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Developer Festival – Sparking New Ideas

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From the CEO's Desk

This month, I’m turning over the blog to Linn Veronica Bredesen, Global Development Manager at itslearning to tell you about the Development and QA Department’s annual team-building event called Developer Festival.

Linn (third from left) with the Engineering team at the Developer Festival in Bergen.

I’m Linn, and I am so excited to share what we have been up to in the Development and QA team this month. Thank you, Arne, for this opportunity!

In 2012, the Engineering Department at itslearning decided, just like many other innovative software companies, to give our developers and QAs a few days off from their regular development work to participate in a form of hackathon called Developer Festival.

Challenge, code, create

Every employee at itslearning possesses great ideas and creativity and we wanted to tap into this. What better way than a competition?

In short, the Developer Festival, which happens in September, is time set aside for participants to challenge themselves and demonstrate their ideas to a jury of their peers – and WIN prizes. itslearning is in the business of learning, so naturally, we make it a priority for our people to get every opportunity for learning and growing their skills.

The Developer Festival also gives the team members, who are in different parts of the world and normally communicate via video-chat and other online communication platforms, a chance to meet their colleagues and connect face-to-face.

“This was my first Developer Festival and I enjoyed it very much! It was very cool for us to work on projects without restrictions. As a result, there were really good ideas and the presentations were very creative.”

Alexander Ivanov, St Petersburg

We believe that real communication and collaboration happens at a much faster pace when people spend time with their colleagues, even for a few days. Ideas are sparked, code is generated, and that helps people come up with brilliant solutions.

the winning team - bjarne heldal and stephane vanraes

The winners – Bjarne Heldal (left) and Stephane Vanraes.

The end goal is to increase competence in the department, collaborate, boost motivation and get creative.

This year we didn’t have a predefined theme, which meant the teams could choose to develop any idea they were keen on.

An interesting observation was that despite zero restrictions, a singular theme emerged through all the ideas and presentations and that was – Keep It Simple. A lot of ideas focused on innovative ways to make itslearning easier to use and more powerful for our end-users.

“Developer Festival encouraged me to think differently, see itslearning from the ‘outside’, and reflect on what users would most want in the platform. It’s very motivating, and above all, fun.”

Bjarne Heldal, Bergen

What I learnt

There were just so many takeaways, but here’re the three standouts for me:

  • itslearning actively supports and encourages continuous learning because the company believes in investing in its employees.
  • The event created so much Team Spirit. People were sharing ideas and collaborating on solutions for users. It reinforces the idea of putting itslearning users first, not just during the festival, but also in our day-to-day work.
  • And most importantly … I have cool, creative colleagues who can knock out amazing code in 2 days. I always knew that they were excellent at problem solving and development, but this year’s Developer Festival showed me just how creative they could get! The energy in our office was electric as they vied for bragging rights and prizes.
“During this festival, you get time to really focus on what you think is important, and to have loads of fun doing it. It’s great to work with other members and get insights into new ideas.”

Kristian Rye Vennesland, Bergen

Prizes up for grabs were:

  • Best Educational Idea where the winning team gets extra development hours to complete the prototype and include it in itslearning
  • Nerd Award for the ‘geekiest’ theme
  • Best Presentation. We sure had some ‘out of the box’ presentations this year
Sven Bakke with the trophies

Better luck next year Sven.

All participants also had to “defend” their ideas in a Q&A session, and this was where they got valuable feedback which could help them further grow their ideas. The winning entry focused on improving the way parents could use itslearning to keep track of their children’s education progress.

All in all, a great time was had by everyone, and we are now back at our desks working on incorporating those amazing ideas into itslearning to make our platform even faster, stronger and easier for teachers and students to use.


Got great ideas?

We’re looking for people who are ready to revolutionize the way teachers teach and students learn. Are you that person?

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