Google Developer Groups (GDG) around the world set up Study Jams, which are study groups. Participants in these study groups receive individualized coaching from coaches, study with peers, and frequently earn certificates upon completion.
I have set up Study Jams for Flutter, Machine Learning, and Actions on Google, Google Cloud, and Android in the past few years. I’ve also led an ML study group at work for my fellow engineers. In this blog post, I’ll share my best tips to help you get started, whether you want to start a Study Jam for your GDG chapter or a Study Group at your meetup, work, or school.
2018 GDG Seattle Study Jams
I set up four Study Jams for GDG Seattle in 2018: one on Flutter, one on Machine Learning, one on Actions on Google, and one on the Cloud.
There are a couple of options for content — you may choose one or more option(s) or combine them:
- Make your material.
- Use ready-made content.
- For example, Google Code Labs, Qwiklabs, or an online course’s lesson plan.
Ask someone who knows a lot about the topic to run the meeting, give a talk, or help coach.
We sometimes have people who know a lot about the topic lead the Study Jam. In this case, I mainly focus on the logistics of the event. I have to plan the logistics and make the content for many of the events I lead, like the Android Study Jams and ML Study Jams.
I also asked other people to help me run the events and hired coaches to help out if anyone had questions or problems setting up.
I think the best way to learn is through hands-on labs or workshops. Make sure there is a good mix of hands-on and talk time.
Most of the coding labs at a Study Jam will be done by hand. You will need to have coaches ready to help when people have problems. This means a plan for a smaller number of attendees at a Study Jam than a regular meetup where there are just talks or presentations.
It’s a good idea to let the people coming to the Study Jam know if they need to do anything before they can join. Send out a reminder email at least a few days before reminding the participants of any pre-work or installation needed. If you are running an ML study group, for example, let the people in the group know if they need to read any research papers before a certain session.
If you want to be a facilitator or coach, make sure to look over the codelabs ahead of time to get familiar with them.
Prizes and Rewards
To make learning fun, I like to give out prizes and rewards. During the study group at work, when people asked good questions or gave good answers, I gave them my favorite chocolates. After show-and-tell at Study Jams, I gave out small prizes.
Rewarding the attendees to encourage them to finish studying. For example, after finishing the GCP Essentials quest on Qwiklabs, attendees of the Cloud Study Jam will get a badge and a free month of Qwiklabs.
It’s important to stay in touch with the people who came to each study session. Tell them to finish their homework and keep studying on their own. Set up ways for them to talk to each other, like Slack or Teams, so they can ask each other questions and help each other out. Make sure they aren’t falling behind by checking their progress.