Vancouver Tech Community

Node School April Event Feedback - Node bots at Conference and Coffee


Starting a feedback thread about the april event. Things that went well. Things that could improve. Try to keep things constructive.

“thing X was the worst”
“I did not enjoy my time doing thing X because of reason Y”


My Feedback:

So Positives:

  • Event was so much fun. So many people got their first experiences with electronics in a pretty happy healthy environment
  • Only 1 real issue with node, and a loaner laptop was a quick fix for that
  • Helped that most people were already interested in dev in some way (if they were not already one) so we didn’t need to help getting code editors, or cover basic node, was able to focus more on getting people going and seeing results.
  • People were super excited to be able to bring things home after. That way they could play with stuff more, pretty much everyone started digging into their bags almost right away then.
  • Slides were amazing. Clear. Large, Colorful, easy to follow
  • Elgin was attentive and helpful

Needs fixing:

  • Wasn’t super clear that this was part of the conference. Maybe next time prevent people from actually rsvping on meetup? Or maybe a clearer link to the conference. I also know people don’t read/miss stuff so its hard.
  • Some people were spending a lot of time following the diagrams to the letter, and didn’t really understand why ports were being selected, or the basics about how power flows. I think that mostly comes from the fact of people being at different levels and learning at different speeds.
  • Need to find a way to get people comfortable with asking questions. I suspect its less of an issue with a smaller group, but I know when I sat down next to a few people and started talking to them they were way more comfortable asking and conversing.

Side Note:
I wish more people were posting about it, but those who did were super positive. is what i’ve found so far.


Great idea to add some notes here:

*So great that we got to give away kits! It was amazing that people could work with their own equipment. When we do nodebots with shared hardware components it always works out fine, but I’ve found that sometimes a handful of people end up doing most of the breadboarding, and the others end up just using the pre-assembled gear. It was cool that everyone was able to get their hands dirty!
*Having two troubleshooting volunteers worked perfectly. I felt super supported, and I don’t think anyone was left waiting for too long without someone to help. I was pretty terrified that everyone’s computers would throw errors, but there were only a few hiccups. It helped that a lot of people had Node/development experience.

For next time
*2 hours was sufficient, but it was still pretty short to cover so much content. I had to sort of rush through the intro to electronics parts, and didn’t even get a chance to explain circuits (I figured people would just follow along with the pictures).
*I don’t think I would want to do more than 20 people for this (I think a smaller group would encourage more discussion, and it would be easier to adapt to participant’s skill levels)

*If I were to do another short workshop like this (2 hours), I might consider doing a small self-contained project rather than the Johnny-five workshopper (for example, building a little robot or something). It was great to introduce NodeSchool through the workshopper, but we didn’t get very far into it, and I think it might be more fun to do something start-finish, and spend a bit more time getting to know one component (for example, servos), than introducing all the components needed for the workshopper and not getting to use them.

Also, for future reference, the kits were about $65 each (it worked out well that we were buying 20, because components are often sold in packs of 5/10 units)


My feelings are largely in line with what has been said already. I just wanted to add that the one-big-table format works better for speaker-led sessions like that one, but splitting into tables of 5 or less with a mentor at each is generally what I try to target for the more typical self-guided sessions. It’s much more comfortable asking questions and keeping the group moving at a uniform pace when it’s a smaller group like that.