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5 Things we Learned Co-hosting a Live Code Challenge Workshop

Posted by Bob on Sat 11 November 2017 in PyCon • 4 min read

Yesterday we hosted PyChallengeDay together with Python Alicante. I am sure the folks that joined us stretched their coding skills. And we learned a couple of things too which we will share in this article. Hopefullly it inspires you to host a workshop yourself to grow the awesome Python community.

1. There's nothing like live coding

Python teachers take notice: a live coding workshop offers a unique opportunity to gain valuable insight.

So far we have been doing code challenges online. We are getting an increasing amount of PRs and the overall feedback is that people learn more Python. Great!

However seeing people doing a challenge for the first time - the struggles, the wins, env setups (Python 2!), and applied problem solving - it added a totally different angle.

We gained some valuable insights which we will use to make our code challenges better.

2. Make public speaking less intimidating

A local workshop offers a more intimate setting to start learning the ropes of sharing your work in public!

Although it's a coding workshop, you typically start with a quick intro chat. I had not spoken much in public and here, right off the bat, I was introduced to the group and shared how I got into Python and PyBites. It felt great to share our passion and work and it invigorated me to do this more often.

3. Help building the awesome Python community

Great relations are built face-to-face over coffee or beers.

Building a community takes a lot of practical work, part of which happens online. In this highly interruptive and online society we loose this aspect from time to time. That's why I attend PyCons whenever I can. Live workshops and meetups help building the exemplary Python community.

4. An event requires organizing skills

Organization is sometimes taken for granted but it's the oil on which these kind of events run.

I think we learned as much as the participants.

First the coding: people solved the problem in different ways, fascinating to see.

The setting: as much as you prepare, some unexpected things always happen (GH account/access, difference csv parsing Python 2 vs 3). A good prep should prevent showstoppers but expect some instant hacking and creativity regardless :)

The event, although small, required some organization (thanks Python Alicante!): signup form, promo (flyer, Twitter, university), code challenge prep and release timing, GH PR submission process, coffee, classroom, winner price (book), Gitter chatroom. Organization skills are valuable to have and the community will thank you for it.

5. Learning from each other in a fun way

It's amazing to see how motivated people get if you challenge them!

Remember: PRs do count! The winner is a Python book richer, I think he will remember how he acquired it by coding :)

Funny things happen: somebody discovered the csv had Marvel characters already ordered ("huh the tests pass with a unsorted slice?!" ... lol).

We discussed sorted+lambda vs heapq, new opportunities to write about on our blog.

There was some heroic hard work done, Marvelic respect was earned. Even folks that could not complete the challenge got a huge incentive from it to go back and brush up some modules, sharpening the coding saw.

Conclusion: hungry for more

Live workshops offer an effective and fun way to build out our passionate Python community.

We will follow up with more workshops, we've broken the ice and we only got started.

Stay tuned and don't worry if you're not in Alicante because you're more than welcome to join us via Gitter. The more the merrier :)

And again a big THANKS to Python Alicante for the nice collaboration making this event a success. And for the cool flyer:

Keep Calm and Code in Python!

-- Bob

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