Monday, August 6, 2012

Tips for organizing your Udacity study group

Organizing a Udacity Study Group using Meetup Everywhere

Last week Udacity launched our Meetup Everywhere page! If you set up a Meetup group on our Meetup Everywhere page, (www.meetup.com/udacity) you probably noticed that the Udacity Global Meetup Day was set up automatically as your group's first scheduled meetup. 

You should also know that in addition to worldwide meetup events, you can also set up additional meetup groups through Meetup Everywhere anytime for your local community. To do so, simply click on your community and click the "+ SCHEDULE A NEW MEETUP" text (image below).



In between global events, organize study groups or social meetups and keep in touch with your Udacity community! Looking for tips on starting a local study group meetup? This week Kimberly Spillman writes about best practices for organizing and executing a great study group using Meetup.com! 

How to Plan a Stellar Study Group


Kimberly Spillman is a Meetup study group leader in San Diego, CA. She began studying with Meetup groups during Norvig and Thrun's Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class, a group that grew to over 200 people, with about 10 showing up each week. Spillman is an embedded software engineer at ViaSat. 

Below she writes about best practices for organizing and executing a great study group using Meetup.com!

Participating in Udacity Meetups is extremely rewarding because it is a a great way to showcase and develop your leadership skills for the workplace, as well as being a great way to meet people, make friends, and create future business contacts. Studying with others also keeps you motivated to complete your course!

Starting a Meetup group may sound daunting, but it isn't as difficult as it seems. Study groups work well if at least one member can dedicate a little extra time to book locations, and extra credit for coming up with interesting supplemental materials.

Study groups can meet anywhere, for example, my study group meets in co-working spaces (specifically, Ansir Center and CoMerge) where we are able to use the space for free. Different communities may have different options such as libraries, community center, or businesses' conference rooms.

For our study group we'd often have a demo, watch some of the lecture videos together, and leave some time to ask each other questions. We have had some really great topics during our study sessions, including:

  • A robotic enthusiast member brought in their latest project, a robot, to show us
  • Alternative ways of solving class problems (after everyone had completed it, of course!)
  • Software tools related to subject matter
  • Work on outside projects related to the material
  • Review of the week's materials
Other ideas include:
  • Bring in members of the community to speak on the week's topic or issues related to the class
  • Work together on problem sets

Getting Started

Here are a few pointers:
  • Schedule and announce the meetup (Meetup page, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs) and start gauging interest
  • Find a location that will accommodate the number of people coming and the type of things you want to do
  • Decide on a rough agenda for the night, which should include what all the members want to do
  • Ask others to help and possibly rotate the responsibility of organizing the meetup among group members
Don't forget that studying doesn't have to be all work. We found that socializing afterwards was a key component to forming relationships and keeping us coming back!

Thank you Kimberly! And stay tuned next week to read about tips for organizing your best social meetup from another Meetup maverick, Kevin English.