[hackerspaces] How To Teach a Hackerspace Class?

miloh froggytoad at gmail.com
Mon Dec 3 08:02:11 CET 2012

Noisebridge has a huge variety of classes sessions workshops and class
styles. It used to be a place where a Mandarin class would happen after an
consensus filled meeting or a jam packed basic soldering workshop. A huge
variety of classes and instructors exist there with successive instructors
teaching the same subjects in wildly different styles.  I've seen college
professors, grad students, and post doctoral researchers come in and try
out sessions in new subjects there.  But as you suggest, there are plenty
of hackers teaching at Noisebridge who are not formally teachers, but are
learning alongside others.

Although Noisebridge's overall class lineup is constantly in flux, I've
spent years helping to teach new faces every Monday how to solder or work
with electronics. I've also spent time cultivating the idea that Hackers at
Noisebridge should be prepared to teach the subject they are looking to
take. I like to see folks who are completely new to Noisebridge be
encouraged to start the class they come looking for. Because of this, they
often are unprepared, relative to a professional educator. But when folks
come looking for extinct workshops, classes, or study groups that are still
reported as active on the wiki, and find out they are free to or actually
encouraged to restart or reboot a workshop in the way they see fit, we
sometimes create educators or instruction just as good or better than that
available at formal institutions.

In the current lineup of classes at Noisebridge, folks can pick up basics
in electronics and uC's, front end web development and javascript, linux
system admin and unity game development. Even the Tuesday meetings are
instructional as live primers on consensus based decision making processes
[thanks for the inspiration, we should create handouts describing our
peculiar Noisebridge brand of consensus making!].
I've seen these same classes change curriculum so much over the year,
changing texts and listing coursework, going free form or going project

Over the past 4 years of teaching soldering and electronics, I've developed
undocumented instructional sketches on heat transfer, pn junctions, design
tradeoffs using wiring methods (direct, multiplex, and charliplex) as
examples, and more. The documentation is getting progressively more formal
through my professional connection with Bay Area RepRap (
https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/bay-area-reprap ) and
Type A Machines ( http://typeamachines.com/ ) Recently I've put a lot more
time into preparing to teach for classes, and it shows.  I've taken
sessions to Workshop Weekend in Oakland ( http://workshopweekend.net/ )
that started out as rough unprepared workshops at Noisebridge.

A note about the facility at Noisebridge:
There is a strong disincentive to charge for classes at Noisebridge. There
are no actual rules about this that I know of, but lots of folk respect
this running policy, even if they disagree with it. However, Noisebridge is
a great place for instructors to use precisely *because* it's free. I don't
understand why instructors aren't clamoring to use a place that is
essentially free of any use charges or rental charges. But it looks like we
don't get too much ongoing traffic from this angle. Rent in San Francisco
is expensive, and Noisebridge provides a refuge for experiments in
education lead by hackers. There are plenty of other places people can go
to purchase quality instruction in the SF Bay Area. Noisebridge is a place
where instructors can cheaply test out or workshop new ideas about
education, with willing guinea pigs hungry for knowledge.

-R Miloh Alexander

p.s.  Please support Noisebridge and Archive.org by visiting the  Mission
Bargain Hacker Electronics Warehouse: http://goo.gl/AgWur
We currently have a very affordable & excellent USB 3.0 hard drive
enclosures available at   http://goo.gl/AgWur
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.hackerspaces.org/pipermail/discuss/attachments/20121202/a212c83c/attachment.html>

More information about the Discuss mailing list