Guest post: Drupal Lets Students Convert Their Dreams to Reality

Safwan EroothSafwan Erooth is Co-Founder of Tridz, an entrepreneur, free software enthusiast & online activist. Graduate in Business Management from University of Bangalore. Is active in startup community in Bangalore. Have been Drupal Consultant to Aditi Technologies and a trainer at Valtech Services. Have spoke on latest Web technologies at Google Dev Fest, Bangalore.

“I used to believe building an awesome website is rocket science, but drupal proved me wrong”, said one of the student who attended our workshop on Drupal. Since the Sept, 2012 Global Drupal training day, we have been  engaging with aspiring students from the IT domain. We have been to many colleges and workshop with students varying from newbies who would ask “Drupal?! What the heck is that...” to students who would compare Drupal with wordpress and say “I know Drupal, But I love Wordpress better”.

After all the trainings and workshops, we’ll have to admit: we learned more than what we taught. Every moment we saw, Drupal giving wings to ideas that have been in these students’ minds. Some would ring us up at  midnight and ask, “Is it possible to build a Facebook app with drupal? Is there a module?” You can never put into words the excitement they express when you answer them positively.

In this post, I will try to compile what we learned in past several months while talking about Drupal to the budding student community. The experience and learning we had are immense. We spoke to almost 600+ students.  Being a start-up  company, at Tridz Technologies all the 7 members in the team work with Drupal. We leave for training as a team, as if it was a picnic (will have to admit it was).
10 Lessons we learned.

  1. Never get too ambitious and try to show them all the awesomeness of Drupal in one go. They won’t get it. You would instead lose them. If you have a day, demo them slowly one by one. Don’t hurry. We initially tried to do big stuff and failed. But when we started to move slow and give them time to understand. Even though we didn’t show them wonders they just fell for Drupal.

  2. Have a flexible curriculum. Each audience will be different, so once you start your session listen to them. Allow them to direct you to their areas of interest. Interact with them. When your curriculum is flexible you can easily move away from stuffs thats boring them and show what they like.

  3. Talk to them about the community behind drupal. Show them pictures of Drupal conferences and great time they are having. Show them how sharing is a lot more fun. Inspire them to be part of the community.

  4. Show them awesome things built with Drupal. Real world examples excite them better than what can be done with Drupal talks. Show them how yahoo, twitter and ebay are using Drupal. It works, trust us.

  5. Introduce them to the world of  Drupal modules. I have not seen students getting  more excited than when they see what modules can do. They just go crazy when they see what wonders can be done with almost no code, with the help of contrib modules. Show them modules like views, rules, display suite, panels and webforms.

  6. Talk to them about career opportunities in Drupal. Back in Bangalore (India), we have great demand for Drupal developers, but there is a shortage of developers who have good understanding of Drupal. There is a shortage of supply and excess of demand. This is a golden opportunity, and students get excited when we tell them this. We at times show them listing in job portals.

  7. Associate with like minded people and group. Always try to associate with groups or people who appreciate what you do. For instance we here at Bangalore associated with Free Software Movement of Karnataka[FSMK] to conduct our events. This gave us access to a lot of institutions and more people came to know about the events and many more started showing interest to learn Drupal. Above all, we have a lot of support from these people which is priceless.

  8. Make it hands-on whenever possible. Drupal is more fun doing than hearing. It’s hard to have the audience listen to you for long. And the chances of they doing it later is also slim. But if you make them do it when you talk, chances are that you have a very good audience and the probability of they continuing to learn Drupal is also high.

  9. Have them create an account in GDO and subscribe to the local group. This way they are hooked to the community and know where to go when they need help. They will also get updates from their region. We have seen this work really good.

  10. Make sure you communicate the list of prerequisites beforehand so that you don’t end up setting up lampp when you are supposed to Drupal. We have seen this take more time than the session itself. Share an archive with Drupal installation and necessary modules and links to tutorials explaining how to install lampp server on various platform so they come ready for Drupal. So you can dive directly in to Drupal.

The immense knowledge and experience these training have given, made us realise the importance of the ‘community’ in Drupal. Need to bring more people to Drupal and the need to contribute back to Drupal. For now we have already partnered with the Free Software Movement of Karnataka to reach out to the student community using their exisiting network. The support of FSMK in conducting drupal events is commendable, they have been providing their venues, projectors and volunteers at times for free and have allowed us to spread the word about events in their mailing lists. They also made it easy for us to reach out to educational institutions where they have representatives. I feel this is a very good model, this kind of association with peoples and groups helps us in promoting Drupal more efficiently.

Apart from FSMK, Drupal Bangalore  and senior drupal developers like Tanay Sai have been instrumental in growing and enriching the Drupal Ecosystem here.

We are very ambitious about future. We are gearing towards motivating students to develop their University projects on Drupal. We have in fact spoke to the heads of dept. in few colleges. Apart from this we are also looking forward to conduct hackathons around drupal, where in we will try to convert wonderful ideas and concepts to reality using Drupal and then support them to further enhance it and release it to the public.

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