Originally published by Lemonpot ry. “LINKO“ in 2017

Hackathon as a concept is starting to be a widely spread phenomenon and now it’s been harnessed to the development of education as well as to the activation of those interested in the field. My inspiration to organize the first full-length, i.e. over-weekend, education hackathon in Finland (and, actually, the first in the Nordic countries) stems from seeing how much fun some participants of hackathons had had compared to my weekends. Those people were utterly exhausted, yet smiling, proud of the work they had done, their address books filled with new contacts. As a result of the weekend, there had born an oeuvre that contained more than mere eye could see.

I am an Educational Psychology major and highly interested in learning and development of different kinds of skills. In my opinion, a big defect in my studies, and actually in the whole education field, is that there are not enough ways to actively take part in building, developing, and updating it to this century. I wanted to be part of defining and refining my own occupation, and I felt tired of waiting for someone else telling me how to practice my passion or make a change. In addition to that, I felt like the people in the education field and teachers still live too much within their own bubble. I longed for business and interdisciplinary cooperation to boost and develop education, and thus create new innovations and solutions to make the world a little bit better and communal. Because of the observations I had made about hackathons, I realized that by organizing an education hackathon I could follow my original inspiration, work towards improving education, and help others to bring out their knowledge and skills.

After the first Linko Education Hackathon we wanted to find out in which ways our pedagogically hacked hackathon, and the hackathon concept in general, could support the participants’ intellectual and practical learning. We were able to identify four categories that the participants were able to practice and develop during the Linko Education Hackathon event.

Learning as a way of life. The hackathon concept supports the idea of learning as a way of life. The proactive development of one’s own intellectual and practical skills is in the center of hackathons where teams work towards a common goal. In hackathons, one can learn to identify, test, and apply different learning environments, and accumulate one’s own capabilities. The idea of “learning by doing” is emphasized, as well as learning to learn, because the participants must process and utilize huge amounts of information and different kind of skills / knowledge. In hackathons, the participants get to learn to adapt to changing environments, situations and technological tools, and to use them to support the team’s work.

Courage to try. A hackathon provides a safe space where one can experiment with trial and error, and then try again. In hackathons, it is quite common that participants go outside their comfort zones and even experience edge emotions. However, these moments on the edge are the moments where the participants can learn the most about themselves and their ways of operating in different situations. Expert facilitation and communal atmosphere work as a safety net during the event.

We is the new me. Hackathons are intensive interdisciplinary teamwork where participants get to practice their teamworking and communication skills, experience different working methods and try to figure out how to combine them, and learn to combine different kinds of know-how interculturally. In hackathons, it is essential to find and create bridges between different kinds of knowledge and skill-sets to level up the team’s processes for the brightest outcome. As mentioned before, hackathons are also great places for networking: one can create ties with companies and future partners. A great thing is that, as one of the Linko Education Hackathon 2016 participant said, in hackathons you can even make lifelong friendships.

Recognising know-how. In hackathons, the participants get to develop and apply their own know-how cross-boundaries, which results in testing their own abilities but also in yielding feelings of capability. The participants are given a chance to find their own boundaries, learn to perform and pitch, recognise their own know-how by putting it into words and thus practice their argumentation skills. In this concept/prototype creation competition it is also essential that the teams are able to recognize their shared capabilities and knowledge as well. Identifying a bigger picture, combining and interpreting different things and knowledge, taking considered risks, making conclusions, making predictions of the future, and entrepreneurship are highly emphasized during the process of a hackathon.

Based on last fall’s hackathon and participant experiences, we can say that the hackathon concept is a true superfruit of working skills. In Linko Education Hackathons, the participants can truly boost their own skill-sets in a well-facilitated, safe, and communal environment, while networking and having fun. The next step for us is to solidify this interdisciplinary working concept widely to different communities. This is how we can build a true network of skillful doers, nationally and internationally. So join us and be part of something bigger than meets the eye!

– Solja