Note: hackGVSU was held on n Saturday, April 14, 2018. Please view this eLearning blog post for a summary and recap of the event.


Introducing... hackGVSU! The first hackathon event to be hosted at Grand Valley State University in partnership with Blackboard Inc! This event will take place in the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons on the GVSU Allendale campus.

  • Join us on Saturday, April 14, 2018 for hands-on learning, coding, and creation... all centered on the development of innovative technology to enhance teaching. The ultimate goal of this hackGVSU event is to rethink education with the creation and coding of new ideas to enhance student success.
  • The focus for this year’s event is Blackboard’s learning management system. Participants can attend training sessions lead by Blackboard employees and then work together in teams to build projects that extend Blackboard’s capabilities. 
  • Web design and development students are encouraged to participate.
  • Prizes will be offered for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams!

hackGVSU Teaser


Questions? Contact the hackGVSU Team


  • During hackGVSU, the Atomic Object TECHNOLOGY SHOWCASE will be open from 10 am to 2 p.m. for attendees to explore virtual reality with HTC Vive, mixed reality with Microsoft HoloLens, 3D printing, and more!


Saturday, April 14, 2018

8:30 am - 9:00 am
     Doors Open and Breakfast

9:00 am - 9:15 am

9:15 am - 11:00 am
      Learning (HTML, REST API)
      Idea and Team Formation    

11:00 am - 4:00 pm
     Hacking and Coding Time

12:00 p.m.

4:00 - 5:00 p.m.

5:00 p.m.

The Competition

As you think ahead to the competition, there are a couple of questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I have a team? The hackGVSU competition is a team event. Participants are welcome to attend as either an individual* in search of a team or as a member of a pre-formed team (e.g. a high school coding club). For those coming on their own, there will be a block of time at the start of the day where individuals can pitch ideas and join or form teams with other participants.
  • Do I have an idea? Before the day of the competition, we'll be tweeting out some ideas that would be great projects for the hackathon. If you get to the competition and still don't have the foggiest idea what you want to work on, keep your ears open during the "team formation" time.

Also as you prepare for the competition, be sure to register and create your account at:

* For safety and liability reasons, all participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or team coach.


Category 1: HTML Development

This category focuses on customizing and improving Blackboard Learn through the use of HTML-based "modules." These modules are present on the Blackboard Community Portal and can contain any browser-based, client-side technologies such as: HTML, JavaScript, CSS, Ajax, media dev, jQuery etc.  Competing successfully in this category requires a basic understanding of HTML and front-end web design.  Ideas may range from Google calendar plugins, embedded widgets to display current weather, or other student life relevant content.  A system to practice development of portal modules is available here:

This category may be the most appropriate for teams of high-school students without significant programming experience.

Category 2: API Development

Blackboard can be extended through two different APIs—IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) and Blackboard's own REST API. Competing successfully in this category requires an understanding of basic front-end web development as well as server-side programming and networking.



Welcome to hackGVSU 2018!

Saturday, April 14

The hackGVSU event will challenge participating students in teams of 3 to 5 to develop a web element, which can be adopted in Blackboard Learn, for the benefit of the educational community.  The competition will take place in two categories: HTML development and REST/LTI API programming.  Prizes will be offered in both categories in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

Judges for the event will be evaluating projects using this rubric.

hackGVSU is open to any student, faculty, or staff member at GVSU, or any other institution or high school. Please note: attendees under 18 must be accompanied by a parent, teacher, or guardian—or must bring a copy of the hackGVSU Participation Waiver signed by their parent or guardian.

Yes, absolutely! High school teachers and students are welcome to attend! IMPORTANT: attendees under 18 must be accompanied by a parent, teacher, or guardian—or must bring a copy of the hackGVSU Participation Waiver signed by their parent or guardian.

Training will be provided at hackGVSU in HTML, REST and LTI APIs.  Students in web design or web development courses are encouraged to participate.

The HTML development category may include content for the Blackboard Learn student,  faculty, or guest welcome tabs.  Examples may include an inspirational message, an image encouraging to learning, or more advanced elements such as JavaScript and CSS combination with embedding external services; perhaps a weather module showing current temperature at the location of the school.

The second category, REST API and LTI API, allow the detection of the identity of the current user in the Blackboard Learn application and processing data to produce information useful or personalized to the logged in user.  REST API allows access to grades, course information, announcements and other areas of the course.  An example of a REST API with LTI application may be Course Games, an app showing the course grades to students as a gamified leaderboard.  The code for this app is available on github under the name coursegames. 

The first category solutions can be completed in any web development tool by introductory web design students.  A Blackboard tab module is simply an HTML snippet, which displays to the user in the browser some information, which is not tied to the identity of the user.  Most schools would have module tabs for specific roles such as: student, faculty, and guest.  The HTML modules developed in this category can be adopted not only in Blackboard Learn, but on any public or private school website.

Nope! If you have a team already in mind, great, if not, you can join a team during the hackGVSU event.

Please bring your laptop or mobile device, your charging/power adapters, and your appetite for coding!

Yes! Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will all be provided for free!  Coffee and coding juice will be available. All FREE!

FREE! The event is free to attend. Thank you to Blackboard Inc. for supporting this event!

As a Major League Hacking event, the following will be available at hackGVSU!

  • Best Social Media Post Award Certificate
  • Free .com, .net, or .org domain name from for each attendee
  • $100 in Amazon Web Services hosting credit for each hacker
  • GitHub stickers, MLH Stickers, and "I Demoed" Stickers

Students will benefit from hackGVSU through a variety of ways:

  • build a resume'
  • opportunity for collaboration on team-based projects
  • opportunity to practice design thinking principles within the education market
  • experience using REST APIs to extend enterprise-level applications
  • opportunity to help shape the development of learning management systems
  • opportunity for connecting and networking with students and professionals from across West Michigan
  • prizes, certificates, and trophies for the best projects
  • free food
  • free swag
  • other exciting incentives not yet imagined...

All participants must be 18 or older, minors should be registered and accompanied by an adult (teacher/parent).  All participants must bring a valid form of identification.

Participants must abide by the expectations set in the MLH Code of Conduct, or you will be asked to leave the event.

Teams may be comprised of two to five members.

Projects should be original works created by the team.

All submissions must be received through DevPost by 2:00PM on Saturday. Anything you create is your work, however we ask that you share the source code on GitHub and link to your DevPost submission. Detailed instructions for submission will be provided during the opening.

Students are permitted to come and go from the venue as they please.

hackGVSU: Simple HTML Module Development

Simple HTML module development for Blackboard Learn: hackGVSU event

Blackboard HTML Module Wizard

hackGVSU: REST API and LTI with Blackboard Learn

hackGVSU: REST API and LTI with Blackboard Learn

Thank you to hackGVSU Sponsor

Page last modified September 6, 2018