In short, can we get an Eduhack style event running at ASCILITE’12? Want to help? If you want, skip to the point
Possibly the most productive conference I’ve ever been on was the 1996 ITiCSE Conference in Barcelona. (It seems the conferences have evolved from “Integrating Technology into CS Education” to “Innovation and Technology in CS Education”). Apart from my first trip to Spain, the conference introduced me to something different in terms of conferences, the working groups.
We were the first set of working groups and at that stage it worked a bit like this:
- Someone came up with a topic – in our case “World Wide Web as an Interactive Teaching Resource”.
- They called for participants.
- We started collaborating ahead of the conference.
- During the conference we (based on my vague recollection of 16 years ago)
- Worked for a day or two before the conference proper started.
- Did some work during the conference, including presenting a “poster” on our current progress. (apparently shown in the image below)
- Did some final work at the end/after of the conference.
- Produces a final document
The biggest benefit that flowed from that event was meeting the co-author of the book we wrote, which (even with its limitations) remains the most cited of my publications. Without being a member of the working group with my co-author, the book would never have been written.
Having to work with folk at a conference on a specific project, rather than sit and listen or sit and
drink network, provides additional insights and connections. It can also be a bit more challenging, but nothing in life is free.
The wasted opportunity
This type of approach seems to address the wasted opportunity that is most conferences. You have all these talented, diverse and skilled folk in the one location, but limit their interaction to presentations, panels and socialising. Nothing, at least in my experience, works to bring those diverse perspectives together to produce something.
For a long time, I’ve been wondering if something different is possible.
Looking for alternatives
The ITiCSE working group approach was okay, but fairly traditional. It aimed to produce an academic paper. I was involved with the first one, it would be interesting to see how they’ve evolved and changed based on the experience.
The REACT project tried to ensure that planned innovations in L&T benefited from diverse perspectives before implementation. But like the working group idea used an academic paper as the main artifact. REACT never really went anywhere.
And then there is Eduhacking in the style used by @sthcrft and @stuffy65 at UNE and in particular @sthcrft ‘s call
do we need a cross-institution eduhack event? From my point of view, anything that’s about collaborating on ideas and possibilities has got to be better than yet another show and tell event. Who’s in?
I’m thinking: Yes and me. The question is where to now?
How might it work?
Education Hack Day describes the aim this way
The mission was simple: listen to problems sourced by teachers from around the world, pick a dozen or so to tackle, and form teams around those problems that would each come up with and execute a creative solution to solve them.
This seems to have been based on the older/broader idea of from the developer world of a hackathon. As with the UNE experiment, the focus here wouldn’t necessarily be on software developers, but a broader cross-section of people.
So a process might be:
- Pick a conference, one that has a good cross section of educational technology type folk.
For example, ASCILITE’12.
- Run an Eduhack day just before the conference proper starts, probably as a workshop.
- Actively encourage a diverse collection of folk to come along.
- Distribute a call for problems prior to the conference.
- Ensure that the setting for the Eduhack is appropriate (i.e. not the normal conference breakout room).
- Have a loose process to select the problems to be worked on and let folk go.
- Have some of the outcomes presented as posters during the conference.
- Encourage/enable groups to keep working on the problems post-conference, perhaps for presentation as traditional papers at the next conference?
I’m sure there are improvements to be made. Who’s interested?