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Cloud skills development: online, instructor-led, or a blend?

Eric Pulsifer
Eric Pulsifer

When it comes to tech skills development and cloud training for your workforce, there are a lot of options out there for learning and development teams to consider.

How do you choose?

Picking the right approach to skills development

If your team is spread across the globe in different time zones, you may want asynchronous online learning resources that employees can access 24/7, on their own timetables.

Other advantages of self-service cloud learning include:

  • The ability for employees to work at their own pace. Some may grasp new concepts quickly, while others need more time. 
  • On-demand access to sandbox and lab environments for hands-on practice without the risk of accidental cloud bills.
  • Opportunities to explore technology beyond day-to-day job requirements.

A common dilemma

In the past, internal subject matter experts often ran workshops or provided mentoring to colleagues. Peer-to-peer training seemed cost-efficient, and many engineers said it was their favorite way to learn. With the tech talent shortage, however, the calculus has changed. Organizations need all hands on deck to work on mission-critical technical projects; they can’t spare their SMEs to lead training activities. 

This has resulted in two trends: increased investment in self-service learning resources and more engagement of external subject matter experts to provide real-time support. For example, organizations are engaging outside SMEs to:

  • Give employees an outlet for asking questions about concepts and getting help when stuck.
  • Tailor learning to specific use cases or projects.
  • Help newer-to-career employees come up to speed more quickly.
  • Provide opportunities for teams to practice skills together and get feedback. 

Weighing the costs and benefits

Five years ago, organizations tended to compare self-service learning against instructor-led training, as if they were mutually exclusive. Today, learning and development leaders are asking a broader set of questions:

  • What is the financial risk if the project is late and/or unsuccessful? This often influences learning program design. If a project is too important to fail, organizations typically invest in blended learning (self-service plus instructor support) to make sure employees are extra prepared.
  • What is the timetable? If learners need new skills by a specific date for an upcoming project, L&D tends to favor blended approaches with instructor support to make sure employees can apply their new learning to your specific use cases.
  • What is the profile of the learners? People who are newer to their roles (either new-to-career or career changers) may need more guidance than an engineer with 10 years of experience.
  • What training modalities do your learners prefer? The answer to this differs by employer and is worth considering when selecting learning resources. 
  • Do you have unusual use cases or an uncommon technology stack? If yes, employees may need additional help to connect the dots between their new learning and what they’ll be doing on the job.

What about free online training?

There’s a fair amount of (dubious) free training available online. Why not rely on this? This is often low quality, out of date, or just a marketing pitch. Given the importance of talent transformation in achieving the expected returns from investments in cloud computing, relying on free training is expensive if you value your time.

Learn by doing

Whatever route you select for cloud learning — online resources, instructor-led training or a blend — best practice calls for extensive hands-on application. You can’t learn cloud technology by sitting in a lecture or completing quizzes. Learners need to be able to roll up their sleeves and immerse themselves in practice. 

With A Cloud Guru, your people get access to engaging hands-on content delivered exactly when and where learners need it. We also offer tools to help businesses curate, measure, and scale skills development. And if you need to reskill larger groups and want instructor support to supplement or wrap around A Cloud Guru resources, we’ve got you covered there, too.

Ready to get started? Check out our ACG for Business plans to see which is right for your organization.


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CloudCheckr used ACG to level up their entire sales staff on AWS in just 90 days. See how they did it.

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