Digital Academy Workshop

At the beginning of this year 17 individuals from various professional backgrounds with a uniting passion for pro bono work set out to define what ‘pro bono’ can mean for td. Interested in our adventurous journey? Check out our story so far! The outcome of numerous inspiring Design Thinking Workshops involving some serious brain crunching and post it shuffling was the “Digital Academy Workshop” that we held on November 17th at the labtogether conference curated by betterplace.org in Berlin.

Ready, set, go: “Digital Academy Workshop”

‘Effective Altruism’ was the theme of this year’s labtogether conference – an exciting name for the game so we accepted the challenge. We decided to showcase how td methods involving smart data analysis and digital data best practices could be adapted to measure impact of projects in the social sector. In order to do that, we engaged some brains, pencils and post-its and came up with the ‘Digital Academy Workshop’ that we designed to be a “Data Circuit Training”.

Full House Digital Academy Workshop at Labtogether Conference

But no worries: No gym or #fitfam membership was required to be part of the data gang! All it took was curiosity and open mindedness to enter the colorful world of data! 23 brave and adventurous workshop participants set out to learn about 6 digital data sources, how to combine them for impact measurement and eventually apply them to their own cases in the social context.

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‘Can effective altruism and machines help us make better decisions?’ was the one question in the back of our participants’ minds as they were all ear to not only hear about the advantages of using Google Search, Social Listening Tools, Webanalytics but also CRM, Sensor Based as well as Open Data. In small groups of 4 to 5 our participants moved along the ‘Data Gallery Walk’ engaging in inspiring interactions with our pro bono team members who willingly shared their expertise and knowledge. Imaginations were running wild as new insights into the world of data set fire to everybody’s creativity!

Ideas
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While some data sources such as Webanalytics were not unknown to the workshop participants the potential of other data like sensor based data took them by surprise calling for innovative application possibilities. As sensor based data was perceived as the most forward-looking field among the presented data sources workshop participants were not afraid of mind wandering and thinking outside the box. This is when one participant suggested equipping museums with sensors by placing them on art objects in order to i.e. track relevant KPIs such as ‘Dwell Time’ which in the offline world can also be interpreted as an indicator for interest, translating into insightful heat maps. To take it to the next level participants also envisioned using sensor based data to understand human biometric responses when subjected to different art objects. Maybe then we’d begin to understand just how much life time is spent admiring and flirting with Mona Lisa’s enigmatic eyes and how much joy is derived from the tête à tête sessions with Da Vinci’s Grand Dame.

(For more inspiring Tweets see #labtogether)

Overall our workshop participants were quick to understand and see the promising potential of different data (sources) for their everyday social businesses. Not only can data help improve campaigns and better allocate budgets in the social sector, it can also open up new communication channels with potential clients. A participant working as a counsellor discovered Social Buzz Monitoring as a fruitful means to identify relevant discussion platforms and learn about patients’ journeys to improve already existing online psychological interventions and use gained insights in face-to-face interactions with individuals suffering from mental diseases.

The key takeaway for most participants was that data is not exclusive and can also boost performance in the social sector. Or to say it with the words of one workshop participant: “The potential to apply digital data in the non-profit sector is enormous yet undiscovered!” Sure, data might have the image of an uncomfortable, complicated and nerdy geek yet can be very approachable and help paint a better picture of the world as we know it.

No time to rest on our data laurels!

As our self-perception at td is that of data driven imaginators we were more than happy to conduct the ‘Digital Academy Workshop’ with such a motivated and engaged workshop audience. We were overwhelmed to see our pro bono ‘Data Gallery Walk’ premiere at the labtogether conference take minds and hearts by storm. So now all there is to do, is organize our thoughts, incorporate and learn from constructive feedback and develop a concept for how the ‘Data Gallery Walk’ can be continued i.e. as an annual pro bono NPO workshop series to help the non-profit sector get a comprehensive access to data and utilize its possibilities to the fullest.

After a rollercoaster of a year with ‘hang in there’ lows and ‘flying up’ highs we would like to say thank you to betterplace.org for giving us the amazing opportunity to contribute to this year’s labtogether conference. Moreover, we’d like to thank all the NPO representatives willing to share their insights with us during our numerous Design Thinking Research phases. We were happy to incorporate your input in our ‘Data Workshop’ brainchild that we would love to turn into a poster child for successful data integration no matter what your day-to-day social business is like.

Last but not least: Thank you to each and every single one td pro bono team member for putting your backs and hearts into our pro bono project to make it the success it turned out to be. Where there is a heart, there is a way!

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Did our pro bono journey and ‘Data Academy’ catch your interest? Feel free to reach out to us. There is nothing better than hanging out with likeminded data enthusiasts!

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