What the heck is an Omniversity?
It’s a good question. What is an Omniversity?
Since we set up Manchester Digital Laboratory, we’ve met a lot of really clever and interesting people, some of the best in their fields, who are as interested in sharing as they are in their day jobs. They organise the groups you attend, or they speak at the events you come to. But, more than anything – they’re really into what they do. They’re really good at it, they do it for the day job, then carry on with it when they get home. They are passionate experts. They’re why open source has become such a massive societal force.
Equally, people come to the MadLab to learn from each other and the specialist knowledge that is available at groups. Sometimes, those experts are here; but they can often be tied up just organising the group and dealing with its minutiae.
What we realised is that there is another way; we can provide a means by which these experts can provide intensive, hands-on training and classes for people, showing them hard-learnt tricks and industry expertise alongside developing their practice. Experts can spend time helping people develop in the fields they are passionate about – Android programming, Arduino development, filmmaking – without having to become jaded year-round teachers. And the whole region benefits from affordable, short-term classes from experts in subjects that would otherwise cost thousands of pounds or years of commitment.
We’ll provide a preparation pack for each course, telling you what you’ll learn, and what you should be competent with already – plus pointers to where you can sharpen your skills up in advance. You’ll be expected to bring your own equipment (your laptop, for the most part), and we’ll explain how to download and set up any software or hardware you’ll need in advance so the whole class can hit the ground running. Most classes will be between one and three days, and we’re aiming to charge around £100 a day – though there may be other costs for classes which include hardware, such as our beginners Physical Computing course (where you’ll get £40 worth of Arduino and accessories as part of the fee).
You will receive a number of things which most training doesn’t provide – paper and electronic copies of all materials on USB, for one. There will be a buffet lunch on-site, so you’ll be able to practice what you learn, ask questions, or network with others without wasting your lunch getting lost. Finally, you’ll be enrolled into the Omniversity Network, where you’ll be directly connected with your course leaders and peers from the day, and be able to continue peer-lead development long after the course has finished. What you won’t get is accreditation – though you will come out of it able to say ‘I learnt about Arduino Networking from the guy who maintains the IP stack for the platform’, which we think is a far more impressive thing.
We have some great courses lined up, and we’ll be adding them over the next few days as we finish the materials with the course leaders. Follow our RSS feed, and watch over the next few weeks as we add a little spit and polish to everything and start developing Manchester’s role in Near Future Technologies!