What real-world challenges Hackathon solved for district participants

This FETC® session on digital tools addressed issues relating to Adobe Flash Player, virtual machines, auto-generated quizzes and more
By: | January 15, 2020

Ten school leaders crowdsourced challenges their districts face during FETC®’s “Digital Tools Hackathon” session to identify tech solutions. After collaborating in groups, participants separated their challenges into three categories:

  1. There’s an existing solution that can fix the problem immediately.
  2. There’s existing solution that needs to be modified slightly first to solve the issue.
  3. There’s no solution. “That’s when you advocate for the creation of a new digital tool,” said speaker Kyle Steele, founder and CEO of Learn Jelly, which provides elementary educators with coding-based classroom programs, workshops, software and professional development.

Participants added their problems to this website: kylesteele.typeform.com/to/HL6Svt

Usually, hackathons take place over three days and feature a panel of technology experts with different skill sets. On the first day, clients present their challenges to the panelists who then identify the solution by the end of the final day. “My goal is for this hackathon to transform into a similar format,” said Steele, also a program director at Rally Social Enterprise Accelerator, a company that helps entrepreneurs create sustainable ventures.

Coming up with solutions

One participant came from an Apple-based district that receives web-based activities that do not run on iPads because they don’t have Adobe Flash Player. “IPads are the economical way for our district to get technology into the hands of students,” the participant revealed. “Students are losing out on the opportunity as we don’t have enough computer laptop carts to go around, and teachers complain often about not being able to use these activities since the iPads are not capable of running them.”

Another district uses auto-generated quizzes in Google Forms from a user-generated bank of questions that can be edited. “My retake quizzes and exams sometimes lack diverse questions,” said the ed tech leader. “Students, who are allowed many retakes, end up seeing the same questions more frequently than I would like.”

A participant who teaches cybersecurity to high schoolers said that his problem revolved around his county’s lockdown system. “I want my students to be able to practice certain cybersecurity scenarios on this control panel, but I can’t because the county has locked it for security reasons,” said the attendee.

After some discussion, many of the attendees mentioned that the cybersecurity teacher could use virtual machines. But the presenter revealed that this would be “overkill,” since some of their tasks involved how to install a printer on the control panel. 

“So the virtual machine is a solution that exists but needs tweaking,” said Steele, who is also managing partner of CREDO Conduit, an interdisciplinary society that provides a membership-based collaborative workspace. “After submitting your problem, we would then form a team and come up with a solution that then advocates why this is a problem, why it’s important and why it needs to be fixed. Then, we can serve that for your district.”


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