Last weekend we held our fourth RailsBridge Cape Town workshop, and it’s fair to say that it was a success. Thank you to all our students, teachers, and organisers!

Go forth and code!

Changes

One of the things we changed this time was the survey. It contained questions rating the workshop, and asked about best, worst, and things to do differently. We added a link to the survey in as part of the course. We only had 9 responses from 17 students, so next time we will be more vocal about asking people to complete it!

Two-thirds of the people who answered the survey rated the workshop as Really Good, and one-third rated it is Good. That’s awesome!

workshop rating chart

The Survey

Good, Bad, Different

Our survey asked our students what they thought the best thing and the worst thing about the workshop was, and what we could do differently next time.

For the best thing, people said that the atmosphere was very relaxed, that there plenty of teachers, that the teacher were helpful, friendly, and awesome. Go teachers!

For the worst thing, people said that we needed to be clearer with “What next?” We have a resources page with links to more courses and things, but for next time we need to make that more obvious. People also said that more diagrams of the relationships between bits would be helpful, and that some real-life examples would be nice to see. We’re going to try and add these into the course for next time.

For what we could do differently, students asked for deeper explanations of the tools, more information around controllers, and more presentations. Another new thing for this workshop was a lightning talk at lunchtime, given by one of our teachers: Rory McKinley. We’ll definitely be doing at least one talk at our next workshop.

Rory dropping knowledge bombs

Confidence

We also asked our students about their confidence with development tools and with Ruby on Rails specifically. Previously we’ve done this as part of the survey, but this time we wanted to get more hands-on, so we asked people to put up sticky notes with smiley (or frowny) faces on.

There was a marked slide from :( to :) comparing before and after: huzzah!

Confidence with Software Development

Confidence with Ruby on Rails

Retro

One very big change from previous workshops we’ve run is the retrospective. Previously, we’ve held a feedback session at the end of the Saturday. Over the past few workshops, we’ve found that the speed the students get through the course varies greatly. This meant that gathering feedback from the group as a whole at the end of the day didn’t work. This time we updated bits of the docs with pair learning exercises.

These differed from previous feedback mechanisms in that they’re more focused on the student than on the RailsBridge team, and that they are peppered throughout the course rather than being lumped at the end. This seems like a good direction for us to go in, and we will be using this again (in a slightly different form) for our next workshop.

What the RailsBridge team learned

As part of the pair learning, students were encouraged to scribble on bits of paper and stickies. Looking through those notes, we can see some areas where we can improve the workshop:

The next one!

Our next workshop will be in July 2014. Check out our meetup group for more information closer to the time.

If you were at this RailsBridge, or a previous one, we’d love to have you back! Come and do the Intro course again, try the Intermediate course, or help us teach! Drop us a line at [email protected].