in reply to Re: Re: Damian Conway Perl classes in Boston
in thread Damian Conway Perl classes in Boston

Although I do enjoy my snug, safe and warm ivory tower, I think you may be erring on the side of idealism.

One argument against lowering the price would be the increased class size, which would reduce the quality of instruction. I don't necessarily think they have "Perl for the Masses" in mind---the idea is to find a sort of sweet spot where you get the most possible participants at the highest possible rate. From what merlyn (who is on Stem Systems' "Board of Advisors") has written in this thread and what I had guessed in the first place, the cost of these classes reflects the market value of such services, at least from people such as Uri "uri" Guttman, Damian "theDamian" Conway and Randal "merlyn" Schwartz.

I don't know whether they all offer something similar, but Mark-Jason "dominus" Dominus (for example) will speak to any users' group for free---although he apparently has nothing against accepting money to speak. It might be interesting to see such announcements here as well. Perhaps we could even offer free publicity to people doing free talks.


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•Re: Re: Re: Re: Damian Conway Perl classes in Boston
by merlyn (Sage) on Aug 28, 2003 at 02:05 UTC
    I too, am willing to speak to any group for free, and also speak for free at YAPC and short talks at OSCON.

    But no matter how many people want me to speak for free, I still have to make a living at some point. And good courseware is very expensive. We've put about $150K of labor into the current Learning Perl slideset. If I had taught that at "academic" rates rather than "corporate" rates, we'd never have paid it off yet.

    You also need to look at the return-on-investment for a company. Taking 30 hours of instruction of one of my courses, the employer spends $1800 to me and about $2500 of burdened cost (if the person makes a $80K/yr salary) for the employee to be in a training.

    For that $4300, he'd need to see about one and a half extra weeks of productivity to make up for it. Presuming I make someone about 20% more efficient, that pays for itself within two months or so. It's simple, and justified. At $1800 per student, they're still paying more for the student to be idled than for my instruction, but it's the total expenditure between both that needs to be justified and returned. When you look at it that way, it's actually still pretty cheap.

    To someone that's never made more than $20K/year, these numbers may look huge. But to the typical corporate Perl wrangler, these are competitive figures.

    -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker
    Be sure to read my standard disclaimer if this is a reply.

      I wasn't able to find anything about your free talks on your web site, so please forgive my omission. I'm sure there are a lot of people here now planning the next few years of your life. ;)

      As for the math here, I think your equation probably holds, but if you change the variables (lower the programmer's salary, decrease efficiency gains), you get some very different results. As with all things, YMMV.

      I have worked in corporate IT (as a grunt and management in both Germany and the US) and have seen what often passes for training. At least with you (and uri and theDamian), there is a return on investment. Anyway, this is your bread and butter and people are free to not attend your courses if they don't want to, so who am I to pour gravel into your gears? We would all hire you if we had the money.


Re: Re: Re: Re: Damian Conway Perl classes in Boston
by uri (Acolyte) on Aug 28, 2003 at 05:18 UTC
    class size is indeed a major factor. i have seen large (100-300) perl classes and they tend to be lectures with little interaction. same for most academic lectures. the smaller recitations are usually taught by grad students and not the top professors. damian's classes are limited to 20 students and there is plenty of room for personal interaction both in the class and during breaks. and i will wager you will learn more from damian in one (or all four) of these class days than almost any academic class at any school. this is real world perl that you will learn and be using the next week, not some blue sky conceptual CS stuff that will never be used by you in your career.

    and if you don't like the tuition, no one says you have to attend. plenty of people find it worth their time and money (and some spend extra money to fly in and stay in hotels). these courses are for professionals working with perl every day and not for dabblers writing a few scripts. these professionals know a good course from a great teacher and the value they receive from it. and some students/underemployed only register for one class and pay $249.50 which is affordable to almost anyone.

    also i have announced these classes on perlmonks before and not had any complaints. in fact banner ads were used on this site as well (i don't have banners done so if anyone want to do them for me i will offer a discount or pay for them)

    and even if you can't afford the class you might know perl hackers who can or whose companies can. you can earn a 5% commission for enrolling others.

    BTW, merlyn being on the board of advisors of Stem has nothing to do with these classes. he is just a friend who i can call on for advice. his opinions here are his own (as always) and didn't ask nor expect any comments from him.


      All good points, really. :)

      This wasn't really a complaint so much as an attempt to highlight an interesting and polemical discussion topic. I think we all know that you have to make a living. :) It is probably worth adding that I took merlyn's note at face value, but felt the need to point out that he himself is in the Perl instruction business and knows you all very well. As for the class advertisement, I was not bothered by it because I felt (much as liz stated) that this is something worth having, but might not necessarily reflect the "free advice" nature of Perl Monks.

      I also think the monks will be very interested to read your responses because this is a topic that affects almost all of us.


Re: Re: Re: Re: Damian Conway Perl classes in Boston
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 28, 2003 at 01:22 UTC

    You are quite right. The thought occured to me partially through writing the original post that I was looking at it from the wrong perspective. There are plenty of low-cost direct training alternatives such as user groups, yapc, and very capable people willing to speak for cheap or free. I thought I'd finish the post anyways for the sake of discussion :)

    Still from a business perspective I do not view such training as cost-effective. The alternatives of sending employees to yapc, or having someone come in and speak would often be far more effective.

      for some value of cost-effective. your analysis doesn't jibe with many others. what you can learn at low cost things is not what you can learn from intense classes. and note that damian also teaches at yapc and still offers these classes. they are not the same material nor the same depth. having seen him teach and lecture many times, i would say you get your money's worth from his classes. but then i am biased as i like damian. :-)

      as for other people who teach, none that i know of teach for free all the time as they would soon be living on the street. some will offer a class in their home city to the local perl mongers at no or little cost. or they may give a lecture at yapc that covers some of their educational material. they don't teach full time at low rates. the rest of the time they try to earn a living teaching and they charge what the market will bear for their services. the fees for damian's classes have not changed in over 2 years and the market for them is stable.

      and while i understand anonymous posting, i don't find it to be helpful to your argument. what have you taught? what classes have you produced? what fiscal/training analysis skills do you have? you could claim anything while behind a mask and not back any of it up.


        and while i understand anonymous posting

        Apparently not...