IMAGINE… You have a few weeks, to collaborate with a select groups of awesome fellow techies from across the globe, come up with new ideas, experiment with cutting edge software and cloud solutions, create some exciting brand new demos and content and then share it with developers across the globe in virtual bootcamps with live coding and all done virtually! As challenging as it may sound, it was one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had this year😊
For the newbies 🐝, Microsoft 365 Developer Bootcamps are virtual and free hands-on workshops where developers join Microsoft's MVPs, community leaders, and Microsoft engineers from around the world to learn and build solutions built on M365 eco system.
I joined Microsoft as a Cloud developer advocate in September '20, and in my previous role, I was the developer you will never meet outside DevOps or stand-ups, working behind the scenes building apps. Of course I was also awarded Microsoft MVP this year, but I barely organised any event even with that title (I was an MVP for only less than 6 months 😁) and leading a virtual open hackathon was something I have not thought of doing until I was given some sort of training around it.
Leading a global event was the first official task assigned to me and I cannot explain the surprise, excitement and the fragment of anxiety it brought to me. Honestly there is no better way to ramp up one's new role than jumping straight into something as huge as this. Thankfully I had loads of help, the content itself was already covered by my colleagues, some really cool peers who spent time discussing their experience hosting hackathons etc. Microsoft is such a huge place and it is also a pool of talented people, all you need to do is reach out 😊
A simple Emergency Response Center which could be used to coordinate the response to an emergency such as a natural disaster. This could complement the Crisis Communication Power App template, which helps to keep employees informed during a crisis; this solution is for the response team themselves
A solution monitoring your tasks, e-mails and calendar events as a Microsoft Teams Tab.
- 💻 Platform - Microsoft Teams proves again and again why it is the best platform to deliver events as large as a global bootcamp. We followed Robert J Gates's guidance on how to run a virtual lab in Microsoft Teams.
In a nutshell this was our approach.
📑 Content The two labs were prepared in great detail, making sure it is fresh, fun, challenging and above all useful. Our entire M365 advocacy team and proctors tested the lab providing valuable feedback that made it so easy to follow.
👨🏽🏫👩🏽🏫 Proctors - Our community leaders and the M365 advocacy team, who joined us as proctors played a huge part in making this event a success! If I had the time, I would have written a separate blog on how how proctors made this event such a fun experience.
🙌They took care of the chats while the leads were busy presenting
💕They kept the conversations very engaging, you could see people were sticking around in the General channel to not miss out on the fun.
⏳ They stayed back for resolving issue for attendees even after the closing time
❤ They genuinely cared about the success of this event even when some of them had their own events the same week !
- 👩🏽🎓👨🏽🎓 Attendees I was surprised to see how disciplined and organised the attendees were although virtual events are fairly a new concept. The engagement and fun, some of the folks brought to the table was nothing I have seen in a non-virtual conference.
And guess what ? some of them even helped out others with their issues. Collaboration at it's finest 🦄.
Next time I am running an event and if someone did not attend it while going for a run, I won't be thrilled 😁
- 🎰 Kahoot! Prepare to be shocked to know that before this event I have never played Kahoot! [I can be that boring], but now I am an expert! For the unknown, Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform.
The kind of engagement and revival a game of Kahoot! brings to your online events is unbelievable. We played 2-3 games each workshop. Everyone gets super attentive and fresh to take on with their labs after the game.
- 📧 Our entire team We could not have done it without the entire team that worked for marketing this event. Right from promoting the event up until sending follow up mails to attendees on preparing their development environment, the team worked really hard and consistent. Sending these preparatory emails saved a lot of time during the event.
Of course every event has something or the other we could have improved.
🔑 Access to Teams There were access issue to get into teams. We have a tool to automate emails to credentials they might have gotten lost for some attendees. Fixing this will be our primary focus for the next event.
🏆 Swag One of the most interesting aspect of taking part in such events other than getting expert knowledge in new technologies is SWAG !
Who doesn't like swag!
For a virtual event, sending swag to over 3000 attendees is hard, but we could do better.
We did give away prize as Microsoft 365 developer subscriptions to Kahoot! quiz winner but c'mon swag will always be special.
- 👨🏽🎓 Too many Proctors channels As mentioned above, we followed Robert J Gates's article and we created a whole bunch of proctor's channels with names. Looking back at it's use throughout the event, it should have been generic channels max of 5 (without proctor names). There have been some confusion around who initiates these channel conversations as well. If they were generic, the channels could have been more efficiently managed.
Honestly this experience has left me and my peers more confident in running virtual events in Microsoft Teams.
We are constantly looking for ways to improve developer experience and Bootcamps like these are the stepping stones for developers to get started with new technologies. Their success as a developer is basically our role's primary goal and Microsoft Teams have enabled us as well as everyone who was part of this huge event feel empowered, empowered to develop, to create 🏆