Virtual Hackathon Envisions School of the Future

At the height of the pandemic two entrepreneurs decided to gather ideas to address the shortcomings of hybrid and digital teaching in Germany. Just five weeks later, they welcomed more than 6,000 participants to the hackathon #WirFuerSchule.

When his son’s school canceled in-person classes in March 2020, Andreas Echterhoff watched the administration become immobilized in shock and confusion. How should they hold remote classes? Which devices and infrastructure would teachers and students need?

With his background in digital innovation, Echterhoff envisioned a website that would help schools determine their needs for remote learning and then connect them to the right resources. Echterhoff got his idea off the ground during the virtual hackathon #WirFuerSchule (#WeForSchools), hosted over five days in June 2020., the name Echterhoff’s project would take, won first prize in the category “technical configuration” at the hackathon. As a result, he presented his idea directly to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) alongside the thirteen other winners.

The Hackathon Is Born

#WirFuerSchule is the brainchild of German app developer Verena Pausder and entrepreneur Max Maendler. In May 2020, the two decided to host an event to gather ideas to address the shortcomings of hybrid and digital teaching during the pandemic.

WirFuerSchule Founders Verena Pausder (left) and Max Maendler (right) with German Education Minister Anja Karliczek (center)

Just five weeks later, they welcomed more than 6,000 participants, including teachers, students, administrators and parents for the hackathon. Participants collaborated via the communication platform Slack to identify concrete challenges and develop solutions. A jury evaluated the 216 solutions across nine categories like teacher development, administration and skills for the future to select the thirteen winners.

The hackathon was overseen by Germany’s Education Minister, Anja Karliczek, and the Commissioner for Digitalization, Dorothee Bär.

Progressive Vision

Despite the commitment of many teachers, principals and parents, the past year of education has unearthed the weaknesses of our school systems. But maybe this year can be seen as a necessary disruption to propel schools forward. #WirFuerSchule is filling a void and encouraging bold, inclusive thinking to improve the schools of the future.

Join the #WirFuerSchule hackathon June 14-18, 2021 at: