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Behind the Scenes at Knewton Hack Day [VIDEO]

Posted in Education Videos on March 9, 2011 by

Last Friday was Knewton’s first Hack Day of the year, and the ideas were flying. Ideas — and sawdust. On Hack Day, Knewton team members take a 24-hour break from regularly scheduled workday programming so they can dive into any projects they’ve been itching to develop.

The result? New features that students have requested, tons of product possibilities, and, if we’re lucky, a beautifully organized kitchen (see below for a peek at the projects).

We shot this video to give folks a glimpse into what Hack Day’s all about:

Knewton Hack Day: A Documentary from Knewton on Vimeo.

If you have any ideas for the next Hack Day, or projects from this one that you’d love to see in action, drop us a note in the comments.

Start a discussion ››

Here’s a list of the projects:

Product Hacks

Push It

Dave C. and Pete built a sweet SMS-initiated mobile quiz that GMAT students can use on the go.

Project Sneeze

Jo, Jen, Devon, Angel, and Kyle created a prototype for a new student report card. Students can customize a dashboard to show ideal study times, time spent on problems vs. performance, and more (sneezes per practice session data in v2).

“Ask Isaak” Hinting Feature

Christina, Chris T., and Jesse mapped out a student Q&A service that works like a chat client. Chat a question, get a study tip from the Knewton course.

Shake and Learn

Nathan, Abby, Ashley D. and Ruxy developed a mobile app for our college readiness course. Shake your phone, get another study tip!

Visualizing Bundles

Sara created a visualizer for student bundles in Knewton’s courses, so students can see the relationships between all the lessons our platform recommends.

“The GMAT: Graduate Management Automatic Tunage”

Dave I. and Nate brought a little T-Pain to the GMAT game with an autotuned mini-lesson. Check out the club-ready video.

Knewton Quiz Show

Andy made a pitch for turning quizzes into game shows, complete with a live demo featuring the on-the-fly math skills of Jon K.

Autogenerating Questions

Ashley M., David Y., Joanna built an improved system for generating twins of math problems by recreating the structure of a question and its answer choices. Pretty awesome.

Performance Hacks


Danny cleaned up our internal bug tracking system to make navigation and organization of tickets clearer and more efficient.

On Air

Jess rigged up touch lights to show when we’re “on air” in the studios. That should keep the clamor of office noise out of our GMAT videos.

AutoTag the News

Bradley developed a better way to mine teaching content and apply concept labels automatically.

Hallway Hack

Brad, Kyle, and Dave S. busted out the power tools to open up a much-needed hallway on the Tech side of the room.

Business Hacks

Knewton Social

Will created a social hub that pulls in Knewton employee’s blog, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds. Now everyone can reminisce about the time Dave C. boxed Jose Canseco.

Knewton On Demand

Effie, Jon, and Robbie teamed up to create something students have been requesting for a long time now: a setup for delivering on-demand only versions of any course (coming soon).

Culture Hacks

Bon Appetit

Caitlin and Patricia did everyone in the office a huge solid by bringing order, simplicity, and class to the chaos that was our kitchen. Bonus hack: sailboat paintings in the bathroom.

Knewton Design Resource

Martin created a central home for all the design standards, practices, and tips the Knewton team has developed.

Eric, Sri, Robbie, and David Liu built an internal social radio station using 8tracks, so everyone can be an office DJ.

Bring Back 6pm Tea Time

Sean presented a compelling case for sustaining the festive spirit of our weekly company-wide check-ins. Suggestion #1: fewer slides, more happy hour.

Hack Day Documentary

Brian, Ian, Chris B., and Meghan filmed the Knewton hack day video.

Have ideas you’d like to see us tackle on the next Hack Day? Let us know in the comments!