Drupal Mentored Trainings
1 Set a time and place
Pick a venue with good internet, if possible. If you can't find one, that's okay, just read the USB Backup Plan under the Prepare and gather materials section below. Usually you can find a place for free or very cheap like a library conference room, but you can also go more upscale with venues like hotel meeting halls. Here are some suggestions for places where Mentored Trainings have been held in the past.
- Universities / Colleges
- Conference rooms at a community member's office space
- Restaurant banquet rooms
- Zoos (for reals! They often have conference rooms)
Sitting at round tables makes a big difference for how students interact, how easy it is to access students and also creating interesting unexpected conversation when helping students. If you can find a place where you can have a setup like the one below, that's the best. If not, that's okay, but it's good to keep this in mind when researching venues.
Also, ask the venue about the power situation. Most colleges are set up with power to each seat, but most other venues either have a pile of extension cords and power strips or expect you to bring your own.
Single day trainings are the most common, though there have been half-days and two-day trainings as well. Half-day trainings tend to be a bit too short for students that have a hard time getting started, but you can easily reduce the risk of that happening with good communication before the event.
Trainings tend to have greater attendance when bundled with another tech event, like a Drupal Camp, Conference or Code Camp, but don't be afraid to set one up without an event to hitch to.
2 Reach out to students
Now that you have a time and place, it's time to find some people that want to learn! Depending on your location and local interest in Drupal, this is probably going to be the most challenging part of the training since it might take some time to do outreach and follow up with everyone you connect with.
Keep in mind that there is some non-Drupal-specific material on BuildAModule, including a collection on Front End Development, another on PHP and also Git and the command line, so you can gear your training to highlight any of this material if it will help get students interested.
First, set up a signup page with a service like EventBrite. You can charge whatever you want for the training, or even offer it for free. Because free events often have a lot of no-shows (expect about 50%), taking a token fee of $20 or increases the chances of people showing up. You can even give the $20 back or offer lunch if you intend on not earning any money for the training.
Below is a template for the training signup / info page. The HTML source can be found in the Organizer Resource Pack:
THE BULLET POINTS
- Learn a ton, regardless of your current skill level
- Get one-on-one help from a small army of Drupal experts
- Benefit from an alternative approach to training
- Learn site building, basic programming or theming
- Focus on Drupal 6, 7 or 8
- Have an awesome time at one of the highest-rated ever DrupalCon trainings
ABOUT THIS TRAINING
The focus of this training is to give you a chance to connect with an army of Drupal experts one-on-one about anything you need help learning or accomplishing in Drupal 6, 7 or 8. Having trouble understanding a concept? There will be someone to help explain it in a way you can understand. Stuck on a project you’re working on? We’ll have a trainer available to help you figure out how to get past it. Just getting started and feeling overwhelmed? We’ll get you started on the right track and be there to help you along the way.
Customized for each student
You and your fellow students will all come to the table with different skill levels and experience. So how is it possible to guarantee that you’ll get the most out of your training even though you may be more or less advanced than other students? Here’s how:
Instead of lecturing to the entire class and assuming everyone is interested in the same material, we instead help you choose a set of video tutorials to focus on. These are the videos you’ll use to get inspired and figure out what you want to focus on. At that point, you’ll be able to enlist any of our numerous trainers (we call them Mentors) to help you out whenever you have questions or run into snags. It’s the best possible learning environment we’ve been able to create. You get to move forward at your own pace, you get lots of one-on-one interaction with trainers who can speed up your progress, and if you’re at a loss for what to do next, we’ll help you get you focused without missing a beat.
Extensively experienced trainers
We’ve used this style of training over the last several years to train thousands of Drupal students, including at the last 4 DrupalCons and dozens of Drupal Camps. Feedback from students at the last DrupalCon placed our training in the top in terms of overall satisfaction and content. If you join us, you won’t be disappointed.
Our training will also be very friendly to groups, so if you have an associate, co-workers, students or friend that you’d like to bring along, there will be ample room for group collaboration. If you are part of a college or university department adopting Drupal, this can be a great way to immerse your team. If you are a student, you can bring other members of your class to work together. Last year we had a dozen high school students take our course and love it.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES AND PERKS
We aim to provide each and every student with a clear path froward to help them make serious progress during the day, regardless of their skill level. We leverage the curriculum from the BuildAModule video series, which can take an absolute beginner through the basics of Drupal, onward through advanced site building and even into programming and theming. Wherever you are at, we’ll help you get to the next level.
As part of the course, we include an 8-day pass to the BuildAModule video library so you can get started with your learning before the live training takes place, and have access for a few days after the training as well to continue your work.
