Unizin February 2021 Hackathon

February 25 – 26, 2021

Unizin is excited to invite you to the February 2021 Hackathon! This event will take place virtually over Zoom on Thursday, February 25, and Friday, February 26. Since the last Hackathon in October 2020, the Unizin learning analytics community has grown significantly and many exciting new projects have surfaced. This February Hackathon will be an opportunity to join fellow analysts, researchers, developers, and many other learning analytics folks across our member institutions to get hands on with real UDP data tackling real learning analytics challenges. Here is the full schedule for the Hackathon:


  • Wednesday, Feb 24, 2:00 – 4:00 PM CDT : Recommended – Dev Environment Tools and Access Checking 
  • Thursday, Feb 25, 9:00-9:30am CDT: Welcome and Hackathon Kick Off! 
  • Thursday, Feb 25, 9:30am – 4:00pm CDT: Session 1, UDP Event Store Data Marts
  • Friday, Feb 26, 9:00am – 3:30pm CDT: Session 2, Feature Engineering and AutoML on UDP Data
  • Friday, Feb 26, 3:30pm – 4:00pm CDT: Hackathon Closing
  • Birds of a Feather Analytics Chats
    • UDP Reporting Tips and Tricks – Thursday, Feb 25, 1:00pm – 2:30pm
    • Data Governance Practices – Friday, Feb 26, 10:00am – 11:30am
    • Connecting and Using the UDP Event Store – Friday, Feb 26, 1:00pm – 2:30pm

Two sessions will be offered this Hackathon. You can attend both sessions if you like! No need to pick just one. Each session will be a full day, one on Thursday and one on Friday. One registration grants access to everything; attend as much as you like! Here are overviews of the two sessions:


Session 1: UDP Event Store Data Marts 

Thursday, Feb 25, 9:30am – 4:00pm CDT

In this session, we will develop reports, views, and visualizations based on the new UDP event store data marts Unizin has developed: events expanded, last activity, course status, and interaction session. Documentation and some starter code and examples will be provided, but the rest of the time is open for all types of development! Unizin will provide access to BigQuery, R Studio, and DataStudio.

If you would like to use another tool, be sure to reach out to Kyle Unruh (kyle.unruh@unizin.org) to set this up prior to the session. We will also brainstorm and spec out new data marts that Unizin can develop to live on top of the UDP.


Session 2: Feature Engineering and AutoML on UDP Data

 Friday, Feb 26, 9:00am – 3:30pm CDT

This session will leverage two powerful GCP tools: BigQuery and AutoML. Google describes AutoML as the following: “AutoML enables developers with limited machine learning expertise to train high-quality models specific to their business needs in minutes.” In this session you will learn and experiment with a full ML workflow using GCP tools on real UDP data. We will also write SQL-based features in BigQuery, train models in AutoML, and discuss some tips to get better performing models!


New This Hackathon


 “Birds of a Feather” Analytics Chats

In addition to providing hands-on coding time, Hackathons are also great opportunities to connect with likeminded people across the Unizin consortium to discuss analytics challenges and projects. During the two, full-day sessions, we will have a few 60-90 minute blocks of time carved out to network and discuss key topics and analytics challenges happening across our universities. We’re calling these “Birds of a Feather” analytics chats. During the registration process, be sure to let us know what topics/projects you would like to discuss during these time blocks! These chats are optional and open to anyone!

Scheduling for these chats will depend on the number and types of responses we get from registrations. The schedule above does not have the times for these listed, but we will communicate them to everyone as soon as possible.

Update: The Birds of a Feather topics have been chosen! See the full schedule above for the topics and times. Feel free to bring any existing projects and/or questions with you for this open discussion time.


 Dev Environment Tools and Access Checking

We ran into some permission and access challenges last Hackathon that took away some time from our sessions. This time, we will have an opportunity the day prior to the Hackathon to meet with Unizin and make sure all the tools and access work. This will be from 2:00pm – 4:00pm CDT on Wednesday, February 24. There is no need to stay for the entire two hours, but we encourage everyone to pop in to make sure they can access all the tools and data!


Event Registration

Please fill out the form below to register for the event. Registration will remain open until Tuesday, February 23.

Registration has now closed. Please email Kyle Unruh (kyle.unruh@unizin.org) if you wish to attend but have not registered.


Why attend?

  • You will learn about the Unizin Data Platform. New to the UDP? Learn about the teaching and learning data integrated with the UDP and ready for use. Get to know the UDP’s data ontology and the range of data available to use in it.
  • Every track is hands-on. You’ll roll your sleeves up and use data, tools, and services throughout the hackathon experience. You’ll go home with tangible new skills that you can use to continue using the UDP at your institution.
  • You’ll go home with something to show. Every hackathon track ends with producing something that you can take home to your institution – an application, a dashboard, and analyzes on real data.
  • Network and connect. We’re like-minded institutions! Come meet your peers motivated by the same problems and opportunities as you are.
  • It’s free! It’s from your home! Adapting to these times to make a virtual hackathon has been challenging, but one benefit is that there are no costs or travel barriers! Anyone and everyone interested in the UDP can register to attend, free of charge!
  • What happens at the hackathon, doesn’t stay at the hackathon.  The innovative things accomplished at the hackathon are often incorporated into projects outside of the hackathon. This is a great opportunity to network with other analysts and researchers across the biggest universities in the country!

Who Should Attend?

The diversity of participants with different expertise and interests contributes to the success of hackathon outcomes. No one individual can supply all pieces of the puzzle when hacking/innovating on complex situations and systems. The tracks will be hands-on and technical in nature, so analysts, data scientists, researchers, and data engineers are natural fits. We also love having faculty, instructional designers, and administrators join to paint larger pictures about the landscape of UDP data.

What if I have no prior hackathon experience?

You’ve found the perfect place and time to learn! Whether you’re a researcher, coder, analyst, designer or otherwise gifted, there will be experiences and others present to ease your way through your first hackathon experience.

“The Hackathon was a great opportunity to share and problem solve some of the challenges that we encounter across all of our universities. I was introduced to a tool that one of our peers has been developing that fills a large need for us. I was able to learn about the tool, ask questions, install it on my machine and bring back that knowledge to my campus. Everyone was open to discussion, jumped in to assist when possible and made sure that we all left with something valuable.”  Luke from Minnesota, 1st time hackathon attendee

What tech do I need to participate in the hackathon?

The primary tools you will need are a laptop/computer, internet access, web browser, and Zoom video conferencing. The tracks may have other specific tools, but the track leaders will communicate that with you if needed!

Do I have to decide on what track I want to be involved in before I arrive?

No! You can attend all tracks if you like! Upon registration, you will receive calendar invites with Zoom video conferencing links for all of the tracks.