You may remember the Microsoft Game of Learners hackathon, season 1 of which was launched virtually in June last year. If you are not aware of GOL or do not remember season 1, jog your memory here. Game of Learner is a Africa Development Center initiative that aims to enhance digital and coding skills among university studens in Kenya and Nigeria.
African Development Center on the other hand is based at Microsoft’s offices in Westlands and aims to empower beneficiaries who are not only young, enthusiastic and full of energy, but who also understand the unique challenges facing the continent and are therefore better placed to develop solutions. A generation of tech enthusiasts who have the zeal to take the country’s technology landscape to the next level by developing impactful solutions in different sectors. It follows that some of Microsoft’s major partnerships are with local universities.
In this season of Game of Learners, Microsoft is focusing on education. So participants will be required to front tech solutions to challenges in the education sector. Last year the focus was healthcare and the next season will certainly be something else. This goes to show that technology is here to make life smoother in just about every area of our lives.
Some challenges in the education sector could be poor quality environment in schools, shortages of crucial learning materials like textbooks and other resources, and lack of resources like internet, electricity, and devices. There are also social and cultural bottlenecks like early marriages which also affect education to a large extent.
Game of Learners is conducted in the style of a hackathon and engages directly with students. It is open to students from all higher education institutions. The program’s main objective is to establish a fun, hands-on learning experience for students.
Season 2 has a total of 60 students: 12 team leads and 48 learners (24 women and 24 men) who are undergraduate students, drawn from Kenya and Nigeria. In addition, there are 40 volunteers from Microsoft to train, mentor and coach the students throughout the five-week engagement and judge each team’s final project submission. In total, 496 students from the two countries had expressed their interest to join in the competition.
From the start to the end, the students’ GOL journey is documented and released in weekly episodes which are available online. One overall winner (team) will be selected at the end of the season. Besides having the winning team featured on the GOL site along with announcements on social media, each standing member of the winning team will be awarded with one year Azure credits, one year LinkedIn Learning vouchers, digital certificate and digital badge for winning and one on one mentorship from preferred professionals.
All participants have access to development resources throughout the competition. At the end of the competition, each team is required to submit a 3-minute pitch video, corresponding code and shippable product for overall project judging by Microsoft and partners.