Class begins at 9am with a quick orientation to get a feel for how the day will work. At that point, we will help each student get started on a learning track, answer initial questions, and continue working until the course ends at 5. Lunch is officially at 11:45, but you will be free to take breaks whenever your brain needs it throughout the day.
WHO THIS COURSE IS FOR
Almost across the board, students at virtually any skill level will benefit significantly from this course. The combination of a customized curriculum along with access to skilled trainers throughout the day make it an incredibly satisfying experience. If you find yourself dozing off or losing concentration during long lectures, this course will be particularly well suited to you. You’ll also meet a number of people who will become your allies as you continue to learn Drupal, so if you’re coming to connect with other people doing Drupal, you’ll get a huge opportunity with this training as well.
There are no prerequisites for this course, you will be able to leverage whatever existing knowledge you have and develop it further during the course of this training.
FEEDBACK FROM HAPPY STUDENTS
"I'm totally happy. I solved a problem I've been working on for months"
"The mentored training was new to me and it was a fun experience. You are a gifted teacher."
"Excellent set of resources, between access to all the videos and the helpful mentors."
" Today's run-through was good for me in several ways. It got me on track to learn what I need to about PHP and some of the other components. Also, I am the sort of person who really likes to hear discussions among people who are more advanced in a subject that I am ...The conversations I was able to listen in on exposed me to facets of the subject I'd never imagined. Thanks to today's work, I have been able to refocus my efforts and know what I need to do … I appreciate all the effort, do keep up the good work."
"It absolutely rocked! Lots of positive feedback. Some of the trainees were doing some amazing things by the end of the day, having started from scratch."
"We had a great time at the TCDrupal BuildAModule training yesterday. We had almost 40 attendees and they were *very* engaged. Everyone came back ready to rock after lunch, and we even picked up a few people from the more advanced training. Everyone was so engrossed that we had to drag them away from their laptops when it was time to go!"
"Wow! Really enjoying this. You have done such a good job of explaining this stuff. I'm here at the Drupal Camp in Minneapolis, Minnesota today with all the people doing your training and it seems to be going really well. At lunch we had some good discussions about this."
"Just wanted to follow up to let you know that training on Saturday was a big success. We had about 25 students. We got really positive feedback, and people seemed extremely happy with the day."
We'd love to have you and your team join us. If you have any questions at all, just send us an email.
Date: Monday, June 2
Cost: $25.00 - Lunch included
Here are some groups to reach out to. Try to connect with local businesses, teachers, and through them to their employees, coworkers and students:
- Nearby Drupal User Groups
- Other tech meetups nearby
- Local companies that you know use Drupal
- Other tech companies that might be interested in training
- Schools: Universities, high schools, even middle schools
- The local Small Business Association
- Also, be sure to ask anyone helping with the training to tap their networks for anyone who might be interested.
Here's an example of a message you can sent to potential students:
A few of us local techies are conducting a free [it's okay if it's not free] Drupal [or whatever you'll be focusing on] training on [DATE] at [LOCATION] and I wanted to reach out to see if you and your team would be interested in attending. It will be a lot of fun, and all skill levels are welcome.
If you've never heard of Drupal before, it's a powerful CMS platform that runs many of the world's most popular web sites. You can learn more about it on http://drupal.org.
There's more details about this training up at [URL] and a sign up at [SIGNUP URL].
If you have any questions at all, please just send me an email!
3 Find Mentors
The more people you have Mentoring at the training, the better. Don't worry about what you or your Mentors do or don't know about Drupal or whatever subject you'll be working on. If there's questions that you can't answer, there's a good chance one of your Mentors can. If not them, then there might be a student who can help. Even if everyone is a complete noob, a training can still be really fun and successful.
To find trainers, reach out to the local Drupal community first, and then to tech-oriented friends any of you have. The ideal ratio for a small training (5-20 students) is around 1 trainer for every 5 students. You can carry a bigger training (20-90 students) with just 4 trainers, but it's nice to have at least 1 for every 10 students, more if you can get enough people to come.
The tricky part is that you'll be gathering Mentors and students at the same time, so you won't know exactly how many Mentors you'll need. That's okay. The Mentors don't need to do any prep work or anything, they just need to show up. If you don't get as many students as you predicted, just let the Mentors know that they don't have to help if they have other things they need to do.
I find it's pretty easy to get Mentors on board. It's super satisfying helping people, and because there's no prep work, it's easy to say yes.
4 Contact BuildAModule
Send a quick email to us with the following info:
- The date of the training
- The email addresses of the organizer(s). We will give the organizers the ability to credit Mentors and students with a free 8-day pass to BuildAModule.
