Digital education for a sustainable world.

IRCAI DigiEduHack 2021 partners
The new IRCAI Center, at the request of the Government of Slovenia through DG EAC, is hosting the main stage of the Digital Education Hackathon (DigiEduHack) during the Slovenian Presidency to the European Council (Jul-Dec 2021) on November 9-10, 2021. DigiEduHack is an EIT initiative under the European Commission’s Digital Education Action Plan and, is coordinated by Aalto University. The main stage event is hosted by the Slovenian Presidency in partnership with the International Research Center on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), operating under the auspices of UNESCO.

DigiEduHack is a series of online and in-person hackathons taking place worldwide from the 9-10 November 2021 The event focuses on co-creating digital education solutions for a more sustainable world and is free, inclusive, sustainable, open to anyone interested.

DigiEduHack aims at fostering user-driven, co-created solutions, ranging from concepts or ideas to fully implementable apps. Stakeholders from across the educational spectrum as well as NGOs, startups, libraries, research labs, or ministries are engaging in DigiEduHack in a bid to identify and solve key challenges in digital education.

In 2020, over 2600 participants joined DigiEduHack. These participants, ranging from 10 to 60+ years old and from 33 different countries, took part in 54 challenges and created 253 solutions which have been uploaded to digieduhack.com. Three DigiEduHack 2020 Global Award Winners have been crowned: Squiddy, EduSex, SaveDopamine. It should be noted that the hackathon is largely design based and therefore does not contain many technical components.



10:00 – 11:00 (CET) – Welcome & Opening
Opening #DigiEduHack2021 visuals
Welcome to Ljubljana and DigiEduHack! by moderator
Welcome Speech by Simona Kustec, Minister of Education, Science of Sport of the Republic of Slovenia
Welcome Speech by Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
Q & A with Commissioner Gabriel and the Minister Kustec answer questions of the Hackathon participants. Moderated by the event’s moderator.
Online picture
Ribbon Cutting, Let’s go hack! by moderator, Commissioner Gabriel and the Minister Kustec

11:00 – 11:15 (CET) – Sustainability and radical creativity or AI (Invited talk)
Riikka Mäkikoskela, Head of Radical Creativity, Aalto University

11:15 – 11:50 (CET) – DigiEduHack 2020 Global Award pt. 1
DigiEduHack 2020 Global Award winner – team 1
Introduction to International hack sites by moderator, Aalto University
DigiEduHack 2020 Global Award winner – team 2

11:50 – 12:10 (CET) – DigiEduHack Steering Group 2021
Inspirational quick talks by the DigiEduHack 2021 Steering Group members
Mark Brown The National Institute for Digital Learning at Dublin City University
Cristina Riesen, entrepreneur and edtech expert

Mark and Cristina are both members of the DigiEduHack steering group, which means that they have been at the heart and soul of this edition of DigiEduHack. Mark is Ireland’s first Chair in Digital Learning and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL). Mark has over 30-years experience of working in Higher Education and has played key leadership roles in the implementation of major university-wide digital learning and teaching initiatives. Meanwhile, Cristina is a seasoned entrepreneur with longstanding experience in the fields of business innovation and the use of emerging technologies in education. During this 20-minute session of inspirational quick talks they will provide the audience (which will include hackathon participants) with rich insights into the future of education technologies used in academia and the business world, respectively..

12:10 – 14:00 (CET) – Lunch Break (Slido quiz)

14:00 – 14:15 (CET) – Logistics and world perspective pt. 1
Call in from site #1
Vanessa from Belgium
Call in from site #2
Chaminda from Sri Lanka

14:15 – 14:30 (CET) – Sustainability of the digital classroom (Invited talk)
Nina Jelen, Global Teacher Prize 2021 finalist, Primary school teacher and author of children’s books

Nina is a primary school teacher in the Slovenian town of Zagorje ob Savi. In 2015, she won the Slovenian Information Commissioner’s competition for the best lesson on online safety. By turning her classroom into a virtual world, she used various games to promote positive online behaviour among elementary school pupils. In 2018, her project was rewarded by the European Commission’s Better Internet for Kids competition. At the DigiEduHack main stage event, however, Nina will slightly broaden her focus: Tuning in online, she will give us her own insights into the incorporation of sustainability into the digital classroom.

