Thoughts on meetups
I recently came across an interesting blog post by Zach Tellman in which he explains a new approach that he's been trialling at The Bay Area Clojure User Group.
Zach explains that a lecture based approach isn't necessarily the most effective way for people to learn and that half of the people attending the meetup are likely to be novices and would struggle to follow more advanced content.
He then goes on to explain an alternative approach:
We’ve been experimenting with a Clojure meetup modelled on a different academic tradition: office hours. At a university, students who have questions about the lecture content or coursework can visit the professor and have a one-on-one conversation. ... At the beginning of every meetup, we give everyone a name tag, and provide a whiteboard with two columns, “teachers” and “students”. Attendees are encouraged to put their name and interests in both columns. From there, everyone can [...] go in search of someone from the opposite column who shares their interests.
While running Neo4j meetups we've had similar observations and my colleagues Stefan and Cedric actually ran a meetup in Paris a few months ago which sounds very similar to Zach's 'office hours' style one.
However, we've also been experimenting with the idea that one size doesn't need to fit all by running different styles of meetups aimed at different people.
For example, we have:
- An introductory meetup which aims to get people to the point where they can follow talks about more advanced topics.
- A more hands on session for people who want to learn how to write queries in cypher, Neo4j's query language.
- An advanced session for people who want to learn how to model a problem as a graph and import data into a graph.
I'm also thinking of running something similar to the Clojure Dojo but focused on data and graphs where groups of people could work together and build an app.
I noticed that Nick Manning has been doing a similar thing with the New York City Neo4j meetup as well, which is cool.
I'd be interested in hearing about different / better approaches that other people have come across so if you know of any let me know in the comments.