Microsoft together with ADvTech will host the first virtual educational hackathon in the world, during September and October 2020. The aim of the Hackathon is to provide Microsoft ADvTech schools in South Africa, Botswana and Kenya with user-generated insights to improve their products, particularly from the user experience point of view of students.
“ADvTech, as a strategic Education partner of Microsoft, gets the opportunity to pilot education products from Microsoft before they are released to the general market,” said Quinton Mulder, Academic Development Coordinator at African private education provider, ADvTech.
The Hack-It competition will give students the chance to utilize their research and digital learning skills to analyse and evaluate Microsoft products, by harnessing their creative thinking skills to collaborate with their teams and develop innovative new ideas to improve the software.
The students will be working directly with Microsoft teams with the aim to improve the MS Teams and OneNote environments. “Subsequently, their needs analysis developed in respect of their own learning and learning environment and mapping of their product against that marketplace, will give them an experience that will be of real value in any real-life work environment,” said Mudler.
The students will be given the chance to write a wish list, mapped against their hack results and self-assessment, and develop a case study and proposal for future features which will be delivered straight to Microsoft Engagement and Engineering.
The process involves four steps:
Hacking requires students to identify bugs, explore and find unexpected results in product utility, discover how to break something and learn what parts of the product don’t work, and record their findings.
Assessing requires students to identify feature gaps, in terms of ways to improve the product, exploring what is missing which could improve user experience, and gathering and organising ideas.
Creating requires students to innovate – building something new through collaboration with the team to identify actionable ideas, and developing a strategy for implementation.
Knowledge transfer lets students work with others to refine and improve upon identified ideas and producing solutions, and identifying avenues for ongoing collaboration. Stephen Reid, Senior Customer Engagement PM (EMEA) at Microsoft, said the company is committed to the development of student education and wellbeing, not just in school but beyond into the world of work and social engagement.
“The Hack-It programme is designed to help students become creators, not just consumers. By opening up our products to allow students to ethically hack, we are creating an ecosystem within our product portfolio that allows students to spend time exploring, understanding, reverse engineering and rebuilding our products in a way that makes sense to them, ultimately building critical skills for their future while allowing us to develop our products in direct alignment with their findings and ideas,” explained Reid.