14:30 – 15:05 (CET) – Logistics and world perspective pt. 2
Call in from site #3
Nuno from Portugal
Call in from site #4
Juha from Finland
Call in from Slovenian Local Hackathon
Moderator: Davor Orlic
A 90 second video from the hackathon, presentation by:
Aleš Veršič, Open Data Slovenia Champion at the Ministry of Public Administration.
Boštjan Koritnik, Minister of Public Administration

15:05 – 16:05 (CET) – Future of education: A perspective on policy an innovation (Panel)
Moderator: Lenart Kučič
Zeynep Varoglu, Programme Specialist at UNESCO
Colin de la Higuera, UNESCO Chair in in technologies for the training of teachers by open educational resources at University of Nantes
John Domingue, Open University
Georgi Dimitrov, Head of Unit, DG EAC, European Commission
Yvonne Rogers, University College London

The idea that we can learn everything by the age of 25 seems outdated. However, our education process usually ends after we leave the formal educational system. New technologies can help us prolong and enhance our learning experiences. We can now build personalised digital assistants for every individual student or a tutor. It is possible do de-centralise learning process and augment human teachers. But there will be challenges. All big actors of AI are the large private companies with personal interests in the field of education. Education systems are very different across the EU as well as their access to digital tools. We will thus have to develop interfaces and algorithms as policies that can help us address negative challenges and shape positive applications of AI.

16:05 – 16:15 (CET) – DigiEduHack 2020 Global Award pt. 2
DigiEduHack 2020 Global Award winner – team 3

16:20 – 17:00 (CET) – Coffee Break (Video feed of the DigiEduHack2021 graffiti creation, Slido quiz)

17:00 – 17:30 (CET) – Logistics and world perspective pt. 3
Call in from site #5
Prabu from Sri Lanka
Call in from site #6
Juliette from Switzerland/Argentina/Peru
Call in from site #7
Amna from Pakistan
Goodbye to EU hacking sites

17:30 – 17:45 (CET) – Sustainability in education (Invited talk)
Piret Liv Stern Dahl, EIT Climate-KIC

Piret is currently working as Project Manager at EIT Climate-KIC. As part of the Human Capital project (an EIT Community initiative), Piret is responsible for engaging the education community members around topics of digital skills and competencies, innovation in education and exploration of common approaches for digital learning delivery. In a 15-minute session, she’s joined by two representatives from partner communities of EIT Climate-KIC (Wouter Buursma from Stichting Technotrend & Cristina Badulescu from the Timis Chamber of Commerce) to discuss the most innovative learning technologies that will enable program facilitators to actively contribute to our climate goals.

17:45 – 17:55 (CET) – Wrap up

18:30 – 20:30 (CET) – Social event
Graffiti light performance & Slido quiz

DAY 2: Wednesday, November 10, 2021

10:00 – 10:20 (CET) – Welcome
Welcome to Ljubljana and DigiEduHack! Recap on Day 1 by moderator
Welcome Speech by EVP Vestager

10:20 – 11:20 (CET) – Digital education and AI in education and for education and the sustainability aspect for education (Fire Side Chat)
Moderator: Lenart Kučič
Blaž Zupan, Faculty of Computer and Information Science University of Ljubljana
Wayne Holmes, UNESCO Technology and Artificial Intelligence in Education; IRCAI
Fengchun Miao, UNESCO Unit for Technology and Artificial Intelligence in Education
John Shawe-Taylor, UNESCO Chair in AI, IRCAI

Forget the science fiction movies and TV series. Also forget the hype. Artificial Intelligence is, in fact, not that intelligent. Even the best and largest language services do not understand what they are reading or writing. If we get frustrated with a computer and scream: but you know what I mean, they still do not know what you mean. Accordingly, we need to de-mythologise and remove the hype around AI so that we can better understand what it can do and where it will fail, and where its uses are appropriate. That is why everybody should be familiar with the core concepts of AI and best place to start are primary and secondary schools. But we also need to ensure that AI will be used in education for the common good – without undermining student agency or implement surveillance technologies.

