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How Puppet offers frictionless hands-on learning with the Instruqt Platform

Puppet Practice Labs Instruqt


As an industry leader in DevOps solutions, Puppet is driven to empower fearless and open innovation by helping enterprises modernize, manage, and bring into compliance their hybrid infrastructure through continuous automation. The key to achieving this goal? Education.

To help people get started with Puppet automation right away and immediately see value from their investment, Puppet has recently launched Puppet Practice Labs using the Instruqt platform. Puppet Practice Labs allow people to try out Puppet technologies and learn new skills in an easy, quick, hands-on way.

Highlight- the main reasons why Puppet chose Instruqt

  • Great user experience
  • Easy content creation
  • Fantastic customer support

In short, everybody wins – the Puppet teams and their customers.

We are very excited to have the opportunity to speak with Nikki McDonald, Senior Manager of Technical Education at Puppet. In this interview, Nikki walks us through the ideas behind offering the Practice Labs and why they have chosen Instruqt. Furthermore, Nikki gives us advice on how best to design customer education for the modern learner. View the interview for the full story. Prefer text to video, read on.


Helping people get the most out of Puppet technologies

Nikki McDonald is the Senior Manager of Technical Education at Puppet. Her team is part of the larger Knowledge Management Organization at Puppet. They create compelling education and enablement content that helps Puppet customers, partners, and employees get the most out of Puppet products.

What do the Puppet Practice Labs offer?

The Puppet Practice Labs are brand new. They are hands-on, self-paced, always accessible browser-based tutorials and they’re totally free, so learners can learn how to use Puppet products as quickly and easily as possible. We’ve designed the Puppet Practice Labs to help people learn how to automate more of their infrastructure, scale with confidence and reduce toil, empowering their workforce to innovate.

We currently have four Puppet Practice Labs available. Now on our site, you can learn how to use Bolt basics on Linux, build a Bolt inventory file on Linux, install and explore the Puppet Agent, and run Puppet manually after defining a desired state. We’re excited to launch more Puppet Practice Labs and add tracks that offer varying levels of complexity.

Most of the tracks we have now are for beginners, but we will add more advanced topics as we continue to grow the library. We’re motivated because it’s such a great learning opportunity—Puppet Practice Labs make learning our products incredibly easy.

Create Puppet champions by making learning accessible

Our team’s mission is to create Puppet champions. Puppet champions are people who feel confident about their ability to use and scale Puppet. And an effective way to create Puppet champions is to make learning Puppet easy. That’s really why we launched the Puppet Practice Labs—to make it easy for our customers to get hands-on training, no matter where they are, or what type of system they’re using, at any time. These tutorials are completely free. Our customers can get to know Puppet Enterprise without having to download it, without having to pay anything, and within minutes, start learning how to use our flagship product.

Remove barriers to learning

The goal really has been to remove as many barriers as possible to learning so that we can help people quickly learn how to get the most from our products. Puppet makes automation software because we believe that people have better things to do. As a company, we’re driven to empower fearless and open innovation. We want people to feel confident about their abilities to automate so they can spend less time doing the work that they don’t want to do and more time doing, you know, the innovative work that will move the company forward. And in order to do this, we’re continually investing in making education and learning more accessible to the community.

Puppet Compass is the gateway to all things educational

In addition to the Puppet Practice Labs, about a year ago, we launched Puppet Compass, which is where you’ll find the Puppet Practice Labs. If you go to https://learn.puppet.com/, you’ll be taken to Puppet Compass, which is a central repository for all of our educational offerings. We created it to help our customers find the resources they need to get up to speed on all of our products as quickly as possible.

So why did Puppet choose to build the Practice Labs on Instruqt?

The goal of Puppet Practice Labs is to make learning easier and get hands-on with our products faster so that you can automate more, and then do more innovative work. Well, when we were looking at Instruqt, we had similar requirements.

Offers the best user experience

First and foremost as a customer-centric organization, we needed a solution that could provide the best possible user experience for our customers. We found that with Instruqt. Like I keep saying, it just makes it super easy for our customers to access hands-on, browser-based, step-by-step tutorials, literally in minutes.

No download, no installation, no setup required

Universal accessibility is one of Instruqt’s biggest selling points. Log into a Puppet Practice Lab, click to start your track, and Instruqt spins up an environment that is pre-loaded with all of the tools and instructions you need to run the tutorial. You don’t have to download anything. You don’t have to pay anything. You don’t have to show up at a specific time. You really can use Puppet Practice Labs any time, anywhere.

Easy content creation

The user experience is fantastic. That was very important to us when we were looking for a partner to work with to create the labs. Creating content in Instruqt is extremely easy, and it’s accessible by everyone on our team, which is key because we have a pretty small team and there’s a lot of demand for content. As a result, we wanted a tool that was easy to use for everyone in the group.

Extremely good customer service

Instruqt also provided us with extremely good customer service. When we were learning how to use Instruqt, the Instruqt team was equipped to help us overcome obstacles or roadblocks that we had developing the content. They are very quick to answer questions, and they’re open to our feature requests. While they don’t always give us everything we want, they listen and that’s been really great.

Everybody wins

We have a very positive working relationship with Instruqt. Everybody wins. Our customers win with an easy-to-use, hands-on learning environment and for us, it’s been just a really easy experience for creating the content and getting the help to launch this new learning format to our customers.

Finally, what are Nikki’s recommendations on designing hands-on labs that appeal to modern learners?

Keep it short

First off, keep it short. People don’t have a lot of time to squeeze in learning, even though it’s so important to continually advance one’s skills. We try to keep the Puppet Practice Labs to around half an hour.

Outcome-driven content

We’re focused on making content that’s outcome-driven. We want you to be able to take a class during lunch and learn something you can use immediately on the job. Quick wins help build confidence and that makes you want to learn more.

Listen to your customers

We’ve added a feedback survey at the end of each Puppet Practice Lab. We ask anyone who takes a Puppet Practice Lab to tell us what they like about the lab. Was it too easy? Was it too hard? Did it meet your needs? What else would you like to see? We’re constantly asking, “How do you learn Puppet?” And, “What do you want to learn? What do you need to learn?” We’re looking at where our customers are struggling, and how we can best help them.

We’re constantly trying to use that customer feedback to create educational materials that are practical and useful and help our learners build confidence, enabling them to automate more and scale faster.

Puppet Feedback Survey on Instruqt


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Connie Tai
As the CMO at Instruqt, Connie oversees the overall marketing strategy across all marketing initiatives, acquisition channels, and distribution channels. Together with her team, she's responsible for the company's blogs, podcasts, overall content strategy, and product launch and customer demand campaigns.

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