Baby’s First Hackathon

Today, I participated in my first Hackathon. This one was hosted by Lumen Learning to help improve their OER courses, and it was the second iteration of an event David Wiley wrote up here. I don’t actually know anything about Lumen Learning (are they cool? do we like them? okay, okay… are they ethical?), but I got a lot out of today’s Hackathon.

I signed up because this session was particularly focused on H5P, which I want to get more adept at as quickly as possible. So the deal with the Hackathon is that you attend an hour-long webinar and then you have an hour to build a thing. In this case, the folks at Lumen have gone though their course offerings to determine where additional learning interventions are needed. The analysis here is something I’d like to know a lot more about, but they’re trying to ameliorate situations where students enter the course with high levels of interest in the subject area, and complete all the assigned work, but still fail to achieve strong grades in the assessments. We had a choice of a number of courses (I, unsurprisingly, went with Introduction to College Composition), and for each course the failed outcomes were listed (I zeroed in on “analyze components of an effective thesis statement”).

The thing we were asked to build, then, was an interactive intervention to underline the missed learning objective in the OER. We were asked specifically to use the Course Presentation tool in H5P, which was really good for me because I had been avoiding it (it looked super hard).

I felt like there was an added challenge here in that I didn’t love the source material — that’s not how I teach thesis statements, she smugged smugly — so working my intervention into that content was a little clunky. But I’m happy with what I produced in the hour we worked on these tools (though I did give it a little final polish when I got home from work). My goal was to give students a change to compare thesis statements and evaluate which was better. I find that students spend a lot of time being shown individual thesis statements in a vacuum and told that it’s good or bad, but I thought comparison could be useful here.

Feel free to answer the questions.

One of the key focus points for today’s webinar was about providing useful immediate feedback within the intervention that would help students understand the error. This is formative assessment, and it doesn’t “count,” as the kids say — it’s to help students assess their own understanding.

I’m looking forward to finding out if Lumen sees utility in this little creation of mine and then, from there, how it gets picked up — a nice thing about Lumen Learning running this Hackathon is that they keep track of how these tools get used and will even provide a letter for Tenure and Promotion, as needed.

I enjoyed the experience, I’m not afraid of the Course Presentation tool anymore, and maybe someone will find my little exercise useful. Not a bad day at the office, really.

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