Hack Day: FIU Online Gets Hacked!

Hack Day 2018

On Wednesday, July 18, FIU Online launched its first ever Hack Day. With roots in Silicon Valley, Hack Day is an increasingly popular tradition across the tech industry. Titans like Netflix and Facebook have held regular Hack Days for years. Today, these “disruptive” all-day events are a staple of startup culture. The goal of Hack Day? To accelerate innovation.

Hack Day How-tos

Most Hack Days have four simple rules.

  1. Shut down all normal business affairs for the duration of the event.
  2. Break down company silos and convene fresh teams.
  3. Brainstorm new solutions to old problems.
  4. Must have a robust caffeine supply.

Propped on the three pillars of collaboration, innovation, and learning, it’s no surprise that FIU Online’s motley crew of instructional designers, data analysts, creatives, business developers, and department leaders jumped at the chance to inaugurate their own Hack Day. Here’s how it went.

What’s Your Problem?

It began with a call for problems. In the week leading up to Hack Day, everyone at FIU Online thought hard about the various issues they encounter on a day-to-day basis; issues for which there’s little time in the workday to solve in any sustainable way. Each person then signed up for their top three issues until we finalized nine cross-functional teams. 

Go Team

Each group of about twelve to fifteen FIU Online staffers spent the entire day in one of nine designated locales scattered throughout the fifth and six floors of MANGO. Colleagues who don’t normally work together deliberated how to best solve the issues. Teams left no whiteboard unscrawled.

One team built a platform that can create comradery among online students. Meanwhile, another team asked proposed ways to serve our community more. One team even drew blueprints for an FIU Online mobile app while another streamlined our data-sharing. 

Hackers scarcely broke for lunch. As sessions drew to a close, each team prepared a five-minute presentation they broadcasted across FIU Online via video conferencing.

Hacking for Faculty

The team charged with improving onboarding and training for faculty new to online teaching produced one of the Hack Day’s most anticipated presentations. Cristina Pedraza, a participating instructional designer, acknowledged how input from different divisions at FIU Online like recruitment led to multi-layered solutions.

“Their input was a game-changer,” she said. “I don’t think a team made up solely of IDs would’ve come up with that. It really took a people who work in other capacities, and who exercise different muscles daily, to add that kind of insight into the process.” Thanks to Hack Day, FIU Online is one step closer to helping faculty take more creative ownership of their courses.

Til’ Next Year

When FIU Online gets bold about improving our service to students and faculty, innovation happens fast. As the teams finesse their Hack Day results, we eagerly await what new opportunities arise in the future.

Michael A. Martin is an instructional designer and writer for the Continuing and Professional Education team at FIU Online. He is also an adjunct instructor in Writing and Rhetoric at FIU.

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