On Thursday 19th & Friday 20th of April, I got the amazing opportunity to give a talk and workshop in the wonderful city of Lyon, France at MiXiT Conference 2018. I was one of many speakers talking at the conference which had talks in English and French. Talks were given on a variety of different topics like building modern android apps to communicating with empathy. I hope to give a round up of in this blog post about what I saw and my experience at my first overseas conference.

So, on the 18th of April, I set off on a 1hr30min flight from Manchester Airport at around 11 am. It was a quick flight and we were in Lyon in no time.

Lyon was in the middle of a heatwave and the weather was amazing throughout the whole trip, much better than back in the UK. Once we arrived at the airport, we found our way to the hotel and settled in. After a few hours at the hotel, we went out to the speakers’ dinner in which we got the chance to meet the other speakers and try out some traditional French food.

Conference Day 1 – Thursday

MiXiT runs for 2 days and I was lucky enough to stay for both of these days. Thursday was the busiest day for me, this is where I would run a Raspberry Jam (with Alan McCullagh) and do a talk on EduBlocks, which in case you don’t know, is my drag and drop python program.

The conference is a generalized IT conference, so unlike events like PyCon, which focuses on Python, this conference focuses on a range of different IT topics. It is also a conference for newcomers or “aliens” as the conference calls them, these are people who want to know more but don’t really have a background in IT.

The first thing I did on Thursday was my talk. MiXiT schedule talks differently to the way you might be used to, the conference runs in tracks, and each track has talks related to similar subjects. One track at the conference was called Random, which is an exciting approach to the way talks are given, attendees go into a room but they don’t actually know what the talk is on, or who the talk is being given by. I think this is a really great idea as it gives people the chance to find out about things that they may not have known about had they have known the talk subject.

My talk room was full, which was great. People seemed to really like it, which was great! The talk video is not up yet, but I will update this post when I have it.

Below are some pictures of my talk.

Conference Day 2 – Friday

Friday was another busy day at MiXiT. It saw the arrival of the Young Coders Day or MixTEEN as it’s called. This is a chance for local school kids to come to a proper conference and learn about coding with the Raspberry and micro:bit. This was also a good opportunity for me to do an EduBlocks micro:bit workshop. The event was announced to the main conference in the morning with an outline of what was going on during the Young Coders Day.

Once the main conference had kicked off, I was shown to the room in which I was running my session. With thanks to pi-top, who went to great lengths to ship out 10 pi-top CEEDs for the workshop and Micro:bit Educational Foundation for giving me micro:bit’s to use, the room was set up with EduBlocks running in no time for the kids to have a go at coding!

Once the space was set up, Thierry Chantier led a briefing where kids could select the activities they wanted to do, the EduBlocks session was very popular and we had about 30 kids come to the workshop throughout the day.

A range of different activities went on, these ranged from controlling neopixels, making a scrolling name badge in French, Fortune tellers, Rock Paper Scissors games and much more. The session was amazing as we had a room of kids who could hardly speak English coding in Python using EduBlocks, this shows the power of the program because you don’t have to have a coding background to use it. This rounded off my time at the conference, and I would like to say thanks to a few people but before that, below are some pictures of the workshop.

Thanks to the following people

I would have never have got to the conference if it wasn’t for Thierry Chantier inviting me to do a talk and workshop, the support you have given has been amazing so thank you!

A huge thanks to the MiXiT team for being so welcoming, this made my first overseas conference trip really special.

Thanks must go to Alan for being our Tour Guide whilst we were in France, you really helped us get around with ease!

Also thanks to pi-top, Micro:bit Educational Foundation & Kitronik for supporting me with equipment, my workshop would not have happened without you.

Thank you for reading this post, please let me know what you think in the comments.

Josh 🙂

Categories: Events

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