11:25 – 11:55 (CET) – Digital Education around the Globe pt.1 (Invited talks)
Sustainability in education by African speaker region speaker Oreoluwa Lesi, Founder of Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre

Oreoluwa is the Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC), a non-profit organization committed to building a more inclusive technology ecosystem. She has designed high-quality programming for over 31,000 girls and women – many of whom have been inspired to pursue science, engineering or technology careers. In her 10-minute invited talk, Oreoluwa will reveal how to engage girls and women in STEM activities and to what extent digital education can help make this happen.

Emerging technologies in digital education & learner-centered distance education by Arab States region speaker Gihan Osman, Assistant Professor at the Instructional Design and Technology Graduate School of Education, American University in Cairo

Gihan is an Assistant Professor at the Instructional Design and Technology Graduate School of Education at the American University in Cairo. Gihan has a longstanding experience in researching education technologies, especially in the field of educational reform and change management. In this 10-minute invited talk, Gihan will shed light upon various emerging technologies used in education and how these can come in handy for learner-centered distance education.

What can humans do? Asia and the Pacific region speaker Adhitya Iyer, author of “The Great Indian Obsession: The Untold Story of India’s Engineers”

Adhitya is a Pizza lover and when he is not having pizza he is obsessing about the future of global education. He has written a bestselling book – titled “The Great Indian Obsession: The Untold Story of India’s Engineers”, where he describes engineering as “what could be India’s fifth biggest religion”. His upcoming book is supposed to be a secret and he wouldn’t tell us more about it. In a 10-minute invited talk, he will delve into how education systems have evolved in the recent past. And sharing his take on the continuously increasing use of AI in education, Adhitya will answer the question: What can humans do?

12:00 – 12:10 (CET) – Logistics and world perspective pt. 4
Call in from site #8
Daniel from Germany
Call in from site #9
Lucy from the UK

12:15 – 12:35 (CET) – Digital Education around the Globe pt. 2 (Invited talks)
Transforming education through Massive Adaptive Interactive Texts (MAITs) by North America region speaker Niema Moshiri, University of California, San Diego

Niema is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at UC San Diego, where he researches viral phylogenetics. However, compared to the average professor, he is definitely a step ahead when it comes to the use of digital technologies in education. For the computer courses he is giving, Niema develops Massive Adaptive Interactive Texts (MAITs). In this invited talk, he will enlighten us how this technology will allow us to make groundbreaking transformations in our current educational systems.

Digital Education around the Globe inivited talk by Latin America and the Caribbean region speaker Tel Amiel, UNESCO Chair in Distance Education

Tel is a researcher at the University of Campinas in Brazil, where he coordinates the UNESCO Chair in Open Education. Currently, he conducts research on schooling and teacher professional development at the intersection of open education, educational technology, and school improvement. Today he will join us for a 10-minute talk on open education, where he will provide us with a couple of examples on how digital technologies can enrich the experience for teachers and students alike.

