Degree programme: MA in New Media
Our course format is a blend between a hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) and a Talkoot. Which means roughly we created an event in which participants collaborated intensively during a short period of time (1 day up ) to produce working and usable stuff (in this case software prototypes of apps, digital videos, stories and other digital artifacts) around a joint topic or application area. The event was open to all but Aalto Students from any school could apply to get 2 credits for their participation and contribution. In addition to the digital artifacts created during the day, students were asked to document their work (code, graphics, videos, texts, images) and write a learning essay describing their experience during the day.
The course aimed to work as talkoot and hackathon for Cleaning Day (Siivouspäivä - http://siivouspaiva.com/), a civic event organized by volunteers that creates a day of ce lebration for friends of recycling, second hand, and urban culture. The day transforms cities into giant flea markets, where anyone can sell or give away their needless stuff. Cleaning day organizers acted as "commissioners" and where present during the whole event to tutor, discuss and help the participants. Participants (45) on the event worked collaboratively on 4 different tracks each one focusing on different digital artifacts. 1) A Mobile app track, 2) A digital video track, 3) A "how to" track and a 4) Story telling track
The course was organized by us (Joanna Saad-Sulonen ARTS, Andrea Botero ARTS and Kimmo Karhu SCI ) with the help of students participating in a separate study project we are giving (New Media for the Third sector). Since this was an intense course we had chosen several scenarios to kickstart the work during the digitalkoot and collected tools, resources and materials around them beforehand. Each track had a program of activities and goals and was hosted by 2 facilitators (senior students of the study project). The course instructors were there to help the process flow, support students and facilitators in their activities and help everybody reflect in the process and provided feedback on the final essays. The learning environment consisted of:
- The physical space of the Aalto Media Factory (Auditorium, kitchen, video editing room, meeting room and lounge)
- Mix of Dropbox and google drive to share resources and materials
- Eventbrite to coordinate participation and dissemination of information before the course
- Github repository (and git version control system) to coordinate collaborative work during and after the event
All in all we had:
- 8 hours of work
- 45 participants (22 got credits)
- 10 facilitators
- 4 tracks
- 14 digital artifacts made (big and small)
- 24 large pizzas/ 8 salad portions / 24 bananas / 2 bags of tangerines / 70 cups of coffee / 35 espresso / 25 teabags
Learning and feedback
"I think that holding the bee (talkoot) is very healthy in both practical and educational ways and hope to see more of those happening further on." (Student) The feedback we got, was extremely positive. Students appreciated the mix of backgrounds, interests and task presented and where all interested in the context and themes of “cleaning day”. For many this was a good way to get their hands dirty on a concrete task they have not necessarily expertise but an interest in developing it. Some miss a bit more of guidance and concrete tasks but all in all everybody was able to contribute. Even though the time for the event was really short, with a multidisciplinary group of participants we were able to achieve nice results. Some participants got so excited about the topic that they put voluntarily considerable effort after the event to further work on the stuff they started during the digitalkoot/hackaton. e.e One of the ideas we wanted to try in connection to this event was to teach version control (specifically the git tool) and collaborative working (be it design or development) mediated by new environments such as github. Overall, these topics have been taught very little to students in Aalto and especially outside computer science classes. We found design people had genuine interest and hunger to learn “coders” stuff and viceversa. One of the students had previously participated in collaborative events with developers and commented that this was the first time she understood e.g. what committing is about.
In planning a second version of this course we probably should have a preliminary introductory session to facilitate team building and clarify goals before the actual event, so that the intense working period could start next day in the morning. We should also think better the "fine tuning" work possibilities that need to be created, in case teams want to continue their work and finnish stuff after the digitalkoot.
The course/event registration :: http://siivouspaivandigitalkoot.eventbrite.com/
The course description in the New Media Masters program at ARTS - Department of Media :: http://mlab.taik.fi/studies/courses/course?id=2029
The challenge explained inside the Apps&Os project :: http://aaltoapps.media.taik.fi/challenges/mobile-app-for-cleaning-day-2013/