Not Just Another Workshop

In closing out 2020 and before going on leave, I was given an opportunity (never a challenge). And it came in the form of these Oracle Code Cards. For those that haven’t seen them, this is what they look like and here is a git repository of some code explaining more about the cards themselves that I’m revamping –

An trial using the Oracle Code Card before the workshop.

The outcome required was as open as I could get.

There were no boundaries and there were no specific rules.

So, I did what I normally would do – who in the local ecosystem could I partner with to give this a try.

My inspiration for this has been something that’s has been there was a while – to work more with students and secondly identifying purposeful use-cases with technology. And it didn’t take long (a couple of emails and a phone call) to partner with BOP Industries and Robotics Playground to offer a holiday workshop for students – ages 12 to 16 to explore how these cards can be used.

What was quite good with this workshop was the combination of design thinking and technology – both very good skills to help understand problems, identify solutions and then applying that design to a piece of technology.

To provide further context and purpose to the workshop, we wanted to also focus on technology and waste – ewaste. The worse-case scenario for this kind of tech is that it is given out and not used or discarded into landfill. Anything that we can do to extend the life “reuse or repurpose” should be an easy thing to do.

As part of the event, participants had to research into ewaste and some interesting statistics were captured from various sources. One specific ewaste statistic found would fill the workshop room with ipads. That created a sense of scale for everyone in the room – including me. This gave the participants purpose for what they were going to design and prototype.

Over the next hour or so, participants brainstormed, ideated and then came up with a solutions for the Oracle Code Cards – something that they could work on technically with the cards. I purposefully left the room and left them to do their thing during this time. (I don’t have much content or insights during this design period because … I left the room).

When I did come back to the workshop, they were into getting their Arduino environments up and running. Wilson and Harrison were the main facilitators during this part of the workshop and led through the quick-fire process of getting to know technology as well as getting started coding.

Over the next hour or so, they went through the process of using the Oracle Code Cards to bring their solutions to life. Wilson and Harrison brought sensors and devices to attach to the cards to help bring these solutions to life. Robotics Playground shared their examples and starter-kits that they walked through with the participants on github –

What didn’t seem to be a lot of time, it was interesting to see what they could do and accomplish. It may have been simple to execute on, but it was effective in telling the story about where their solutions were going.

Yes. It’s not complete. What do you expect from 4 hours of work? How amazing was the outcome though. What if we had more time, more resources?

Around 2pm, the participants had to focus on their pitches to help articulate the problem, the idea and their solution. This can be confronting for the lots of people and for these participants it wasn’t any different. AND in the majority, they did it with their own style and swagger. I couldn’t be prouder.

So what kind of things did they present?

  • Security solutions for homes
  • Do Not Disturb solutions for hotels
  • Education solutions
  • … and a few more …

As well as presenting their solutions, they also achieved some other goals.

  • Learnt more and executed design thinking principles
  • Explored the problem area of ewaste
  • Explored digital innovations
  • Came up with their own problems to solve, ideas to bring to life and delivered digital solutions
  • Create potential use-cases for the Oracle Code Cards

This workshop / hackathon (whatever you want to call it) was an opportunity to engage in a different way. In my introduction of the workshop, I described the Oracle Mission Statement …

Our mission is to help people see data in new ways, discover insights, unlock endless possibilities.

I think we did and also achieved a few other things too.

  • Exploring problems that are important (and in this case, it was sustainability and environment)
  • Enabling a broader industry engagement (and in this case it was with students)
  • Partnering with others with the intent of open collaboration (thank you BOP Industries and Robotic Playground)

This was set up as an experiment – not as a once-off, nor a drop on the ocean and not as a piece of theatre. It was a way to explore more about this style of engagement. And hence the data is important to gain more support and to do this at scale. I’ll be collating this and working through what this means.

If you are interested in this workshop, wanting to know more or you think that you have someone to contribute – reach out


Author: Jason Lowe

I am passionate about how organisations adopt IT quickly and sustainably to achieve a specific and measurable outcome. This thinking is supported through lean IT practices in operational support and project delivery, and adopting these practices with Oracle technologies by creating sustainable platforms. I'm also interested different perspectives and drivers - from enterprise to start-ups, academia to commercial to public sector, cost-sensitive (risk) to value-driven (reward) - all of which influences decisions that organisations make. I have a passion for community and have been called "a connector" - meeting new people that are trying to solve valuable and hard problems and connecting them with others that can validate and help realise their full potential. I've supported different organisations like TADHack and Hacking Health as a global organiser. I'm is a persistent blogger on and and on LinkedIn - #CommunityMatters #ItTakesAVillage

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