- Any questions you have
We will send you back an email with a link to download the files needed for the USB Backup Plan, and will answer any questions.
5 Prepare and gather materials
The materials part is where things get a little more nuanced, and you can definitely go minimal and not do anything here. However, a little prep work will make things go a little more smoothly and make for a more professional-feeling training.
- Figure out how to get power to each student. You may need to gather extension cords and surge protectors from friends and associates if the venue doesn't supply these. If so, you will also want to bring some tape to keep people from tripping over the cords.
- Create signage and get tape. If the venue is a little confusing to get around, you'll want to put up some signs to help direct people to the training. Printing these out beforehand can save you time and headache on the day of the training. But, bringing a big black marker, white paper and tape will be useful for improvising.
- Get sticky notes. It doesn't matter what kind or color, but it will help students let you know they need help without having to keep a hand raised.
- Print out QuickStart guides - either a handful so each table can have one, or one for each student. The files for these can be found in the Organizer Resource Pack. If you use card stock to print on, you can print the guide on one side and the cover on the other side and fold it in half.
- Get a few extra headphones. About 10% of students come with no headphones or have headphones poop out on them. Amazon has them for super cheap online, and Walgreen's usually as pairs for $2-5 a pop if you need something immediately.
- Download and uncompress the USB Backup Plan file, and start copying the files over to USB drives. The files weigh in at about 1.5gig now, though that will increase as we add more video collections. You can buy 2gig USB drives on Amazon for about $3 / apiece. I try to bring one per every 5-10 people. If things do go south with the internet, then it will probably take each person about 3-5 minutes to copy all the files over to their computer, so the more drives you have, the quicker everyone can get squared away.
- Practice the introduction. I've included a slideshow in Keynote and Powerpoint formats that you can use verbatim or as a template. These also have comments on each slide to further clarify what might be covered and why. This is also optional, but I know I feel a lot better if I know what I'm going to say before I get up in front of a bunch of people to say it. The intro won't be more than 20 minutes, and the slides will help you remember what goes where, but it's still nice to not have to worry about on on training day.
- Figure out how you'll present the intro. For smaller trainings, you can tote in a big screen TV. For larger trainings, a projector is usually necessary. I've tried live streaming from my computer, but that almost always ends up crashing the internet. If you don't have a projector, you can rent one, or you can print out the presentation on paper.
- Pack a dongle to hook into a the projector or a cable to the TV.
- If you can, bring 1 blanket for every 10 students, unless you know the venue is definitely going to be warm enough. 90% of the venues I've trained in have gotten cold, regardless of the season. Those couple students who are shivering will really love you if you can help them out.
- Think about getting neon t-shirts. Shirts are totally optional, and are only really useful in larger (20+ students) trainings, but they can really help people identify who are Mentors. You can get blank neon shirts on Amazon for about $6 apiece.
- Think about serving food. Getting people started off with some coffee in the morning is nice, and supplying lunch can help people get back to work faster since they don't have to leave the venue for lunch. But, it takes some finagling.
There are at least two groups to send communication to before the training, the Mentors and the Students. Sending one email a few days prior to the training is usually sufficient, but if you really want to be diligent, you can set up a whole series of emails to get the students engaged.
3-5 days before the training, give the students credit to access BuildAModule (I will have sent you instructions for this earlier), and then send them a message like this:
Here's the short, bulleted list version, but feel free to read on for more specific details.
- WHAT: You're signed up for "Drupal Immersion" with BuildAModule and Company
- WHERE: Palace of Fine Arts, on the 1st floor in the “Rainbow Road” room. Here is a map with our classroom circled: http://is.gd/Yf4tEO.
- WHEN: 9am - 5pm on Thursday, November 6th. Lunch is at 11:30am and there will be food trucks to purchase lunch from.
- BRING: 1) Laptop, 2) Headphones, 3) Jacket
- TO PREPARE: Set up a Drupal environment on your computer and watch as many of videos on http://BuildAModule.com as you can before the training. Start here: http://is.gd/aRZfDk .
- QUESTIONS: Just respond to this email.
THE LONGER VERSION
I'm super excited for our training in a few of days. It's going to be a lot of fun and everyone is going to learn a ton. I just wanted to touch base with you so you know what to bring and how to prepare.
Just in case you still have questions about the format, we're basically replacing the live lectures of a traditional training with video tutorials in order to maximize the amount of time you have one-on-one with mentors. We will have a number of mentors that will be available to help you as you have questions or run into issues.
