Lab Culture versus Hackathons
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athon design is to create
approachable themes for
ideas that are appealing
to a broader audience.
Also, the design space
itself should be designed
to foster social interaction and collaboration.
However, success in
these events is not just
about following a prescribed set of directives.
Most of these are still
largely student run affairs. Faculty mentoring is an important component of success
for student-led hackathons [ 7]. There is
no doubt that co-curricular activities like
hackathons can potentially play a vital
role in student learning and professional
growth. Yet, to implement such activities
in a well-designed, engaging, and inclusive
manner requires additional departmental
and staffing resources [ 2].
Lab Culture Redux
In my mind, creating a supportive and
collaborative lab culture is even more crucial
in the age of hackathons. Labs represent
in situ informal learning environments.
These are venues where students have a
daily existence and that can go well beyond
the short, intense, and largely competitive
experience of a hackathon. Besides, not all
students participate in hackathons. Implications for creating (or recreating) the lab culture also begin with the choice of software,
platform, and the design and structure of
courses. For example, in my department, we
have started teaching most of our courses,
including introductory courses, on computing platforms (hardware, OS, and software)
that require students to do most of their
work in the computing labs. Beginning
students learn to use systems and software
that is not easily installed on their laptops
and that brings them into the labs outside
of structured lab hours.
As a department, we then must deliber-
ately create a supportive and collaborative
environment and culture. We’re finding
that when our students are more engaged
in their everyday coursework, they’re
spending more time outside of classes in
the department lounges and labs, they
tend to socialize more with their peers, and
they find that faculty are easily accessible
just down the hallway. Occasionally, they
leave us, and their peers, interesting nug-
gets to ponder (see pictures). Now, that is
a good thing.
1. Grijpink, F., Lau, A., and Vara, J. Demystifying the
Hackathon. October 2015; https://www.mckinsey.
com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/demystifying-the-hackathon. Accessed 2019
2. Hennessey, K. F., Parham-Mocello, J., Walker, H.
Co-Curricular Activities in Computer Science
Departments. Birds-of-a-feather session at ACM
3. Kos, B. A. The Collegiate Hackathon Experience.
Extended Abstract. In Proceedings of ICER 2018.
(ACM, New York, August 2018), 274–275.
4. Nandi, A., Mandernach, M. Hackathons as an Informal
Learning Platform. In Proceedings of the ACM
SIGCSE 2016. (ACM, New York, March 2016), 346–351.
5. Nourbakhsh, I. Robot Diaries: Creative Technology
Fluency for Middle School Girls, In IEEE Robotics and
Autonomous Systems, 2009.
6. PennApps; http://2019w.pennapps.com/#about.
Accessed 2019 March 5.
7. Richard, G. T., Kafai, Y. B., Adleberg, B., Telhan,
O. StitchFest: Diversifying a College Hackathon
to Broaden Participation and Perceptions in
Computing. In Proceedings of the ACM SIGCSE 2015.
(ACM, New York, March 2015), 114-119.
8. SisterHacks; http://sisterhacks.co/. Accessed 2019
9. Toma, L. and Vahrenhold, J. Self-Efficacy, Cognitive
Load, and Emotional Reactions in Collaborative
Algorithms Labs – A Case Study. In Proceedings of
ICER 2018, (ACM, New York, August 2018).
10. Warner, J., Guo, P. J., Hack.edu: Examining How
College Hackathons Are Perceived by Student
Attendees and Non-Attendees. In Proceedings of
ICER 2017, (ACM, New York, August 2017).
11. Your Ideas Are Terrible; yourideasareterrible.com/
Accessed 2019 March 5
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010 USA
DOI: 10.1145/3322639 Copyright held by author/owner