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Hackathons as a Formal Teaching Approach in Information Systems Capstone Courses

  • Walter F. UysEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 1136)

Abstract

Hackathons are ‘hacking marathons’ in which participants collaboratively and rapidly prototype new applications over a 24–48 h period. The potential of hackathons as a strategy for stimulating interest in the CS fields is well known. Hackathons share many similarities with capstone courses, however their application as a formal teaching approach in the CS/IS curriculum is less prevalent. This paper describes the introduction of a curricular hackathon in a 3rd-year IS capstone course at a South African university. An exploratory case study was conducted to evaluate feedback from the participants and organizers. In the process, the students completed seven new applications which they had conceptualized during the course. They also learned something about new technologies and programming interfaces as well as they exhibited growth in personal and inter-personal competencies. Seven fundamental differences between curricular and traditional hackathons are highlighted. Suggestions for integrating hackathons into undergraduate CS/IS capstone courses are provided together with possible areas for further research.

Keywords

Information systems education Capstone courses Software application development Hackathons Project-based learning 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The research described in this paper was done as part of the author’s participation in our regional Institutional Teaching Excellence Awards (ITEA). Thanks to the senior staff of our faculty who supported this project both financially and administratively; the directors of student life and campus security; the facilitation company who assisted us in planning and hosting the event; the management team from the student group who did additional work in order to ensure the event’s success; as well as the other lecturers and students who participated in the event. Thanks to the external examiner for suggesting such an educational intervention as well as for attending the final presentations and providing guidance during the process. Thanks for the financial contribution made by the schools’ directors towards hosting the hackathon. Last but not least thanks the anonymous reviewers for their critical feedback as well to the SACLA‘2019 conference’s audience for some insightful remarks following the presentation of this work.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SDL Research Focus AreaNorth-West UniversityMahikengSouth Africa
  2. 2.CITANDAUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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