12:35 – 14:00 (CET) – Lunch Break (Motion-stop of the graffiti creation)

14:00 – 14:20 (CET) – Connecting Every School to the Internet (Invited talk)
Dohyung Kim, UNICEF project Giga representative
Sahan Bulathwela, UCL

In this 20-minute invited talk, two guests will join us: Do-Hyung leads a team of data scientists in Giga, a joint initiative between UNICEF and the UN’s International Telecommunication Union, focusing on the use of geospatial data and advanced data science technologies such as AI and machine learning. Meanwhile, Sahan is a researcher at the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence, where he focuses on improving educational contents to lifelong learners. Now, in this talk the focus will lie on something which is indispensable for digital education across the globe: Connecting every school to the internet. Do-Hyung says that “in order to plan the operations to provide internet connectivity to schools, first we need accurate information of the locations of schools and where schools don’t have internet connection.”, a statement they will most probably touch upon during this invited talk.

14:20 – 14:50 (CET) – AI in the classroom – European youth showcase (Invited talk)
Salvatore Nigro, CEO JA Europe

Salvatore is the current CEO of Europe’s largest provider of entrepreneurship education programmes, JA Europe, where he dedicates his energy and passion to preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. He specialises in multi-stakeholder partnerships, workforce development and entrepreneurship programmes. In his 30-minute invited talk, he will delve into the use of AI in the classroom in Europe. As you may know, AI-based technologies are considered to be able to adapt to each student’s level of knowledge, speed of learning and desired goals, in order to make the most out of their education.

14:50 – 15:00 (CET) – 2-Day Recap
Steering group members
Arjana Blazic, International Expert Team for Curricular Reform at the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education
Bart Verswijvel, Future Classroom Lab

15:00 – 15:30 (CET) – Learning vs. Progress vs. Paths (Invited talk)
Mitchell L. Stevens, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University

Mitchell is Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Sociology at Stanford University. The author of award-winning studies of home education and selective college admissions, his most recent books are titled “Remaking College: The Changing Ecology of Higher Education” and “Seeing the World: How US Universities Make Knowledge in a Global Era”. In the latter, Mitchell discusses why American universities continue to favour US-focused social science research despite efforts to make scholarship more cosmopolitan – an aspect he will not forget touching upon during this invited talk, which he titled “Learning vs. Progress vs. Paths”.

15:30 – 16:00 (CET) – Coffee Break (Motion-stop of the graffiti creation)

16:00 – 16:25 (CET) – Closing: Goodbye to Ljubljana and DigiEduHack!
Georgi Dimitrov, Head of Unit, DG EAC, European Commission
Igor Pesek, Head of Unit for Digital Education, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia
John Shawe-Taylor, IRCAI

16:25 – 17:35 (CET) – Wrap-up: Goodbye to Ljubljana and DigiEduHack!
Steering group on-site and online


IRCAI would like to attract data science and engineering students from across Europe and design artificial intelligence challenges on top of the data. Therefore our suggestion to our colleagues at DG EAC was to reach out to DG CONNECT and understand what could be done in order to attract H2020 projects that have plenty of data that could be exploited on a large scale at the hackathon via innovative communities.

The collaboration between IRCAI and H2020 projects within the context of the DigiEduHack offers the prospect of unlocking the significant potential in H2020 initiatives. This partnership presents a win-win scenario: the hackathon’s theme, aligned with sustainable development, resonates with IRCAI’s primary focus. Simultaneously, H2020 projects stand to benefit from exposure to innovation communities and the exploration of novel applications for their data that IRCAI can provide, which catalyses the creation of prototypes, products, and other innovative outputs.

Find the description of the data partners and their data below and access all three data sets available at the IRCAI GitHub channel here:

Datasets for Scientix

SCIENTIX, the Community for Science Education In Europe

Available data:
3,780 responses from teachers to the survey on STEM Education Practices Survey organised in 2018, looking to collect information about how STEM teachers throughout Europe organise their teaching practices.
Data location:
Follow the link

Problem addressed by the project:
How STEM teachers throughout Europe organise their teaching practices.
Suggestion on how students can use data:
Compare specific countries, look at specific questions in connection with others, etc.
Partners bringing data:
European Schoolnet
Tangible results that data owners would wish to see:
Short reports looking at what the data says answering specific questions.

