Education Hackathon Seeks To Solve Real World Problems

Mark Boyd, June 21st, 2013

100 competitors of the first HACKtivate ED hackathon – held June 14 – 16 in San Francisco, California – made use of education and location APIs and datasets in a race to solve 9 realworld education challenges. APIs used by competitors included the Edmodo API, and several location-based APIs.

“It is fair to say that HACKtivate ED has exceeded our expectations”, co-organizer Chian Gong told ProgrammableWeb after the event. “Our goal was to bring together the education and tech community’s and our three judges were amazed at the resulting entries from competitors over the weekend.”

hactivate ED

While there are currently 191 education APIs in the ProgrammableWeb database, it is still a green field area for technology entrepreneurs and startup developers looking to create connected, data-driven solutions to meet needs in the US education sector or around the world. A new report from the Center for American Progress in the US has warned that technology is still being used for basic drill and practice programs or for passive learning like watching DVDs in class, rather than to teach students the data science and engineering skills of today’s industry environment.

For Kalimah Priforce, lead developer for one of the winning teams, TrippTagg, the hackathon allowed him to begin building relationships with key stakeholders:

“What it does is allow for me, as well as other members of my team who are focused on college and career guidance with their own startups (I have a college and career guidance startup), is to have this dialogue with the Oakland Unified School District, which has never really existed before, as the District hasn’t yet really embraced the tech startup community— maybe the big ed companies, like CollegeBoard and the rest, but not really the ed tech startup community, so it allows us to have that connection.”

Priforce’s TripTagg team used APIs to create an app for experiential learning, connecting field trip location data, social media and curation for students and teachers.

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