature on the Spiceworks website and mobile app, the company is pushing beyond a quick 30-second burst of learning to 30-minute chunks of engaging instruction that can help small business IT professionals upgrade their skillsets and potentially help them climb the career ladder.
Why 30 minutes?
On average, IT professionals spend 6.5 each per week learning about new technologies and gaining new skills. But good luck getting it done in a couple of sittings. Due to the demands on their time, they can only devote 30 to 40 minutes at a time and prefer learning material that is easy to digest.
Trusted IT Knowledge
Granted, there's no shortage of IT learning resources online, including several reputable ones, acknowledges Marta Kelsey, product marketer at Spiceworks. However, Spiceworks Learn satisfies the one requirement that small businesses in particular value above practically all others: trust.
"A huge thing we heard in the research [we conducted] is that whenever people are learning things they don't know what resources to trust," Kelsey told Small Business Computing. "Spiceworks has built a trusted brand where IT pros are able to share their past experiences."
Essentially, there's good chance that many Spiceworks members have been there, done that. Better yet, they aren't keeping it to themselves. Many have shared their knowledge on how to master a new technology implementation, ensure a smooth software deployment or solve thorny networking issues.
Besides putting the trust issues of small business IT professionals to rest, Spiceworks also worked hard on a user-friendly experience that makes it easy to dive into tech topics.
To start, those topics include cloud computing, networking, virtualization and storage and backup. Kelsey anticipates that the networking topic will be the most popular given the sheer wealth of networking-related material on Spiceworks along with its status as a foundational enabling technology that often bedevils novices and veterans alike.
Spiceworks Learning users earn badges as they progress and can track their progress at any time. Already know your way around an ethernet switch or hypervisor? No problem, the learning platform's intelligent skills-matching capabilities guide users to more advanced or related lessons that can help round out their skillsets without reliving a well-worn past.
In the end, users can be assured that their learning is based on the hard-earned lessons from in-the-field practitioners, not a product manual.
Spiceworks Learn "exists for IT pros to come to learn from each other," Kelsey said. "It's really a platform that we've built to enable them to help each other."