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In June 2009 we created a survey for UK developers to tell us how they prefer to learn about technology which we used as input into planning for a number of activities in the UK in the second half of the year.

I just “rediscovered” the raw data and thought it was interesting enough to share more widely.

Top level:

  • Most folks are generalists
  • Web is “where it is at” for many
  • We each have to invest a lot of time in learning technology
  • Search trumps colleagues for answers
  • Few of us have certifications but many of us would like to have them

Who did we survey?

We publicised the survey through the MSDN Flash newsletter, hence it is pretty safe to assume they were in the large developers targeting the Microsoft platform.

  • 53% described themselves as generalists, 47% specialists
  • The specialists were in the main Web Developers (41%) or Solution Architects (23%)

Around 100 developers responded to the survey.

How much time do folks spend on learning?

It is probably no surprise to find that the increased pace of technology change means we are spending a lot of hours each week learning about technology  - as opposed to using it to get stuff done. I think this also recognises that most respondents were “generalists” – meaning a need to be broad on technology and less skill reuse across projects.

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How do folks learn about new technology?

Here we see the tendency to lean heavily on search to find out about technology and the low number of developers who use classroom training. Online training and videos are fairly popular – although in each case around 50% do not use them.

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We had a bunch of similar questions and search constantly come out high – 97% in the case of “How do you look for answers to resolve issues” easily beating “colleagues, mentors and peers” at 42%. 

Focus for next 12 months?

Web is a clear winner here – but Rich Client holds up strong although not UX Design.

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Microsoft Certifications?

Looks like for lots of folks the certification exams are irrelevant, although oddly many people are planning to take them. Maybe it is a bit like New Years resolutions :)

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Posted on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 5:34 PM Poll/Survey , UK | Back to top


Comments on this post: How developers learn survey results – interesting

# Time spent learning
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That is interesting, and thanks for sharing it.

One observation - only developers who are interested in learning read MSDN Flash, and I imagine only those with a little spare time click through to the survey. So there's probably a slight bias in the results towards spending time learning. There may be an invisible group of developers with their heads down getting stuff done, who don't answer surveys.
Left by MarkJ on Jan 07, 2010 12:08 PM

# re: How developers learn survey results – interesting
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Good point. Then again... those who don't have time to learn may have wanted to voice that very point by voting :-)
Left by Eric on Jan 07, 2010 1:01 PM

# re: How developers learn survey results – interesting
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"Around 100 developers responded to the survey."

Seriously!? From the entire "MSDN Flash newsletter" subscription base, which must be at least in the thousands, you got 100 developers to respond?

I'd pretty much junk the data you got there, it's too small a sample to extrapolate population trends from.
Left by Bernhard on Jan 07, 2010 2:06 PM

# re: How developers learn survey results – interesting
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It was a small response. The flash does go out to 10s of thousands of email addresses. We typically see individual links in the flash get 500 to 2000 clicks. We didn't push this survey and it contained a lot of questions (more than above) and hence I was expecting a response of a couple of hundred - which in the end turned out to be 100ish.

I think it is still useful. Its 20 years since I did my stats degreen but I think we can apply 95% confidence +/- 10% confidence interval to the results.
Left by Eric on Jan 07, 2010 8:05 PM

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