Develop an application to solve real problems in teaching and learning with Blackboard and AWS!

Hackboard is Blackboard's hackathon program. The goal of Hackboard is to encourage innovation in education. We ask the brightest minds in the world to think about today's teaching and learning challenges and show us how Artificial Intelligence can help solve them.

To this end, we joined forces with Amazon to challenge you to solve a real-world problem in education using Blackboard Learn's REST APIs and the myriad of tools available via the Amazon AI Framework. The problem you chose to solve could be one faced by teachers OR by students. Be creative!


View full rules


Hackboard is open to anyone that resides in the United States for the duration of the competition, who is at least 18 years of age at the time of entry. Entrants may compete individually or in teams of up to five members.

It is ok for an individual that is eligible according to the requirements above to participate on more than one team. All teams should select a team captain to be the representative to the contest.

You are not eligible to participate if you reside in any country other than the United States, or if you or a family member is affiliated with Blackboard, Amazon, Devpost, or any other entity associated with this hackathon.

For more information, be sure to read the full copy of the official rules.


In order to successfully submit your entry for judging, you must meet a few requirements. The solution itself should contain at least one Blackboard API and at least one of Amazon’s AI Framework tools. The solution should work, and must function as described in the submission. The entry should be able to be tested by the judges, as requested. You may submit multiple entries, as long as they are substantially different.

Your application can use SDKs, libraries, and/or data, as long as the entrant has the appropriate permissions to do so. However, your application should not be derived from existing software that you have written previously. Your submissions must be your own original work, solely owned by you and your team, and not violate the intellectual rights of others.

You submission should be supported with a description that explains the purpose of your application, its functionality, and what makes it unique. You are not required to provide screenshots or photographs, though it is recommended.

Most importantly, you must submit a video demonstration of your application. This video should be no more than eight minutes, should show how the application works, and should state what problem you are solving and how your application solves it.

All documentation and video must be in English or must be accompanied by an English transcript.

How to enter

The submission period for Hackboard 2.0 begins Monday, April 16, 2018 and ends Friday, June 29, 2018. In order to participate, you should register for the Hackathon on the Hackathon Website by clicking the “Register for this Hackathon” button. To complete registration, sign up to create a Devpost account, or log in with an existing Devpost account. There is no charge for creating a Devpost account. This will enable you to receive important updates and access the “Enter a Submission” page.

Once you are registered, there are a few steps you should take to ensure you are ready to get started. In order to access the Blackboard REST APIs, you must visit the developer portal to register as a developer and register an application pointer to receive your application ID, key, and secret. You can access the supporting documentation on the developer community site, and our sample code in our github repository.

You should also sign-up for an AWS Developer account in order to access the Amazon AI Framework. Signing up for a new account qualifies you for 12 months of free tier access. This framework offers access to several different tools. Using any of them individually or a combination of tools is ok.

The challenge for this hackathon is to build an application to solve a problem facing education using at least one Blackboard API and at least one of Amazon’s AI Framework tools. When you are ready to submit, we will need a demonstration video that shows how your application works, what problem you are trying to solve, and how your application solves that problem. This demonstration should be no longer than eight minutes.

We will also need access to your working application and a link to your Github repository. Your code should be your own, and should be licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International  license.

By submitting your work, you are agreeing to the Official Rules of the Hackathon.


Leo Zhadanovsky

Leo Zhadanovsky
Principal Solutions Architect, Amazon

Len Henry

Len Henry
Senior Solutions Architect, Amazon

Reinhold Staudinger

Reinhold Staudinger
Chief Architect, Blackboard

Michel Courson

Michel Courson
Principal Software Engineer, Blackboard

Judging Criteria

  • Innovation
    Quality of the idea, from an originality and creativity perspective.
  • Implementation
    The technical difficulty and user experience, such as its ease-of-use, whether it performs as expected, etc.
  • Impact
    The extent to which the app can help the larger education community.
  • Presentation
    The quality and clarity of the description, video demo, and any other materials submitted to Devpost


  • Machine Learning/ AI
  • Social Good