Well actually, we do it *this* way...
October 31, 2017 11:57 PM   Subscribe

I am starting a project for young adults with low-to-no educational background but an interest in IT, computers, making, design, etc. Yay! I want to run our group projects using branch relevant methods and tools as much as possible. I want us to use slack and scrum and will make them document their code, encourage play and "fail better" what else is important to for them to begin absorbing to fit into these cultures/workplaces/schools? We're in western Europe, but that's maybe not vital.
posted by J.R. Hartley to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Hey! I think we'll need a bit more information:

1. When you say low-to-no educational background, have they made it through elementary school?
2. How young of adults are we talking?
3. Are you providing the computers, or are they?
4. How will they find the project, and why will they be interested?
5. You say they want to "fit into these cultures/workplaces/schools" - is this hopefully leading to a career in programming? What school requires programming?
posted by bbqturtle at 5:48 AM on November 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Team building and team dynamics. I have less formal education than many of my coworkers. I learned on the job, with personal projects and research, and am as knowledgeable as anybody in my field, but I was a lone wolf for much of my education, so I never played sports, never participated in many guided group activities, etc. It took me a good while to learn what makes a good team member and coworker, and how sometimes asking for help is the most heroic thing you can do.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:29 AM on November 1, 2017

"How do we keep this from happening again" being the preferred response over "whose fault is it" when something breaks is the *key* team skill.
posted by PMdixon at 9:06 AM on November 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Great questions bbqturtle, thanks. The people are mainly in their twenties, some a little younger. Most will have completed elementary/primary education, but a good bit less than half will have completed secondary education. Many will have learning disabilities, neuropsychiatric diagnoses, mental health issues. Some will have had run ins with the law, substance abuse or homelessness. These will not be the main reason for us meeting and are not a prerequisite. They will be referred to us through our main organisation on the basis of having expressed an interest in these subjects. We will provide everything. The set up is based on the expressed interests of an underserved group. After working on projects with us the aim would be to step back into education or take on simpler, generalist jobs in the environment described. I'm interested mainly in hearing what methods are current IRL to see what could be useful to steal.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 10:15 AM on November 1, 2017

Because of the varied level of skill and age, I imagine the groups will need a LOT of one-on-one time with the instructor. If at all possible, I would have the groups sized 4 or so, and have an hour meeting weekly with the instructor each.

Before everything, I would do a basic computer skills class. Cover "turning on the computer" "typing letters, numbers, and symbols" ,"opening a web browser" "Using google" "opening a program" "using email" "using slack". Have them save favorites for everything on the bookmarks bar of their computer. Or maybe have those ahead of time.

Be ready to kick people out / have them try to look at porn/play games during meetings and class.

The things that really worked in our classes were software that could take over individuals screens and everyones screens to show examples on everyones screens at the same time, then have them do the same thing. Monkey see, monkey do, as it were. Then be sure to quickly reward those doing well, and quickly coach those that aren't doing as well so they can get up to speed.

I recommend starting with visual basic - it's pretty simple. Every lesson should be to make a "game". If people start working ahead of the class, that's okay, as long as they have completed the previous lessons. The first game could be a counter that increases over time. The second could be a minesweeper or a tic tac toe game. Eventually you could build pong or frogger.

I'm not sure how groupwork would work here. However, you could have peer grading of the code. Have them look at each others code and try to understand it. If they can, they get an A - and allow them to document and type notes!

Starting out, if they've never programmed before, documentation won't make sense because they don't know how complicated a program can be. I wouldn't start it on the first lesson, and don't make them follow a specific outline of documenting. Just have them write a comment that explains what they were trying to accomplish. The details will come later more naturally.
posted by bbqturtle at 9:00 AM on November 2, 2017

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond so thoroughly, but I'm actually totally fine with working with these subjects and this group, and have no concerns about our end of things. Was specifically wondering what standard tools are popular in IT adjacent companies right now. Thanks anyhow. I think this ones a wrap.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 12:40 PM on November 2, 2017

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