Helping the Drupal Community with Drupal 8 Training

Training Acquia employees how to use Drupal 8 had two purposes. First, there was the obvious need for our company – one that specializes in building and delivering a digital experience using Drupal – to get everyone up to speed on the new version.

But we also felt our training sessions had a larger purpose: to inform the larger Drupal community on the ins and outs, not to mention joys and pains, of the updated version. So as we embarked on our long training program of nearly 50 employees, we documented our progress.

We focused on module porting and module development for reasons my co-author Thomas Howell and I referenced earlier in this series about Drupal instruction. We also followed that path because we found that digging into how the modules were built showed how Drupal itself was built.

It’s a mirror of how those core modules are built. You can break them down conceptually and learn what a YAML file is, see what has changed with the info file, and review other concepts. Learning to do that in the module context helps you understand what it’s doing within Drupal overall, which makes it more possible to see what problems you’re encountering and how to troubleshoot them.

There is a lot of good documentation out there now about Drupal 8 that wasn’t there when we started. We like what we’ve created; it works for us. It definitely does not work for everyone, but picking a place to start and then trying to do it consistently at least allows you to understand what you can do and what you can’t.

You may feel as if your organization is too small and you won’t have the resources to handle training and regular work duties. If that’s inescapable, consider joining forces with another small organization. Small teams can work with other small teams, sharing lesson plans, documentation, and approaches. Also, you can consider using Drupal camps or monthly Drupal meet-ups in your area. Working together, you can build momentum and help each other reach a goal.

Speaking of working together: there was some resistance to our training method. There were lone wolves. There were people who wanted to just charge ahead and do it on their own. In those situations, we just found a way to work. We told them they could proceed at their own pace but were obligated to reach the same goals as the others. We wanted consistency and an idea of what to expect when training a large organization.

Again, we were not looking for everyone to become experts, but we were trying to dispel the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that comes along with massive change. By breaking things down, change was more comfortable. Employees were able to build things, troubleshoot, and talk. Suddenly, it wasn’t a daunting prospect.

Community is what Acquia is all about. It’s what we really hold dear. So when we need to learn something that is big and scary, being able to pass along that knowledge to others makes the challenge surmountable and is actually motivating. Even if you do something as simple as write a test for a module that somebody else is porting, it is still giving back and noticeable.

With that, we'll bring this series to a close. We hope you've enjoyed reading it, and that you've been able to take away some useful advice on how to approach learning and training others on this exciting new version of Drupal.