Written by volunteer writer Alison Perch
Running a TechShop doesn’t need to involve laptops, mobile devices, or tablets. In fact, an “unplugged” experience is a great way to learn the basics of design thinking.
Diane Chang discovered the benefits of a device-free workshop by leading Think Like A Digital Designer: Unplugged. Through this TechShop, girls learned how researchers, designers, and developers use design thinking to create digital experiences like the ones in their favorite apps.
Though Diane is not a professional user-experience (UX) designer,, she co-led the TechShop with two UX designers, Gloria and Sheetal. Together with another volunteer, Cece, they had fun collaborating before and during the workshop.
“[Gloria and Sheetal] led the UX exercise. While I planned the workshop, we shared delivery of the sections, allowing us all to participate based on our preferences and strengths. It was a perfect match for us all,” Diane says.
Diane began her career over 25 years ago as a developer, and over time, moved into leadership roles in application development. She does leadership development coaching for technology professionals as well. Diane had some prior knowledge of UX concepts, though leading this workshop helped her easily share the vital role design thinking plays in our daily lives.
“This helped as a reminder to not take for granted how prevalent UX design is in almost everything we do, whether it’s the basic design of a door handle or a mobile app. It’s also a reminder to look at things from someone else’s perspective, to ask open-ended questions, and to not make any assumptions, which is very aligned to what I do as a coach,” Diane explains.
During the TechShop, Diane was impressed by how quickly the girls understood UX concepts and added their own flair to each design. Students were also excited to take home persona and application cards for practice and to show family & friends.
“They went from being a little shy and reserved to jumping up and eagerly looking for the [cards] they liked,” Diane says.
For anyone interested in running this TechShop in the future, Diane recommends having a whiteboard or flipchart to illustrate examples.
She adds: “Sheetal did a great job in engaging the girls in a common example before they chose their personas and apps. You could see their creative juices starting to flow.”
Diane appreciated getting to work with a great team of volunteers as well. “It was an extra benefit to meet new people and to work together so seamlessly in a short amount of time,” she notes.
Diane and her fellow volunteers helped middle school girls learn to think like digital designers. You can lead a TechShop, too! — and you don’t always need a computer lab to get started!