Image of people sitting around a table with laptops and books. Logos of DCU, NIDL and National Forum with the words hashtag Hackathon DCU

Sprints and Hackathons

Why Sprints and Hackathons?

DCU is committed to exploring new innovative pedagogies, including using Sprint and Hackathon methodologies for educational purposes. Each year, for example, the DCU Business School offers a Hack4Change Hackathon where 600+ first-year students engage in a week of activities with a strong social change, learning innovation and enterprise focus.

The DCU Institute of Education also offers a regular hackathon where postgraduate students work together to hack an educational problem. Hackathons have also been used as a form of professional learning for DCU staff, as the information below explains.

Also, through the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL), DCU is part of a European-funded project called "Hacking Innovative Pedagogies: Digital Education Rewilded", which aims to explore the potential of new pedagogical designs for teaching, learning and assessment. 

What is a hackathon?

Hackathons are intense, time-bound events where people collaborate in groups to solve significant challenges.

They are increasingly being used in higher education; they offer one way to put Challenge-based Learning (CBL) into practice.

This is significant because CBL is being embedded as a core pedagogical innovation in DCU Futures and growing numbers of other programmes across DCU.

Yet relatively few educators have had a chance to experience a Hackathon for themselves. Until 2022, as in May, a group of DCU staff joined forces to hack the following big idea:


How can we design an authentic and sustainable assessment experience for all?


How did it work?

  • Teams of DCU academics worked on a range of significant assessment-related challenges.
  • Expert mentors were assigned to each team to probe and act as sounding boards throughout the day.
  • The solutions developed were presented to a judging panel and winning teams were awarded prizes by DCU President, Professor Daire Keogh. Each winning team member received a BEATS Solo 3 Wireless Bluetooth Headphone set.

Through the process, participants were challenged to generate innovative and practice-oriented ideas for authentic, sustainable assessment approaches to add to their teaching toolkit.

The event was a fun, fast, and fascinating way to get a sense of what a Hackathon is about - while upskilling on assessment into the bargain.

Who was on hand to help?

Throughout the day, hackathon participants, experts and judges were available for guidance, feedback, and support. They relied extensively on Twitter to communicate with external colleagues. The hashtag #HackathonDCU was used throughout the event. 

We were delighted to have Frank van den Berg from the University of Twente help steer the Hackathon throughout the day, in line with the Challenge-Based Learning framework.

Frank van den Berg profile photo

Frank van der Berg

Frank van den Berg is a Senior Educational Consultant working in the Centre of Expertise in Learning and Teaching at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. He is also a core member of the European Consortium for Innovative Universities (ECIU), particularly in supporting and facilitating academics implementing Challenge Based Learning. Furthermore, he supervises the Educational Leadership Programme of the University of Twente and the University of Groningen, a programme to develop educational leadership for programme directors, and he has a Senior Examination Qualification of the University of Twente. Frank will bring his wealth of experience and passion to  help steer the hackathon throughout the day, in line with the Challenge Based Learning framework.

Explore the below links to learn more about DCU Assessment Hackathon 2022


Each team's proposed solution will be judged against the following criteria.

Innovative

Innovative design, engages students, reliably measures innovative assessment and pedagogy.

Authentic

Real life, practical design. Preparing students for professional life. Promoting academic integrity.

Sustainable

Manageable from both academic and students perspective e.g. synoptic assessment (where assessments are combined between modules and across subjects), shared assessment, programme assessment strategy.

Inclusive

Attends to diversity of student population, choice, students as partners, agile (flexible to accommodate change if justified)