Case Study: Teaching TYPO3 to Newbies

Lars Jensen, AaTUG from Aarhus has made the following experience from teaching TYPO3 newbies in April.

Considerations Before the Session

It is a a good idea to ask people who have limited knowledge of TYPO3 to read the fairly short document Modern Template Building part 1 (MTB part 1) before participating in a teaching session. MTB part 1 is a mature document which contains just enough examples to get around TypoScript, extensions and HTML templates. This also gets people familiar with the TYPO3 backend interface.

At the last user group meeting, we agreed that installation processes was not the point of this teaching session. Instead, we considered it a timesaver to supply people with logins to a working TYPO3 server.

Description of the session

The session was pretty straight forward. At first, I thoroughly explained how TypoScript, extensions and HTML templates work. While explaining, I showed the process (on a computer) of configuration and administration in the making of a HTML template in conjunction with the auto parser.

While explaining, I didn't follow the the MTB part 1 completely "by the book" because people already had read it. Instead I made some changes to the process shown in MTB part 1, just to show people that there's different ways to complete a TYPO3 site. In fact, people seemed to understand the approach in MTB part 1 pretty easily.

As the session went along, we discussed cObjects from the TSref and some alternative settings in setup and constants fields. We also discussed how to make front-end design using TypoScript and implement different cObjects inside the HTML template using uploaded resources. How to use the TSref was also discussed and, among other things, we looked at wrapping, stdWrap, and cObjects.

Afterwards, people got their laptops going and decided which level of interaction with TYPO3 they could handle and tried TYPO3 themselves. During that time, I was asked a lot of questions just like a normal session we know from school :) Some people only made an HTML template for the auto parser, and others got a little website up and began to look at TSOB and static template themselves :) It all went just fine.

Considerations after closed session

Afterwards, I was left with the impression that MTB part 1 was a good approach for teaching people to configure and use TYPO3 very quickly. It obviously helps to meet other typoheads in real life. Then, no matter what skill level each person has, everybody can contribute with their own experiences to the benefit of others. I also noticed that this meeting made people go to a much higher skill level in just one day than it would have been possible to do themselves at home.

In my opinion, MTB part 1 is a very good document, and it is very easy for newbies to understand. If there's a lot of people with different skill levels attending a session, the session could be split up to let smaller groups concentrate on a more specific subject.

Time span

All the above took around 5-6 hours, including eating a big menu Chinese duck dish :)

Lars Jensen, AaTUG