Katja Schullenberg |

Online exchange ''dareCon'' at Jugend hackt

Jugend hackt, the support program for young people who want to "improve the world with code", is not only active in German-speaking countries: together with the Goethe-Institut, the young participants have travelled to Asian countries, including Japan and Korea, as part of four different campaigns in recent years. Under the title "Networked Worlds", the German delegations explored together with students on site what the cultural exchange of the future could look like with modern tools.

The last trip, as part of the "dareCon" youth conference, was supposed to be to Bangkok in August 2020. Unfortunately, the motto "How do you imagine the future?" was unexpectedly overtaken by the present: Of course, the meeting of young people from Germany, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand could not take place because of the Corona pandemic.

"When it became clear to everyone that it would not be possible to bring young people from ten countries together in Bangkok in 2021, we re-planned the conference as a virtual event," said Nina Schröter, who coordinated the German participants for Jugend hackt from Berlin. Eight months late, the digital dareCon now took place on a weekend in April 2021.


For the German youths, the dareCon started already at 8 o'clock in the morning on all three days due to the time difference. In order to avoid fatigue, the conference started with very diverse presentations from all participating countries. Similar to the Eurovision Song Contest, the young people had prepared videos or presentations to introduce their country. Team Germany was presented by the students Anna-Lena and Elli, who among other things addressed the difficult status of digitalization in Germany.

This was followed by the keynote address by Leo from Germany and Dhanya from Australia, followed by a panel discussion. True to the motto "A conference for you and with you", the participating young people discussed their ideas of the future and the challenges in the individual countries. "Another highlight of the first day was the live broadcast concert of the Berlin band Systemabsturz, who already participated in first online Jugend hackt hackathon and have now certainly gained some new fans in Southeast Asia," said Nina Schröter.

During the next two days, the young people got down to work in workshops on artificial intelligence and storytelling or made films together online. "In our workshop, we at Jugend hackt again asked the question of what a digital youth exchange could look like," Schröter explained. 25 young people used the "Workadventure" tool to build two-dimensional online worlds in which they can look around, meet and talk to each other just like in real life. And much more interactively than would be possible in a stiff video conference.

"We did pair programming in every group, because you can't built a world with several people at the same time," explained Nina Schröter. "This agile programming method works as follows: one person always codes and the others make suggestions." So not only were all the young people able to participate actively, but the joint exchange of ideas worked even better than expected.


The results are impressive. From ball pits and chill-out areas to hackers' rooms, stages and, of course, alpaca meadows, there was pretty much everything. The young people from ten countries have thus built new virtual places for future encounters.


The next Jugend hackt event in Germany will also use "Workadventure" as a platform: Jugend hackt in Cologne will be held in this virtual world from July 11th to 13th. The Jugend hackt community is currently building an entire server full of digital meeting places for the Corona time and beyond under the code name "Alpaka.World".


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