#MakeSomething

This is what I tell my kids. Usually after I’ve turned off the wi-fi or taken away the TV or Xbox…

“Dad, what can I do?”
“Make something!”

For seven years now I’ve actively been finding ways to get people creative with the technology that would have had me giddy with excitement when I was 12/13 years old. Specifically the little mobile devices in our pockets that pass for phones (or tablets)…

There’s no question that the internet is a huuuuuge distraction and so it’s really important to make an more of a huuuuuuuge effort to block it out and get creative!

With a few clicks you have apps to capture and edit films, including special effects. You could also paint and draw, make music… maybe even get started on writing that novel… or, here’s a thing… be ironically creative (creatively ironic?) and make a game to zombify someone else!

Animation is a great one. The ‘magic’ of having an intimate object come to life is still an enormous fascination for people – a Frankenstein complex maybe?

Next month I’ll helping visitors, young and less-young, at Dundee’s Verdant Works to bring Lego to life! Bring your own device (be sure and download iMotion (Apple) or Lapse IT (Android)) or use one of ours. There’s even a dedicated child free session in the afternoon for you Lord Business* disciples.

This’ll be a fun and active learning experience that you can take away and recreate at home.

So make a date to make something with Playful Communications and Verdant Works:

Kids and Families: 10:30 – 1pm
https://www.verdantworks.com/event/saturday-studio-animate/

18+: 2 – 4:30pm
https://www.verdantworks.com/event/intro-stop-frame-animation/

*The character who glued his models together in the Lego Movie

#MadeOnAMobile in Newcastle

Following a series of extremely well received workshops across Scotland I’m heading south to Newcastle with my mobile digital film making workshop… in November 2018.

And I can’t wait. I was there earlier in the year to help out on another workshop and fell in love with the place. It’s so photogenic and full of bridges… which is a win/win for a bridge geek like myself.

You’ll learn the basics of preparing your film, getting the most out of your mobile device and a number of techniques such as time-lapse, stop-frame animation, adding titles and music and sharing on social networks or through your website/YouTube.

So, stay posted or get in touch if you’d like notified of dates and booking information:

#MadeOnAMobile – what’s it all about?

Featured

2018 has been a whirlwind of increased demand for workshops precisely at a time when I decided to demonstrate the power of mobile film making with an hour long documentary – captured, edited and shared from a single iPad.

So I took a few hours recently to put a short film together to encapsulate what I’m up to, explain what #MadeOnAMobile is all about and demonstrate what it can do…

So if you can give me (literally) two minutes, I’ll bring you up to date…

#MadeOnAMobile @ Stirling University

I always want my workshops to be fun. I want people to learn and enjoy themselves doing it. The group from Stirling Uni were going to enjoy themselves anyway…

It was business as usual, making movies on mobile devices but this group took it to another level. It was such a fun day with some really creative films… one of which you’ll see below.

First off, this is my view of the day with quotes taken from (unsolicited) feedback taken from Twitter – yep, they’re all out in the public domain for all to see.

So here’s one of the clips from early on in the day – I wish I had a copy of the full length version they made in the afternoon – hilarious… here you go:

I really hope to go back to Stirling Uni soon – they had such a great approach to learning and I would have stayed all evening – great fun!

MadeOnAMobile at Stirling Uni 2

New #Filmmaking Freebies!!

I just added a new Film Making page under the ‘freebies’ tab above. They are typical of the kinds of resources that I produce for all of my classes and workshops.

Mobile Journalism (#MoJo) is at the forefront of democratised media and content production. And with video consumption going through the roof and consumer mobile devices being amongst the best available for point-and-shoot photography and video, then there’s never been a better time to find out what they’re capable of.

If you are interested in learning about more for your business, organisation or club then please get in touch. Clients so far include, Children and Young Person’s Commissioner Scotland, NESTA, Dundee City Council Leisure and Communities, Perth Council, Fife Council, Fife Youth Arts, The Young Foundation.

 

GENERATION evaluation

Design processes are often seen as being immeasurable. Maybe because ‘designers’ believe the impact is obvious – “Look how happy they all are?!” (etc!)

