Article July 1, 2014

Hacking for a better education

Media Release

High school teacher Shane Hunt and entrepreneur Jamie Bell didn’t know each other when they got to talking at an education ‘hackathon’ on a Friday afternoon. By the end of the weekend, the pair had teamed up to pitch for support for a digital solution to an education challenge; they went on to win a cash injection, as well as ongoing mentoring from global consulting firm Bain & Company.

Participants at EduHack, a 56-hour hackathon-style event, had not met prior to the weekend but quickly formed teams and began developing ideas for digital innovation in education.

Team ‘Tock’ developing their flexible timetabling appTeam ‘Tock’ developing their flexible timetabling app

Hunt, 33, from Victoria, and Bell, 35, from South Australia, quickly discovered that they shared a frustration with the lack of innovative professional development opportunities available to Australian teachers, particularly in the public education system.

Over the weekend, the pair developed a prototype for Connect.Ed, a website that will showcase the best free professional development for teachers from around the world.

“We hear so much about best practice in countries like Finland and Denmark, but we don’t have access to the learning,” Hunt told the judging panel. “C.Ed’s point and shoot capabilities will allow innovative teachers to easily share what they’re doing and enable other teachers from all around the world to implement those practices.”

Another winning idea came from 15-year-old students Chloe, Zoe and Kallista, who bravely told the audience about their own experiences with sexism and pitched their idea for a set of learning resources and toolkits to help schools combat sexism. The girls have been connected with a range of potential supporters and provided with an advance membership to the Queens Collective, a co-working space soon to be launched in Melbourne.

Eduhack Pic 2EduHack winners Jamie Bell and Shane Hunt

Run by myEd and the Centre for New Public Education at the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), EduHack brought together students and the education and technology communities to spark creative solutions to problems facing the education system.

As part of EduHack’s approach to breaking down the barriers between digital innovation and the education sector, staff from Bain & Company, which aims to find value across boundaries, acted as mentors to support the teams to develop and articulate their solutions.

The pitches were judged by a panel of students, teachers, tech experts and entrepreneurs, including David Faulkner from Education Changemakers; Marina Paronetto from Powerhouse HQ; Askin Morrison, Partner, Bain & Company; Prue Gurnick, winner of the 2013 ‘apps for good’ competition Adappt; and Jan Owen AM, CEO of FYA.

Other ideas pitched included a ‘meet-up’ style app to reduce drop-out rates from open online education courses; an online platform that assists non-researchers to improve their research capabilities; a website and live chat service to help students understand their study options; a flexible timetabling app; and an interactive learning resource based on the successful film I Am Eleven.

Eduhack Pic 1EduHack winners Kallista Richards, Zoe Kyrkilis and Chloe Hook

These ideas now have a second shot at winning a cash prize through the ‘People’s Choice’ round; anyone can watch their pitches and vote for their favourite at www.eduhack.com.au.

“By drawing on the experience, knowledge and insight of the technology and business communities, and partnering with teachers and students, the result overseas has been creative solutions that address real challenges,” said Rowan Kunz, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Architect at myEd.

“Too often education is something that is done to students, not with them, and EduHack aimed to empower young people to contribute their ideas and solutions to tackling education challenges,” said Ricky Campbell-Allen, Director of the Centre for New Public Education. “The ideas pitched were impressive and innovative and we look forward to seeing them take off.”

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The Centre for New Public Education is an initiative of the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA). Through alliances, advocacy, campaigns and events, the Centre for New Public Education advocates for a fairer and future focused education system where all young Australians have a role in shaping their education.

myEd is an educational technology company that helps teachers deliver personalised and engaging digital learning for students.

Media enquiries:

Carlita Bevege, Foundation for Young Australians | carlita.bevege@fya.org.au | 03 9670 5436

Images (high resolution available on request)

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