From our CEO Aga Gajownik
A common question I’m asked is how our hackathons differ compared to more traditional ones. The answer is: They are designed to educate!
The SCRUM Educational Experience SEE began after my experiences in Brazil where I worked to support the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (SEBRAE). When asked to run a pitch workshop for professors at the University of Patos de Minas to support their students on their entrepreneurial journeys, I found that the Agile and Lean Startup methodologies were very useful when educating large groups of people with a limited period of time. The event was a huge success and it was wonderful to see my work continued through a business accelerator set up by the university. I believe it is vital to blend entrepreneurship with technology education to best equip students for the future they will be working in.
Traditionally, a hackathon is an event where participants are presented with a theme or challenge and compete in teams to produce a piece of software or a product in response. At the end of the event, all of the teams pitch their creations to a panel of judges. I was introduced to the format several times and each time I found the experience of participating and mentoring interesting.
After being asked to mentor and judge at <3hack’n’go> in Warsaw in 2015, seeing the potential for it to inspire young people, I invited my brother who was 14 at the time.
He was placed in the youngest group and while there was plenty of enthusiasm on display, they struggled with tasks that had been designed as a challenge for professionals already in the industry. I stepped in to give them directions and saw how much they got out of the event with a little bit of guidance.
From my experience of being a mentor and judge at Lean Mean Startup Machine, Startup Weekends and other hacks, I began to understand how I could mix this format with my desire to see entrepreneurship fostered in schools and universities. A limitation was the lack of structure beyond that provided by the task, meaning the format lacked support for less experienced participants and was not suitable for schools. Jumping in to help my brother’s group felt natural given my background as a business coach, entrepreneurship trainer and business acceleration consultant. How could I help teachers who have not had the same exposure to the industry as me?
I began to research and experiment with different learning frameworks eventually settling on SCRUM – an Agile Framework, traditionally used in managing software development. It is designed for teams who break their work into actions that can be completed within fixed duration cycles called “sprints”. Each sprint has a theme and a challenge attached to it. Participants are led through different stages of product/business design process and through experiential learning they acquire the knowledge. We tested it first at Barking & Dagenham College during Inspiration Day and it worked!
Outlined below is the general structure the SCRUM Educational Experience that can be run by teachers, facilitators or anyone interested in introducing technology and entrepreneurship.
- Challenge introduction
- Task introduced by the facilitator
- List the deliverables
- Task is completed
- Typically 30 minutes at schools and longer with adults.
- Facilitator-led feedback and discussion
- Problem Research
- Solution Testing
- Business Model
Each hack is different and we keep testing solutions and tools to support the process of development of the next generation of tech leaders. Please connect with us if you would like to take part in this process and get access to our initial resource Trello board.