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AUSTIN, TEX. (February 17, 2015) – Civitas Learning® the predictive analytics Software-as-a-Service (Saas) innovator on a mission to help a million more students graduate every year by 2025, hosted the inaugural Civitas Learning Student Success Hackathon. Undergraduate and graduate students came together to apply their creativity and ability to build apps designed to improve student learning and outcomes, and directly impact student success. Participants included students from multiple Texas institutions, as well as University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Penn State University.

“This was a deep learning experience for the students. They didn’t just pick to work on apps using skills and tools they already knew,” said Laura Malcolm, Civitas Learning’s vice president of Product and a hackathon judge. “A common trend across all the teams’ apps was capturing user’s interests first in order to point them to courses they might like, organizations they may want to join, events they may want to attend, and peers they may want to connect and study with — using geo-location, crowdsourcing, and other technologies.”

The Winning Apps

In just 24 hours, students developed tools that demonstrated prowess, great awareness of how technology can enhance education, and the potential to expand institutions’ data sets to help them build better and more holistic pathways.

  • The $3,000 prize for first place was awarded to students from Penn State University who built “Project Lady Bird,” an app that allows students to design their own course path by revealing courses that match their personal interests, and cross-referencing with courses that are required to fulfill their degree program.
  • Second place was awarded to “Construct,” a website that matches students based on skills they have or want to develop in a project-based learning setting.
  • Third place was awarded to “Shame,” an app that applied tough love and financial math to encourage students into going to class.

Outstanding students from The University of Texas at Arlington also thrived in the hackathon environment and demoed apps designed to connect students to organizations on campus, and another that leveraged location technologies to find and manage study groups.

“Through their apps and presentations, students were saying that the tools schools are giving them to manage their lives are inefficient, and not sufficient,” said Phil Komarny, Robots and Pencils CEO and hackathon judge. “It was interesting to see that students are really reacting to things tied to the personalization of learning and trends in the competency-based and adaptive learning movements.”

Judges for the hackathon included:

  • Phil Komarny: CEO of Robots and Pencils, and member of the Civitas Learning National Advisory Board
  • Taylor Barnett: University of Texas at Austin Computer Science senior, lead organizer of HackTX, and part-time Full Stack Developer at RealMassive
  • Sean Duffy: Assessment Specialist with Pearson Education, Startup Mentor/Advisor for Pearson Catalyst for Education, EdTech Austin founder, and Startup Weekend Austin lead organizer
  • Laura Malcolm: Vice President of Product for Civitas Learning
  • David Kil: Chief Data Scientist at Civitas Learning
  • Niranjan Nagar: Chief Technology Officer at Civitas Learning

Watch behind the scenes footage and team demos/presentations on the Civitas Learning YouTube Channel. View photos from the Student Success Hackathon on Facebook

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