We’ve partnered with British Council to train educators internationally and support the creative use of innovative British technology in classrooms across the world.

How to host a Hackathon: India, Malawi, Tanzania and Spain

Kicking off this week, we’re running a series of creative technology workshops for teachers and students across the globe.

In partnership with our friends at British Council, we’re delivering teacher training sessions, to support educators to run creative ‘Hackathons’ in India, Malawi, Tanzania and Spain throughout February. We’re also running Hackathons with local school children in each country, to give access to essential digital tools and skills – we can’t wait to see what creative inventions they come up with!

The ‘Hackathons’ make use of the BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized programmable computer designed to help children learn the basics of computer coding. The British Council is a founding partner of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, which is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to help children achieve their best digital future.

We’re helping teachers to feel confident to apply their technical skills with tools like micro:bit creatively and to build connections between subjects to spark the interest of students.

Ciarán Devane, CEO of British Council said of the partnership’s goals:

This is an exciting initiative that creates opportunities for young people to access vital 21st century skills. The partnership brings the best of creative, technical and pedagogical expertise together, and enables us to leverage our international educational expertise in collaboration with UK partners. By empowering teachers, governments, and educational organisations to fulfil their digital education goals, we aim to support the next generation of digital creators, rather than consumers of technology.

What is a Hackathon?

Tom Doust, our Director of Experience and Learning, explains the approach we’re taking:

Technology in the classroom and digital literacy are vital, but only if we prioritise the skills needed to use technology creatively and can effectively apply that knowledge to the world we live in. These training sessions support educators to run a learning environment that nurtures an open-ended approach to projects. The focus is on limitless creative capacity – there are no set outcomes, so experimentation is encouraged. They introduce how to use micro:bit and other digital technologies within these environments and how a combination of arts, sciences and technologies can be used as entry points for different learning needs and subject interests.

These skills can then be put into practice through the delivery of ‘Hackathons’, where children prototype, design and build a project in a day using micro:bit and other high and low tech tools. Crucially they are responding to real-world challenges to develop their problem-solving skills – in these workshops that’s the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

By supporting teachers to gain the skills to run these sessions, new opportunities for children to take part in the digital world and to build skills in problem solving, creativity and communication are opened-up. This approach isn’t just relevant for micro:bit, it can be applied to lots of tools and technologies and is a framework for educators to tailor activities to their local environment and challenges.

Why is this needed?

The latest World Economic Forum report predicts that over 1 billion jobs could be transformed by technology in the next decade and that digital knowhow combined with creativity, collaboration and interpersonal skills will be increasingly vital. Technological skills alone are not enough to stay ahead of the curve. Through our approach, teachers are equipped to support the development of these much-needed skills, whilst also re-skilling themselves in a fun and supportive way.

Download your own guide for running a Hackathon

As well as supporting educators through training, Institute of Imagination and British Council have co-created a Hackathon guide to support educators to run their own Hackathons. The guide can be download for free from the Micro:bit Educational Foundation’s ‘Do Your Bit’ website. It can also be used as a resource for ‘Do your: bit – the Micro:bit Global Challenge’, an international competition for young people led by the Micro:bit Educational Foundation.

Delivered in partnership with British Council.


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