The Lab swarmed with activity in May with workshops in storytelling, creative thinking, and empowering technology.
Storytelling for Behavior Change
MAY 23: What is the most effective way to affect people’s behavior? 22 youth, teachers and nonprofit workers learned lies in the most ancient, human form of communication – stories.
During a half-day workshop at the Lab, Bill Ryerson talked about the ways in which storytelling can be used to influence behavior change and to bring about change in the society. “Storytelling has the capacity to move behavior in a way information cannot,” Mr. Ryerson said.
He talked about ways of framing a story, the purposes of storytelling, the types of drama and the main keys to make a story more powerful. The half-day workshop ended with some of the participants telling stories about Sufis and political change in Bhutan.
Google Workshops: Creative Thinking and Public Speaking
MAY 24-25: Creativity is not simply an inborn talent – it’s a skill that can be learned. Volunteers from Google demonstrated this to 16 youth during a one and a half-day workshop on creative thinking and public speaking.
The first day of the workshop mainly highlighted the Creative Skills for Innovation (CSI) process, a process in which you
(1) find a problem you want to solve, and understand it through observation and interviews
(2) define that problem,
(3) ideate solutions to the problem and finally
(4) develop a prototype that you test and iterate until you arrive at a user-centered solution.
The process is used to facilitate everyone’s capacity to creatively come up with solutions. “Innovation is not an event – it’s a process,” Liz Lee, a Google volunteer, encouraged the youth.
The workshop carried out the process with engaging activities and group discussions whereby the participants were formed into four groups and given tasks to execute the CSI process.
Participants were asked to come up with a problem that they felt required immediate attention. They identified four issues: (1) the quality of teachers, (2) media literacy, (3) helping homeless elderly to find a home and (4) making math fun.
After breaking up into issue groups, participants, participants went out to interview their targeted audience to understand the nature of the problem. They then used the data collected as a basis for identifying patterns for how the problem affected people. Using these patterns, they brainstormed solutions.
These solutions were then visualized and crafted into tangible prototypes, which youth then presented to each other. The level of creativity was remarkable – youth restructured the education system to build teachers’ experience, created rules for family media literacy, identified individuals and organizations to aid the homeless, and created a math survival room that transformed after solving a problem.
The next day of the workshop focused on building youth’s confidence in their ability to speak in public.
Tina, another Google volunteer, guided participants through the fundamentals of public speaking – managing nervousness, engaging audiences, and designing structures – followed by the deconstruction of a speech from the film, King’s Speech.
The participants practiced their public speaking skills during the workshop by speaking for a minute each while getting about 10 minutes to prepare for a random topic they were given.
Using Technology for Happiness
MAY 25: Technology consultant and PhD candidate Foad Hamidi came to the Media Lab to share findings from his research on using technology for empowerment and inclusion with 10 members of Go Youth Go (GYG).
To inspire youth to think about the social benefits of technology, he showcased 5 different, but interconnected projects that revolve around the theme, “Technology and Happiness”.
The first of his projects, CanSpeak, is an assistive tool used to facilitate communication for people with disabilities. He cited the example of Stephen Hawking who uses of alternative communication technologies.
“Just imagine what the world would be losing if we didn’t have technology to assist individuals like him,” Foad said.
For his Master’s project, he created scanning keyboard designs, from which he realized the importance of incorporating the ecology of users into the design of technology.
His next project, Our Digital Tapestry, is a collaborative poetry project on Facebook. The project prompted users to build a multimedia, multilingual poem using the Facebook comment interface.
Synchrum, a tangible interface for rhythmic collaboration. Using the design of the Tibetan prayer wheel, he co-designed an object that can facilitate participation and engagement in a performance.
Lastly, Foad shared his dissertation work on Rafigh, a tangible, computational toy for speech intervention. Rafigh includes interaction with living organisms, such as fungi, to counteract the development of speech disorders in infants.
The workshop concluded with a demo of Makey-Makey, a tool that uses the conductivity of everyday objects such as vegetables and even human fingers as a substitute for a keyboard. Participants enjoyed playing Pac-Man, the classic arcade game, by slapping each other’s hands to navigate the screen!
We at BCMD thank all of these volunteers for benefiting youth with their invaluable talents and knowledge!
If you are also interested in leading a training for youth in Thimphu, don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com.