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Organizing a work study group, need advice

I'm organizing a study group at work.  This was done at a previous workplace
JustAnotherDev Send private email
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Sorry; somehow got submitted before I finished

I'm organizing a study group at work.  At my previous workplace, we had groups in c++ and design patterns where we would go thru one chapter of a book a week (either a book like exceptional c++ that discussed a problem/solution/single-topic or a design patterns book where every chapter was a pattern).  And it was a moderated discussion where the moderator was an expert who asked leading questions and answered questions no one else knew, but did not present the topic as it was assumed everyone had read the chapter before hand.

I'm trying to do something similar at my current place.  But it is a bit more difficult.  I don't want to go thru a patterns book as that might bore half the devs in the group (given there's only 12 of us).    There's also too many technologies to learn or be aware of  (patterns/oo, c#, asp, javascript, css, sql, web services, silverlight, etc).

If this were your group, would you try to bounce around between technologies, or try to focus on a single technology.  If it were single, then c#3.0 fits the bill (for initial learning).  In either case, can you recommend books in any of the above topics that can be referenced in the single-self-contained-topic-per-chapter (with a plus if that chapter discusses a problem and its solutions)?

Have any of you had success organizing study groups, and do you have any wisdom to share?

Ideally I'd want this such that everyone is engaged, everyone learns & finds it meaningful, that no one (including me) has to do too much in prep for the meeting (other than reading a chapter or two)
JustAnotherDev Send private email
Sunday, May 03, 2009
If I were organizing a study group I would do it around higher-level things than C++, design patterns in terms of particualar patterns, etc. The lower-level stuff people can learn on their own. In addition, I would expect that everyone had read the material beforehand as otherwise I think it's a waste of time - it's not a study group, it's a presentation.  In other words, i would structure it similarly to a graduate seminar where you study a paper.
Larry Watanabe Send private email
Monday, May 04, 2009
Larry: Thanks for the reply.  I like your suggestion.  Talk about a higher level article, send links to articles/books that teach the lower level (language, framework, patterns) stuff for those unfamiliar with it.

Any other suggestions?
JustAnotherDev Send private email
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
"If this were your group, would you try to bounce around between technologies, or try to focus on a single technology?"

It would depend on whether participation in the group was mandatory, and whether management intends for the group to indirectly further the company's capabilities.

In other words, is this a company sponsored "users' group" open to all, where anything can be discussed, or is this a training session where you're expected to learn things that you'd use in your daily job?
TheDavid Send private email
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Its optional; my goal is to become a better overall software developer, and better in the technologies I use at work.  I suggested a 'talk about a single topic' format as a way everyone (who wanted to)  could come up to speed on core concepts/technologies together.  The format/topics/existence/regularity/etc is completely open; and since no one else has offered to take charge or provided much feedback (other than they'd be interested in attending and participating) I've taken it upon myself to try to get this running regularly.
JustAnotherDev Send private email
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
I think that it should be about something exciting and cutting edge and fun. It can help your company directly and indirectly by stimulating people's minds to think ahead of the curve, improve morale, as well as helping them learn technology. I don't think it should be something that you would normally do during the course of your work - on the other hand it should be not totally unrelated either.

Just think back about the past - what would you like to have learned about before it became well-known? I.e. a presentation on the web back in 94 when the first browsers were being developed ...that would have been a good subject.
Larry Watanabe Send private email
Wednesday, May 06, 2009

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