Re-Imagining Learning in 2021 powered by Like-Minded Communities

Dinakaran Sankaranarayanan


Re-Imagining Learning in 2021 powered by Like-Minded Communities

I applied for the AWS Community Builders program for Serverless and I was selected to be part of the program. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised and super happy. To understand more about the program and the benefits, please have a look at this.

As part of the application process, I shared some of the blog posts and podcasts that I have done around AWS. I also shared my LinkedIn and Twitter profile along with answering few queries. I’m not sure what helped to get selected, so it could be a combination of everything I guess.

I will start sharing more interesting content around AWS over the next few months once I get onboarded into the program. Subscribe to my Master Of None newsletter or follow me on Twitter to get regular updates.

But in this post, I would like to focus on the idea of re-imagining learning in the 21st century powered by Like-minded communities.

Getting introduced to Like-Minded Communities

When I started with AWS around 2017 - 2018, I did not have any formal training. I started with AWS because there was free credit available and so I explored some parts of AWS out of my curiosity.

Luckily, at the same time, I had a chance to work on AWS as part of my professional work and initial exploration helped me to get started quickly. I enrolled on few courses on AWS to learn few services, but beyond that, I was not very sure where to go next.

The issue with enrolling in any new course or certification is that, once you are done with the process, either you get to apply them at work or do a small project leveraging the features to ensure the learning is validated properly. If not, most of the learning would quickly fade as a distant memory. The learning process ends there. One can try to enrol for the next course or the next certification. But these require committing a lot of personal time and energy outside of work.

This is where Communities play a crucial role. I used to watch few AWS related videos on youtube. I noticed the people who presented these talks and I started following a few of the Developer Advocates on social platforms like Twitter. One community member led to another and after few months, I got introduced to many of the folks who are actively working on AWS and publishing their learning and experience via blogs, newsletter, podcasts, Twitter and youtube videos.

This community was very crucial in my learning and keeping myself up to date on various AWS services and new offerings being rolled out by AWS. As part of the day-to-day work commitments, it is really difficult to keep track of what is happening in the AWS ecosystem and following folks from the AWS community helped me to a great extent.

Continuous Learning powered by Communities

As I explained earlier, it is very difficult to enrol ourselves into a new course, certification or side project all the time. But reading a blog post for 10 - 15 mins or watching a youtube video or listening to a podcast while doing some other chore under 30 minutes feels like an easier task. The same was the case with subscribing to newsletters. I try to read the newsletters on the weekdays and if am busy, I would catch up on all of the content over the weekend.

Over 6 - 12 months, I realized that am not actively searching to find new things to learn about AWS. All I had to do was to follow the right people and the community regularly brings a host of interesting content. Sometimes the amount of content that is put in front of me is overwhelming that I end up consuming less than 10% based on what interests me at a specific point in time.

This is the power of learning powered by Communities. Learning does not drain you anymore. One gets to spend anywhere between 20-30 mins a day to see what the community is talking about and deep dive whenever something excites you.

It also helped me at work immensely. I have a certain business problem that needs a solution. At the same time, I also get to read something shared by the community and that solution makes perfect sense for the business problem at work.

The whole process felt organic. Most interestingly, before getting introduced to this idea of communities, I rarely read anything technical outside of my work and pretty much nothing on weekends. But with the community, learning happens all the time. I get to read about a pretty long post about a certain new service or a youtube video out of my curiosity because they pop up in the feed. It does not feel like a chore anymore.

Communities are empathetic and help you overcome impostor syndrome

Most of the communities online also feel humane and empathetic. There is no impostor syndrome. One gets to see and hear other people struggling with few areas due to the very nature of the ever-evolving cloud.

We get to hear about the complexities of building solutions using Cloud. There is no single right answer mostly, everything depends. When people get to discuss how challenging it is to sometimes make a decision, it helps to normalize the whole process. It may still be intimidating to build the best solution, but at least you get a feeling that you are not alone.

Communities promote active sharing of knowledge

The community also proactively encourages everyone to share whatever we are doing or learning - does not matter how simple or complex it is. Communities are filled with people who are either new or has moderate to expert level of proficiency. There is a target audience for every single content. Read any new information? Came across a problem and figured out a solution, the community talks about every single thing and this valuable information helps to keep the community move forward.

Some of the blog posts, podcasts and thoughts on Twitter that I have written online are purely motivated by the community and I treat it as a form of giving back to the community at large.

How to find Communities?

Now, this idea of community is not just restricted to AWS. There are communities available for every single subject on the planet, one can find communities especially for tech topics easily. The community may be scattered across Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube, Newsletter or Podcast etc. All one needs to do is to find where the community folks are hanging out, be there and keep track of all the latest and greatest that is happening around the interest area.

They say people imitate and model their behaviour based on the tribe they are with and follow. Communities are always active, has unlimited energy and keep sharing interesting things all the time and these are a constant dose of motivation that helps the learning process immensely.

So if you are learning any new thing in 2021, in addition to enrolling in a new course or completing a certification, find an active community and start socializing with them. They would help us learn and take the knowledge to the next level every single day.