Nothin but .Net (Edmonton 2010) - Retrospective

It is now 12:05AM MST and I am sitting in our hotel room writing down this blog post to recap, while it is still fresh in my head, the events of the first official public in-person NBDN course of the year.
The course consisted of 12 people with varying skill levels in .Net. The range was people who were just about to write their first .net application, to people who wanted to ramp up their existing skill set with .Net.
It was a great group of people who were all there to improve their skillset in one way or another. Once again, I was reminded of how much I have to improve with respects to my ability to effectively deliver this course to people who attend. I love the feedback that people take time to share that ultimately will continue to help make me a better teacher of the material that I want to deliver.
Past students of the course can attest to the fact that although the course is labeled Nothin But .Net, the course is way more than just about how to use C# or .Net. The sample application that we try to build using .Net is used as a delivery mechanism for all of the important aspects of the course; the most important aspects being taught, end up being things that really have nothing to do with .Net whatsoever. Some of these things include:
-The importance of settings goals for yourself and patiently working towards their realization
-Not getting caught up in the “pointless” comparison traps that can prevent people from reaching “their” full potential
-Getting back to coding as a fun exercise, that allows us to grow at a pace that is commensurate with our own experience
-Becoming people who care more about “building and developing people” than people who just build and develop software
-Taking the time to learn/relearn fundamental building blocks of software engineering and computer science that can enable for a better ability to deliver software
-Aquiring and practicing habits that can allow you to maintain the momentum of learning and growth for your career
-Identifying how to not “stay” in comfort zones, and realizing that “comfort zones” can often lead us into places where we become complacent (this is an important concept that applies to way more than just software development).
-Failing hard, embracing failure, and using it as a means to move forward without fear
-The importance of building a “dev” workbench that is customized to the way you work best
As for the technical aspects of the course , some of the things that we covered were (all in the context of writing code):
-Git as a version control system
-Practical application of fundamental OO Principles
-Design principles and patterns the can aid in the creating of organic, highly changeable, software systems
-Code as a self documenting system
-Problem decomposition
-Leveraging Context/Specification testing to incrementally work through the design of system components
-Logging strategies
-Top Down Development
-Tools for .Net programmers
-Patterns for application startup
-Leveraging brownfield applications as great opportunities to sharpen the refactoring sword
-Code smells
-C# and .Net framework specific topics/techniques
This course was the first “public” course that we leveraged the new 9AM-9PM course day length. A 12 hour day may already seem outrageous to some, but this schedule is less aggressive than past iterations of the course. Although it results in less time than previous years had access to, I think it is a much healthier schedule and I will definitely be maintaining it going forward throughout the rest of the year. A 12 hour course day is still a long day!!
Lunches were a bit of a mess as I decided to have us all eat in the food court. This meant that people paid for their own meals (which I will have to reimburse them for through paypal) and we were not all able to sit together to have discussions. Yesterday and today we ate at restaurants in Bourbon street, which definitely allowed for more people to take part in a bigger shared conversation.
There were lots of amazing conversation, lots of great food (ok, some great food), and lots of code slinging that happened. It was awesome to have people be patient with me as I fumbled around with my keyboard this week. My typing skills were definitely not where they usually are. Thankfully I don’t think it detracted too much from the flow of the sessions where I was coding. As always, I loved seeing people pair up with each other to work on problems.
It was particularly awesome to see people who were having problems following along with the class exercises, take the time to sit down and practice coding other things that would give them a grounding in topics they were interested in pursuing at a later date. I constantly reminded people that it was not important to understand it all now, rather it is important to develop their own new ideas as to how to potentially tackle and solve their business and development challenges!!
I had a blast. Could things have been better. Absoultely. The day things can’t get better is the day I stop teaching as it means the course has stopped growing. When I receive the feedback next week it will let me know how the individual feelings varied (I will be posting the reviews). I am confident that everyone in the class is ready to prepare a new learning plan from themselves that is not about “finishing”!!
Every time I finish one of these courses, I thank God for the opportunity to be able to share my failures, trials, strategies, victories, and most importantly what role Jesus has played in helping me to become more of who I want to be daily. It is truly a blessing, and an honor that I am extremely humbled to be able to take part in.
Thank you Edmonton 2010, you have kicked off the ball for public 2010 year and I am truly honored to have been able to share in all of your lives for the duration of this week. I pray that the Lord will richly bless you and your families as you patiently and steadily “keep moving forward”. Please keep in touch with one another and don’t hesitate to call me if you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat!! OK, I’m off to bed!!
(the hats in the picture bear the slogan: Develop With Passion)

Develop With Passion!!!