The museums agree that the weekend is a good time for the hackathon, although it might limit participation of professionals who might participate during work hours. Choose the date of your event carefully. Avoid the summer, holidays, examination period for students, and other major events in your field or region, especially other hackathons as was the case in Lithuania (21-22 April a hackathon for art in Vilnius, on 26-28 April „Hack4World – Smart Cities in Klaipeda). The date also depends on the exact target group you would like to address. In Malmö, students were addressed, however, as the term just started and the hackathon was not part of the curriculum, the event during the week was difficult to realize for them. Here long lead times for agreements with the teaching staff would be recommendable. For museums, off season is recommended.
The hackathon events in Gdynia and Klaipeda lasted roughly 24 hours. Various participants said the hackathon was too short, compared to other hackathons, however, longer events would increase the infrastructure requirements (e.g. showers).
In Gdynia, a warmup event was hosted on an evening one week before the actual hackathon, in both institutions. The teams had to decide for which institution they planned to focus on during the hackathon.
In Klaipeda, an introduction to the museum was given at the beginning of the hackathon.
In Malmö, the hackathon was split in a warm-up, coding time at home and a six-hour final day.
- At least 24 hours of hackathon are recommended for the working atmosphere to develop and to allow for creative ideas and networking to evolve.
- Evaluate how much time to give for the final presentations: if short, there is limited time to fully understand the participants’ ideas and the focus seems to shift towards judging presentation skills. The teams seem to spend considerable time for preparing their final presentation, which is not dedicated to content anymore.
- Allow enough time for the jury discussion.
- Teams should have their presentations randomly, for the first team it is most difficult for the final presentation.
- During final presentation, someone should take care of timing and moderate the discussion with the public, maybe even set a limit for the public to ask questions.
- Plan enough time during the final presentation for technical issues, changing laptops, microphones etc.
- Foster networking, e.g. with an “after-work”-party or a networking breakfast
- Consider an energizer at night or after dinner: like an activity like stretching/Zumba/game
- Offer workshops to enhance learning experience beyond hackathon event
An exhibition tour before the event is a great warmup for all participants when they can learn about the institution, the challenges and get to know staff, mentors and other teams and participants:
- Get to know participants/names
- Create good atmosphere
- Create connection between the teams
- Let teams get to know the mentors and museum staff
- See and experience the exhibition
- Maybe problem for teams coming from outside the region. The warmup could be one day before the hackathon. Some people appreciated to have a week before the hackathon starts, but others say too much time is not good.
- All staff and mentors, participating in the hackathon, should also attend the warmup.
- The warmup should be obligatory for all teams (at least two people of each team).
- With those who could not participate in warmup, for them an online session and a visit of the museum during hackathon is recommended.
In Lithuania, no warm up was held. Instead, following the programme, the introduction to the topic was made after the participants’ visit to the museum’s exhibitions, as the event was arranged in the premises of the museum, there was no need to arrange a warm-up meeting in advance. During the day, the participants could repeatedly visit the museum and its exhibitions.
In Malmö, a live warm-up was offered, but did not receive much feedback. Due to international participants, an online warm-up was set up, with the mentor walking with the camera through the museum, explaining specific challenges and answering the participants questions. Participants had the chance to visit the museum just prior to the hackathon day. The online warm-up was felt to be a good alternative for remote teams, however, the look and feel of the real exhibition enhances the understanding.
It is recommended to have one person responsible for all communication with the participants.
The organizers should clearly divide the responsibilities among the team members as it is difficult for one person to be in charge of everything. A separate person should deal just with the content of the hackathon: participants, topics, presentation, mentoring, etc. Another person/persons should be responsible for infrastructure: catering, facilities, etc.
Content material was provided to the teams before the hackathon in Gdynia:
In Malmö, a brief selection of pictures was available online, along with the contact to the mentors who could provide texts and other input.
Mentors are a basic concept of the hackathon. They inspire, give knowledge and help the participants. It is recommended to have different kind of mentors from different fields (technology, project managers, marketers, content experts, educators …). For example, in Klaipeda, six external IT related experts and seven museums staff members acted as mentors and jury. In Malmö, mentors were available for questions since the warm-up.
- Plan a briefing for all mentors to to have same knowledge, expectations and the overall goal of the hackathon (one voice to the participant).
- Present all mentors with their competencies at the beginning of the hackathon (and also at the warmup if applicable).
- Standardize, how mentors are approaching during the hackathon – e.g. in an additional room/or corner to meet alone without disturbance, where also participants are not scared that their idea is “stolen” by others.
- Mentors could go round the groups, however, this should be limited, as participants might feel “disturbed”.
- During the night, participants did not want to be disturbed, wanted to be focused on work. Consider, if a first part of the hackathon is with mentors to talk and discuss, followed by a part of quiet working time without mentors.
- Consider joining mentors and attach them to specific teams (possible if enough staff i.e. museum educators).
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Jarvis, D. (2012) ‘MGT567 Creative Problem Solving’ [online], available: https://www.slideshare.net/dajarvis/mgt567-creative-problem-solving [accessed on 16 July 2018].
Tauberer, J. (2018) ‘How to run a successful hackathon’ [online], available: https://hackathon.guide/ [accessed on 12 June 2018].