HackingEDU aims to fix the "flawed" education system

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/evirgen)

The HackingEDU event on October 23rd has attracted over 1000 hackers who are preparing to battle it out for 36 hours to revitalise the flawed and archaic education system. Their training day alone – held at PayPal’s HQ – packed 400 attendees and had over 1500 signups.

Hackfest (HF) caught up with one of the hackathon's founders, Daniel Minjares (DM), to find out more about the event and its wider mission. 

HF: What are you hoping to achieve with the hackathon? 

DM: Education in the US is slow to adopt changes. There are great educational innovations out there, but schools don't seem to adopt them in a timely manner. I've seen this in my education, so the aim at HackingEDU is to create applications and solutions to solve the problems which exist. 

It can be small, or it could be something more hard-hitting. We've seen ideas where people can help those with disabilities - one idea being the use of smartboards inside of classrooms that when you write on them it will translate into braille on a student's tablet for those who are blind. 

HF: What tools and APIs can developers use? 

DM: There is a number we have available – our website has all our sponsors [over 30 as of writing.] 

What specific ones? We'll definitely be using those from Pebble, Target, IBM BlueMix, and company-specific ones. We support open-source, so if anyone wants to use a project which exists we are allowing that as well. 

HF: As a Pebble-user, I did take note they were a sponsor. Are you doing anything specific with wearables? 

DM: Yes, that's something we're very interested in. I just competed in a hackathon that was a neurogaming hackathon so everything there was wearables. Emotiv is going to be putting-out their new product; so they will probably have an updated version they will be showcasing at the event.  

We've got a few other sponsors in the pipeline that aren't official yet, but there will be a number of wearables there. 

HF: You are welcoming non-programmers and beginners to HackingEDU - are you planning to help them with classes and tuition? 

DM: Our event is free, so there are no tuition fees or anything to worry about. We have seen over a third of people don't actually program; so they are going to be on the product-side or idea-generators. 

There are a lot of useful people who don't code - for product, for design. The downside when you're too close to a project is you can't see a flaw in it. A non-programmer can see those flaws more readily; it's a great test for how it could be approached by a user. 

In terms of helping beginners out, we do have mentors to answer technical questions both on the floor and in our sponsors' booths for how to use their specific technologies. We're also setting-up a forum which is available for help with technical questions, and a more private chat which is likely to use Slack. 

You can find out more information about the event and register here. 

Do you feel it's time for the education system to be revitalised? Let us know in the comments.

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