Over the weekend I helped run a day long Azure camp. We had about 40 people come out and learn a bunch of stuff about Azure. The day was set up as a code camp with us having presentations every hour or so and then working time during which we circulated and attempted to help people out. Based on the feedback and my own observations I wanted to jot down some suggestions for the next time we put on such an event.

  1. Name tags. It would be great to give people name tags so that when I’m walking around I don’t keep having to ask what their names are and they don’t have to keep asking about mine.

  2. Electronic method of asking questions during the presentation. We were in a big room and it would have been good for people to be able to tweet questions instead of raising hands and the such. Frequently people are worried about interrupting the flow of the presentation so this side channel would be great.

  3. Less complete demo. We built a fully functional azure driven website and let people download it to play with it. Next time we should branch the website just before we give people the download link and remove key parts of the functionality. They would still be available in a branch should people get stuck but they wouldn’t be obvious. As it stood people went to implement things and found them already to be in place and nothing for them to do.

  4. Challenge problems. One of the most popular comments was that things were going too slow. At the same time there were some people who were struggling to keep up. I can totally understand that. The camp catered for people at all sorts of skill levels so there were bound to be differences in how long it took people to get a task done. We should have put in stretch goals or challenge problems for the faster moving. It would also give people something to work on when they get home, should they wish.

  5. Status board. With 30+ people plugging away at stuff it is hard to say who is ready to move on and who is still working. We could have set up a site on which users could check off their progress so we could see if we were ready to move on. This would allow us to be more dynamic with when sessions start and finish.

  6. Microphones and better projectors. Our room was huge, too big as it turns out. People at the back had trouble hearing and seeing the projector. The obvious solution is to move forward but we should have been proactive at the same time and moved people or invested in some microphones.

  7.  Something for people who don’t have the tools. As always people end up at the camp without the right tools installed. From time to time they can’t install the tools because they’re using their company’s laptop. All the tools for this camp were free so we could easily have set up some VMs on the cloud to let people do development with remote desktop. There would have been a cost but for 10 users for 8 hours on a large instance at Azure the cost would have been $26. I think we could have stretched to that, the only question is “would our bandwidth have stretched?”

I think the whole camp went really well and I’m excited about doing another one at some point in the future.