I am back to blogging after a small gap (Blame the JavaFX Momentum) and I am here to share some of my good experiences from my recent university trips. I got a chance to visit a couple of techfests @ premier universities in india few weeks ago to conduct workshops on JavaFX technology. I should say I was simply amazed to see the amount of enthusiasm and excitement that this technology has created among the students.
The workshops were conducted at techfests organized by NIT, Trichy and SASTRA (near Thanjavur), 2 esteemed universities in TamilNadu, India. Students from different colleges across TamilNadu participated in the techfest and what I witnessed there was a well-organized gathering of extremely vibrant, energetic student community with a strong apetite to learn new things.
It was a whole day event organized into 3 hours of theory session + 3 hours of Lab, in each of these techfests. I wish it could have been an open-to-all workshop but I have to blame the lab capacity that enforced constraints on the organizers to limit the participation. Nevertheless, the way these workshops were organized was remarkably good and I should thank the student organizers who went out of their way to make this happen.
Attending the theory session is the most boring part in the college and I used to fall asleep sometimes, while I was in the college. So we wanted to do this differently at the techfests and so we prepared about 30 cool demos to be shown as we proceed through explaining different areas. This trick worked indeed. We kept the students on their toes through these demos and the expectations about the subsequent demos were going up after showing each demo. Overall, the theory session came out much more productive for us and informative and interesting for students.
In the post lunch session, we wanted to gauge how did the theory session go. So we asked some leading questions on different FX features covered in the pre-lunch session and students were throwing-in the answers before we could complete the questions. We initially announced some goodies for people who answer these questions but we had to close down the Q&A session quickly since the response were overwhelming and we were running short of goodies.
Typically Students love the lab sessions since they get to try things hands-on and that was the case in techfest too. All the necessary softwares and exercise materials were pre-loaded on every machine in the lab and we did not even waste a minute on setting things up, thanks to the student organizers again !! We started off the lab sessions with pre-defined exercises specially designed for newbies to get started with JavaFX and students were provided with the JavaFX SDK and Netbeans 6.5. We actually thought we could relax a bit here but lab sessions ended up much more tiring than the theory sessions since we were bombarded with lot of questions. We kept running around all over the lab answering queries as We guided them through the exercises step-by-step. Finally, to our surprise, students completed the exercises 30 min ahead of the schedule and that demonstrated the ease-of-use of JavaFX Script and APIs. Remember these were folks who had no prior knowledge of NetBeans, most of them did not know Java or at the most knew very little Java and most of them had only heard about JavaFX till they signed up for the session!!
So as to make good use of the last 30 mins, we floated a small contest to encourage students to unleash their creativity and come up with their own application. Students never looked tired and took the challenge seriously. This time, they had no limits compared to the lab exercises and they were trying all sorts of things from pasting their photographs on the background to creating advanced effects such as reflection, ripple effects and animating objects all over the screen. At the end of the contest, we were fascinated to see some really cool apps and games coming out of it and it was challenging to pick the winner. At this point, We did realize in realtime the power and potential of JavaFX in faciliating rapid development of rich applications and how powerful the technology could be when we make it simple and easy-to-use.
I would like to appreciate and thank these students for taking up the workshop with lot of excitement, energy and passion and this definitely encourages me to reach more universities and colleges for conducting similar workshops.
Overall, It was a tiring but very rewarding 2 days and I wish I get more energy to cope with these guys.