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The Startup Weekend Mobile in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago (July 23 – 25) ended with success, so much so that many of us are still raving about it. One participant learned so much during that weekend that she wrote about how Startup Weekend and the way it trains its participants can really hit the mark.

Jamie is an MBA student in Stanford. Part of her education includes studying psychology, especially when it involves group behavior. Group behavior is best observed in small-group settings, which is exactly what Jamie saw and experienced in Startup Weekend. Jamie wrote about a learning theory called constructivism, and a psychological concept called assimilation. Basically, these ideas stem from the fact that people learn best when they experience it, and that “new knowledge is built on prior knowledge.”

Every group is made up of different people with different skills and knowledge, and those differences are what made the groups work. Each person took advantage of what they already knew and contributed their skills to the group. It’s like everyone has a piece of the puzzle and all they had to do is fit it in with the other pieces to make the picture complete.

Startup Weekend not only gives participants a chance to work with what they knew best, but also to learn through other people. Every participant was an expert in their own field, and some situations called for their expertise. Jamie saw how, in those times, everyone else took a backseat and “took note” of how it was done by a pro.

Sometimes, though, things don’t go as smooth as that, but that’s how learning works: you get a little bump in the road and you try to get past it. That’s why the saying “learn from your mistakes” is so cliché, because it’s actually true.

Jamie also noticed how Startup Weekend applied the concept of “instructional scaffolding” and was able to give the “proper balance of challenge and support” to the participants. This made everyone run the extra mile and do their best, and eventually learn a lot because of it.

Startup Weekend is really fun, but sometimes it gets you to the point of having to deal with stress. Luckily, that’s where group encouragement comes in. When the two elements – challenge and support – are in symmetry, higher learning is the end result.

Startup Weekend really did well by ditching lectures and getting down and dirty with a 54-hour hands-on curriculum for its participants. All it had were three simple words: learning by doing. When it comes to learning and doing, Startup Weekend definitely hit the mark by making everyone get their feet wet in actually creating a product by the end of the event. Want to learn more and do more? Check out Startup Weekend and watch out for the next event nearest you.

photo from thisgirlangie @ flickr

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