OpenLevel Java Seminar

This unique approach to Java training will be held January 22-26 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I was first exposed to an Open Spaces conference at Bruce Eckel’s Programming the New Web conference in Crested Butte, CO last March. I was a bit mystified at first. The idea was to go, pick the topics that we wanted to discuss, discuss them, and go home knowing more than when we had arrived. No planned agenda. The seminar description listed things that we MIGHT discuss, but the agenda was to be decided by the participants. The idea is that at traditional conferences, the really useful knowledge is what you learn on coffee breaks, or when just standing around, talking to other attendees, so this is a way to organize an entire conference on what you REALLY want to learn, rather than an agenda set forth ahead of time. I loved it. I learned a ton … way more than I had ever learned at traditional conferences.

I even attended a second conference in Crested Butte, with the same flavor: the Web Frameworks Jam. Bruce said that he really hadn’t intended it to be based on OpenSpaces, but that it was going to be a fairly free-formed workshop where groups would work together toward learning and developing with a web framework of their choice. It turned out great, and the group I worked in had a blast with TurboGears.

So when I asked Bruce to come out to Ann Arbor to do some Java training, it felt a bit odd to ask him to do “traditional” training. Both of us kept going back to how much we learned at the Web Frameworks Jam, and we brainstormed a bit on how to make it more customized to the individual learning styles and different skill sets that people arrive with at a training class. And thus, Bruce started to form the plans for an OpenLevel Java Seminar.

The idea is that people will work on exercises from his book, Thinking in Java, 4th Edition. With the OpenLevel concept, people will be able to choose the exercises that interest them most, in the areas where they need work, or want to focus. One really cool aspect of this is that people can move forward at their own speed, but Bruce will be there as a Java expert, to get them over any stumbling blocks that the group encounters. Another really cool aspect is that this is not limited to beginning Java programmers. Advanced Java programmers can come, and be confident that they will not be bored by repeating the things that they already know about the language. Instead, they can move right on to the more advanced topics that they haven’t had exposure to yet (or haven’t quite been able to figure out on their own).

I’m really excited about this seminar. Not only is this the first training that Bruce has done from his book, Thinking in Java 4th edition, but it’s also the first time that he’s organizing it as an OpenLevel seminar. It’s going to be an amazing learning experience, and I’m thrilled that it’s going to happen in our town.

OpenLevel Java Seminar: January 22-26, 2007

(Registration and more details at