Feb 7, 2023 News

Educating and Inspiring the Next Generation of Digital Makers

By Hannah Cebolla

The Digital Maker’s team hosted an engaging workshop for a group of 17 T level Health students from Shipley College on the 2nd of November. All students were on placement in different departments at Bradford Royal Infirmary (e.g.in maternity, geriatrics, surgical). We designed an activity day with sessions to inspire the students about Born in Bradford and specifically excite their interest in the Digital Makers project. The event also gave us the opportunity to recruit these students to the role of ambassadors for the Digital Makers project. The success of this Workshop gave rise to the opportunity to run a similar event on the 14th of December with more T level students from Shipley College who were studying Digital Production, Design & Development and Digital Business Services. Through a reflection of the first T level Health Workshop and direct feedback from the students we were able to adapt and improve our activities to achieve high student engagement and excitement.

The first T level Health Workshop briefly introduced Born in Bradford and the Digital Makers Project to the students followed by a short tour of the offices where our team work. The morning session consisted of two activities running simultaneously. One of the two activities was a virtual reality experience composed of two simulations; the first was a BiB data visualisation task where they were able to explore data produced by one of the largest health studies in the world. The second allowed them to play around and become comfortable with the equipment through a Spider-Man and rollercoaster simulator. The next activity was the ‘Turbo-typing’ game which presented the students with 15 sentences which they had to fill in. Upon completion of the game we recorded their words per minute score and their percentile so the overall fastest typist could be revealed and awarded a prize. This was followed by a fun coding exercise from the resource ‘Hour of Code’.

Feedback from the students revealed that despite the VR activities being interesting, the data visualisation task was confusing as students had a limited understanding of the BiB project what we do. An issue which became apparent upon delivery of these morning sessions was that we only had 1 VR headset, meaning only one student at a time could take part in the activities. Using this information, we tailored the next workshop’s morning session to instead engage the students as a collective. To start, we devoted a longer time slot for a more in depth presentation about BiB and Digital Makers to ensure adequate information was provided to prevent confusion. Shortly afterwards, Tim Rogers at Future Transformations gave an interactive talk on Cyber Security, Data and presented the students with hands on problem solving activities requiring team work and logical thinking. This session was a great success and we observed the students actively brainstorming together alongside showing a real passion to reach their end goal.

The students were then given an hour lunch break, food was provided (with halal options) for the students but the option to go and buy food from surrounding shops was also offered. The afternoon session started at 1:00pm and began with Mai Elshehaly giving an insightful talk about Data Visualisation where the students gained an understanding on the key challenges of data visualisation and what we do with visualisation in Born in Bradford. The final session of the Workshop followed the same structure as first T level Health Workshop and focused on an ‘Introduction to research’ / ‘Introduction to being a Digital Ambassador’ / ‘Introduction to Digital Makers’. We chose to keep this session in the agenda as previous feedback revealed it to be the most successful activity as the students are given the opportunity to develop valuable life skills. They received a short overview of Digital Makers and information about previous work in research and community engagement. The students were then asked to fill in a questionnaire, designed by Digital Makers, to assess the digital divide. This task provided them with an insight into research, informed consent, right to withdraw and participation.

The second half of this session was directed towards outlining themes that Digital Makers are exploring and then giving the students an insight into what each mean and why they are important.

The themes used were:

  1. Computing
  2. Immersive technology
  3. Online Safety

With guidance from Research and Implementation Assistants, the students first created a mind map containing all their ideas regarding the importance of their theme as well as some potential drawbacks. The themes were then rotated between groups and, through a co-creation workshop; they each developed a research project or session which would be directed towards educating school children on their theme.

PowerPoint presentations were drafted based on these projects and then pitched by each of the groups to the rest of their peers and staff members. At the end of the day, the students were thanked for their participation and engagement and further encouraged to consider community engagement and developing research ideas.

The workshops were a huge success and received an amazing response from the T level students.  The activity of creating and delivering a presentation to their peers gave the students a real life opportunity to present in front of an audience. The visible excitement and engagement from the students throughout the day was a key reason why they were offered the opportunity to join the team and help educate young people by becoming Student Ambassadors for Digital Makers.

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