I attended and helped at SQLSaturday Cambridge between 27-28 September 2013. The event was held at Queens College, Cambridge. This was a great location in the heart of Cambridge with the mathematical bridge for inspiration.
The pre-conference Training Day was excellent with Buck Woody. His session was all about learning to learn and providing the tools to do that. A few key steps were suggested in the session to aid in learning a new topic. These are:-
• Create a learning resource map, a self-syllabus
• Create a mind map – a map of what to learn (nouns and verbs, references )
• Create an ontology – an outline of a table of contents
• Create a plan with objectives, with small achievable steps as maintaining learning for the duration of the study is difficult
• Use a note taking tool such as evernote / onenote
• Create a lab and scenario
• Develop a test
This quote sums learning up "What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." - Henry David Thoreau
We all have various different learning styles and understanding which type of learner you are between auditory, visual and kinaesthetic can help. There are a couple of sites that have questionnaires
http://sunburst.usd.edu/~bwjames/tut/learning-style/ and http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html
There are many other tools and techniques that were mentioned in the session to assist with learning new technologies. The current Microsoft Certification levels are shared at www.tinyurl.com/mgwuq8z
The Microsoft Virtual Labs are useful for immersion in a virtual hands-on lab and allow experience the product first hand.
The SQLSaturday Cambridge Community Day saw for the first time a shared day between SQL Server and SharePoint. An excellent combination as the use of SharePoint is still increasing and integrated heavily with SQL Server.
The keynote was delivered by Buck Woody on what is big data. An interesting article mentioned during this was, What's Your Big Data Score?
There were many interesting sessions on Sharepoint, Data Explorer, Azure, PDW and Hadoop. One very enjoyable and informative session was delivered by Carmel Gunn which showed the power of shared data sets using PowerPivot, Power Query, Power View and Power Map to gain insight on the Irish Economic Crisis.
I also had the opportunity to run several PhD Research Study Groups. Anyone interesting in participating further in my research can take part in the online focus group discussions on this forum http://sqltoolkit.freeforums.net/ . There are 10 questions on best practices and procedures.
More details on the research can be found at http://sqltoolkit.co.uk/focusgroup.htm