Informal Learning at Hackathons

March 6th, 2015  |  Published in Projects

Research Team: Van Erick Custodio

Hackathons, once a lesser-known practice, has grown in popularity and public exposure. These events are programming competitions through which teams work together to solve technological problems in a constrained time and space. Companies have used hackathons as incubators for new ideas and as mechanisms to find future employees. The corporate focus on products to eventually market and people to potentially hire conflicts with the primary reason participants attend hackathons. In a survey conducted in 2012 of 150 hackathon participants, 86% cited learning as their motivation for going to a hackathon. How, then, do people learn at a hackathon? How do hackathons support learning if the organizers are more focused on public relations and recruitment?

This project is a critical exploration into the hackathon world seeking to understand the factors that impact learning during hackathons. From this knowledge we can outline best practices for promoting learning in these events. We can also design learning systems to support participants of hackathons.


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