[kwlug-disc] New user breakout sessions

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Wed May 5 17:02:58 EDT 2010

Richard Weait wrote, On 05/05/2010 2:52 PM:
> 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.

This seems to paint all users with the same brush, which seems to
engender the very exclusivity you decry. In essence, if you're not
interested, sit still and be quiet while the adults are talking.

I would have thought if a presenter had someone in the audience that
didn't want to be there, they'd rather they weren't there -
particularly if there was a nearby alternative that was more to their
taste, for that moment.

I don't think the presentation is kwlug night, nor vice versa. There 
are many other characteristics of the night that attract people to a 
greater or lesser extent.

> tl;dr
> 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.

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