Free community training
We helped 40 newcomers get up to speed with Drupal so that they could get the most out of Twin Cities DrupalCamp.
People learned at their own pace by watching videos online. We were on hand to help them keep up the pace.
We learned about Mentored video training when we met Chris Shattuck last Fall at BADCamp. Chris had just delivered his first mentored video workshop as part of the pre-camp training, and his training event was very well-received.
It seems pretty strange to sit down in a room with a bunch of strangers, strap on some headphones, and begin watching online videos that you can just as easily watch at home. But it's our job provide resources for people in a way that's both high-quality and sustainable, so we were pretty intrigued by the concept.
As it turns out, the idea is new to Drupal but is thriving elsewhere.
Testing it out
For our first foray into the world of mentored video workshops, we decided to keep things focused. Instead of opening up enrollment to the general public, we invited only our current clients to join us for a 4-hour workshop. We knew everyone who signed up including their skill levels and what topics they'd most benefit from exploring. Based on this knowledge and the compact half-day format, we chose to hone in on one topic for the workshop instead of opening it up to the entire curriculum.
Limiting the workshop to a familiar audience and focusing on a topic area for all participants proved to be a valuable approach. By controlling the environment a bit we were able to minimize potential hiccups and react to them more nimbly. This set us up to be successful mentors and enabled us to provide our clients with access to quality training on a topic they needed to learn. Previously, the time and resources necessary to conduct such a targeted training had proven prohibitive for our small team.
This initial workshop was an unqualified success and we've conducted another since.
Increasing the scale
We followed up our local twist on this model by mentoring for Chris' Build A Module training event at DrupalCon Denver. This training invited students of any skill level to explore the entire set of Build A Module videos. The expansion in scope -- both in number of students and topic coverage -- proved challenging but not overwhelming for the mentors. The Denver event proved the flexibility of the model. The common recipe for success is combining the in-person help of friendly Drupal experts with the excellent video curriculum.
Having now experienced conducting the mentored video workshop in two different environments -- small and focused, larger and open -- we were ready to expand to host our own free public training.
Success at DrupalCamp!
For the 2012 DrupalCamp Twin Cities we decided to continue the precedent we set during our inaugural 2011 camp of providing free training opportunities for Drupal beginners. The Build a Module mentored video workshop was the perfect fit. After deciding to focus on the "Build Your First Drupal Site" set of videos, we were able to ramp up with a minimum of preparation -- no curriculum materials to modify or print, no presentation slides to create. With a group of local Drupal experts volunteering to mentor, we were ready to roll with a quality training experience.
40 camp registrants signed up for and participated in the pre-camp training. Despite a few early hiccups related to setting up local development environments, the training ran smoothly. We had minimal attrition -- actually we gained some new students after lunch! People were so immersed in the experience that at the end of the day we had a tough time getting everyone to finish up and leave.
Feedback was quite positive with a common refrain being that the training prepared participants to get the most out of the camp which took place on the following two days.
Full speed ahead
Providing mentorship for video workshops is not as glamorous as presenting yourself as the "sage on the stage" and keeper of all knowledge, so it's not for everyone. But anything that puts smart people in touch with quality resources and ensures that nothing gets in the way is a great fit for Advantage Labs!
Chris has been extremely generous and has provided free Build a Module trial subscriptions to everyone who has participated. He has also made the videos available to our office so that people can polish their skills during Lab hours. Hopefully, this model will flourish so that more people can take advantage of these resources while supporting a sustainable business that's great for the Drupal community.