As January ticked over into February we hosted our third RailsBridge event, as part of the RubyFuza conference. Have a look at our Twitter account, @RailsBridgeCPT, for some pictures and tweets from both days.
We strive to make every RailsBridge better than the last one. We always ask our students for feedback on the workshop, and ask them to fill out an (anonymous) exit survey asking how we did.
One of the casualties of the time constraints and the rush to get everything done at the last minute was the entry survey. At previous events we’ve asked students to rate their familiarity with various computer-based taks (including Ruby on Rails, of course!) before and after the event. This time we only asked them afterwards. We’re going to look at this in more detail for the next event: what do we actually want to measure or track, and how can we use the results?
We have run a retrospective at the end of our previous two events, but we didn’t for this one, which was a shame because we had the talented Cara Turner on hand to do so (and to help out during the day). The exit times of students were very varied for this event (some left at about lunchtime and some at about 6pm), so the timing didn’t quite work out. This did give us some good ideas about what to do for next time, though. Thank you, Cara!
About two-thirds of our students rated the workshop really good: yay! About a third rated the workshop good, and a couple of people rated it as okay.
Since we didn’t do the entry survey we can’t compare before and after, but we can look at what the students said at the end of the workshop on Saturday.
About a quarter of our students said that they were unfamiliar with development-related computer tools, and about two-thirds said that they are now familiar with development-related computer tools. That’s pretty good.
For Ruby and Ruby on Rails, about 80% said they felt familiar with Ruby on Rails after the workshop. That’s great! About 10% said they there were still unfamiliar with it, and about 10% said they were very familiar with it.
Best, Worst, and Make Better
The survey has three open questions: what was the best thing about the workshop; what was the worst thing about the workshop; what could we improve about the workshop?
Students mentioned Ruby and Rails as great things about the workshop, and the quality of documentation. We’ve made some small tweaks, but the docs are mostly the work of our upstream friends at our parent RailsBridge organisation. Thank to everyone who works on the docs: you rock! The students also mentioned the teachers, saying they were helpful, friendly, knowledgable, and that there was a good number of them.
For things that weren’t so great, the students talked about the need for more direct guidance and teaching, problems with parking at the venue, and the lack of a big picture for what the course was all about.
We’ve got lots we can do for next time to make the course even better for the students! :)
Improvements from the October workshop and retro
Everything about this workshop was a little more rushed than the previous two. Oops! Lots of people and businesses are away, or on low power over most of December and the first half of January, so we didn’t have as much time to prepare for this one as we usually do. Luckily, Marc Heiligers of rubyfuza did most of the work and sorted out the venue and all the food and drink for everyone. Thank you, Marc!
We did have time to make some improvements, though.
- Added short URLs like rbcpt.org/start rather than having the slightly more fiddly docs.railsbridgecapetown.org/intro-to-rails/
- Used meetup.com for RSVPs, which took automated the attendance and RSVPs.
- Updated the InstallFest presentation and the Workshop opening presentation with some slides that give a bit context to the students of what’s going on.
- Added a bit more of a description of what the atmosphere is like at the event.
- Switched the surveys to run off Google Forms.
- Pulled in a lot of changes from the upstream RailsBridge. You can see the burst of activity on our GitHub account. A busy few days near the end!
The next one
Our next Workshop will be in April. Closer to the time we’ll send out an announcement to our mailing list.
If you attended this workshop we’d love to have you back. Quite a few of our teachers and organisers come back for more, and have helped at several events.
If you were a student at this event, come back and help us teach more students, or lend a hand with the organising and running of the event. We’d love to have your help!