Our First Ideas Hackathon – Reflections From a Student

At the end of the summer term, City and Islington College ran its first ever Ideas Hackathon with 4 guest speakers: Ruth Hooper, a Marketing Consultant (formerly with Nike), Vincent Giampietro, a Neuroscientist from Kings College London and Helen Poole and Leonia Goromba, both from the Ideas Foundation.

Participants included Student Digital Ambassadors, the Interim Deputy Principal, Tracy Stuart, Director of the Sixth Form and Teaching and Learning lead, Peter Murray, the Head of A Level Computer Science, Ed Curran, the College Digital Education Consultant, Kerry, and the current Staff Digital Leaders, Rebecca, Julie, Clive, Jez and Pierre.


The Hackathon began with Ice Breakers and ‘What If…?’ questions which were aimed at the question ‘What if we could design the future of digital learning?’ After the icebreaker session, Vincent, from Kings College London, gave us some learning insights and explained some myths related to various ideas about learning.

We were then able to try out 4D augmented reality cards, which worked through a mobile app and displayed images of dinosaurs over the dedicated card related to that dinosaur. This gave an insight as to how Augmented Reality could be implemented into learning activities. 

After testing out the AR cards, there were two “brain dumps”, where everyone discussed their worst lesson and their favourite app functions and at the end of the task everyone shared their experiences.


The last part of the hackathon was based around the question, “Imagine you are Mark Zuckerberg. If you were to design the best lesson in an app, what would it look like?” 


Multiple teams had to design an app that could improve learning in class and outside of lessons. At the end of the session, the teams presented their design and app idea to the guest speakers and the best team were awarded prizes. The runner ups pitched an impressive maths game which involved battling monsters.


However, the winning team pitched an app that read revision notes to you while you slept. The team came up with the very apt name “Embed” for the app and the dragons were suitably impressed.

pitch - 2

At the end of the day, several student digital ambassadors received completion certificates and five received Special Recognition Awards.

Shamim Khaer, Carla Linley, Danielle Isaacs, Alex Chirita and Arjon Kucaj each won an award for their outstanding contribution to the Digital Ambassador Programme. Shamim from the Sixth Form has presented at the Festival of Education, a College TeachMeet and a Change Agent Network. He also produced a promotional film and was highly supportive and professional throughout. Carla from Beauty Therapy has been consistently committed and enthusiastic. She has researched innovations and co-produced many resources. Danielle from Lifelong Learning has been extremely helpful and reliable, researched technology for inclusion, created user guides and blog posts. Alex from the Sixth Form was highly professional, tested tools and apps, created learning resources and supported training sessions. Finally, Arjon from Business, Arts and Technology has been very dedicated, also presented at the Change Agent Network, tested tools and apps, created resources and supported training sessions.

It was great to celebrate the hard work of the student digital ambassadors and it was a very inspiring afternoon for all involved! I hope the College will hold more events like this to promote creativity and entrepreneurship in learning and teaching in the future.


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