Guest post by Jim Pedrech: What Hack the Classroom Means to Me


Guest post by Jim Pedrech, MIE Expert, Canada, @jpedrech. Connect with Jim Pedrech on the Educator Community.
If you are a teacher, you have probably hacked something.  Don’t worry; I’m not accusing you of crashing networks or breaking through firewalls. I mean hacking as tinkering, the act of reworking a thing in a way that its creator had not foreseen. A hack is a shortcut, a repurposing, a reimagining.  Have you ever restructured an activity or a unit to meet the needs of your students? Have you used a program or app in way that its creator had not anticipated?  If so, you have hacked something. In this sense, hacking is a basic human endeavor, and an essential element of innovation.

If hacking is so ubiquitous, why is Hack the Classroom so important?  Well, think of it this way: how many teachers know about your clever hack? Your colleagues in your department or school, perhaps? A friend at another school? Kudos for sharing your hack with those you know, but there are thousands of other teachers who might benefit from it, too.  Of course, you will not be the only teacher sharing at Hack the Classroom. The event is full of hacks that may differ from yours in content and specific purpose, but they share the same goal: to facilitate student learning. Thus, if you participate, you will have access to countless hacks from teachers around the world.
Still. there are other benefits to Hack the Classroom. For example, what if another teacher improves on your hack? Last year, my hack, Creating Customized Tests Via Mail Merge, was one of the three finalists; the others were by two pedagogical rock stars, Kurt Soser (Hack Your Math Class with Snip) and Maria Petreska (Fast and Easy Lesson Plans with OneNote and Edge). As much I enjoyed the recognition, the best part came afterward. In a social media post, Kurt shared his thoughts about how he wanted to experiment with my hack to create customized tasks for his math students.  On one hand, this is a bit of pedagogical validation—hey, Kurt Soser wants to use my hack—but it is much more important as a collaborative hack at a distance. What if Kurt makes my hack better? What if he figures out an added functionality that wasn’t on my radar? And, most importantly, what if he shares it with the rest of us? In this sense, Hack the Classroom isn’t just about the hacks we create and share; it is about providing a forum for collaboration and inspiration.

So, yes, join Hack the Classroom for the innovative hacks. Make sure you share yours, too. Remember, however, that the hacking is just getting started.

Sign up for the next Hack the Classroom livestream, happening September 24, 2016 from 8:00a.m. to 10:00 a.m. PST.

To view last year’s top Class Hacks, visit the Microsoft Educator Community.
To enter this year’s Class Hack’s contest, visit http://aka.ms/classhacks. The winning entries will be broadcast live on the September 24 Hack the Classroom event.

 

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