2021-05-03 Python Study Group Retrospective

Hey Everyone! Python study group is a lot of fun. Let’s talk about ways we can make it even more engaging and useful!


May 3, 2021




@Christopher Pappas 


Hey Everyone! Python study group is a lot of fun. Let’s talk about ways we can make it even more engaging and useful!

Looking to think tank the current format, see if the are new things we can try (or not?? who’s to say?.. well, you!)

I (cpappas) have a few ideas and would love to bounce them around and see what people think as well. Would love to hear what neat things you might have in mind too.


Start doing

Stop doing

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Start doing

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  • More Django topics (-Talia) +3 FP DK

    • Most of us do more Django-focused work than pure Python

  • Database interactions/study (-Talia) +2 SC

    • A lot of engineers I interact with aren’t super comfortable with database querying, Django migrations, etc.

  • Allow for lurkers (-Talia) +2

    • Maybe some sort of display name or chat flag or something to indicate someone is just half-listening?

  • More edX specific stuff +4 JS, FP, NS, LK

    • Introduction to various useful python scripts we use here at edX

    • Navigating databases/shells

    • Devstack

    • XBlocks

    • Comprehensive theming

    • **opportunities especially for new folk to learn about the edX environment and how python is used in it

    • **idea: when you finish on working on something weird, do a PSG presentation/add the topic to the doc

      • lower the threshold, just let people talk (no slides or REPL needed)

    • **bring more visibility to the idea that we shouldn’t be tied to previous PSG topics and topic styles

    • **edx dev study group vs core python study group?

      • devstack in depth

      • interactions between python and react

      • AWS

    • **crowdsource topics ahead of time

    • **team demos of new, useful things

  • Game Show style/jeopardy style study group JS, AD, CP

    • Other formats would be cool

    • Q&A sessions (“Bring your Django migrations questions” or the like) +2 NB CP

    • **panels

    • **expanding Ask Ned to Ask Other People Who Are Not Ned

    • **python lightning talks

    • **particularly clueless presenter: audience tells them what to do

  • Have the presenter share an outline/slides/etc. beforehand (maybe in the PSG wiki page) so people coming in late can follow along +1

  • Publish topics before the meeting +1 NS SC

  • Python inner workings. Dissecting the python runtime interpreter

  • Collect questions/topics from people asynchronously. People must have head-scratchers from time to time. +3 NB

    • maybe take notes of the q&as to publish later?

  • Encourage/mandate audience participation (for example: “Simon, please come to the front of the class and type your solution into the terminal.”)

    • **encourages cohesiveness

    • **”do you have any thoughts”

    • **list multiple people

    • **make it the expectation for everyone to do it when they’re ready

    • **easier to maybe do it in some methodical way (“around the room”)

  • Breakout groups?

  • Debugging a python bug in edx code walkthrough sessions? SC

  • Other python frameworks like Flask, Wagtail and etc.

  • Vacation incentive for presenters
    But actually, find ways to bring in a larger group of presenters. AD

  • Switch back to having PSG every 2 weeks NB

  • Announce topics way ahead of time. FP, AD

  • Sessions on Decorators

    • **many talks in the past. maybe try out of other topics before coming back to this again

    • **related: how do we collect interesting topics as people think about them?

    • **separate I Want To Learn vs I Want To Present more in the PSG doc

    • **”approved list” of topics?

  • Overly long icebreakers +2


  • Welcoming vibe +1

  • Encourage new employees. Hack, be part of engineering onboarding requirement! +1

    • **already implemented in some places

  • I like when there are talks that are mostly running from the REPL or examples over slides.

    • **encourages interactive iteration

  • Presentations with code on them. +1

    • **code on slides as well as REPL

  • Encouraging “dumb” questions (in another venue, I challenged people to come up with the “dumbest” question, which started a good discussion)

    • **Becca loves this^^

    • **have plants who are good at asking “dumb” questions

    • **leave space for questions, make very clear that questions are welcomed and encouraged

      • count in your head to let the silence happen for long periods of time

  • A mix of practical and theoretical topics. +1

    • **also a mix of beginner and more advanced (eg interpreter vs what is dunder?)


Let’s discuss our findings.

  1. Some teams already encourage people to attend PSG on onboarding

Action items

@Rebecca Graber (Deactivated) to make a poll in #dev about preferred formats (slides vs REPL)

@Christopher Pappas and @Rebecca Graber (Deactivated) and @Ben Holt (Deactivated) to draw up “How to present at PSG”