User Group Dilemmas -The widening gap between .NET Newbies and .NET Pros

Reading Jerry Delany’s post about attending the Atlanta.NET meeting and a comment he made at the end about attending the Atlanta C# meetings because they are more advanced made me think of a problem I have been pondering lately with my user group , Vermont.NET, that is not uncommon.

We have been meeting for 3 years now – since Feb 2002. There are plenty of pepole in the group who have come frequently to meetings since the beginning and they are many who are pretty advanced. Yet we still have new people coming into the meeting all of the time. Of course, this is a microcosm of the whole programming community and not a new problem. I don’t want to have to choose between sating the more advanced .NET programmers and ignoring the needs of those who are just moving to .NET.

What we are talking about (and I am waiting for someone in the group to grab this project and run with it…) is having a pre-meeting presentation that is more for beginners and then let the regular presentation continue to engage those who are interested in more advanced topics. There are many groups who do this so we can certainly learn from them. My idea is to have the beginner talks be done by user group members, which has so many advantages.

How is your user group dealing with the widening gap between .NET newbies and .NET pros?

update: I emailed Chris Pels who runs the Boston.NET User group and has been doing a 2-part meeting for two years. We will have an article on this in the April INETA Newsletter. If you aren’t signed up for the newsletter (which you can do from the home page), they are archived at www.ineta.org/newsletters.

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