How to build a platform for volunteers to teach the digital curriculum

Inside the weekend hackfest in Manukau

“It’s incredible what was achieved in just 16 hours, with a group of strangers, bound by a vision and purpose, and a clear mission!”

This is how Kerry Topp,  director, transformation and innovation at Datacom, describes the recent weekend hackathon as part of a new education campaign called

The hackfest aimed to build an MVP for a platform that will match classroom ready volunteers - ICT professionals - with pre-prepared course materials that will be developed with schools, corporates and content providers.

By 2020, 29,000 primary and intermediate teachers across New Zealand are required to teach digital tech or STEAM.

The platform aims to tap people in the industry who can volunteer to teach these courses in schools with limited resources or are in rural areas.

“The target we have set ourselves as a collective is to be ready for the trialling and testing of in five South Auckland Schools by March to April 2019,” says Topp.

“The plan is to roll the platform out progressively - if feedback and support is strong - nationwide, in 2020 ready for the new curriculum and through 2021.”

The hackfest was held in Manukau, and attended by nearly 100 people from across ICT disciplines.

“It was an amazing event,” says Vivian Chandra, CTO and tech facilitator at OMGTech. “We had a good mix of developers, UX people, school and content provider representatives and corporates.”  

She says the group was split into four streams: content providers, schools, corporates and agencies like the Ministry of Education. 

Vivian Chandra of OMGTech
Vivian Chandra of OMGTech

“The streams worked separately to begin with to create their own problem statements to solve the larger issue. They then brainstormed some possible wireframe and UX suggestions.” 

“On day two, the teams got together again with a few more developers sprinkled in the mix,” says Chandra. 

“The wireframes were then taken to a concept stage in a range of different tools, culminating in an exciting showcase in the afternoon.

“The core project team are taking all the amazing ideas and are going to move forward with a plan of attack soon!” 

Chandra says the group is already taking in volunteers for the next step of the programme.  

‘Co-creation’ at work

Topp says the hackfest was an example of ‘co-creation’.

Different groups joined the call to answer the challenge of how to work together to help inspire Year 7 to Year 13 students to stay in Science Technology Engineering Arts & Maths (STEAM) at schools, he says.

He says they included educators seeking to enable teachers to facilitate STEAM-based projects “easily without fear”, content providers ensuring the availability of relevant resources to match the curriculum, corporates that are helping lowering the bar to access digital education, and agencies like the Ministry of Education and ATEED.

Read more: Three ways to move from CIO to ‘chief collaboration officer’

“We were blessed to have a cross sector group come together for good in Manukau.”

“It’s incredible what was achieved in just 16 hours, with a group of strangers, bound by a vision and purpose, and a clear mission!”
“It’s incredible what was achieved in just 16 hours, with a group of strangers, bound by a vision and purpose, and a clear mission!”

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