Students, Staff and Hackers co-create EdTech of the future.

Back in September we sponsored our first hackathon and this is where I was introduced to Fares Alaboud who is a member of the Unitu team.

Unitu is a platform built by students for students. It allows students and university staff to work together to close the feedback loop. They have created a private space where students can raise their concerns about their module e.g. having issues find reading lists for your module. All department staff get notified of any Issues raised and therefore can resolve them in a timely manner.

They then decided to run their first hackathon on 8th November where they brought together students and staff from university departments to create/develop solutions for challenges they see in their universities. The judges were looking for ideas that solved real world problems in higher education. The hacks had to be effective and had demonstrate that the impact it would have on both students and staff.

Some of the hacks that stand out was a tool called CourseFeed which provided notifications of live lecture uploads from KEATS (Kings E-Learning & Teaching Service). Another excellent hack decided to move from the lecture theatre to the kitchen. They tackled that problem all students have when they begin college: cooking. UniCook wanted to provide students with a mechanism of converting ingredients in your fridge into a recipe.

SONY DSC

Post prize giving group shot

Princess - the Hack Cat

Princess – the Hack Cat

Lukas Ondrej, Artemis D’Arcy, Jordan Thomas and Oskar Bzoma came together and created the winning hack by building an online collaborative platform called EduTrail. EduTrail allows students to search for a particular subject and gain access to questions already answered by other users in a chat room style. The vision was to be be able to plug into any MOOC or other linked resources such as your Mendeley account. The team felt that there was a need to improve collaborative learning as universities systems were often oriented more around self study. This often leads to students feeling isolated and can slow down students research.

The event was such as success that during the prize giving one of the judges, Mischa Dohler (Head of the Centre for Telecommunications Research, Kings College London) announced that every team was invited to trial their solutions at his department.

I really hope to see more hacks like this in the future where students and staff collaborate and change they way students learn in the classroom.

Read more here

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About Joyce-Stack - Developer Outreach

Joyce Stack completed a BSc. (Hons) Computer Science from The Open University while working in a startup in Co. Cork, Ireland. She moved to London in 2005 to join one of the City’s leading exponents of agile techniques at that time to work as a Java Developer. She is now working in the Developer Outreach role in Mendeley where her responsibilities are to meet and educate developers about the Mendeley API, attend conferences, meetups and hackathons and basically be the face of the API. She is passionate about providing an excellent developer experience and APIs. She likes biking, swimming and yoga but she hates potatoes despite being Irish.