Category Archives: Online & Hybrid Learning Conference

1/10/13 Invasion of the Hackathons & Other News – Web Journal Early January 2013

I attended the Invasion of the Hackathons meetup Tuesday night hosted by the Brooklyn Ventures Meetup – here’s a Storify link to some of the great content that came out that meeting.  I was at the event after a long day traveling over to Rutgers University New Brunswick campus to tape footage of a Rutgers TV message about my Social Media for The Arts course that I developed and that I’m teaching next semester (Spring 2013 which begins in 12 days).


RU-tv Network

The clip will be ready to air next week hopefully, and be on YouTube, so I’ll share it here.  We taped for about 2 hours, to get enough content that will make a 1 minute spot, and part of that minute will be students who really loved my course and will talk about it on air.

I put so much energy and focus into course development and posting information to the Facebook Page that’s become the catch all for my best thoughts on a daily basis, that I find it harder to post here.

Anyway, getting back to the Hackathon event – I learnt a lot by just listening to what the panelists were saying – the event was well attended, I counted about 175 people came, a phenomenal result considering this is only the second meeting of the group since my friend Charlie Oliver took it over.  Also, this meetup was occurring at the same time as the New York Tech Meetup which is one of the largest meetups in the world and has grown so large as to take an entire auditorium at NYU.  While the NY Tech meetup used to interesting, it’s almost outgrown the kind of meeting that allows people to freely interact, so I suspect many of the startup people who showed up at the Hackathon event felt the real action wasn’t at NYU, but right here, where I was sitting – and they would be right.

Invasion of the Hackathons Panel last night


JAMES BRUNI (@JamesBruni), founder and CEO of Bruni PR

SABEEN ALI (@Sabeen_Sabeen), co-founder of AngelHack

MARIANNE BELLOTI (@BellMar), hackathon winner vet; Developer Evangelist and Hacker-in-Residence at Temboo.

CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY (@KennedysGarage), digital design lead at M. Shanken Communications.

JONATHAN ASKIN (@jaskin), founder of BLIP Clinic at Brooklyn Law School

PETER ROBINSON, Business Development Lead at ChallengePost

Anyway, what I learnt from last night (haven’t slept yet, but will soon) is that Hackathons are changing – they may have been a place where people come together to develop code (usually to solve some problem, compete for a prize or meet a challenge) what they are becoming is a place for team building and team assembling – and a showcase where talent can be acquired, often in as an entire team.  In fact, it might well be that investors would rather by a “team” they have confidence in, then a platform or product because what the team creates isn’t as important as what it can create in the future, most of the time.

And, to be honest, there are now as many marketing and PR people going to Hackathons as there are coders – but that seems about right since often people have ideas they want to materialize into code, particularly if they have domain level expertise, but they need to find someone or a team they can pitch or share the idea with – since many people don’t code (I don’t – but I used to write Unix scripts – but I was a lousy script writer and I doubt I could write a decent line of code – I’m not even going there).   I wasn’t bothered by the PR people hanging out at Hackathons, after all, they provide a useful function and geeky coders aren’t the best people to be promoting their own geeky ideas to reporters that might be floating around the Hackathon.

On the other hand, I was bothered by the lawyers in the house – the tone of what I heard sounded more “vulture like” than anything else I heard last night.  I’d be more afraid of the lawyers and what they inject into the situation than other trying to steal or capitalize off of someone else’s idea.  I had a similar feeling at another meetup I attended about 6 weeks ago on 3D printing #artstech.

No doubt, creative coders at Hackathons need to be protected, participants ideas need to be protected from being ripped off and it may not be clear to everyone who participates that their creative ideas are exposed to be copied and ripped off when they attend such events.  But the lawyer on the panel, a well known author sounded to me like he wasn’t really that interested in the subject of Hackathons, and just went to them to inject his expertise in areas where to be totally honest, I quested it belonged.  That’s my take.

The panel was focused on the questions at hand and some of the material discussed came from a bunch of articles that had interest for Hackathons and in particular, the last article involving AT&T came up and brought up a spirited discussion about the real motivations of AT&T’s Hackathon – was it to promote ideas or steal them?  Oh well, I guess all of these things make interesting debates, which is why the came up in the first place.

