Coaching students to design a mobile solution to engage the participants of Hobo’s digital ateliers

40% of the Belgian population do not have the necessary skills to access the digital society. To bridge this gap in 2020, BNP Paribas Fortis launched the Digital Inclusion Alliance (Digit All), a partnership of several organisations that committed to six solutions to foster digital inclusion. Hobo was selected to run a pilot project for a mobile solution to increase the digital access of vulnerable, hard-to-reach groups. Namahn coached a team of students from the Erasmushogeschool in Brussels to conceive and develop the pilot project with Hobo according to human-centred principles. 

Hobo (funded by BNP Paribas Fortis) Non-profit   English  2 coaches 

Learning to empathise with clients and users

Namahn teamed up with VRT to design a shared coaching trajectory for two groups of students during their fall semester. The teams would work in parallel for Hobo and Link In De Kabel, the two social organisations involved in the pilot project. The trajectory combined joint plenary sessions with individual team coaching conducted on a weekly basis. 

A joint creative session facilitated by the Namahn and VRT coaches kicked off the course, allowing the student teams and their respective clients to build a shared understanding of the project context, the target users and their current experience, clarify the clients’ expectations and assumptions. 

With the help of the coaches, the students prepared and performed field research, interviewing the target groups who attended digital workshops at the client site. The students presented the research insights to their clients, with whom they defined their design challenge with support from the coaches. The Hobo team focused on how to attract best vulnerable groups to Hobo’s digital ateliers. 

Hobo & the students defining a design challenge based on the research insights 
Hobo team

From user insights to an inclusive solution   

The Namahn and VRT coaches co-designed a creative ideation session to help the students translate their research and design challenges into concrete concepts for the mobile solution. The students performed several exercises that led them to develop a story of the ideal user experience. In the following weeks, the coaches helped them translate their concepts into tangible tablet applications based on the Digit All roadmap and the user and clients’ expectations.  

Moreover, the coaches organised a peer-to-peer feedback session to test the solutions with the clients and teammates before the planned test iteration with the vulnerable user groups. The latter one provided further insights to improve and finalise the application, which the students presented to the partnership in their final pitch. 

Sketches during the ideation day 

A new engaging way of learning 

The Hobo team conceived and developed an application to encourage vulnerable groups to attend the digital ateliers offered by Hobo. The solution, meant to be used during the atelier, provides an overview of “challenges” – lesson chapters including digital tasks to accomplish – which participants have to complete in order to get specific rewards. According to the gamified structure of the application, the more the participants engage in learning and involve peers, the more the potential rewards. 

A base to scale up 

Digit All is actively working to scale up the solution, potentially extending it to similar social organisations in other Belgian regions.