The original plan for this blog post was to talk about my learning style and explain how that style influenced my choice of study materials for the ICND1 exam. After spending the past week trying out different types of resources, I’ve realized that the term “learning style” is probably an oversimplification. For me, no single medium was the best for learning all of the INCD1 topics. The textbooks I have on my desk – the CCENT/CCNA ICND1Official Exam Certification Guide by Wendell Odom and Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 1 (ICND1): CCNA Exam 640-802 and ICND1 Exam 640-822 by Steve McQuerry – are the most comprehensive learning materials I’ve used so far, but some things just didn’t make sense to me even after reading them over and over again.
Subnetting is a particularly good example of this. I had a vague understanding of subnets and the concepts of classfull and classless addressing from past research on the Web. Reading the appropriate chapters in two CCENT/CCNA books from Cisco Press helped, but it wasn’t until I saw a live demonstration from Keith Barker, a CCIE certified instructor and active member of the Cisco Learning Network community, that it really made sense to me. On the other hand, watching him demonstrate IOS commands wasn’t nearly as helpful to me as trying the same commands myself on the Cisco Learning Labs.
I’ve also realized that my learning style can change depending on the time of day and my mood. Late last night, for instance, I wanted to get some studying in, but I knew that my brain was just not going to retain much information after an 8+ hour day followed by a grueling San Jose commute. What I really needed was some sort of interactivity. Luckily, there’s a ton of games and simulators out there that cater to people like me. The cheesy music and bright happy images of the Cisco Mind Share game and the free Binary Game were perfect for practicing my subnetting and binary math skills without going crazy.
Next week is going to be hectic for me, as I imagine it will be for most of you. My free time may be limited and sporadic, so my next challenge is figuring out how to cram as much studying as possible into a tight window. My first ideas on how to do this are focusing on some of the mobile learning tools that are available. Who knows – a quick chapter on RIP and OSPF might be the perfect way to make that line for last minute Christmas gifts at the mall seem just a little shorter!