When it comes to using the design process in the context of ‘business’ then the bottom may well speak for itself. However, if design is going to be taken seriously in areas where the bottom line is neither financial nor a product on a shelf then it is up to the designer to find ways of demonstrating the value in the things we find most meaningful.

So how DO you measure the impact in a story?

GENERATION:
25 YEARS OF CONTEMPORARY ART – Co-production Projects

I ran a workshop in Glasgow last week to demonstrate an evaluation process I had developed. GENERATION have run a series of co-production arts projects across Scotland for young people. We wanted to carry the co-production ethic through into the evaluation and capture meaningful reflections on the process – and capture them in a way that would demonstrate the impact the projects had had.

The process I designed is based on storyboarding methods usually used in idea generation. Instead I used the storyboards as a means of reflection – documenting an individual’s story or journey through the project. I’ll get into the process in a moment but firstly, here’s a film of how it went down…

When evaluating projects the challenge is gathering QUALITATIVE feedback that can be QUANTITATIVELY measured. To achieve this I devised a method of rating stories against their relevance to the impacts defined by GENERATION. The impacts are areas of development and learning that GENERATION set out to achieve through the various projects. The impacts are: Skills, Confidence, Relationships, and Positive Progression).

In addition to these impacts we also agreed to look out for other common themes that were identified as being important to the young people through their feedback.

GENERATION - Big questions

Above: One of the BIG questions – five questions around the room that helped warm everyone up for the tasks ahead.

Below: Time lapse film of the Big Question session.

My evaluation process was to be delivered to the participants (young people) from each of the projects by the artists and educators (practitioners) who had worked with them throughout the project. But first the practitioners needed to be experience it for themselves – this was the purpose of my workshop. I would help GENERATION evaluate the practitioners experience by using my process and at the same time they would experience it in preparation for delivering it themselves back at their own projects.

The Process
It was important to me that the rating didn’t devalue experiences that didn’t appear to meet the impacts – it was important that the young people shared their story in their words, in their language. It was up to us to find what we were looking for.

For example: If a young person told us that they had made friends as a result of attending one of the programmes and that they enjoyed making things for this exhibition that they had never done before, then we tagged that story with relationships and skills.

During one of the project evaluations several young people told us that having somewhere [the studio where we met] away from school to be creative was important and this was identified as an additional impact.

So the young people were not made aware of the impacts before we gathered their stories because it was important that the stories were authentic and not influenced by the targets of the project.

We wanted their story, from their perspective and in their words.

GENERATION partners

ABOVE: TO IDENTIFY WHO-SAID-WHAT WHILE STILL HAVING THE FREEDOM TO HAVE FEEDBACK GATHERED TOGETHER WE GAVE EACH PARTNER PROJECT THEIR OWN COLOUR OF PEN. PARTNERS INCLUDED ‘THE NATIONAL GALLERY’, ‘MCMANUS’ AND THE ‘DUNDEE CONTEMPORARY ARTS’.

I devised a simple matrix to gather impact summaries of the stories. This was simply a grid with the person’s name and a box for each of the GENERATION impacts and another box where we recorded additional impacts and notes. We graded the tags using three sizes of dot. If, for example, a reference was made to relationships (either explicitly or in the participant’s own words) then we marked a dot. If the story made more than one mention of relationships we made a larger dot. If the whole story was about relationships then we filled the box with a dot. In this was, we could see at a glance, which tags were most significant.

As in any evaluation of this kind there was a level of subjectivity. For this reason it is recommended that the people who cary out the project evaluations are the people who have been companions on the learning journey with the young people – the youth workers and practitioners. They are best placed to interpret the stories (of a year or more) most accurately through their knowledge of both the project and the young person.

GENERATION at Glasgow CCA

Above: Inside the CCA, Glasgow

At the end of the day the practitioners left the CCA with a tool kit under their arm and experience under their belt – along with the confidence (fingers crossed) to evaluate their own projects with their own young people.

I personally had the opportunity to use the method in Nov/Dec last year to evaluate the projects at The McManus and the Dundee Contemporary Arts and it went very well.

Through design, testing and training, the whole evaluation has been an extremely rewarding and valuable process for me and I’m looking forward to seeing results from the other five centres over the coming months.

