London fastai study group review

Over the past summer, as part of the London Data Science Workshop Meetup group I was lucky enough to act as co-host of a seven-week study group series based around part 1 of the fastai course. The response was extremely positive and we attracted 20+ attendees each week, many of whom came to every single session.

Here are a few observations for anyone who might be looking to run their own study group:

  1. This series was run as part of a well-established meetup group, and we were well aware that by offering something for free, we would inevitably attract a bunch of non-shows. With only limited capacity at the venue, it’s certainly a challenge is to try and filter out these time-wasters in order to leave spaces open for those who are actually committed to attending. In order to combat this problem, before we even “announced” the first meeting on Meetup, we contacted many of our regular members to invite them to sign up. Then at each meeting we “announced” the following week’s meetup, so that those who were actually at the meetup were guaranteed first claim on spots for the following week.

  2. We split our study group into two tracks, a “concepts” group and a “coding” group, with people free to switch between them at will. Our idea was that we would provide an environment for people to study the course together whichever way they preferred. The coders worked together on programming tasks, while (for the first part of each session at least) the rest of us focused on discussing the week’s lecture material using some slides that I produced each week.

  3. Most weeks we also managed to find one or two volunteers to provide a lightning talk on a deep learning project on which they were trying out their new skills, which was a fun way of getting people more engaged with one another.

  4. We also provided a Slack channel so that people could share links to articles, repos, slides etc., and also continue their discussions outside of the weekly session.

We may possibly run this study group again early next year, when (hopefully) the 2019 version of the course is made available. If you might be interested in attending (or even providing a venue or volunteering as an organiser or co-presenter) then please get in touch either via our Meetup group or by posting a reply to this message.

Finally, I would like to offer my thanks to Jeremy and Rachel at fastai for making this wonderful material available for us all, Acuris for providing us with a superb venue and also to my co-host Sergiusz Bleja for his invaluable contributions.


Hi Andrew,

Kudos for taking the initiative. I will be joining UCL for MSc in Computer Graphics, Vision and Imaging in September, this year. I would love to offer my services in organizing and running the next session.
Let’s catch up, when I reach there.


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Thanks for your kind words, Jasmine. That masters degree at UCL looks really interesting.

I don’t have the specific dates yet, but over the autumn we will be running a monthly deep learning “dojo”, a kind of freeform coding meetup at which people work together on problems that interest them, be it fastai notebooks, Kaggle competitions that they are engaged in or whatever. Hopefully, you’ll be able to attend one of those and find out more about us then.

hi Jasmine, will you join the new session? as it is starting in 2 weeks, I cannot find a study group in London, but we could set up one. I am working next Kings Cross. let me know if you still interested.


Hi Tom,

I didn’t move to London for some personal reasons. I am based out of Bangalore. We can connect online if you are interested.

Thanks a lot, this is gold.
I run BrumAI (780 members) in Birmingham, and we’re starting a study group in September which already has 62 people signed up for (which my model predicts means that 38 will actually turn up :slight_smile: )
This is super useful, thanks :smile:

Glad you found it useful, Peet. Hope you all have a lot of fun in your study group!

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My name’s Michal, I’m based in London and I deliver data science projects for companies.
I love the course and have recently decided to organize a study group, to help create a friendly and collaborative learning circumstance that is welcoming to all.
We want to meet in person, do lightning talks, answer each other’s questions, and share the outcomes of our project. Great learning at high velocity with strong knowledge retention.
We’re aiming to run the 7 weeks between mid February and end of April.

Please leave your contact here if you’d like to be part of the group!

(only for the purpose of this group, no other messaging)

Next steps:

  1. survey of preferences in terms of realistic levels commitment, meeting interval and format
  2. securing a venue that matches group size
  3. scheduling the 7 weeks!

I look forward to meeting in person and learning together!

Hey @AndrewK This is great post!
Thank you for your sharing your notes and experience. Looks like you had a very good group and everybody made good progress!

I announced this on the most recent PyData meetup, 15 people expressed interest. We have a potential sponsor for some of the expenses. I also spoke with Alex G, who told me about you and Sergiusz - would love to catch up with you to learn your advice, plus of course would be great to have you if you’d like to be part of the group.

Hope to hear from you, and Happy New Year!