[kwlug-disc] New user breakout sessions

Richard Weait richard at weait.com
Wed May 5 14:52:21 EDT 2010

On Wed, May 5, 2010 at 1:12 PM, Paul Nijjar <paul_nijjar at yahoo.ca> wrote:
> I was talking with Bob Jonkman, and he suggested that we have
> "breakout sessions" at the regular KWLUG meetings. This breakout
> session could be in the room at the top of the stairs at SJK (which by
> day masquerades as a medical office).
[ ... ]
> Thoughts?

I'm skeptical.

It's a great offer to be able to use the additional space.  The
generosity of our hosts at The Working Centre and St. John's Kitchen
is second to none.  We are very fortunate.

Taking one or more regulars away from the regularly scheduled
presentation is disrespectful to the presenter.

I agree that we can do a better job of making every presentation at
least a bit accessible to newbies.  A newbie should at least be able
to understand, "This doesn't apply to me and is unlikely to apply to
me until my interests include $blank".

But to make new Linux users the intended audience for every
presentation is to turn our backs on the same experienced users that
we rely upon to answer the questions from the beginners.  We must
continue to offer content of interest to all of our members, across
all of their levels of experience.

Newcomers should sit through the main presentation even if they think
that it will all be over their heads.  They are newcomers; they might
be wrong.  We should not remove them to the "kids' table" and deny
them that flash of newcomer insight they get when they realize that
the main presentation is interesting and has inspired them to take a
new approach, or to implement something they thought was impossible.

We have, in past, advocated early attendance for Q&A.  Attendance was
unpredictable but that may have been a matter of
weather-too-good-to-attend-the-LUG.  I think we should do this
formally again if we can do it in a way that does not increase the
burden on our hosts.

Some of us extend our conversations by attending the restaurant
afterwards.  I feel that I get my detailed questions answered more
often at the restaurant and that this was especially true early in my
exposure to KWLUG.  Your mileage may vary.

To separate newcomers from the main presentation is to coddle them too
much, to delay their integration into the main group and to treat
KWLUG as a secret society with hazing rituals and secret handshakes.
Our newcomers aren't idiots.  KWLUG  is not a cult.

Let's restart and advertise pre-meeting Q&A
Let's emphasize the casual Q&A aspect of the after-meeting
Let's keep having a mid-meeting break for quick Q&A.
Let's welcome newcomer questions on this list.
Let's give our volunteer presenters the undivided attention they deserve.

Best regards,
Richard (laminating a new hazing paddle and practicing my secret handshake)

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