Major League Hacking (MLH) is committed to empowering hackers during the COVID-19 outbreak and working with organizers to support their local communities digitally. We will continue to maintain our official guidance for hackers, organizers, and sponsors in our always up-to-date COVID-19 recommendations post.

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are currently requiring that all MLH Localhost events, through June 2020, be hosted digitally. Instead of meeting in person, you should host your MLH Localhost workshops online. If you can’t go digital, either cancel or reschedule your workshop for a later date. You should reach out to your Localhost Community Coordinator at MLH to talk through the best options for your circumstance. 

We’ll be hosting a Localhost workshop online on Thursday at 6 PM Eastern. If you’d like to learn how our team hosts digital events, you can sign up to attend here. A recording of the presentation will be available afterwards too, to get this recording, simply signup to attend.

To make converting your event to a digital event as straightforward as possible, we’ve outlined some of the most important things to consider when hosting a digital workshop. 

Preparing for your workshop

In addition to your normal preparations for a workshop, we’re recommending you consider the following areas. Be sure to inform your attendees as soon as possible that you are switching to a digital workshop due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Expand your marketing

One of the benefits of hosting a digital workshop is that  you have the option to market to a wider audience of attendees from outside your local community. Consider expanding your marketing outreach if you typically only advertise to members of your club, major, or school/university. These online events can become the starting point for folks to join your organizations more regularly in person once the outbreak is over. Here are some great resources for promoting webinars on different online platforms to get you started.

Pick and test your broadcast platform

MLH Localhost workshops are designed to be interactive presentations  where participants can ask questions, work together, and troubleshoot problems. We recommend you use a video conferencing tool like Zoom to host your workshops. Depending on your number of attendees, other options like Google Meet, Discord, or Twitch might make more sense. 

We are recommending Zoom because it seems to have the best bandwidth usage and features from the platforms we’ve tested. Upon scheduling your event, we will provide you with access to a premium Zoom account to use to host your workshop. These premium accounts will give you access to useful features like breakout rooms which are wonderful for one-on-one troubleshooting and pairing. 

Whatever platform you choose, familiarize yourself with the controls before your workshop, so you don’t need to learn on the fly. 

Communicate with your attendees

It’s really important that you communicate with the people planning to attend your workshop to make sure they don’t show up, but also to help them understand what you’re doing and that they can expect a similar experience to being in person.

Hello,
Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, we are changing our MLH Localhost event from an in-person event to be hosted completely online. We made this decision to ensure we’re protecting the health safety of our community. 

We’ll be broadcasting the event digitally, using Zoom, at this link. You can tune in there to participate in the workshop and get the same one-on-one help you’d expect in-person.

Please do not plan to show up for the event. Join us online instead!

You can read more about the decision to move to a digital format on MLH’s COVID-19 guidance post.

Thanks,
[Your Name]

Hosting your workshop

Even more than normal, you should prompt your attendees for active participation. You’ll need to focus on keeping your participants engaged and active. We’re recommending starting with an icebreaker to ensure everyone knows each other. One of our favorite ice breakers is to ask each attendee to share their name, where they go to school, and something cool they learned about recently. You should also build time into your schedule to do breakout sessions, troubleshooting, and questions. 

If possible, encourage folks to turn on their webcams so that everyone can see each other. There may be some attendees who don’t have the bandwidth to connect with video. That’s okay! You may even have some attendees who join without access to a computer. If so, consider asking someone to cast their desktop so folks can follow along or cast your own. 

As you’re working through the workshop content, be extremely aware of how much more intimidating code reviews and questions will be for participants. Remind participants that if they’re facing an issue others probably are as well. You’ll have to ask them to share their screen to troubleshoot their issues.

After the workshop

When you finish the material in your presentation make sure to sign off and thank everyone for their participation. It may be fun to continue hanging out with attendees in the group chat. Consider working on other projects together. 

If your workshop would normally qualify to receive stickers and swag, Major League Hacking will still be shipping you those normal supplies you’d receive. You’ll get a variety of stickers that you should distribute to your attendees once it’s safe to do so. Give folks on your call some idea of when this will be as you sign off. If the address you provided us with has changed or will change, please email [email protected] with your new address as soon as possible. 

Hosting for Local Hack Day Share?

Were you hosting an MLH Localhost workshop for Local Hack Day Share? If so, our team has your back! MLHers will be running several sessions of some of our most popular workshops throughout the day.

You should still plan to host your own workshops during Local Hack Day. We’ll only be broadcasting our most popular workshop content. 

Unfortunately, due to the number of simultaneous Local Hack Day Share events, we will not be able to offer premium Zoom Features to most individual organizers during this time, however you will be able to use Discord’s features to do much of what Zoom allows in the same place we are hosting Local Hack Day.

To see more about our plan for Local Hack Day, check our Local Hack Day resource blog post.

Local Hack Day Share is a global event, and we know many organizations host their workshops in languages other than English. If you’re hosting a workshop in a language other than English, let us know by emailing [email protected], so we can add your workshop to the schedule!

As we get closer to the big day, we’ll be posting a schedule of these workshops, so you can build them into the plans for your own digital event. 

Remember, MLH is here to help

We’re committed to supporting you and your events. If there’s anything you need more help on, reach out to your coordinator ([email protected]). 

If you have any resources we should add to this guide, let us know.