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  • Writer's picturePam Stoik

Hackathon Lessons Learned...

#hackathon is posted! Organizing a hackathon was a big 2021 🎯 (okay, so it may have been my 2019 goal that got delayed finally being realized). What did I learn? Lots. Here are just a few insights:

✨It’s a process (for organizers and participants).

No matter how much organizing, discussion and “what if” scenario planning is done, there are ALWAYS surprises (🤭and 😲) and fraught nerves—especially during those early moments when teams are meeting for the first time 😬. Aside from a handful of “pro hackers” most people are stepping out of their usual comfortable environment and into an entirely new one. I've participated in hackathons prior and there's always a "are we

doing this right?" feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. Hackathons are a kind of workout for the part of your brain that's challenged to deal with #ambiguity. It can be #stressful but also exhilarating if you can push past it. I imagine it's how marathon runners feel in that last 100 meters 🏃🏻🏃🏻🏃🏻.

✨Innovation can seem ordinary.

Sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to see the forest from the 🌳🌳🌳. Innovation can take something “ordinary” and make it “extraordinary” with a few tweaks. Often it’s the little things--the ones that no one captured before--that make an idea truly unique. The awesome solution generated by the winning hackathon team, Livio, isn’t an entirely new concept (an alert system for seniors), but the level of detail in their solution and the considerations to enhance the user experience delivered a 🏆🏆🏆pitch.

✨Virtual increases the possibilities for inclusion.

In 2019, I wouldn’t have considered a virtual event. But as we all know, things change...

While there may be something lost in the “Zoom world,” there was also a lot to be gained. It was certainly less of a struggle for caregivers and older adults 👴🏾 to make meetings (and when they couldn’t, they were recorded). As a month-long Hackathon with events spread out (thanks for convincing me Samantha Sandassie –it was a great idea!) people actually had a bit of breathing room--to ponder, to gel and to create. Though branded a national event, an international participant or two were even able to join!

Were there some technical challenges? Is there a virtual meeting without one 🤔? However, overall I think digital allowed for people to participate who might not have otherwise.

Now if we can just get reliable high-speed internet in #ruralCanada

Check out the article here:

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