Received my November 2006 issue of SQL Server Magazine yesterday. One of the articles mentioned Virtual Labs for SQL Server 2005 which allow you to run through 17 specific SQL Server 2005 modules. Each module is designed to be completed in 90 minutes. These labs are virtual machines (VMs) accessible over the Internet and relieve you of the time and effort to setup the hardware and software.
I believe hardware and software setup is usually an important part of the learning process, however in my case I will be happy with just understanding the content these modules have to offer due to the limited amount of time I have to dedicate. Since SQL Server is not my primary focus on a daily frequency, Oracle is, the virtual labs will more than suffice.