What an awesome weekend! In partnership with Mike Lee, co-founder of edShelf, and local educator Rob Rinsky, I hosted my first education-focused hackathon, RemixEd K12, at 500 Startups in Mountain View, CA. Mike posted some great reflections on the edShelf blog, sharing more about hackathons in general and some of the questions and challenges we faced. There are more pictures and information about hosting RemixEd in your community on TeacherSquare. I storified some of the tweets and you can see them all at #RemixEdK12.
As I continue to develop my scope and vision for TeacherSquare, it is clear that hosting events like these to bring together teachers, students, designers and developers to think about challenges and opportunities in the K12 space are so valuable to all involved. This quote really captures the educator experience beautifully.
“I felt like such a student. I learned so much this weekend.”
The teachers were thrilled to have a platform to share their ideas, collaborate on the very early stages of product development and then present their findings to the diverse audience. (I’m always surprised at how teachers, who spend their lives speaking in front of groups, get nervous addressing crowds outside the typical school environment I’m convinced that if TeacherSquare can get more educators to participate in events like this they will be inspired to bring these new practices and a culture of experimentation to their schools and classrooms.
Not surprising, the students were the best part. They jumped right into the activities and their energy (as well as a Saturday afternoon zumba break) kept the teams going. While this was a successful inaugural event, of course we have a growing list of how we can improve for next time. For one, I’d definitely like to be more explicit about students sharing their ideas in advance and also include them as coaches and/or judges. (And there were clearly some avoidable tech and presentation issues.)
Audrey Watters, a friend and well known edtech blogger, showed her support throughout the weekend and dives deeper in the role and potential for these types of events in her post on Designing Education Hackathons. I optimistically see this collaborative learning format as part of the classroom of the future. This type of event is the embodiment of project-based learning (PBL) and I’d love to explore how to bring elements of this directly into schools and districts.
I’d like to express tremendous gratitude to our panel of judges, all education practitioners themselves, who not only provided feedback to the teams but also helped coach Mike, Rob and I on how to continue creating opportunities like this for teachers and students. And we couldn’t have done any of this without the generous support from our sponsors, especially New Schools Venture Fund.
We are continuing to gather feedback and there is so much more to share, so keep an eye out for a follow-up post on best practices for hosting an education-focused hackathon. This is just the beginning and as we collectively explore the potential of the flipped classroom I hope others will think about bringing this format of project-based learning to their schools. I’m thrilled to see all the enthusiasm to carry this work forward. Onward!