Event Introduction

The opening session provides organizers with a unique opportunity to set the overall tone of the event. Hackweeks are a relatively new learning model, so participants may arrive on the first day not knowing quite what to expect. Careful planning of the opening session can help alleviate participant anxiety by establishing a code of conduct and norms of behavior, and setting intentions around building a welcoming learning environment.

We detail below a variety of topics and activities that can be included in the opening session. We have experimented with opening sessions lasting as long as 1.5 hours. The length you choose will depend on the total number of activities planned.

Welcoming Remarks

Usually the event begins with brief opening remarks, often by the lead organizer of the hackweek. Topics in the welcoming remarks may include:

Code of Conduct

The code of conduct defines the rules and acceptable behaviors of participants during the event. All hackweeks post their code of conduct online (example code of conduct) and require participants to have read and agree to these terms before they register for the event.

During the opening session we draw everyone's attention to the code of conduct again as a way to emphasize its importance. We recommend providing a handout with the code of conduct listed in writing, and talking through the various options participants have to report a code of conduct violation.

Imposter Phenomenon

It is common across all levels of technical and academic endeavors to feel as if one's existing knowledge and skill set is below the level of others in their community, and that one doesn't really belong at a particular event. This is a particularly acute challenge at hackweeks where we welcome everyone from beginners to experts, and where we explore tools and approaches that may have just been invented by the open source community (see this blog post for some examples). Because of the complex, rapidly changing nature of data science studies, feeling like an imposter is an extremely common and normal experience for people across all levels of experience. Therefore we prefer to call this experience the "Imposter Phenomenon", rather than the more commonly used "Imposter Syndrome", because we feel the term "Syndrome" suggests a pathology, which goes counter to our assertion that this is a common and normal experience.

As shown in our detailed hackweek case studies, different hackweeks have worked to mitigate Imposter Phenomenon in different ways. But common to all of our approaches is the creation of a community space that not only makes it safe to fail, but actually encourages it. We aim to convey the idea that data science studies are complex and require a series of experiments, some of which will succeed, and some of which will fail. We gain as much from the success as the failures as we learn to amplify success and avoid the path to failure in our future experiments.