Just a quick write-up of my Pecha Kucha talk for RedDotRubyConference last night.
Full “script” below the cut. If you’ve been there in my talk, I ad-libbed a lot more this time around than when I did my Ignite talk.
Good evening. I’m Bry, a Filipino software developer still living in the Philippines.
For the non-rubyists here, don’t worry, this talk is simple enough and you might learn something new. Just expect jargon.
As we all know, what they teach you in college isn’t what you get in the real world.
Fortunately, the students know this, and they often ask us local Rubyists to give talks in their campuses.
And since Matz is nice, so we are nice… so we’re happy to oblige.
Just this year alone, we’ve already visited 5 schools and we expect to do more later this year.
This talk is a culmination of the lessons I learned from making talks; what works and what doesn’t when introducing Ruby to students.
Everything begins with knowing your audience.
A couple of years back, I was at a conference where the guy in front was talking about how cool this web framework was (no it’s not Rails).
Problem was, it wasn’t your usual conference. He didn’t realize that his audience consisted mainly of undergrads.
No one understood what he was saying.
Moral of the story: Keep it simple. You’re not there to confuse people, you’re there to introduce new ideas.
Actually, keeping things simple is just the first step. Your real initial goal is to make an impression.
6 (also University of Perpetual Help System DALTA)
This is me in front of over 500 students. Note that the students are glued to the screen; they’re not talking or sleeping.
And note that I didn’t have a microphone, no lapel or wireless or anything. I was able to do this simply by making a good impression.
So how do you make an impression?
(Polytechnic University of the Philippines, San Pedro Laguna
Here is the Prezi presentation showed throughout the talks)
First thing to do is to ditch PowerPoint. These are college students, and if they see another freaking wall of text even outside their classroom, they’re going to sleep or do things that you wouldn’t want them to do.
I personally use Prezi over PowerPoint. It works wonders just as long as you don’t get your audience seasick.
A much better way to blow their mind is to give them a demo, which is what the web framework fanboy should have done. Spend 5 minutes building “Twitter” from installation to working app and you’re going to blow their minds. You’ll make a really big impression.
If the talk takes more than 30 mins, I try to go beyond Rails and amaze them with Ruby. This line above may look simple to us, but it’s enough to freak out people who aren’t exposed to Functional Programming and real OOP.
10 (Asia Pacific College) + 11
The next step is to make Ruby as accessible as possible. This has stirred a bit of a controversy in the past, most of it comes from my decision to forgo Macs when I make my presentations.
My reasoning is that I’m talking to third world college students. In my opinion, it gives the impression to them they need a Mac before they could explore Ruby, which is certainly not the case. It’ll run perfectly fine on whatever OS they have on their PCs, typically windows.
And so I demo with Windows.
On a similar note, while some of you are already sick of Rails, I still go with Rails in my demo instead of Sinatra because, aside from the one click installer and scaffold script, the audience would be more likely to find info or tutorials about the former.
13 (also Asia Pacific College)
So now we’ve got their attention by blowing their minds and making Ruby accessible, so now you just have to make things stick. You can do this by letting them try it on their own.
There are many ways to go about this, but I prefer the online interactive tutorial route.
TryRuby.org is a good place to start. It’s browser based so they don’t need to install anything. The interactive tutorial is so-so, but it should whet their appetite enough to start looking for other resources.
On the Rails side, you’ve got RailsForZombies. Thanks to Facebook and Zynga, everyone has a browser with flash, and no one has an excuse not to try learning Rails with this online tutorial.
At this point you’ll probably have people scrambling for writing materials to take down those URLs. But there’s still going to be a part of the audience that will be skeptical.
16 (Adamson University)
Whether they come up to the mic or not, they’ll have this question in their mind: will I get a job using such exotic language?
Of course, we know that’s a stupid question. But since “Matz is nice, so we are nice”, we can’t directly tell that to them.
I simply point out the facts.
There’s a really high demand for Ruby developers in our country.
Most of us freelancers are juggling more than 2 gigs at a time.
We have the money to go to Singapore or buy MacBook Pros.
At this point, you’ve convinced all those you can convince. At this point, I simply I end my talks by pointing the audience to our Ruby local user group to provide a venue for follow up questions.
We also have monthly meet-ups in case they want to ask questions in real life.
And we have a group website PinoyRB.org. Right now it’s just a blog aggregator, but when we get the time we could probably build a more badass site.
Well, that’s it for my talk.
(picture source – used under fair use)
To sum it all up: think Inception. Planting simple ideas deep enough will get you more response than a hundred powerpoint slides.
Thank you for listening and good night.