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Hackathon plus education equals EduHack

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 | By Kye White

Education is the latest industry to look to hackathons to inspire innovation in the sector.


The Centre for New Public Education and myEd are bringing together teachers, students, business people, digital designers and developers, and policy makers for EduHack – Australia’s first education hackathon.


The 56 hour event, which will be held in Melbourne on the weekend of June 20, aims to look at a number of problems facing the education system.


Participants will pitch ideas for change, before teaming up to build the prototypes of the best ideas throughout the weekend.


Teams will then share their prototypes with an expert panel for refinement and the best of the bunch will be provided with prizes that will help try and make these prototypes a reality.


MyEd co-founder and chief learning architect Rowan Kunz says the idea for EduHack came after seeing similar efforts abroad.


“The model of hackathons focused on the education sector has been applied in the UK and the US to great success,’’ he says.


“By drawing on the experience, knowledge and insight of the technology and business communities and partnering with teachers and students the result overseas has been creative solutions that address real challenges.”


Kunz says the education sector is traditionally quite conservative and has been slow to embrace digital technology.


“I’ve been working in the education sector myself for close to 10 years and while we’ve seen things like the government’s digital education revolution, which put a computer or laptop in every child’s hands, it’s been a slow shift,’’ he says.


“That shift was occurring from a policy level and a hardware level, but wasn’t necessarily happening in the classroom as quickly as we would like.”


Kunz says while the children had been given the infrastructure, studies showed that what they used on the computers and laptops was basic word processing.


“A big part of the vision is getting key stakeholders in the room to share the challenges they’re having,’’ he says.


He saw the main challenges as student engagement, learning outcomes and academic performance, equity and access and entrepreneurial development in schools.


Centre for New Public Education director Ricky Campbell-Allen says involving students along the way is an important part of the process.


“Too often education is something that is done to students, not with them,’’ he says.


“Students spend 195 days a year in the classroom – they know what matters in education.


“They’re an untapped resource for helping to improve learning outcomes in Australia.”


For information about how to get involved, visit www.eduhack.com.au.