We were recently invited by Working Knowledge to run a workshop with 13-14 year olds from Colston Girls’ School. Working Knowledge is a social enterprise that exists to open the eyes of businesses to the young talent available locally. We’re always up for a challenge, especially one that can help young people to learn more about technology and the awesome careers available, so of course, we leapt at the chance.

The challenge

With GCSE options coming up, Working Knowledge were arranging for students to visit different businesses to find out more about what career paths were available to them. They wanted us to run a 2 hour workshop to show the students what it was like to work in IT.

We wanted to shake up the idea of “IT” and show the students that while, yeah okay, we are geeks, working in IT isn’t boring and it’s not just about tech. We wanted to get across how creative, innovative and exciting jobs in tech can be and show how many paths to success there are in the industry.

The workshop

We decided a great way to show the students how we work was with some rapid prototyping, thinking up ideas for apps and sketching them out with good old fashioned pens and paper. This is something we always do with our clients as it helps everyone on the team to understand how the app should work.

We decided to run with the theme ‘chat apps’, which we use at work (we use Slack for example) in much the same way the students (and we!) do at home to make the subject more accessible.

Before diving straight in, we took the opportunity to find out what apps 14 year old girls are using for chat these days. It was no surprise that Snapchat and Instagram. Here’s the complete rundown…WK_workshop_reviewWe then asked the students what they liked most about the apps they’d chosen. As they started to list out bits of the apps they liked, we explained that we call these components ‘features’ and that they’re essentially the building blocks of an app.

We then asked everyone to write down the features they’d like to see in their ideal chat app. It was important to the majority of students that voice and video calling was free and that they were able to share media like photos and videos with the option to add filters. It was important to be able to block users and control who could connect with you by being able to accept or decline invitations. Group chat functionality was very popular.

Most popular features
Sticking features on the walls

Once we’d started to think about features, Product Manager Nick, who does this stuff with our clients all the time, showed the group how to start prototyping their ideas. We really wanted to get across the ‘rapid’ aspect of rapid prototyping, getting the students to make lots and lots of rough sketches which would help them to find something that ‘felt right’ much faster than creating lots of meticulous and beautiful and drawings.

Nick doing a “here’s one I made earlier”
Nick doing a “here’s one I made earlier”

Once we’d got our heads around features and thinking what our ideal chat apps would include, it was time to start drawing, and oh my, these kids are smart.

The prototypes

Here’s a selection of ideas for chat apps the groups came up with:

1. An app that allows users to display both publicly viewable permanent photos and private transient photos.


2. A combination chat and photo sharing app

3. An app that allows users to write and draw using their fingers on touch screens

4. A music sharing app that allows you to see what friends are listening to
IMG_81225. An app to be your friend and listen to your secrets

6. A group video chat app

As we were winding down, we showed the students how to upload their sketches to Marvel to make clickable prototypes to get a feel of how the app would work. This went down great with the students, who were all excited to see their ideas come to life.

What did they think?

Before they left, we asked the group to fill in some feedback forms (anonymously of course!) so that we could improve the workshop in the future. The response was amazing.

The students all seemed to really enjoy seeing their ideas come to life, which is something we get to enjoy every day at Simpleweb.

“It was interesting and fun” said one student. “It was really well organised and I had lots of fun” said another.

“They really enjoyed the visit” said Helen from Working Knowledge, “and it was especially valuable for them to have the opportunity to find out how everything works at a business like Simpleweb, which they may not be familiar with, as well as seeing all the different roles that you do.”

We had an amazing afternoon. We’ve got a lot to learn from students like these and we can’t wait to get involved in more like this in the future.

If you’d like to run a workshop with Simpleweb for any reason, get in touch now and let’s chat!

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