The Use of the Hackathon in Design Education


In 2015 I hosted and facilitated a hackathon event for 195 undergraduate students at Duncan of Jordonstone Collage of Art and Design. From the observations I gathered, I then wrote an academic paper entitled “The Use of The Hackathon Within Design Education: An Opportunistic Exploration”. The paper was submitted and accepted for publication and presentation at the Engineering and Product Design Education Conference (E&PDE) 2016 in Aalborg, Denmark.

The paper “The Use of The Hackathon Within Design Education: An Opportunistic Exploration” reports on a “Hackathon” attended by 195 participants at an event in the University of Dundee in September 2015. In collaboration with a leading retailer of greeting cards and products in the UK, the goal of the hackathon was to reconceptualise new digital products from the firm’s existing product range and markets. Over the course of five days, students from two undergraduate courses, product design and digital interaction design, participated in the event. The students were divided into large interdisciplinary/inter-year groups and provided with basic tools and electronic kits. “Fly on the wall” and “Immersive” techniques were used in the observation of the groups and in the development of their initial ideas and concepts during the hackathon. Samples of students were later interviewed and additional qualitative data gathered using a ‘Graffiti wall’ technique. The paper explores issues that were encountered during the event and also provides some useful insights on the role of icebreakers, leadership and team roles, distractions and workplace environments. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for the future use of “Hackathons” in design education, paying particular attention to the role of team motivation at all stages during the event.

Please find the paper here: The Use of The Hackathon in Design Education