Microsoft is always working on providing women, youth and students opportunities to bridge the skills and gender gap in technology through various hackathons. In the last year, Microsoft showed its commitment to support, develop, sponsor and advocate for women with an interest in security engineering through #SheHacks2019. And this year, they are back again with a very interesting program that has been dubbed Game of Learners (GOL).
Game of Learners (GOL) is a virtual hackathon that is aimed to spur innovation among university students across Kenya. Students in Kenya have been home for almost 3 months and this program is set to keep their feet wet. The initiative which was developed by Microsoft’s Africa Development Centre (ADC), is completely student-driven and hands-on with the overall objective being to empower the students to develop impactful solutions that can help address some of Africa’s and the world challenges.
In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, the use of hackathons to crowd source digital ideas and solutions demonstrates the possibilities of open innovation. It is true to say, necessity is the mother of invention.
The hackathon has been designed to engage the participating students in a virtual 5 week program executed by Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors – global group of campus leaders who are eager to help fellow students, create robust tech communities, and develop technical and career skills for the future.
Here are some of the things you need to know about GOL;
- GOL is a 5-week hackathon comprised of weekly sprints and at the end of the 5th week all participating teams will be submitting their final projects for judging.
- The program’s main objective is to establish a fun experiential learning competition for undergraduate students. It provides a platform for student ambassadors to hone their leadership skills as Team Leads while teaching and building impactful solutions with the Learners
- All participants will have access to development resources throughout the competition. Final project submission is comprised of a 3-minutes pitch video, code repo and a shippable product for every participating team.
The GOL is structured as a 5-week virtual hackathon comprised of weekly sprints where, at the end of the 5th week, all participating teams will submit their final projects for judging. There will be 13 volunteers from Microsoft to mentor the students throughout the 5-week engagement and judge each team’s final project submission.
“The program’s objective is to empower Microsoft Student Partners (MSPs) to develop leadership skills by teaching learners (student participants) technical skills in a fun competition while building awareness to all undergrad students,” says Jack Ngare, the ADC Managing Director.
“The original plan for GOL was to be conducted on campus at one of our partner universities. However, due to the pandemic we pivoted to a completely virtual experience which removed geographic limitations and has actually provided us with an opportunity to reach more students across the region.”
The MSPs will define the challenge and each team lead will dictate the rhythm of the weekly sprints. All participants will have access to development resources provided by Microsoft throughout the competition. Winner evaluation and selection will be based on the following:
- Weekly sprint submission (25%)
- Judging of final submission (50%)
- Twitter voting of final submission (25%)
Upon completion, each standing member of the winning team will be rewarded with:
- 1-year Azure credits
- 1-year LinkedIn Learning vouchers
- Digital certificate and digital badge for winning
- 1:1 mentorship from preferred professionals
Solve puzzles to accelerate vaccine discovery is one innovation that is very functional and useful to both researchers and gamers. Developed during a hackathon, it comes to show how hackathons can work to produce a working software prototype in a limited time period.
Microsoft has operated on the continent for more than 28 years, building partnerships to bridge the gaps in infrastructure, connectivity, and capability to accelerate innovation. Through the ADC, Microsoft is enabling digital transformation, bridging gaps in infrastructure, connectivity and capability while creating sustained societal impact on the African continent. The centre is recruiting world-class African engineering talent to develop innovative solutions that span the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge and the hackathon complements ongoing efforts to create a modern intelligent edge and cloud curriculum, unique to Africa.
The GLO hackathon is a great initiative that will keep undergraduate students driven and motivated during this hard time. The full on virtual experience has in fact removed geographical limitations and has created more opportunity to students across Kenya. To learn more about Microsoft and it’s various initiatives visit – www.microsoft.com and – Microsoft MEA News Center