UNIC is a partner in the Virtual Hackathon project 

The ERASMUS+ project is developing an innovative learning platform to organise and facilitate virtual hackathons in and around eight Higher Education Institutions in Europe. 

Universities in Europe have been confronted with a sudden and rather unprepared shift towards online teaching due to the Covid19 pandemic. New tools are needed to embrace digital solutions as opportunities for collaborations and innovation processes, also beyond times of social distancing. The Virtual Hackathon method offers a practical approach to tackle this rising need, aided by gathering a diverse group of people around a specific challenge.  

Virtual Hackathons

The Virtual Hackathon method offers a practical approach to tackle this rising need. Inviting participants into open and co-creative innovation processes, Virtual Hackathon supports the process of two-sided transdisciplinary dialogues between students, researchers and societal actors. The concept, developed through the Erasmus+-project “Virtual Hackathon” offers digital and hybrid environments to co-create solutions for pressing technological or societal challenges.  

The Project

The Virtual Hackathon Project running from 2021-2023, the project will design and develop an innovative learning platform to create a virtual hackathon on any topic. Reference frameworks for the development of the virtual hackathon format is the concept of Just Transition as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The methodology of the Virtual Hackathon format is based on Design and System Thinking. While Design Thinking has proven to be useful for innovation, the creative method by itself doesn’t seem sufficient when it comes to complex and sociotechnical challenges. Therefore, the complementary disciplines of Design Thinking and Systems Thinking are being combined within the Virtual Hackathon format. This way the Virtual Hackathon framework is expected to leverage the creative, visual and action-oriented features of Design Thinking with the systemic understanding of reality. 

Project Goals

  • Introduce new and playful collaboration methods in European Higher Education Institutions 
  • Design creative approaches to learning and activities in virtual environment 
  • Offer collaboration opportunities among students from different countries 
  • Help community-building within the university and its surrounding community 
  • Foster public awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and Just Transition 
  • Train participants of Virtual Hackathons in 21st century skills, as well as digital skills 

Eight Partners across Europe

  • INGENIO (CSIC-UPV) (Spain) 
  • University of Groningen (Netherlands) 
  • Método (Spain) 
  • Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) 
  • INFALIA PC (Greece) 
  • City2science (Germany)  
  • DRAXIS (Greece)  
  • University of Nicosia (Cyprus) 

The UNIC Interdisciplinary Team

UNIC has strong expertise in projects focusing on teacher professional development, science education, technology-based learning and inquiry-based learning. Its latest funded project (DIALLS/Horizon 2020) received 4 million Euros and was focused on teacher professional development on argumentation and dialogue. 

The University of Nicosia is participating in the Virtual Hackathon Project via the Department of Education and the Department of Life and Health Sciences, faculty of which serve as coordinators and working package leaders in a large number of funded projects, demonstrating strong expertise in science, technology and mathematics education, as well as intercultural education. 

The UNIC research group comprises an interdisciplinary team with vast experience in developing programmes for Higher Education (undergraduate and graduate level) science education and technology, initial teacher education, and in-service teacher education, and for elementary and secondary school students (e.g. ENGAGE and Mascil projects).  

A special focus in the learning resources developed has been placed on inquiry-based learning, on modelling, and on diversity in science and STEM education, including a focus on language and migrant students (IncluSME, ENSITE and GEM projects), and in making the connection between science, and everyday life. Additionally, a lot of the projects place an emphasis on the understanding and discussion of socio-scientific issues (PreSEES, ENGAGE, ENSITE), something relevant to the current project. 

UNIC Research Group: 

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