IT Camps–What are they good for.


One of the most rewarding yet most difficult part of my job over the last three years has been involved with designing and delivering something called an IT camp.  So I thought it might be useful to explain what they are in case an invite lands in your mailbox.

What IT Camps are:

Technical. it’s designed for technical people who like to learn by doing so we allocate 3 hours plus of lab time out of the day so it’s essential you bring a device (or even two – one for the lab guide).

Focused on a key technology. Camps have a theme , currently either  Enterprise Device Management, and Extend Your Data Centre with Azure.  In both cases we want to get you to a place but how we get there and where we focus is up to you.

Education rather than training.  We show the art of the possible but we do cut corners that you wouldn’t in production e.g. self signed certs and our PowerShell misses out the error trapping so it’s easy to see what it’s trying to do.  We do share best practice but we also encourage debate about what that is as you are all form very different organisations and what works in retail might not be appropriate in education.

What IT camps are not:

Death by PowerPoint. We do use decks to show architecture and setup instructions but that’s about it.  We do supply you with a pile of decks to explain content off line, and you can continue your labs after the day as we’ll make the guides available.

a Lecture.   While events like Future Decoded provide deep technical content there is little opportunity to ask questions, or have any kind of discussion.  This does mean that IT camps can appear more unstructured than a session at something like TechEd, as we will deviate into areas based on what you are interested in on the day and so no two camps are ever quite the same.  We also make mistakes and things don’t always work because we are doing this live and actually experience has taught us that small hiccups actually reinforce learning so expect surprises!

A Sales or marketing pitch. Evangelists don't get bonuses for generating leads or , we are there to show the art of the possible and often that's about making the best use of the Microsoft solutions you already have like, Hyper-V or the deployment tools we give away.

The reason that Ed and I put a lot of effort into camps is about the direct help and advice we can share and the feedback we get from you.  Feedback enables us to continually improve camps a recent example being that we now give you much more time for labs than we used to.  We also get ideas for posts and other content delivered by the TechNet team like my Lab Ops series on using PowerShell in a sandbox.

So hopefully we’ll have the pleasure of your company at a camp sometime next year.

Stop press 13 Jan 2015 - Open Registrations for our IT Camps are here but you may also get an invitation to closed camps directly from your account manager.