That’s about it for me tonight.   Have to focus on finish up the course shell for Rutgers, a possible update to my UCI course on Social Media Measurement that might run starting next week (enrollment is low, only 5 students in that one as of right now – I thought there would be 10 or more, but I may still teach it if I don’t need to do much work in the shell for that course).

Finally, I will be speaking next Thursday, January 17th, 2013 at Rutgers University at the 4th Annual Online & Hybrid Learning Conference which is hosted by The Center for Online & Hybrid Learning and Instructional Technologies (COHLIT) – a photo from the last COHLIT conference last year is shown above.  A detailed listing of the Agenda is here.  My session is below (which I still need to put together – I’m that busy).

Social Media and its use in Online Education at Rutgers University using Synchronous and Asynchronous Educational Practices- Marshall Sponder, Adjunct Instructor, MGSA

  • Social Media can be used to increase collaboration and learning between students and instructors using a combination of simple (synchronous) assignments that build small but crucial specific skills (similar to the Karate Kid methodology of “Wax on, Wax off”) that are combined to more complex plays and strategies. The assignments in Social Media encourage much higher student engagement via specific communications tasks such as “check-ins” and friend requests on various social networks (particularly Facebook and Foursquare).As most social media can be monitored with external tools and platforms Instructors can listen for the activities of students on Social Media (asynchronous) and engage with same students in semi omnipresence. Use of class hashtags such as #mgartr12 and #mgartr13 are encouraged. Integrations with a Social CRM can furnish a social repository in much the same way corporations now use online reputation and social fulfillment tools to identify trends, influencers and the most prominent students using emerging media for their course work.Methodologies such as Agile Development will be explored and adapted to the online classroom environment of Pierson eCollege.

    About Marshall Sponder

    Marshall Sponder is an independent Web analytics and SEO/SEM specialist working in the field of education, market research, social media, networking, and PR. He provides digital data convergence generating ROI and develops data metrics, KPIs, and dashboards that drive businesses by setting and evaluating benchmarks. Marshall first coined the term “Ultraviolet Data” (similar to “dark social” and “dark data”) and wrote several papers, including one on how to build your own monitoring platform, that have been read 19,000 times downloaded over 1250 times.

    Marshall authored two online college level courses with will be offered again this Spring, Social Media Measurement taught at UC Irvine (using Netbase Social Intelligence) and the
    popular, possibly viral Social Media for The Arts at Mason Gross School of the Arts – Rutgers University (4 sessions offered in Winter 2013). Marshall maintains a Facebook page for the Social Media for The Arts Rutgers course here.

I have some ideas of what I’ll discuss – the things I’ve done with my students have generated outstanding reviews – but what I found worked the best was really believing I had the best students in the world in my class – and when I asked them (remember it’s a remote call taught online) to do things like “check in” to locations at Rutgers – they enjoyed that engagement – I also bombarded them with ideas that made them look at what they were doing in the Arts in a new way, and had them build practical skills using a Karate Kid approach – something I’ll talk about next week.  I’ll also put the presentation on Slideshare once it’s done, probably early next week.

With that, I have a whole post that I didn’t write yet inspired by the new PEW RESEARCH REPORT on Arts Organizations and Digital Technologies.



Perhaps the most interesting insight I got out of the report is that most Art Organizations lack the time or ability to tie their social media work to business outcomes.  It’s a Catch-22 because more and more their funding sources want to tie the funding to business outcomes.  Nor is there much in the way of funding for Social Media initiatives and technologies, which are evolving too quickly and becoming too complex and dissociated from any meaningful workflow most organizations would need, to be of much use.

Finally, the Arts have a hard time, particularly Preforming Arts because on one hand audiences are getting much more articulate and sophisticated and are looking for an “experience” rather than a performance, pitting struggling Arts groups against Hollywood in a no win battle.  On the other hand, with digital media becoming so prevalent and Social Media being almost a default and given for many, the attention span of the average audience member is going down and their demands are going up, placing Artists in a difficult to win situation for the mind and hearts of their audience.  An interesting read.

That’s it for tonight.