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Things you learn when you don't expect! ODNC study group analysis

Apr 21

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010 8:29 PM  RssIcon

ODNCLast night I went to the ODNC web study group the ODNC was holding at CTE Solution, and I learned a few things.  Read on for more details.

ODNCIn the last two years, I've participated in a number of Microsoft certification exam study groups held by the ODNC.  This time around, I opted out for one reason, I really wanted a bit of a break to do my own thing (WPF, which has recently been upgraded to WP7).  Selfish I know, and I felt bad, but someone did come forward to lead the charge!  The group is led by Charlie Wiebe, who is extremely technically proficient, knows how to present and most importantly, knows how to motivate people.  He's a natural leader for the study group!

Last night I wanted to go and check things out.  In the past, I've helped Orest Hirniak (the ODNC head honcho, that is meant as a compliment!) with the study group lead challenges and we've made some changes in the hopes of improving things.  Well, for this study group we made some BIG changes.  hhhmmm changes that make you nervous.  We "instigated" (yup, nasty word eh?) an "application process" which I really wasn't sure how people were going to react.  Initially things went smoothly, but sometimes people are just too nervous to stick their neck out for fear of insults.  So, after more than half way through this study group, I invited myself one night.  (Sorry guys, I hope you didn't mind?)  The risk was being a distracting influence, or worse yet, disrupting the natural flow of the night.  People work VERY hard during their 2.5 hours on Tues nights, and sometimes a new person can throw them/you off.  However, everyone did GREAT last night!  Very cool!

Below are some more observations I made.  I hope you don't mind me noting them here?  I figure it's done in the "everyone's equal" vein and I also hope other people in other cities could maybe learn from us and try to replicate our success! 

  • People must like going cause last night there was only one person missing, in the past study groups, we’ve always had 4-5 ppl missing each session.
  • Technical knowledge/experience was very high.
  • People seemed much more proficient with VS than in the past.
  • People were focused in on the chapter materials, there was some learning new VS tricks (Debug, Run Next Statement ), but they were 200 level tricks, that’s cool too.
  • Enthusiasm and presenter support during the presentations was very high.
  • One presenter contiues to improve his "application program" as a way to help solidify his learning, I was blown away with that!
  • Started with VS, ended with Transcenders, no PPTs!  Very cool!  Code, code code!
  • I added some comments but really wanted to keep them to a minimum, I was there as an observer only, I had to stop myself from jumping in on the discussion, it was hard to keep my mouth shut, I was a guest and had to respect that, this wasn’t my course, it was theirs, Oh why was it so hard?  Cause the discussions were GOOD and I wanted to participate/contribute, I wanted in, but again, I didn’t want to disrupt the flow.
  • People were/are willing to be taught, not an easy characteristic but VERY valuable, notice that’s different from wanting to learn, everyone says they want to learn, it’s something different when you are patient enough and want to be taught.
  • Almost everyone went out afterwards for a bite to eat, this is UNHEARD of.  Before, usually only 3-5 people go out, this time we had to change tables cause there were so many of us!  COOL!
  • Food was awesome (Thanks AS for food suggestion!).
  • People were/are cool with application process, phew cause I was very worried about that.
  • People are getting used to version control at home, they’re usually forced to use it at work but slowly getting used to it at home, cool!
  • I loved talking with everyone last night, I must have met ten new people who I hadn’t met at ODNC meetings before, that was awesome!
  • Even had one LinkedIn request waiting for me this morning, COOL!  I had one before, but I hadn’t met the person (I don’t accept those, personal thing), but I did meet people last night, so I accepted that one, and I just updated my other archived one too (since I met him personally :>)
  • Everyone participating “has skin in the game!”  After talking with people last night, I’m even more convinced now that the 50pgs/wk seems like the best balance between technical acquisition (reading, practicing, coding) and “life happens” kind of stuff.  So, how ever long 50pg/wk takes, is how long the study group is.  People have lives outside of the study group, and artificially compressing the study group down to two/three months just isn’t realistic!
  • Someone at the end had a great idea but I'm just not sure how to incorporate it into the 2.5h.  We brainstormed about it, he'll try a thing or two and let me know how it goes.  If it works, COOL!  If not, we can try tweaking it, or maybe it's just the wrong time?  The study group people will tell him how they like iit.

Thank you very much for opening your doors to me last night, I'm very appreciative.  I learned a boat load of things last night, met some cool people and have confirmation on a few things I was concerned about for the next study group.  I've had a couple of people ask me about that, when, what?  I believe the ODNC is thinking of the WPF exam in the fall.  So, if you want into that study group, it looks like you should start learning WPF now, cause you might have to create and check in your COOL AND SLICK WPF APP!  But that's a long time away, lots of stuff coming down the pipes from MS.  So until then, it's time to grab a coffee and get coding!

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