Recently I had the pleasure of being involved in an inquiry-based learning event hosted by the Project Management team from BU’s Leadership, Strategy and Organisation (LSO) department. It consisted of a one-day ‘hackathon’ in which students were issued a project challenge to develop a stakeholder engagement strategy for Green Cottage RDA, a local charity. Hackathons originated in the IT sector as computing challenges in which programmers, project managers and designers collaborated intensively on software projects to design software solutions in one or two-day working marathons (Leckart 2012). They are now increasingly being employed in education, corporate and government sectors.
In learning and teaching, this form of inquiry-based learning has been recognized as a means of allowing students to gain and create real-life knowledge in their field of study and simultaneously acquire tangible and transferable skills (Keinzler and Fontanesi 2017).
The challenge was structured in three parts:
- Part One: Initial briefing sessions in which students were given an in-depth overview of the project brief from the client as well as the technical knowledge they would require for their project solutions. The subject specific briefings were facilitated by experts from the Association of Project Management (APM) and the LSO’s Project Management teaching staff.
- Part Two: A working session in which students worked together in teams to develop their project solutions.
- Part Three: A final session in which the students presented their project solutions to the client, received feedback and were awarded prizes for the ideas they developed.
The below video provides a short overview of the day’s event.
The feedback from the students participating in the event has been extremely positive. Every student participating has been awarded professional development credits from the APM and a certificate. Additionally, many have left with an increased sense of confidence in tackling unfamiliar challenges in high-pressure environments, comparable to what some will face in job assessment centres in a few months’ time.
If you are interested in hosting a one-day day project challenge contact Dr Nigel Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Keinzler, H. and Fontanesi, C. 2017. Learning through inquiry: a Global Health Hackathon. Teaching in Higher Education, 22 (2), 129-142.
Leckart, Steven. 2012. The Hackathon Is On: Pitching and Programming the Next Killer App [online]. Available at: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/02/ff_hackathons/ [Accessed 22/10/2017]