I was recently interviewed by a well regarded publication, Education Week, as it relates to my entrepreneurial background, the Apps4VA hackathon competition, Daymuse Studios, and a recent project of mine: Predictive Outcomes. The full article and interview are behind a paywall, but here’s a relevant snippet:
Time will tell. But for now, Chris Cooper, a Web developer in Glen Allen, Va., is an early beneficiary of those competitions. This past fall, Virginia’s department of education and the center hosted four, 24-hour, simultaneous hackathons over a weekend.
A newcomer to hackathons, Mr. Cooper, attended an event in Richmond on a Friday, worked on his idea—a tool that uses demographic, academic, and other data to assess students’ risks of dropping out—and went home for the evening, returning the next day to finish it. (Some of the hackathon entrants camped out at the various sites all night, center officials said.) Mr. Cooper was impressed with his competition—one idea called for a mobile app that helped donors locate Virginia classroom projects; another came up with a way to simplify queries that people use to search the data system.
But on Saturday, Mr. Cooper learned that his project, titled “Predictive Outcomes,” had won a grand prize, worth $1,500. All told, more than $6,000 in prizes were awarded across the state.
Mr. Cooper, who owns a company called Daymuse Studios, said that when he has worked with K-12 systems in the past, he has occasionally grown frustrated when his proposals to improve school technology systems don’t mesh with the desires of district technology staff. “You’re kind of competing with their internal services,” he said.
He said that competitions like the hackathon could encourage developers who had never considered producing tools for K-12 systems to give it a look.
“You think of education as a government institution that’s always behind the ball,” Mr. Cooper said. But the competition, he said, sends a signal to developers who would “love to apply their skills to areas that aren’t for profit.”
What’s next for Hackathons in Richmond?
It was fun to have a follow-up to the competition and to be able to offer some musings on the overarching topic. I was also interviewed by our local Times-Dispatch Richmond paper shortly after the hackathon ended. The competition that followed the hackathon, a multi-month Open Competition just ended as well – I’m excited to see what the Virginia web developer community comes up with next.