Design processes are often seen as being immeasurable which results in qualitative feedback and stories being viewed as less valuable than other more obvious forms of measurement. It is therefore the responsibility of the designer to find ways of demonstrating the value in what we believe to be meaningful. In this way we will only add value to the process and more meaning to the impact.

I would love to hear from you if you have come across qualitative measurement that has impressed you.

Location: Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Arts
Film and editing: Jon Gill © 2015

Social Innovation is… in The Melting Pot

On Thursday of last week, representing SSSC, I joined a group of people from the world of Scottish Government, NHS, Social Work, Social Enterprise and private social organisations, at The Melting Pot, for a day of conversation and activity around the question:

How can we put social innovation to work for the people of Scotland?

The Melting Pot Question

The pitch I received was: “Join a conversation to explore this question, make new connections, and be a part of creating the conditions for social innovation to flourish in Scotland!

What is Social Innovation…?
Funded by Scottish Government, The Melting PotScotland’s Centre for Social Innovation – are “…opening up a national conversation on how to meet the challenges and opportunities surrounding social innovation in Scotland; how to enable and support social innovation so that it fuels positive change across all aspects of Scottish society and economy. The results of these events will help inform policy thinking across Scotland ahead of preparations for a new wave of European Structural funding.

It was a busy day of workshopping and conversation – with welcome, strategically placed, breaks to chat to the other attendees and make new connections. The Melting Pot facilitate using the ‘Art of Hosting’. I haven’t had chance to Google or investigate further but I understand it to be about creating the appropriate environment for the task at hand – just as you would if hosting a party. anyone familiar with ‘good’ collaborative and visualisation techniques would have been as comfortable with the approach and activities as I was.

The aims of the conversation were:

  1. To share learning about what might be meant by social innovation and what is already going on across Scotland
  2. To build a vision collectively about how social innovation can be put to work for the people of Scotland, and to begin to address the conditions that need to be put in place for this vision to be realised
  3. To build and extend connections and networks between social innovators and influencers
  4. In these ways, to build a stronger basis for moving forward and maximising ability to ‘grow’ social innovation across the country, and for that growth to make a difference to the people of Scotland

The Melting Pot Dear Granny

Social Innovation is… in need of definition?
The first session of the morning was spent in small groups (of 5/6) attempting to answer the question, “Social Innovation is…”. The challenge is that both of those words can be very, very broad by definition. I’m of the opinion that ’Social Innovation’ is about understanding and agreeing on the outcomes, benefits and successes within a specific context – within an organisation; within the confines of a project; or as part of the values and vision of a team of people. If we know what we mean by it – in our context – then maybe we’ll be clear on what we expect from it, and (most importantly) we’ll recognise successful social innovation when we see it.

Social Innovation is… in the small things.
The potential of social innovation is huge, and so it rings true that the ‘cover-all’ term be huge too. But while the impact has the potential to be huge, insight and understanding is to be found in the small things. People not organisations; increments and not broad strokes.

The Melting Pot PledgeSocial Innovation is… going to take a while..?!
The day at The Melting Pot was a positive start at what, potentially, could be a very long process. It would be great if the next step was to synthesise the ideas from the day to create themes under which participants, and perhaps a wider online community, could submit practical project/initiative ideas to prototype and pilot.
A common denominator of people interested in this kind of work is a desire to get-our-hands-dirty. Let’s dig in with the people we aim to serve through this process and find out what are they looking for; what needs to change; and how do we make an impact?

Social Innovation is… wrong..!?
Of course listening is important. It’s essential. But sooner or later there needs to be action; inclusive, collaborative participation to gather as open and honest a conversation as possible, upon which to act and make a difference. But. Reserve the right to be wrong. Innovation brings a certain amount of risk and no one ever created anything radical knowing ‘beyond certainty’ that it was going to succeed. So learn to recover from risk, not avoid it.

The Melting Pot quotes

Social Innovation is… on Twitter
But then what isn’t?
You can follow @TheMeltingPotEd, and for your convenience clicking on #NationalConv will take you directly to the feed of the soundbites from the day and help you catch up with the conversation.

Images from top to bottom: 1. The Question, 2. Reading our letter from 2050, 3. Pledges from the end of the day, 4. Reflections no stories of social innovation.