Datasets for UNICEF

UNICEF School Mapping project

Available data:
We have location information and satellite imagery for about 15,000 schoold and about 60,000 non school locations in Sudan. Location infromation for schools and non schools will be provided as csv files. Satellite imagery will be provided as image tiles in png format with size of 256×256 pixels with 0.6m spatial resolution. The copyright of the satellite imagery will be protected under NEXVIWE license and the use of the data will be strictly limited to this hackathon. All the imagery data should be deleted immediately after the hacakthon is concluded.
Data location:
Data will be posted in the UNICEF GitHub repository.
Problem addressed by the project:
Giga is an initiative between UNICEF and ITU to connect every school in the world to internet. Accurate information of school locations are very important in the operations to connect schools to internet. Our data science team at Giga initiative has been making efforts to develop AI algorithms using satellite imagery to identify school locations in various countries. We have developed a deep learning based model in countries including Colombia with a good accracy overall. Now we are trying to apply the model in Sudan. However, with different envirionment and culture in Sudan, it would be not feasible to directly apply the existing model. This project aims to make progresses on top of already developed model and methods to better reflect Sudan’s context and the charateristics of the shools of Sudan. As the results, we are expecting to have a working model to classify satellite imagery into schools and non schools in Sudan with a high accuracy.
Suggestion on how students can use data:
Use satellite imagery for schools and non schools as the training, test and validation samples for the models that students are implanting and fine tuning.
Description of the data:
Satellite imagery for schools are named with school IDs. With IDs, students can identify more school information in the csv file provided together. Satellite imagery for non schools are named with school IDs follwed by an additional letter including N, E, W, S which means the location of the image collected is 200 m towards that direction assuming that within 200 m range, there are very low chance that there is another school.
Partners bringing data:
Sudan UNICEF country office is providing school location data. Imagery, which are property of MAXAR technology are provided to UNICEF by the United States department of states under NEXVIEW license.
Tangible results that data owners would wish to see:
1. A finetuned model for indentifying shcools from satellite imagery tiles (classifying image tiles into school tiles, non school tiles) with a good accuracy.
2. The codes used to developed the algorithms and model weights
3. Clear and detailed descriptions on the experiments including improvements made on top of the existing algorithms, the way the hyperparameters are optimized, and other insights from the experiment.

Datasets for X5GON

X5GON, Cross Modal, Cross Cultural, Cross Lingual, Cross Domain, and Cross Site Global Open Educational Resource (OER) Network

Available data:
Metadata including Title, file type, language, keywords and concepts relating to 90,789 OERs currently indexed in X5GON database.
Data location:
Follow the link
Problem addressed by the project:
Discovering and enriching OERs scattered all over the world using AI to make the accessible and discoverable by a wider global population breaking border, cultural, lingual and domain barriers.
Suggestion on how students can use data:
There many different applications that can be developed around this dataset. To propose a few:
– One can build a search engine based on the material meta-data
– One can link this information with additional information in the X5GON platform (using the platform API) to provide a richer search experience
– The keywords and concepts in the materials can be utilised to group/cluster the educational materials into meaningful groups of learning resources
– The concepts in the materials can be used to identify what topics are more related to each other and what topics are distant from each other.
– Use concepts to connect the materials to Wikipedia and Wikidata to get more meaningful information associated with the learning resource
– And many more applications that will help us connect these materials to learners across the globe.
Description of the data:
The dataset is a Tab-Separated Values (dataset) dataset that can be connected to additional information using the X5GON public API.
Partners bringing data:
X5GON Consortium
Tangible results that data owners would wish to see:
1. Meaningful analysis reports or dashboards that summarises interesting trends and patterns found in the data.
2. Prototypes of information search and recommendation systems that can be used to discover interesting materials from the database.


International Research Centre
on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI)
under the auspices of UNESCO 

Jožef Stefan Institute
Jamova cesta 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana



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