Last weekend saw us hosting our second RailsBridge Cape Town, and it was good. Yay! Check out our twitter account, @RailsBridgeCPT, for tweets and more pictures from the day.
This time we had great loot: stickers & badges!
We’re strong believers in continuous improvement: we want to do at least one thing better next time. We ask for and encourage our attendees to give us feedback on how the workshop went. As well as chatting to the attendees, we ask them to fill in a short, anonymous, exit survey, asking how we did, and we run a retrospective after the workshop finishes on Saturday. This time we were very lucky to have Sam Laing of Growing Agile running the retro for us: details below. Thank you, Sam!
Improvements from the July workshop and retro
We just about managed to make all the big changes that were suggested from the July Workshop.
- Two things that students suggested for improvement at the July workshop were the internet connection and the coffee. The move to Siyelo’s offices solved both of these! They have a very fast internet connection, and The Blend is just downstairs.
- Students also asked for an overview of the basic structures and more diagrams of some of the structures, so we expanded the overview in the InstallFest and added an MVC diagram and a Git & Heroku diagram.
- Another suggestion was to add breaks in the curriculum, so we added a few nudges to get up and walk around at the end of some of the bigger sections. View the breaks we added on our GitHub repository.
- We also added two glossary pages that the students found very helpful: Glossary and Commandline Glossary.
- To try and ease the craziness of the InstallFest, we added a short overview presentation, explaining that to check all the tools properly we have to use them like we will during the Workshop.
- We also updated the extra credits section: we added a debugging item where the student lets a teacher break their app and they have to fix it, and a whole piece for adding bootstrap to give the app a better look and feel.
We tracked our student’s familiarity with development-related tasks and with Ruby on Rails, before and after the workshop. Broadly speaking, the attendees said that they’d become more familiar with dev tasks and with Ruby on Rails. Huzzah! It’s great to see that people are getting something valuable from the workshop. A big thank you to “them upstairs” for such a solid curriculum!
The charts below show responses as a percentage of all the attendees. For example, about 70% of the attendees said that after the workshop, they were familiar with development tasks. Nice!
Note: The stats are presented as percentages rather than numbers because of a few statistical complications. Quite a few of our attendees this time came as a +1 of someone, so we only have after data for them. This means that the before and after data sets aren’t identical; these numbers are therefore more of a rough guide than the July stats. For our next workshop, we’ll try and make sure to get before data for every attendee.
We also asked our attendees to rate the workshop. About half of our attendees rated it Good and the other half rated it Really Good. Awesome, thank you!
Best, Worst, and Make Better
We also asked what the best thing and the worst thing was about the workshop, and what we should improve.
The most frequently mentioned best thing about the workshop was the teachers: they were described as helpful, friendly, professional, and really good at explaining the concepts. Teachers: you rock!
The venue was also mentioned as great. Thank you Siyelo for letting us use your excellent space. We’ll be back.
Things mentioned as not so great, and in need of improvement:
- more detail on the why, not just the how, of the steps, and of how it all fits together;
- more information around what to do after the workshop and how these skills are useful;
- introductions to teachers, organisers, and other attendees;
- showing progress through the course more clearly;
- add more explanations and more visuals to the docs.
For this retrospective, Sam split us into four teams. Each team got two big marker pens and a bundle of pipe cleaners and was asked to build the tallest tower that they could that would support both pens. The winner was 27cms tall!
After that, we had to write out as many sticky notes as we could to fill two categories: what was surprising about the exercise and what was frustrating.
The next step was to make a poster, as a team. We used the stickies we’d just written as jumping off points to draw a poster that told a story about our RailsBridge experience. This got interesting for notes like “Gravity”! Then each team presented their poster to the rest of the group.
We ended the retro with an appreciation exercise. We split into groups of three and arranged the chairs with two facing each other, and one with their back to the other two. Taking turns, the two in chairs talking about the person facing away, discussing the positive things about them that they’d experienced over the workshop.
We got lots of great ideas from the retro that have been added to our To Do list. Below are a few key ones.
- Lots of docs improvements (even more extra credit, explanations of what each step each does, how it all fits together, and many more).
- Try and set up so that everyone can use two screens: their laptop and an external monitor. This makes it easier to view the terminal, the browser, the editor, and the editor all at once.
- Better URLs for the workshop and pages inside it. (This is already on the go! For example, rbcpt.org/resources points to docs.railsbridgecapetown.org/workshop/resources).
- Have a demo of the finished app to refer to, so that you can see where you’re headed, and what it should look like.
The next one
Our next Workshop will be in January / February. We’ll be sending out mails about it soon(ish).
If you attended this workshop (as a student, organiser, or a teacher) we’d love to have you back. If you were a student this time, come back and help us teach more people!