Author: Susanne Marx, Aug 2019
In the project BalticMuseums: LoveIT! hackathon events in museums help getting inspiring ideas of gamified apps. The team of nine partners – museums and science centers, non-governmental organizations and research institutions from Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania and Germany – develops tours for visitors’ smartphones – with a focus on gamification elements. Based on the partners’ needs, a generic framework for gamification of tourist attractions was derived. A cloud-based system conforming to the guidelines of this framework is being developed by the University of Szczecin (lead partner) to enable museums to easily add gamification elements (e.g. earning badges or collecting points for visiting certain places or solving quizzes) to eGuide tours. The launch of the first version of the BYOD eGuide tours is planned for end of 2019. The developed IT tools will be open source and marketed under a common brand – open to be joined by other museums and touristic attractions later on.
Working with a user-centric design process, the project hosts special brainstorming and programming events – Baltathons, (a name derived from a combination of ‘Baltic’ and ‘hackathon’). The creative ideas generated during these events feed into the gamified apps later on.
Project Website: www.balticmuseums.info
Project Knowledge Base: www.knowledge.balticmuseums.info
The word hackathon derives from the words hacking and marathon. It is an event set up as a competition for creative problem solving, originally relating to technology. Piller and West (2014) define hackathons as “tournament-based crowdsourcing for technical solutions” as part of open innovation initiatives, with hackathons even called “jump start for innovation” (Leclair 2015, p.12). It is a method to involve external people into innovation development. The understanding of the event concept is not defined strictly with some only relating it to programming (e.g. Oxford University Press 2018: “collaborative computer programming”) while others see it more broadly, e.g. Tauberer (2018) defines: “A hackathon is any event of any duration where people come together to solve problems.”
Hackathons gained considerable attention in the past, not only in the IT sector but also in other sectors. About one third of open innovation initiatives of the U.S. government were contests, out of which a considerable number were hackathons (Mergel 2015).
In the project “BalticMuseums: LoveIT!” a series of hackathons in museums was organized to feed into new gamified developments for visitor apps. These events were scheduled in Gdynia (PL), Klaipeda (LT), Malmö (SE) and Greifswald (DE). The overall organization, online promotion and expertise was provided by Netcamp in Szczecin (PL) together with University of Szczecin (PL) for the first three hackathons, the final hackathon in Greifswald was designed and implemented by Business Academy North in Greifswald together with Stralsund University of Applied Sciences (DE). The hackathons were all promoted under the same name “Baltathon” with uniform visuals.
After each hackathon, in-depth interviews with the organizers were held and the learnings captured and distributed to the next event organizer. This process resulted into a revision of concept after the third hackathon, with an adapted concept implemented in the final hackathon in Greifswald, DE
The hackathon in Gdynia took place from 17 – 18 March 2018 at Experyment Science Centre. The event was hosted both by Experyment Science Centre and NMFRI Gdynia Aquarium, and co-organised by Netcamp (Szczecin, PL) and the University of Szczecin. 56 participants signed up for the hackathon, one team did not come, and one team stopped during the first day of the hackathon. A warm-up was hosted one week before the event.
The hackathon in Klaipeda took place from 14 – 15 April 2018 at the Lithuanian Sea Museum. 34 interested people from the Lithuanian cities Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda registered for the hackathon (55 was a maximum preferred). The real number of participating “coders” was 20 in addition to IT consultants. The participants were 18 – 50 years, coming for hobby and practice, being students, IT specialists and marketing people.
The setup of the hackathon at Malmö Museums was different, being divided into a warm-up (18 September 2018), a one week working phase and the actual hackathon day (25 September 2018). 17 participants in 4 teams participated from Poland and Germany. Due to the geographical distance of most participants, the warm-up was organized via video conference. The participants could talk to the mentors and the mentors took them in a tour with a camera through the exhibition. The hackathon day lasted six hours. The idea was, that participants could develop their idea and code at home. The actual hackathon day was planned for finalizing the work, create a final presentation, talk to museum’s workers and IT experts. The final presentation was pitched (4 minutes) to other teams, organizers and partners.
The setup of the final hackathon in Greifswald was considerably different. Seven different museums from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region joined with topics, while seven teams from Germany and Poland totaling 35 participants joined the event. Additionally a process expert and five Augmented Reality specialists from a Finish university joined to coach the teams. The hackathon lasted 30 hours on a weekend, 18-19 May 2019. The participants were students and pupils of vocational training in the areas of IT, Renewable Energy, Design and Art, mostly below 30 years of age, with an equal mix of gender.
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