The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) Digital Leaders Conference, held in South Hampstead brought together over 150 UK students, their teachers, and industry mentors to compete in a uniquely inspiring digital business challenge.
Ian Livingstone CBE opened the conference, sharing his career story from designing the paper-based Dungeons & Dragons game through opening Games Workshop to launching the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider video games. Ian highlighted the huge talent that the UK has in the creative industries and how by increasing our skills in computer science we can lead the world in digital innovation. Children are incredibly comfortable using technology but if they don’t understand how they work it’s like we’re teaching them to read but not write.
Cat Scutt, Head of Creative Teaching & Learning at GDST explained: “The event was designed to help girls in our schools to use and build on their innovation and teamwork skills, and really see themselves as ‘digital leaders’ in their schools and more widely.”
Each team had to come up with a brand new digital product or service and work out how they would successfully take it to market. Industry mentors from Discovery Education, Morgan Stanley and Firefly, amongst others, were each assigned to work with a specific team providing expertise in marketing, digital production and finance. Students also attended master-classes throughout the day on topics including user-centred design and the perfect elevator pitch.
Cat explained the rationale behind the challenge: “Designing a digital product or service was a great way for our girls to demonstrate a range of transferable skills including creativity, teamwork, presentation skills and financial planning, and the activity also encouraged them to think about the impact of technology on their daily lives and how they can use it to their advantage.”
The students presented their prototypes in an exhibition at the end of the day, along with their financial and marketing plans, and promotional tools like adverts and websites. Sheffield High School’s Dream Pillow, an incredibly well-researched product, was the overall winner, with South Hampstead High School taking the people’s choice award with Safe Step, and Bromley High School snapping up the best app prize for Appetizer.
Discovery Education was thrilled to be involved in such a great learning event. Christine Major, Director of Professional Development said: “We had six female mentors there and we all thoroughly enjoyed supporting the students. We’re also delighted that the overall winning team from Sheffield will join us at Discovery Communications head-quarters in London to create their own video news story about the event.”
Cat concluded: “The technology industry offers so many career opportunities in a huge range of different roles and contexts – hopefully some of the girls who attended will become the digital leaders of the future.”