After holding a number of successful workshops in 2013 and 2014, the OTS Australia team in Melbourne has decided to put things on hiatus.
If you’re interested in running OTS workshops in Melbourne or elsewhere in Australia then please let us know, and we’ll do anything we can to help you get under way. The best way to get in touch is probably to post here on Discourse.
Thanks to everyone who came along to our past workshops, either as participants or as coaches, and to the world-wide OpenTechSchool crew who helped us out so much.
It’s been great to follow your activities on the other side of the world. Thanks so much! Hope this will continue somehow.
Just to make this clear: Is this a time problem? Not enough organizers? No interest in the community?
It would be great if you could share some of the problems you encountered/are encountering, so we know how we could help out and others can learn from your experience.
Time & organising commitment problem.
Would love to see a blog post about the activities in OTS AU so far and the current status.
Oops, I meant to expand on @matthew’s answer to @robert back when he posted it and here we are almost a month later! Eck.
Before talking about the factors that lead to the hiatus, I figure I should go over the positive factors also. Some things worked really well, I think.
We had a great supportive venue in The Electron Workshop. They made us welcome in their space, and they supported other related events such as when OTS sponsored/co-organised Software Freedom Day 2014 (this was organised and spearheaded by Lilly).
We got a good turnout to all our workshops. We had a reasonable gender split for tech-themed events, at most workshops 35-40% of the learners were women. Could have been better (50/50 would have been good) but I think we did OK.
In terms of general diversity, our group skewed pretty heavily to middle class younger people (early 20s to mid 30s) living in the inner suburbs. I think this was heavily a function of location, the demographics of the organisers, and which demographics have available time on a Saturday. That said, not everyone who came was in that demographic and even within that demographic people seemed to have pretty diverse backgrounds and reasons for coming. We had some parents come with their kids which was great!
We had some great coaches. Nearly everyone who came to coach returned to coach more than once. Thanks (again) everyone who came and coached!
We got some great feedback. Lots of people said they enjoyed the workshops and found them helpful. Lots of people came to more than one.
So, why have things stopped? I’ve been involved with setting up community groups in the past and I think there’s a key point where the organisation grows enough that there are no longer individual “key people”, so things can roll on with the loss of one or several of those people. This is similar to the software development concept of “bus factor”. We got really close to a sustainable bus factor but we didn’t quite get there.
Relatedly, all of the people who volunteered to help organise also had other commitments and usually did other things in the community. (Isn’t this always the way?) So when those other things took more time, they spent less time with OTS. This is just the way it is, I guess!
In terms of doing things differently if doing it again, we already had some written documents that Steven created with the steps for how to run a workshop, etc. This was a key part of keeping “bus factor” high as possible.
Probably some more time actively seeking out more organisers in the community earlier on would have helped, and possibly making it clearer what level of commitment “becoming an organiser” really entailed. (ie not as much as some people would expect, the workshops nearly entirely organised themselves!)
Part of that lack of outreach is on me, I do mostly embedded development work these days and I’m reasonably new to Melbourne and just not as connected to the local developer community as I could be.
This is all obviously just my 2c, so other people who were involved may have totally different perspectives (which I would encourage them to share!)