How I delved into the world of teaching eZ Publish to people

von Tomislav Buljević -

This post will be all about my experiences on the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Osijek, how the whole idea of a lecture and workshop came to me, and how it all realised in the end.

The idea

Well, it all started one sunny day in October at a conference held in Osijek when I met up with a faculty assistant from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Osijek. In a casual conversation, I mentioned the lack of cutting edge technologies being taught in regular class, and how something should be done that would fire the students up for programming.

So I asked him if it would be possible for someone from Netgen to go to the Faculty and hold a lecture on eZ Publish. He agreed that it would be a nice initiative. Since that initial talk, the idea formed in my mind that it should be done.

A few days later, I called up my bosses, and they said that it would be great if someone went over there and introduce students with eZ Publish.

Fast forward a month later, I heard with the faculty assistant again, this time to talk about making it happen. He said that I should send the plan and program for the lecture. After I did that, the definitive date was set: December 02, 2013.

The lecture

Creating the lecture turned out to be a bit more complicated than I thought at first, since I planned for a 40-60 minute lecture. I mean, eZ Publish is a great medium for presenting and I could have filled the whole lecture with a talk about it, but I also had to have in mind that those students are fairly inexperienced with web programming in general.

I structured my lecture into four phases:

  • presenting a bit about Netgen, eZ Publish Summer Camp, and our clients in general
  • web programming in general: the tools used, how the architecture works, a few words about current CMSs
  • eZ Publish (this was obviously going to be the largest phase): content classes, information architecture, node-object relations, template mechanisms, extensions, design fallbacks, and some other cool features
  • Future of eZ Publish: dual-kernel technology in conjunction with the Symfony2 framework

Of course, these phases and the structure came after vigorous beta-testing with my wife. She was the perfect candidate for listening to my lecture since she is: a) a psychologist, b) a total layman in anything regarding web-technologies. So she bombarded me with questions, which turned out to be very helpful because it was easier for me to get in that mindset.

The turnout

Finally, December 02 came, and I was ready to talk to the students. Now, I didn’t have a notion as to how many people would come. As far as I was concerned, there could have been 2 or 152 people in the hall.

When people started to enter the hall, the final number turned out to be 34, which was a pretty decent number.

Of course, I was a bit edgy, but I kept saying to myself something I heard from a friend: “Always remember, they know less than you do”. And in fact, they did!

Not to bore you with unnecessary details, but in the end I was really pleased with the results. We polled the students, and the final outcome was that of the 34, 28 was interested in testing out eZ Publish on their own. Of those 28, 12 were interested in a workshop.

So, a plan formed in my head… Again.

The workshop

The planning and preparing for the workshop was rather light, since I would be talking about stuff I do on a regular basis. Understandably, I got a similar response from the Faculty, send a plan and program, and estimate some time for the workshop. Now, the plan for the workshop was in our News section here so I won’t write it again in this article. As for the time estimated, I figured 4 hours would be enough for everything. It wasn’t.

Since the workshop was scheduled for February 28, 2014., and a bit of time passed since the eZ Publish lecture, of course the turnout wasn’t as big as for the lecture.

But, we had a bit of fun and some hard work on the workshop, since setting up eZ Publish is a bit more complicated than other CMSs out there. We worked on the legacy code, and after the workshop, people told me that it seems cool, and they will test it out for themselves.

What did I get from this experience? Well, a few things:

  1. When preparing for any kind of presentation, know your audience. I was expecting people who didn’t know too much, but there were bound to be some who knew a bit more and were ready to challenge me - I prepared for all of them.
  2. Always practice in front of an audience. Be it a member/members of the family, a friend or anyone else, it always helps to get people who can give you constructive criticism you always so sorely need.
  3. Be liberal in estimating time alloted for any type of presentation you do. If you think something will be done in an hour, make it an hour + 20 minutes. If it’s 4 hours, make it 5.

All in all, I’m very pleased with how everything turned out, and I’d definitely be willing to do something similar again. It is really gratifying to have an engaged audience which listens with understanding, and even more so when you see that lightbulb appear over their heads when something unfamiliar gets explained to them.

Until next time,



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