Animikii Hackathon: Remote Collaboration on Niiwin

2023-07-24 Share story


Over three amazing midsummer days the Animikii team members all over Turtle Island and at the Songhees Innovation Centre, engaged in a unique remote collaboration event. We took a break from our regular tasks and turned our focus to our central product, Niiwin.

Our team was grateful to kick off our time together learning more about Anishinaabemowin from Elder and Language Keeper Lillian Cook earlier this week. Elder Lillian is from Sagkeeng First Nation on the shores of the Winnipeg River and Traverse Bay in Manitoba. She gifted us with stories about Thunderbirds and reinforced that the answers for our days ahead would be in the values we collectively share.

This exercise was an intense journey in collaboration. These two days were a pivot point for us. Remote and in-person we’re able to come together and drive Niiwin forward.

Here’s an exciting look into some of the activities the team took on:

Amplifying Developer Collaboration

Our Hackathon showcased the power of collective effort. Our dedicated support team worked hand-in-hand with developers - opening up a Zoom room for live technical support - this helped foster a smooth “developer flow state”. Months of organization led up to this event, with all of that organization culminating in a burst of innovation and new opportunities for Niiwin.

Creating Innovative User Interfaces 

Thunderbirds worked on the user interface for our upcoming Learning Management System (LMS) component of Niiwin. This included UI on course creation within the platform, a drag-and-drop feature for easy content structuring, and a streamlined process for onboarding learners. These future features aimed at enhancing learner experience could redefine the way our users interact with our learning management system. Several other Thunderbirds evaluated the existing user interface on Niiwin Data, creating an incredible understanding of what elements need further development and refinement. 

Connecting Data and Stories with Niwiin

One Thunderbird took on efforts to enhance data presentation within Niiwin's CMS. Their proposed system draws data from tables and displays it within a public interface, effectively turning raw data into user-friendly content, all within the intuitive environment of our CMS. This allows Niiwin Data to store facts, while Niiwin CMS communicates them.

Fixing Technical Issues & Learning from Each Other 

The hackathon also helped to address technical debt. One Animikii developer implemented techniques for more effective data management. They explored innovative ways to filter and find information within datasets, boosting efficiency. One team's work on improving our data importing capabilities showcased the power of collaboration across experience levels. In exploring our  data importer they uncovered many areas for innovation, and implemented user-friendly features for file uploads to our CMS. A junior developer and a senior developer worked together on this task, highlighting the role of mentorship in driving innovation at Animikii.

Development Team Digs Deep

Another team worked to achieve a simple goal: lowering the skills required for building tables and tools for data arrangement. While part of this work helps to streamline the developer experience, it also makes Niiwin more accessible to users with a wide range of technological knowledge.

In a similar area of work, developers worked to fix bugs dealing with complex associations between tables, with coffee and music providing a spirited backdrop to these breakthroughs!

Operations & Pathfinding: Strategic Hackers Driving Robust Planning

The Operations and Pathfinding teams contributed significantly to the hackathon, proving that 'hacking' extends beyond programming into strategy and planning. They used the lean canvas model to illuminate the path forward, forging stronger connections and grounding our strategic initiatives.

Their exploration of our Total Addressable Market (TAM) enhanced our growth strategies and market understanding. The reflections and learnings gathered from these activities will serve as invaluable tools for future strategic planning, highlighting the essential role of operations in driving our mission forward. Their work has reinforced our strategies, making them more comprehensive, well-informed, and resilient for the exciting challenges ahead.

Upwards and Onwards! 

The Animikii Hackathon was a transformative experience for our teams spread across Turtle Island and at the Songhees Innovation Centre. Despite the geographical distances, we've proved that remote collaboration can indeed yield extraordinary results.

In two days, we addressed technical issues and improved Niiwin's features but also strengthened our strategic initiatives, setting a new standard for future endeavors. Our team's commitment and dedication have been nothing short of inspiring, and the insights we've gained will continue to guide us.

As we conclude this hackathon, we do so with a stronger sense of community and shared purpose.

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