Social innovation workshops: Mood Board

calendar_today 18 September 2019

In the process of researching organisations which provide makerspaces or social innovation workshops, I kept going back to three particular programs; DoIT, Fab Academy and WAAG.

There are many organisations tackling similar ‘Jobs to Be Done’ and it would be cool to see a catalog or database with all their findings or recommendations (maybe I’ll build this in the future). I particularly appreciate these three organisations as they share the content and lessons freely.


A project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research programme, DoIT teaches entrepreneurial skills for young people (6-16 years of age) in 10 European cities.

DO IT Learning approach diagram
DO IT Learning approach

The ‘DoIT learning approach’ is built upon involving youth as ‘engaged citizens’, developing entrepreneurial skills and maker education (encouraging kids to build). The project includes seven modules, pictured above, which students interact with using the DoIT Toolbox. I would love to see more research studying the outcomes of the workshops.


I think the most useful aspect of the DoIT project is the toolbox. I like that it’s sectioned into neighborhoods which contain many activities and instructions for you to replicate.

Fab Academy (How to Make *Almost* Anything)

Fab Academy is a program based on MIT’s Prof. Neil Gershenfeld’s MAS 863: How to Make (Almost) Anything course.

There are 66 nodes globally, which offer the Fab Academy course, across 50 countries. Students tune in to watch global lectures every Wednesday morning and have 2/3 lab days each week, for 5 months (for part-time students who possess general knowledge in 2D/3D design).

Example of Fab lab
Examples of projects completed (The Anti Soggy Spoon)

The program teaches 20 units from computer-aided design and 3D scanning and printing, to interface and application programming and machine design.


Whilst there is less focus on social innovation or tackling problems, I think it’s pretty badass to train kids to build and work on a global scale i.e. learning and receiving feedback from different communities.

I’m curious as to how we can leverage the maker space movement in application to the sustainable development goals. Whilst it feels somewhat restrictive to limit the ‘opportunities’ or ‘jobs to be done’, the sustainable development goals provide an example or basis.


Waag is a Dutch non-profit organisation comprised of research groups related to science, technology, and the arts. Publish research is split into the following groups ‘Make, Code, Learn and Care’.

Waag created a ‘Make the Future: Design Thinking toolkit’ in response to the United Nations Develop Programme call for engaging citizens. The toolkit is freely distributed (yay and so grateful to people who do not hoard their work).

Examples of apps

Waag with UNDP, conducted workshops using the toolkit in Georgia, Egypt and Armenia. They found that participants ‘discovered their personal talents and new ways of collaborating with other people’.


Workshops are recommended to be a minimum of two days (first ideation, second build prototypes. The workshops center around ‘thematic areas’ which in the proposed model would be the UN’s Sustainable development goals.

Specific recommendations:
  • They recommend I record participants’ initial motivations to participate
  • Workshops should take place in a ‘creative space’ and catering should be arranged at a fixed time each day
  • Students partake in reverse brainstorming i.e. World hunger: brainstorming ‘How can make it worse?’ and then flip solutions
  • Cautious about age-range of children when designing personas and scenarios as many in fact are applicable or will have experienced the issues
  • Train the teachers by making them do the workshops themselves.
The UNDP provided thematic cases affecting each of the regions where the workshops took place. I imagine the sustainable development goals may all be overwhelming but I like the idea of choice. I will test and see what participants respond best too.

Waag documents lessons learned stating that diversity will ‘stimulate creativity’, that presentations should be short and the availability of a creative space is essential.


Based in Vienna, the DaVinciLab offer courses in schools and summer camps for youth (6-13 years old). Students can participate in either a Coding Lab, Design Lab or Media Lab. They have collaborated with universities to produce projects such as a Youth Hackathon (largest hackathon in Austrian schools) and Made by Kids (a design thinking course).

They offer one-week camps in Easter, summer and winter, where children participate in guided workshops. This includes programming, media design, film production and so on. In the morning, children create prototypes such as building robots or designing their own media (depending on which lab), whereas the afternoon consists of exercise and sport.

Analogue to Digital

Belgium based, Analogue to Digital is a programme which offers STEAM workshops. They collaborate with designers or partners to offer STEAM workshops including 3D name printing or VR experiences. A2D also launched an ‘Espace Kalm’ programme which ‘tackles community issues’ in collaboration with the Belgium Design Council.


It'd be cool to intergrate Waag’s Make the Future schedule with digital skills training. The DoIT toolbox platform is most appealing to me, but instead of a neighborhood – why not the galaxy (note: How can I build an offline application that works on their laptops).

Whilst the lessons taught in FabLabs might be too complex given the lack of resources, I would love to see this grow and how it could form a similar global community i.e. everyone receives lectures at the same time and a virtual showcase of the projects the students create so they can learn from each other.