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One of my favorite clients: EOG Resources, asked me to create a custom 4 hour training class for five of their employees. I worked it up and delivered it yesterday. The audience seemed really pleased. But that is probably because they had a chance to catch some much needed zzzzzz’s.

The goal was to prepare some general technical people who don’t know a thing about databases/SQL Server and get them to the point where they can restore a database to a Test server, and write some queries so they can write some reports. So we entitled this class SQL101. Since the main goal was to have them effective at a basic level in just 4 hours, I organized the training in the following way:

  • Break it into 50 minute chunks to allow frequent breaks and side-bar Q and A so everyone can keep up. No SQL-Child Left Behind!
  • A few slides in PowerPoint to introduce a new topic and provide a little theory.
  • A demo where they watch me perform the task we just discussed.
  • A lab where they all do the same (with a twist) and I walk the class to provide assistance.
  • Rinse and Repeat as necessary for each topic within each of the 4 parts.

I felt that this format would engage different parts of the brain in cycles, cover the theory needed to understand what they need to do (but in spoon fed sizes), and have them walk out of the class having performed each piece. I thought that the end result will be that people will exit the class and feel, not only that they CAN do it, but they already DID do it. I wanted them to rush back to their desk aching to crank out some joins using their new found skills. Therefore, all examples, demos, and lab exercises used the two databases that they will be making reports against so they can become accustomed to how they are normalized and where the fields of interest are.

The class was very much engaged and learned very well. Of course, some had a little experience walking into the class, and they were always asking about the content that happens to be on the next slide. I did provide some extra credit exercises on some of my labs since I figured this might happen (there’s always one).

They reported absolutely loving the class. One week later, my contact at EOG told me what great feedback he received from the class and that he personally said it was the best technical training he has ever attended. I bet he’s never attended any other class and has nothing to compare it too. Nonetheless, he asked me to begin working up a SQL 201 class to pick up where we left off. I don’t think they’ll be ready for Windowing functions in TSQL, but there is a lot more we can cover. Maybe I’ll give away Itzik’s book to prep them for the SQL 301 class they’ll likely ask for.

Most of the content for the SQL101 class is too basic for a SQL Server Users Group presentation. However, I may break it into 4 separate hour long presentations and provide it to a .NET users Group or two. I’m not sure if and how this format will work though, since it is about 35% lab, requiring everyone to have the same example databases on their own laptop. Maybe I should get some SQLWatchmen branded USB thumb drives with the presentation slides, demo scripts and sample databases to hand out.