Technology Will Save Us and Design

Friday 4th March

At Technology Will Save Us our aim is to make making with technology fun! To do that we look to design to guide us and bring the fun and playful elements of technology to the fore. Our founders Bethany & Daniel both have design backgrounds and really understand the importance of letting design take the lead.

As we get closer to the launch of the micro:bit that we designed alongside the BBC, we thought we’d talk a little about how we approach design in our company.

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As you may or may not know we started out as a workshop company, which meant that we worked with people who wanted to learn how to make with technology every single day. This helped us develop Tech Will Save Us into the company it is today. We discovered that people wanted to take the tech they’d made home and play with it and do different things with it. We then shifted the focus to our kits and helping even more people around the world fall in love with making and technology.

We still do extensive user-centered design for all of our kit and content development.  We conduct big research projects to understand what young people are making in school, skills they are learning and what they love doing with their friends. This leads to some themes that become the beginning of a user-centered design process. We develop minimum viable kits (MVKs) and then require an intense period of user testing and development with kids and parents. We use a learning framework to make sure along this journey we are testing the efficacy of the learning journeys and success that people experience. We want young people to feel simultaneously challenged and successful.

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Our focus on design-led learning experiences is particularly evident in a new kit we have just developed in partnership with the BBC. The micro:bit is the most ambitious education project that BBC has embarked on in 30 years. It is a tech tool designed to inspire a generation to learn programming through creating things in the physical world.

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Our role was to represent the 12 year old in the design and engineering process. We took the ambitions and interest of young people and put them in the centre of the process with all of the technicians. This allowed us to make difficult decisions around the functionality and the look of this little tool. It meant that we designed the technology for the end user – not focusing on every possibility but on those that could become the building blocks of great learning experiences. Most importantly it gave this partnership the framework to continually keep the end user at the heart of the project.

The BBC micro:bit will be in the hands of a million 12 year olds across the UK on the 22nd of March.