[kwlug-disc] New user breakout sessions

Bob Jonkman bjonkman at sobac.com
Thu May 6 00:51:17 EDT 2010

I got the idea of separate but simultaneous meetings from TPUG and TLUG 
meetings I used to attend.  Worked well there, although the venue wasn't 
quite as acoustically reverberant as SJK so there was little or no 
disruption of the main, formal event.

I was at the Ubuntu Release Party held at Kwartzlab this past Saturday.  
Pretty much the same crowd, but a completely different dynamic.  There 
was no formal presentation, just a bunch of Linux enthusiasts of all 
levels of experience chatting, showing off software, solving problems 
and having a great, unstructured time.

It was not unlike the after-KWLUG meeting at Zeke's, but with WiFi.  As 
others have mentioned, the after-KWLUG is the place where many of us get 
the real work done.  The formal presentations are great, but I don't 
always get there on time (and _never_ for a 6:30 Q&A).  But I'll come to 
the after-KWLUG even if I miss the whole presentation except for the 
last Q&A of the evening.

The membership of KWLUG is by far the most technically astute crowd of 
any computer club I attend.  Most other UGs (MUMU, Toronto Ubuntu, KW 
Web Developers and Designers, KWIUG of old) have less formal 
presentations, or no presentations at all, and all take place in a local 
drinking establishment (sometimes licensed, sometimes a coffee shoppe).  
I can imagine the force of technical awesomeness that surrounds KWLUG 
makes newcomers think that these are not the geeks they're looking for.  
So, an unstructured, informal breakout session may be just the thing.

There is absolutely no disrespect intended with a breakout session.  
Think Linuxfest -- are we being rude to three out of four presenters 
because we're in a different session?  I remember some Linuxfest 
organizational guy telling me that it's great that people can't attend 
all the concurrent sessions, it keeps 'em coming back for more next time.


Bob Jonkman<bjonkman at sobac.com>          http://sobac.com/sobac/
SOBAC Microcomputer Services              Voice: +1-519-669-0388
6 James Street, Elmira ON  Canada  N3B 1L5  Cel: +1-519-635-9413
Software   ---   Office&  Business Automation   ---   Consulting

On Wed, 05 May 2010 at 14:52, Richard Weait <richard at weait.com> wrote 
about Re: [kwlug-disc] New user breakout sessions:
> 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.
> 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.
> Best regards,
> Richard (laminating a new hazing paddle and practicing my secret handshake)
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