Youth & Technology – Technology Academy Finland

 

About

Technology fields need new talents. That’s why Technology Academy Finland (TAF) asked us for a new, scalable concept, which would encourage more young people to consider technology studies. We identified a need to demystify technology fields and developed a super simple but effective card game for high schools.

Client

 

Technology Academy Finland is an independent foundation, awarding innovations for better life with the Millennium Technology Prize. In addition, they promote Finland as a technology country, through targeting academics, Finnish technology-minded people, and the youth.

Challenge

TAF’s product portfolio had become slightly inconsistent, and the organization was facing further challenges with its "crown jewel", Millennium Technology Prize. Three IDBM teams were selected to work on the three key questions that had emerged: How to make the Prize distinctive from other prizes? How to engage and connect the various target groups? How to get more youth interested in technology studies and careers? Our challenge was the last one – we were asked to develop a concept that would raise interest among 15-20 year-olds. Due to the limited financial and human resources, the concept should be scalable, cost-efficient, and continuous, but still effective and appealing. Earlier, TAF had organised several one-time events that had been popular but required enormous amounts or resources compared to the impact they had.

Initial brief

The task was “to create a scalable and cost-effective project portfolio for 15-20-year-old Finnish youth as target audience. The expected outcome is a concept and its implementation plan linked with the Millennium Technology Prize brand by working together with the current Teknoloikka traineeship and communications program."

Process

Our project was roughly divided into three parts, each of which had their distinctive characteristics.

Research phase
Understanding the client completely is crucial for success. That’s why we spent time on studying what TAF had done, while also critically analyzing it. Soon, we continued to gather a wide understanding of what had been done, in Finland and globally, in the field of youth & technology.

Opportunities & ideation
Based on the research, we identified the key challenges that had to be tackled. Detailed definition of challenges turned out to be very useful for the ideation, as we did not need to waste time on addressing the wrong issues. Still, we developed dozens of ideas, which were then narrowed down, leading to the most promising concept.

Concept development
As basically all 15+ year-olds can be reached through schools, we proceeded with a concept that would be as effortless and appealing to schools as possible. Several testing rounds ultimately led to the final concept suggestion – a card game to be played mainly at schools that brings the information of different study options without the player even noticing it.

Methods

The whole process was mainly following the so-called double diamond model. Namely, we first dug into the research to generate a wide understanding of the situation, challenges and benchmarking. This was then narrowed down to key challenges we considered useful to tackle. The next step opened everything again – it was time for ideation, meaning the more the merrier. Once dozens of ideas were generated, we narrowed down again, until we had the final concept in front of us.

Some other methods were used in smaller and shorter parts of the process. Below are described some of the most useful ones.

Competition mapping/positioning: A very basic, but still useful, tool for understanding what is happening on the field. We used this to illustrate to the client where they are positioned among the competitors, but we also found it very useful when trying to look for opportunities in the market. Partly based on the positioning mappings, we decided to go for a card game presenting study opportunities.

Co-creation workshop: With the two other teams working for TAF we created an ideation workshop to involve TAF and its stakeholders to the process. Often you do not necessarily get a ready-made concept out of these workshops, but the discussion you have and the comments you hear may trigger something great – at the least, you learn more about the client and what they wish for, which never harms. 

Quick and dirty prototyping: When developing a game, there is no other way to test it than playing. For most of the cases, all you need are pens, paper, and scissors. Our theoretical considerations of the idea of the game got a power boost as soon as we created the first, really rough prototype.

Field trip

The field trip took place in two parts, towards the end of the opportunities & ideation phase of the project. The first part was a Nordics tour – all five Nordic countries in 8 days. We looked for fresh ideas, benchmarking, and confirmation for our own thoughts and findings by interviewing companies, universities, science centers and local youth. Similar challenges regarding youth & technology are faced in every Nordic country, but the actions taken have not been very imaginative. Hence, our game concept could be scaled into these countries, too. The second part took place a bit later in the UK, where we looked for validation for our decision to start developing a game. Especially visits to London Games Festival and Edinburgh International Science Festival provided us with a lot of inspiration for the development.

Outcome

MyMillennium is a card game presenting the study opportunities of the technology field to high school students. It offers an appealing and fun option for traditional, lecture-like study counseling classes, and aims at opening the players’ eyes about the opportunities technology can offer. The rules are very simple and it is free of charge for schools, to minimize any barriers teachers or students might have.

From TAF’s perspective, MyMillennium is the first touching point to the youth and a logical bridge to their existing Teknoloikka traineeship program. By not being an event or a platform requiring constant maintenance, MyMillennium meets the wishes for a “scalable and cost-effective” product with “15-20-year-old Finnish youth as the target audience”. 

It was rather late in the process when we decided to go for a game. We had numerous other ideas as well, for instance, various events, career counseling platforms, labs on wheels, digital games, and so on. In the end, a physical game turned out to be the most promising option, as nothing was able to beat it in cost-efficiency, accessibility, familiarity, and equality. We were also able to address the challenges both given by the client and defined by our own research.

Team – TAF Vikings

  • Saku Nummi
    BSc Marketing / IDBM BIZ
  • Shareef Askar
    MA New Media & IDBM ARTS
  • Linna Hu
    BA Industrial Design / IDBM ARTS
  • Pham Ngoc Lan Chi (Chi Pham)
    BA in Media Engineering / IDBM SCI