In 2001, the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon changed our view of the world. Many of us can remember with clarity 10 years later exactly where we were and what we were doing. To this day I will never forget how brave the men and women were who responded to this event and gave their lives and time selfishly.

This past week I had the honor of teaching SharePoint to our armed forces, many of whom have had tours in Iraq and Afghanistan resulting from the events of 9/11.

Most of the servicemen I was teaching had little or no experience with SharePoint. It is a humbling and challenging experience to teach new people as it is; in regards to teaching our armed forces, I absolutely felt an added pressure to do my best.  

This has led me to review how to teach SharePoint to illuminate how it is a foundation that can change, in a positive way, the way business functions. I came up with three points:

• People do not learn at the same pace. Every teacher knows this, and the good ones have the patience to find a method that works.

Let your learners work together in pairs and ensure that they take turns. Team learning eases the stress of learning and subconsciously enforces one of the tenets of SharePoint: collaboration. As part of the exercises, I also found it very helpful to do some exercises as a class with me leading in steps.

• Question everything. I am reminded of the great quote: “The mark of a leader is not the answers he gives but the questions he asks.” If you want buy-in for SharePoint, ask a lot of questions. As people collaborate on the questions, oftentimes they find their own answers.

In my experience, this is true with SharePoint. I asked many business use-case questions in class around the chapters and then framed the answers in SharePoint. This produced more questions (and answers), spurring interactivity.

• Finally, don’t forget the business proposition of SharePoint. It is easy to get caught up with the technology of SharePoint. Having three or four ways to do something is very cool, but to a new person it is frustrating!

SharePoint, like any good technology, should make someone’s job easier, faster and more productive. With that in mind I reserved the last half-day of class to doing a real-world exercise in armed forces vernacular.

Ten years is a long time. We should not forget the past, but neither should we hold onto it. Instead, we should learn from it and evolve in a positive manner. Business evolves, SharePoint evolves and so do we.

Peter Serzo is a published author of the “SharePoint 2010 Administration Cookbook,” a founder of the SouthEastern SharePoint group, a speaker, and SharePoint Architect for High Monkey Consulting. Peter has been in the IT industry for 20 years. He has extensive experience with SharePoint implementing business solutions for several enterprise organizations over the past seven years.