Teaching & Learning

I just gave a well-received talk at the Mobile Developer & Business Day about teaching and learning here in Minsk. There were some great questions and interesting conversations following the presentation.

I was a bit nervous about this presentation for a few reasons. First, it is completely new material; many of my presentations draw from existing talks that I’ve given before. Second, my audience is literally foreign to me. Finally, it was not a technical topic.

Usually when I give a presentation, I’m talking about technology. That’s great because what I say is either my opinion (ReactiveCocoa is great) or a fact (this is how you use tuples in Swift). You can disagree with my opinion, but that’s about the worst that could happen. This was different because what I claimed is based almost entirely off of my experiences – there were no citations I could make beyond my own past.

The worst that usually happens is that someone asks a technical question and my answer might be “I don’t know”. Here, someone could stand up and claim everything I said was bullshit and I don’t really know how I would react to that.

My presentation’s goal was pretty ambitious:

This morning, I am going to convince you that sharing knowledge not only makes you a better engineer, but is a good business decision, too.

The evidence presented was based on my experience writing this blog, several books, and contributing to the open source community, as well as working for companies that invest effort to share knowledge, too. That’s pretty soft and, given more time to prepare (I’ve been really busy at work lately), I would have done proper research and cited studies with statistics and graphs and citations.

Despite being nervous, I believe that I gave a good presentation (judging my own performance is something that I’ve been trying to get better at). It looks like it was recorded, so I might get a chance to review the footage and improve for next time.

Beyond my own self-assessment, I got some great feedback and questions afterward. Some people were already familiar with my work or the work I’ve done at Teehan+Lax or at Artsy (if they weren’t, they are now). This is important – not because of my ego – because it’s an example of the behaviour I’m trying to inspire. It’s one thing for someone to get up on a stage and say “you should be doing X” and it’s another thing for someone to say “I’ve done X and you should, too, for these reasons.” I’ve been fortunate to work at companies that not only share my values, but also walk the walk.

The slides don’t do my talk justice, but let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions.


Posted on November 7, 2014