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What works better for learning: workshops or presentations?

Recorded – watch the full episode on YouTube.

You help organize two events” App Builders is a session-driven event, whereas Swift Alps was an experimental idea originally with small workshops. They're very different conferences, but from your perspective which one works better for different people?

Carola Nitz: That depends on what you're looking for. I think conferences are good to give you an overview about what’s out there – what do you actually not know about, and just get a little bit of everything and inspiration. And workshops are really good if you need to get some hands-on experience. For example, we’ve done Combine last year and you get a really structured way of getting your first experiences with new code tools. We also had a point of contact that you can ask later on and say, “hey I'm working with this now, I'm struggling with this – can you help me?" So if you really want to dive into something new the workshops are really good.

"I think conferences ares good to give you an overview about what’s out there, what do you actually not know about, and just get a little bit of everything and inspiration."

Paul Hudson: I told you earlier I know which one I prefer and the answer is Swift Alps, and it’s for two reasons. First, you literally get hands-on knowledge with six things. So it's three workshops a day across two days, so that’s six topics you can deep dive into. And in each workshop it's you and 12 other people doing networking with a mentor around you, and they give you a task to do and your job is to answer questions. So you write the code right there you try it yourself – solve this problem, solve that problem, build this thing, etc. And it's stunning. In fact I've talked about your particular workshop there a few times from 2018 I think it was.

You ran a debugging workshop and it was remarkable. I remember being five minutes into it thinking, “if she did this thing it'd be amazing. Oh that's exactly what she has done Wow! This is perfect.” You had built this app that would crash when it was run, and when you diagnosed the crash it would tell you what to do next, and you fixed that and went on to the next step, and the next step, and the next step. It would crash somewhere else and guide you towards where it needed to be. So it meant you to use Xcode’s debugging tools to fix the actual app in front of you.

It was just completely mind blowing as an idea, and that's why I love workshops – you can’t open Slack and sit at the back and chat to your friends or go through Jira backlogs. You've got to sit there and do the work. You have to do some actual work and I find them really, really powerful.

"You have a lot of like-minded people around you who are doing the same thing and who are just excited about learning something new."

Carola Nitz: And you have a lot of like-minded people around you who are doing the same thing and who are just excited about learning something new, and it's like a very intimate group, so that helps a lot.

Paul Hudson: Well, it does because again one thing this format does is say, "everyone's going to pair program, and we ask that you have a different pair for every workshop." So by the end of it you've spent an hour with six different people, chatting away to them, so you leave with actual friends as opposed to folks you just sort of meet at the coffee station in a session-driven event. Don't get me wrong I love session events as well but for me the real value of learning, trying, and experimenting safely is always going to be workshops.

This transcript was recorded as part of Swiftly Speaking. You can watch the full original episode on YouTube, or subscribe to the audio version on Apple Podcasts.

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