WHAT TO BRING AND HOW TO PREPARE
Because videos are such an important part of the training, please be sure to bring a LAPTOP and HEADPHONES. Those of you with a tablet may also find it helpful to use as a second monitor to watch the videos.
I have just given each one of your accounts a free 8-day credit to the full video library on BuildAModule.com so you can begin learning before the training. You will definitely get more out of the training if you COME WITH QUESTIONS and an ENVIRONMENT SET UP. You should have gotten an e-mail with your account details if you didn't already have an account. Just let us know if that didn't go through.
If you don't have Drupal already installed in your laptop, you can follow the instructions in "Introduction" collection (http://tinyurl.com/o93c5xk) to get it set up. If you will only be working through the beginner videos (the "Build Your First Drupal 7 Web Site" collection), then you can also use a hosted solution like Acquia Cloud or Pantheon. Note that you DO NOT need to figure out how to sync your local and remote environment with SSH keys and all that, so feel free to skip those videos. Once you have either a local or a remote site set up, you're good to move on to the other videos.
One final note: Please bring a JACKET and / or BLANKET to the training. It can get cold in conference rooms and we don’t want you to have to resort to calisthenics to keep yourself heated. :)
SCHEDULE AND VENUE
You are signed up for the [NAME OF TRAINING] training on [DATE AND TIME OF TRAINING].
We are going to be located in [LOCATION DETAILS].
The training goes from 9AM to 5PM. Getting there a little early will give you some time to set up your computer before the training starts, and say hello to the Mentors and your fellow students.
[ABOUT LUNCH. IS LUNCH SERVED? ARE THERE RESTAURANTS? WHAT TIME?]
WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!
All of us mentors are really looking forward to spending the day with you and helping you learn lots. If you have any questions over the next couple of days, feel free to send an email to [YOUR EMAIL].
Thanks again, and see you soon!
And here's an example message to send to mentors, also a few days before the training (though you may want to touch base a couple weeks before, just in some things came up and you need to try to grab more Mentors):
Thank you so much for being willing to help with [NAME OF TRAINING]. It looks like we're going have around [NUMBER OF STUDENTS] students, so your participation is really going to make an impact. Thank you, thank you!
Because this is a free community training, I will not be able to offer payment for your time, but I would love to take you out to dinner as a thank-you if you don't already have plans. [OPTIONAL, OF COURSE]
The training will be taking place at [LOCATION] and goes from 9am - 5pm.
Here are some bullet points about what to expect and how timing will work:
* If you can make it, it would be great to have you at the venue by 8:30am for a quick orientation, a meet-the-other-Mentors, and to help set up. I will plan on being there at 8am if you want to come earlier. The training ends at 5pm.
* During the training, students will be watching BuildAModule videos and then connecting with Mentors when they have questions. Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to walk around periodically - every 5 minutes seems good - and answer questions, or connect students up with other Mentors that might know the answers. Many students will also bring their own projects to work on, which is even better.
* If you have the time, consider reading through the index of videos on the BuildAModule to get a sense of what subjects are covered and where you might direct students when they have questions about what to focus on in the curriculum.
* Afternoons tend to get a bit less active as people get past their initial hurdles and find something to focus on. So, that tends to be a better time for longer conversations with students and other mentors since it feels like there's less pressure to get to a lot of people.
I'll be in touch as the training dates get closer just to make sure I answer any questions you have and let you know about any changes.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please just let me know!
Thank you again, all of you are quite genuinely awesome. :)
On the day of the training, it's good to get to the venue about an hour early so you can test the projector / TV setup, do any table-wrangling you need and also distribute materials to each table. Here's a short checklist:
- Set up signs. Sometimes students come early, and you don't want them wandering around aimlessly.
- Set up power. This is hard to do after students start filing in, so try to tackle it first.
- Put a whole or partial sticky pad on each table, or distribute every 4 seats or so if the venue has lecture-style seating.
- Distribute the QuickStart guides. If you printed a front and folded them, you can set them up nicely at each seat.
- Test out the projector / TV setup and put the title slide up to give students as sense that they're in the right place.
Even though you will have set up students with BuildAModule access before the training, some students won't have it because they signed up late or the spam filter swallowed up your email. Have the credit page loaded up on your smart phone so you can give people access as needed. Any other Mentors who were given the ability to issue credit can also do this.
At 9am, or whenever the training starts, go through the Introduction presentation. I mentioned above that you can use the Powerpoint / Keynote presentation that comes with the Organizer Resource Pack, but you can also roll your own. It shouldn't take more than 20 minutes or so.
During the training, be sure to encourage Mentors to walk around when they're not helping a Student. Students will often wait to ask questions until a Mentors is right next to them.