Ana Hibert of the Centre for Research in Digital Education, supported by Dr Michael Gallagher, recently organised a 24-hour hackathon at the University of Edinburgh to explore new approaches to some of the challenges faced in digital education today. The University of Edinburgh was joined by more than 1700 participants in 21 separate countries solving 60 challenges in 24 hours as part of DigiEduHack.
The main objectives of the DigiEduHack Edinburgh were to produce solutions to all the challenges at the heart of the event and to bring together people from different disciplines and harness their expertise to co-create the future of education. The challenges for the event were chosen to represent different aspects of digital education, such as the implementation of technology, communication and accessibility, and data processing. The challenges were:
- How do we connect all the research that is carried out in Edinburgh?
- How can we integrate Augmented Reality into the classroom to make learning fun and engaging?
- How can we use datasets to track the evolution of knowledge?
The 24-hour hackathon was organised to tackle these challenges, starting at 10am on Thursday 3rdof October and finishing at 10am on Friday 4th. To supplement the work undertaken by the participants, Sian Bayne, the Director of the Centre for Research in Digital Education and Director of Education at the Edinburgh Futures Institute, gave a keynote speech in which she reflected on the implementation of various solutions in digital education and the ethical dimensions that need to be addressed. Owen Bowers, CICD engineer at Cirrus Logic, gave our participants training on how best to pitch their solutions to a panel of judges.
The event succeeded in completing its objectives. First, attendants included people from various fields such as computer science, applied mathematics, medical research and development, education, social justice and education technology. Several mentors were brought in from different fields to help our participants and encourage discussions. The judges were also quite diverse, as two of them came from the technology sector and two came from the academic sector, making the judging process quite balanced. The event was marked by a wealth of conversations around digital education and the application to technology in education. After the judging process was completed, judges and participants came together to discuss the judges’ verdict, areas of opportunity, and how these solutions could be improved and implemented in the future.
Second, all the challenges received a solution. A platform that automatically crawls university websites and other academic profiling sites such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu to connect early career researchers was proposed for the first challenge. For the second challenge, our participants created a prototype for an AR textbook that allows the contents of the book to pop out of the page, giving students an opportunity to engage with them more deeply. For the third challenge, our participants envisioned a dashboard that could help researchers carry out an initial exploration of text data in order to begin making sense of the enormous amount of data contained in those datasets and focus their research. They also wrote a series of scripts for the National Library of Scotland to be able to make more sense of the dataset they made available for the challenge. A more detailed overview of these solutions can be found on our website https://digieduhack.com/en/challenges/.