A little more intimate than a workshop or a meetup is a study group. The PyLadies group has been around for a while and were recently joined by Ruby Habits, focusing on Ruby rather than Python. We were wondering if both groups shared traits and if so, what we can learn from that.
Ruby Habits (meetup | Github) is run by Barbara Fux and Pilar and Ramon Huidobro. For their first session February 26th, they sat down to introduce the group to what they had in mind and would like to do. “What we agreed upon is to propose a list of subjects we can study per session and have a vote.” All very democratic. “We plan on meeting on a monthly basis. We met at Rochuspark last time and will try sektor5 next.”
Ramon on their support network: “So far, vienna.rb, Rochuspark and Rails Girls (Vienna, red.) have helped us out with support, a venue and noms respectively. We haven’t yet directly reached out to other folks.”
Pilar: “I found it very hard to keep motivated learning Ruby/Rails after attending a Rails Girls event. I tried reading textbooks but (besides coaching at Rails Girls event) I couldn’t find a fun and interactive way to learn. I decided to plan a study group so that other people who were stuck like me and I could all learn and advance together.” The Ruby Habits meetup group counts 44 members.
Ramon: “If anyone is interested in improving their Ruby or general programming skills in a group, this is what we hope to accomplish! We’ve faced some technical issues getting the blog up, but other than that, we’re just starting out and hopeful we won’t run into many difficulties.”
Laura Gaetano originally founded PyLadies Vienna (132 members) together with yours truly. Last year Dražen Lučanin and Angeliki Chrysochou joined the organizing team. Laura: “Most people find the possibility to have a place to work quietly with or surrounded by other people very motivating; a lot of attendees also think the group is very approachable and friendly, because we’re open to everyone – not just women!”
Their plan is to always have a beginners track – so people can join at any time – and one more advanced track. Apart from the last meetup (where they had a special guest and a more lecture-like, follow-along tutorial), at almost every meetup attendees have been able to work on their own or in small groups. They’d usually go through different books or tutorials together, or work on a small project.
Laura: “So far, we’ve been pretty inconsistent with our meetup dates, because the events are whole-day events; but the plan is to be a bit more consistent this year and meet at least every second month.”
PyLadies Vienna has had some people from PYUGAT (the local Python User Group) come and coach. “I’m always happy to see individuals gladly give their Saturday or Sunday to help us out with this. sektor 5 has always been amazing both in sponsoring our venue, and occasionally in sponsoring drinks and food. A couple of times we also had Mjam supporting us.”
Laura started PyLadies because she wanted to be more confident with her programming skills. “Python seemed like the right choice, since I come from the Ruby world and I love everything that has to do with data. At the end of the day though, I’m so busy organizing and making sure that everything goes well that I sometimes forget to be a ‘student’, too.” I can only add that I felt that studying alone could get really lonely and boring and I needed the motivation of other people going through the same process to continue learning.
Laura on our the difficult bits of running a study group: “Even though we founded the group almost two years ago; deciding on an agenda with something like a study group is really difficult, because we often have attendees with very different levels and expectations. It makes it tricky to set up a ‘programme’ to follow, at least for me since I am not very skilful with Python. That’s why I’m grateful we have a wonderful orga team, we’re pretty good at ‘winging it’!”
Is neither Ruby nor Python your programming language of interest? Start your own study group, there are always more ‘people like you’ out there and I speak for the PyLadies as well as for the Ruby Habits team when I say that we’d love to help you get started.