“I hear and I forget, I see and remember, I do and I understand.” 

This Confucian proverb may hold an important key in addressing today’s IT skills gap. According to the 2013 Gartner CIO Agenda Report, of the 2,053 CIOs surveyed, more than half reported shortages in talent relating to key digital technology skills, including enterprise architecture, business intelligence and analytics, security and risk management, and IT strategy and planning.

I’ve talked before about the importance of continued education for IT teams—for the health of the staff as well as the company’s bottom line. Today I want to highlight one key tool to help attendees make the most of their VMware training: hands-on learning.

Understanding the importance of practicing what you’re learning, we recently released VMware Lab Connect™. The self-paced technical training lab environment can be utilized on its own or as a follow on to an instructor-led class.









By providing a virtual-lab environment, including a true VM “console” for advanced users, that supports complex multi-VM configurations across almost all guest operating systems, VMware Lab Connect gives students a risk-free non-production setting to test out what they learn. If you get truly stuck, VMware can even help move you along to the next step. This is an especially good option if you’re seeking a VMware certification, since you can experiment and practice with VMware systems anytime and any place that’s convenient.

If you’re skeptical that an online lab can be as instructive is in-person learning, you might be interested in an informal study on the blog of the American Society for Training & Development. Ruth Colvin Clark, an instructional design specialist, tested how students running experiments in a virtual lab would compare to students working in a physical lab. Her findings?

  1. Students learned equal amounts from the virtual lab as the physical one.
  2. Students in both virtual and physical lab groups learned significantly more than students who only observed experiments.

Additionally, a recent study of 50 organizations that are using online simulations to deepen employee education found that experience-based learning does more than simply improve information retention. Respondents saw more engagement in learning, increasing confidence, reduced cost, and a better ability to apply learning to real-world situations.

The moral of this story, if it isn’t already clear, is that investing in continuing education for IT staff is the best way to keep your business on the cutting edge of innovation. And hands-on learning, like VMware Lab Connect™, should be an integral part of that education.

“We always know more than we can say
and will always say more than we can write down.” — Dave Snowden