Tech Community User Groups

by Caryn Humphreys on February 27, 2014

When working in the tech community you can often find yourself working in a silo. While immersing yourself in your discipline is necessary for domain knowledge, to truly work toward explicit expertise, your best bet is talking to others within the same discipline who can help illustrate what you don’t know you don’t know.

User Groups are where developers or designers meet to discuss common interests within specific disciplines; taking advantage of the benefits of peer learning while also maintaining valuable network relationships.

Sites like Stack Overflow have come a long way toward bringing developers together to create an environment where productive dialog can help solve problems and overcome barriers in knowledge, but there is also a lot to be said for peer-to-peer interaction.

In 2002, Stanford reprinted an essay on the benefits of peer learning that explored the benefits of two-way, reciprocal learning.  More locally, Waterloo Region takes advantage of collaborative learning by hosting user groups. User Groups are where developers or designers meet to discuss common interests within specific disciplines; taking advantage of the benefits of peer learning while also maintaining valuable network relationships.

At this month’s most recent user group, hosted by GPUG (the Guelph PHP user group), Adam Wathan talked to a group of 30 people about rapid development using Laravel.  This group, as with many user groups, has a formula for the night that encourages attendees to come and network before a brief presentation and discussion before more casual networking.

Laravel meetup

Adam Wathan presents an intro to Laravel at February’s Guelph PHP user group

Presentations by members of user groups expand everyone’s knowledge and expose its members to new techniques  and tools that they may not otherwise know about or have an opportunity to learn about.

Installing Laravel

Adam explains the simple options for installing Laravel

User groups have a casual atmosphere that encourages feedback and engagement.

GPUG

Members of GPUG learning about Laravel, a PHP framework

For many developers, there is a significant advantage to watching another developer move seamlessly through a live coding demonstration of their topic.

live coding at GPUG

Adam codes live to illustrate the flexibility of Laravel

One simply has to watch the members nodding and engaging to see the benefit of introducing new things to developers in this format.

GPUG members

Attendees are able to learn rapidly at user groups.

 

User Groups in Waterloo Region

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Caryn Humphreys

UX Designer
Caryn is a Product Designer. She likes writing about CSS tricks she's discovered, Best UX Practices, living and working in a startup community, and fostering a badass team culture.

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