Recently, I joined the first hackathon, aka innovation project, of my life. The hackathon was part of our internal Tech Jam conference at SPS, where we work on solving challenges, exploring ideas, learning new things, building, and sharing our wins and findings with the entire tech team to close out the conference. I had always hesitated to be part of a hackathon event. I thought this was only for software engineers, programmers, coders, and developers. I do not have a technical background so I was unsure what the expectation was and worried about whether or not I would fail or mess up. I was wrong! Innovation is for everyone.
Thank you to my leaders who pushed me and challenged me to try new things. In the last 3 days of the hackathon, I learned a lot from working with my incredibly talented team members while completing our innovation project.
Our hackathon project aimed to discover learning data to help analyze learning experience, learner frustration, and engagement in online training. We wanted to explore and research which capabilities and features are available in Microsoft Clarity and Google Analytics to track users’ experience with the Rise 360 authoring tool. Some of the preliminary questions we had in our mind were:
- Can we get the data from Rise 360 to Microsoft Clarity or Google Analytics?
- Can we get data on which resources or topics learners look for most?
- Can we get data on how users interact with the course? Where do they spend most of their time? How much time do the users spend on a course? How many times do they click during the course?
With this data, we could track, analyze, and report the effectiveness of an online training course. We could measure and understand how our learners interact with the online course and dig in to understand learners’ frustration. It gives us insights into what learners are doing and strategies we should apply to improve or minimize this behavior.
My biggest takeaway from this experience is that failure is okay and that your project does not have to be perfect. In fact, you don’t have to be perfect. As Reshma Saujani stated, “Brave, Not Perfect is about understanding how we got here so we can navigate our way out.” Being part of a diverse workforce of technical and non-technical teammates working together on our innovation project was amazing. We were unstoppable and did not give up. I noticed we all shared a natural curiosity and a thirst for a growth mindset (one of the core values at SPS). Our curiosity raised questions like: What if we try this? What if we do this? thus paving the path for our innovation project.
I was super pumped even with our small successes, which gave me hope and allowed me to go deeper and explore more questions with my curiosity. Our team was open to suggestions when innovating and did not follow one strict way of exploring. I remember a light bulb moment for our team members when we discovered a feature that allowed us to get the valuable data we were hoping for. This discovery fueled us with excitement and joy. 😊
Collaborating with team members energized me and expanded my comfort zone. This experience has made me more open and curious for suggestions, exploring, and trying things to see how they fit in. I now view hackathons as being not just for technical people but for everyone. Everyone is capable of being curious and we all have the spirit of a child inside of us which can lead us to be resilient and to learn and grow for better outcomes. I feel I had a huge success with my first innovation/hackathon project. An additional perk is that I not only got to work on a new product but am also able to expand my network, which was a huge win in itself. You never know what signing up for a hackathon or pursuing innovative work will lead to. So, what are you waiting for?
Anu Joshi, Sr. Technical Trainer
Reference: Saujani, R. (2019). Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder. United States: Currency.