The One with a Learning Hour on Learning

First things first: Look at me writing a blog post during our learning time slot for the second time in a row! Yay me!

Last week there was a Softwerkskammer Köln online meetup at Rewe Digital about how to become a better software engineer (recording here) and it was a great kick in the ass to become a bit more focused with my learning journey again.

There were two things Ansgar mentioned that really stuck with me:

  1. It’s easier to keep up a dedicated learning practice with some structure through regularity. Doing something every day or at a set time every week helps make it become more of a habit that’s difficult to skip. Especially if you’re someone who generally strives with structure.
  2. He shared some links to websites with Code Katas, typing practice, shortcut learning etc.1 The simple stuff that makes such a big difference.

So I have decided that I will try to make time for at least one hour every weekday for some form of learning. My current week structure is:

  • Monday: Practice Shortcuts / get to know my editor better. I use my trackpad too much, I know too few shortcuts, I am often confused by what my editor configuration does.
  • Tuesday: Curate a good amount of blogs to read regularly and them read them during this time. I did this in Feedly a few years ago but I mixed work and private stuff and my interests have changed, so it became cluttered and I stopped reading blog posts regularly. I welcome any tips for must-read blogs!
  • Wednesday: Practice Code Katas.
  • Thursday: Read a book. Or a bit of a book, not a whole one.
  • Friday: Write. That can mean any type of writing practice, typing training, blog posts, other type of content.

I’m sure I will adapt that soon, but I will try to keep up the regularity.

And then I realised that I hadn’t talked to my coworkers about learning in a long time. And since I organise our bi-weekly Learning Hour and there were no topics for this week’s event, I asked if people would be interested in an open conversation about learning experiences, best practices, problems etc.

I prepared a small Miro board with frames for General Learning Best Practices, Best Practices Topical Learning, Learning Resources, Topical Resources, Problems and Questions that people could put stickies on for note keeping and resource sharing. We were a small group, only 5 people showed up because of overlapping meetings, but it was a great conversation and I got some more resources that I will need to look into next week.

Some other people said they’d be interested in doing this again another time and I think I will make this a regular thing somehow. There is a bunch of knowledge on every possible topic and on learning in general in our department and we should use this. I was really annoyed that the apprenticeship program or some other form of structured training program that we talked about 2 years ago never got any traction, but I realise that it’s up to me to do something if I want something.

By the way: I looked into RSpec Matchers during today’s team learning time and didn’t find anything there to solve my problem with an annoying test setup, but I learned a lot more about RSpec Matchers. And I solved my problem without RSpec. And in doing this I learned about splat operators in Ruby. Yep. I actually had no idea what this weird * does although I have definitely used a lot of code that used it by copying without understanding. Oops. That’s another learning-related thing I need to get better at: Find a way to note down things that I don’t understand while using them and then actually learn about them. I often get lost in trial and error while working on something I want to finish and then forget to make an effort with learning.

On that topic: I’m always looking for learning resources on Software Craft. If you have anything to share, let me know. One thing that was shared with me a while ago that I found in our dead #apprenticeship Slack channel (still sad) was this Onboarding Plan that I’m also going to take a look at next week.

  1. Some of the links that I either already knew about or have taken a quick look at and found useful since this meetup:,,,, [return]