How was the experience at the Systematic online hackathon - DevHacks 2020



DevHacks is 24h hackathon that focuses on the intersection of the technology and society and in 2020 returned with the 6th edition. For the first time, DevHacks has moved online and reached a new dimension. For two days, DevHacks aimed to overcome the barriers of the pandemic and move the physical experience to the virtual environment. Under the umbrella of DevCon Live, the hackathon showed everyone that it remained authentic, that people from different parts of the country can create connections and interact almost in the same way as at the physical event. 


 

Driving Innovation in Education was the general theme of the first online edition of DevHacks that happened on 13 – 14 of November. Along with us on this fascinating journey was our partner - Systematic.

Education was the key point of this hackathon, and the participants had to code and make solutions for some of the most difficult problems of the Romanian education system.
 

Issues such as dropping out of school, reduced access to educational resources, poorly trained teachers, barriers between digitization and rural children were on the agenda as specific topics of the hackathon. 
 

In order for the participants to better understand the context and the topic they have to work for, Systematic brought a special guest from Asociatia Pentru Valori in Educatie. In the intro of the hackathon, Silvia Herman, Education Programs Manager presented us statistics and relevant data about the educational system in Romania, and added to this she shared with us a lot of emotion with an impactful message of a teacher striving to create a better educational context for her students.

 

Two days, 50 participants, 15 teams, 24h of coding & many wishes
 

For two day, DevHacks brought together 50 people eager to add solutions and create ideas that could help Romania. Different people - from Java experts to freelancers, to senior programmers, to students or technology enthusiasts, all had the same thoughts, to do good.
 

15 dedicated teams, full of enthusiasm, positive energy, but also with the desire to be the winners of DevHacks 2020 competed in creative solutions to generate a strong impact on society. In the 24 hours, many ideas appeared, friends reconnected, and people who met for the first time at DevHacks created one of the best teams and ideas of the hackathon.
 

“It was one of the coolest experiences I've had lately and I would really like more events like this to take place.”  - DevHacks 2020 participant
 

“I expected not to be so much fun online, but it was far beyond expectations. I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people from whom I have so much to learn. Thanks to the mentors and all those who participated but especially to the organizers for forming communities! I hope to see you next year at the physical event!” – DevHacks 2020 the 3rd place winner
 

And after all the hard work... we had only one winning team.

 

Wine Hackers was the team that convinced the jury and created a solution that included them all. The team of two people who did not know each other before, people who had registered individually and were put in the team by the organizers, did the best job.
 

Andrei Harnagea, one of the members of the winner team, told us some details about their solution. 
 

To create a context and understand the project idea – school dropout is a common problem in Romania, where 1 in 5 children drop out of school, with few programs implemented to reduce the number or prevent complete dropout.
 

The project name is Present! and is focused on the most important metric in preventing school dropouts, namely absences. Through a simple and intuitive interface, which can be used especially on a tablet, any teacher can enter and create a class of size corresponding to their needs. After the class is created, each day, the teacher can mark which of the students are absent. The application would immediately detect when the number of absences increases for a student and would notify the teacher to intervene. 
 

Everything visual, by touch, without the need to collect private data of students. Through this model, the system over time can learn to identify other types of variables that can make the abandonment risk algorithm more and more efficient.” 
 

This team won the first place with an idea based on children's real experiences, but also with an idea that brings hope and the believes that change can happen.
 

In addition to the winning idea, there were other solutions worthy of applause and congratulations. RogueLeague is the team on the 2nd place that laid the foundations of a complex project.
 

Bogdan Ciubotaru, one of the members of this team, talked with us about their solutions and what they created in these two days of DevHacks 2020.
 

“The project made during the hackathon is a prototype that met 3 basic needs of the online education system. The whole system consists of 3 independent platforms, but with a common database.
 

"Get ready" platform allows the organization of online courses, the organization of resources, online catalog and so on. The second is "Help" platform, whose purpose is to identify students at high risk of dropping out of school. The third is "Connect" platform, which is a discussion forum for teachers, as well as a question / answer system for students, so that they can ask for teachers' help anonymously.
 

All 3 platforms have integrated a virtual assistant module, which explains in an intuitive and visual way how to use each platform (tooltip assistant, like a visual tutorial). Also, the platforms are presented in a landing page, which offers the possibility to manually choose one of the platforms or the automatic choice, based on an interactive form that can redirect you depending on what the visitor wants to do.”
 

The 3rd place was represented by the youth generation, being won by a team of students in the last year of high school. Alexandru Doman, one of the members of this team told us more about their project, but also how they took them as an example for solving the challenge.
 

Our team consists of 3 high school students, Alexandru Doman (web developer), Ioana Descultescu (UIX designer), and Adrian Panait (content writer), and the project we worked on is the "learninro" platform, meant to help them, both teachers, as well as students, to better understand what they can and how they can use all the platforms and tools they have at their disposal when it comes to online schooling.
 

We personally have faced in the last year the problem of lack of training of teachers and colleagues when it comes to the digital environment, so the idea was to come up with an accessible solution for all those eager to learn more about resources on which we have at our disposal when it comes to distance learning. We hope to start a new trend, in which people realize that they have access to a wide range of options through which they can improve the performance of the virtual school, but also the fact that the use of these resources is vital for a successful education.”



The hackathon through the eyes of our partner Systematic
 

Our partner for Driving Innovation in Education Hackathon was Systematic. They were with us during the event, got involved and showed the importance of technology in education. Here's how the people at Systematic felt about the experience of an online DevHacks.
 


Gabriela Spataru, Employer Branding Specialist @Systematic

“Since the pandemic started and we switched to a digital approach, we took part in many online event but none of them offered us such an intense and euphoric experience as DevHacks. For 24 hours the participants were so dedicated to the cause and engaged in creating social good, we almost forgot we are no longer sharing the same space. We were only lucky to have had the opportunity to share the same “meeting room” with them and for this we would like to congratulate each one of them!”



 


Sebastian Decianu, Systems Engineer and Scrum Master @Systematic

I was happy to share ideas and thoughts on the topics of the hackathon, but I did not expect such high involvement from so many people. I am astonished by the amount of work the participants were able to do in such a short amount of time and by the creative and comprehensive solutions they conceived. I hope to see many of the ideas continued and eventually used by the people that need them. A big thanks to everyone involved and I look forward to hearing from you all in the future!”




Mihaela Stoica, Systems Engineer @Systematic

“This was the first online hackathon event that I’ve experienced and I must say that we all had a lot of fun. Being a mentor was such a wonderful experience because I had the chance to meet new people from different locations, with different experience. But what brought us together was the passion for innovative ideas and the desire for a better society. All teams had great ideas and they gave me the energy to keep the innovation spark until the end. Looking forward for future similar events!“



So, DevHacks 2020 - Driving Innovation in Education Hackathon meant hope, people with brilliant ideas passionate about technology, but also a great competition. A competition that aims to create innovative solutions with an impact on the society in which we live. Thank you everyone and see you at the next edition!

 

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