This post was guest written by Joselyn, a mentor and volunteer at YWCA Toronto.
Media arts, design, digital filmmaking, IT…what do all these have in common? Technology! You’ve probably noticed the increasing number of tablets, laptops, and phones that people use today, but what effort and work must go into making these useful, yet complex devices? What role do they play in our daily lives and how can we use this technology to express ourselves? During the March Break of 2016 at the YWCA digital literacy camp, campers had the opportunity to explore these topics in a creative, empowering way by engaging in stimulating workshops and thought-provoking discussions that opened their eyes and mind to the exciting field of technology.
As a mentor/volunteer at the YWCA March Break camp, I had the opportunity to interact with girls ages 9-13, assisting and leading them in a digital story-telling activity and a UX prototype design workshop. I wanted to be a part of this technology camp to help girls realize their potential in technology-related careers and realize that anyone, no matter what study they are doing, can get into the technology field as long as one has a passion for it. Technology is expanding rapidly, and many careers go far beyond coding; they involve creative design, web layout, filming, editing, and photography to name a few. Therefore, through this digital literacy camp that was funded by CIRA/.Ca, girls had increased access to internet and equipment to provide them the opportunity to learn more about technology and careers.
On March 16th, the girls participated in a filmmaking workshop in which they learned the power of story-telling through digital means like YouTube, blogs, and music videos. The girls shared their personal experience about injustices and those faced by society such as shadeism, racism, and sexism. With these ideas in mind, they created their own film on why story-telling is important to let their voices be heard. They shared their ideas via film about how the virtual platform allows one to connect with others, express themselves, and address important issues around the world.
The following day, guest speakers Andrew, Louise, Sarah, and Heather from Usability Matters came to talk to the girls about technology and design and the process they use to create the devices people use daily. UX stands for User Experience, which means UX designers design products that help solve problems – products that matter. They believe that the best products come from an intimate understanding of the context of the problem and the people they are designing it for. Along with their enthusiastic presentation and keen interest of teaching the girls about UX, the guest presenters shared their experiences and pathway to get to where they are today.
The girls then participated in a workshop designed by the speakers in which they were to create a paper prototype of an app that would solve a problem. The two case studies were to either create an app for finding an appropriate movie to go with your little brother, or finding a movie that was close by to go with your friends.
Under the guidance of the facilitators from Usability Matters and the assistance of volunteers, the girls, divided into three groups, planned and brainstormed about the main issue that needed to be resolved and how the app would respond to user’s needs.
Using a large piece of paper, they jotted down notes of who the app was for, what it was for, and how to use the app step by step to find the movie/theatre. The girls then drew the app prototype on paper of the different pages that would come up upon touching one button. After listening to each of the group’s presentation, and the UX presenters, the girls came away that day with plenty of new knowledge about the intricate concept of design and how product usability and accessibility is important in creating a successful app that would help solve one’s problems.
Through thought-provoking discussions as well as hands-on activities, campers had an educational, yet exciting and fun opportunity to explore technology and design. They greatly enjoyed their time forming friendships and being involved in unique experiences that expanded their knowledge and potential for future careers in technology.