Thinking about hackdays

HackDay 2012 by Fora do Eixo, on Flickr

This weekend there was an NHS Hackday in Liverpool.  It was interesting following the tweets from Damian Roland and @_elljay_ and this evening to read her account of the event and her team looking at hacking the NHS eportfolio.

Reading this has got me thinking about whether Universities should be running hackdays.  At Dundee, where I’m based, computing students have over the past few years taken part in Yahoo hack days.  This is all good experience for them but the key thing about the NHS hack day was that it saw doctors working with developers, it was more of a multi-disciplinary team approach.  What would happen if computing students got together with medical students, art students, education students, geography students etc and staff from across the University.  What ideas would come forward and what could be developed?

Canvas the VLE from Instructure, which is attracting growing interest was developed by students.  Mark Zuckerberg co-developed Facebook whilst a student at Harvard.  How many other ideas are there lurking in the student community?

One of our medical students Matt Pendleton hit up on the idea for WardWatch an app to support clinical teaching and has built a team of medical students and a PhD computing student.  It’s been great to watch the project developing and see how much the team have learned along the way on a whole host of issues such as IP and business planning.  With growing emphasis on transferable skills and employability would a University hack day event provide an opportunity for other students to go on and develop some of these skills and get some experience of multidisciplinary team work.

For @_elljay_ the problem is the NHS eportfolio, something which a lot of doctors would like to see improved.  I wonder what our students would like to improve and how they’d go about it if they had the chance.  Would be interested to know in particular what colleagues in Dundee think.

Image Attribution
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  HackDay 2012 by  Fora do Eixo 


  1. I think this would be a wonderful occasion for students to experience more directly interdisciplinarity and develop ideas with other students. It would be very interesting to organise an hackday and I’m sure students and staff would benefit from it!

    1. Thanks Annalisa. There seems to be some interest from other quarters so we should explore further and see if we could organise something.

  2. I think this is a brilliant way forward. Universities have to start breaking down the interdepartmental barriers to collaboration and, thereby, facilitate innovation. Great things can happen with people with different perspectives and skills work together.

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