Thinking through the Evolution of Toolkits

Thinking through the Evolution of Toolkits

NEWSLETTER || JUNE 2016 Thinking through the Evolution of Toolkits Akshay Roongta *Guest author this month is Akshay Roongta, Quicksand Alumnus, Co-Founder of Amrutdhara, and Social Innovation champion* Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working as an independent consultant in the design for social change space, while working on my MA thesis. While the thesis is about how grassroots workers in development projects can be empowered using ICT tools to innovate in context, my consulting work has brought me in contact with practitioners in a number of sectors, from WaSH, to education and participatory video. A common thread in freewheeling discussions was the lack of success of knowledge management tools that span sectors or organisations.   In my own work I’m realising that my interest lies at the intersection of development, organisational theory and the leveraging of ICT tools create more human, workable solutions at scale. Like on many other occasions, when I have a new idea or something I’m trying to make sense of, I turn to some of my colleagues from quicksand for help. What started as a simple query over email I sent to a few of the folks at the studio, about collated learnings about toolkits, soon turned into a larger, longer exercise where, we decided to dive into and better understand the world of ‘toolkits’. We’ve turned this into a longer ongoing publishing project over at Medium, where through a variety of posts — editorials and interviews — we unpack and dive deeper into how knowledge is documented and shared within organisations, sectors, and the world at large. What is certainly clear to us...

Quicksand’s Offsite in Coorg

NEWSLETTER || MAY 2016 Quicksand’s Offsite in Coorg Kevin Shane The Quicksand team has a long-standing tradition of setting aside time each year to pump the brakes on our work and co-locate somewhere beautiful to discuss the state of the studio in past, present, and future tenses. Though we are a relatively small firm, with less than 20 employees, having two offices in India, as well as a project office in Cambodia, means that our face-to-face time can be limited. These offsites provide ample opportunities to reconnect with our colleagues, discuss personal and professional goals, and have a little fun along the way. Previous years have found us quite literally all over the map, with a trek in India’s Kashmir, snorkeling in Indonesia, a bit of city and beach time in Thailand, and scuba diving in India’s Andaman & Nicobar islands all serving as backdrops for recent offsites. This year we decided to stay a bit closer to home, and traveled to Coorg for a homestay. The team from Delhi flew down to join the Bangalore team for the 6-hour drive to one of Karnataka’s most scenic districts. Over the four days and three nights we spent in Coorg, we were able to have detailed discussions on the studio’s finances and objectives, took the new hires through our business development strategy and goals, shared our individual road maps for the future with each other, and brainstormed around improving our internal and external communications, while still finding time for leisurely swims in the river and visits to some of the local tourist attractions. There is always an air of reinvigoration after...
Developing a Mobile Learning Ecosystem

Developing a Mobile Learning Ecosystem

NEWSLETTER || APRIL 2016 Developing a Mobile Learning Ecosystem Mahima Swarup When QUEST Alliance, a seasoned advocate of blended learning, first approached us to design and develop a mobile learning (mLearning) ecosystem, we were excited – after all, with the ever-increasing pervasiveness of mobile technologies and middle-class India’s burgeoning appetite for mobile devices, the possibilities to meaningfully engage with young learners were endless. Yet, very early on, we recognized that despite the near-ubiquity of device ownership, mobile readiness varied considerably amongst students. For some, the mobile served as a simple communication tool that was shared by an entire family, offering limited access to the connected world. For others, the mobile was an “everything” personal device, a medium to entertain, capture memories, discover new content, complete transactions, and be more productive. The questions we then had to ask ourselves were those that inevitably surface in many complex, system-oriented problems: How do we create a single platform that accounts for everyone’s needs? How do we reach out without overwhelming an inexperienced user? How do we sustain the attention of someone more adroit? Most importantly, how do we avoid falling into the “design for everyone is design for no one” trap? Keeping these considerations in mind, we closely studied students’ motivations, interactions and learning environments from time of enrolment to day of graduation. We realized that a collaborative on-boarding process–a piece that is often overlooked or not given the attention it deserves when introducing new methods–would be essential in successfully engaging students across the board. By providing a shared online device in the classroom in the initial stages, we envisioned experienced student-users...
Another Big Month for UnBox!

Another Big Month for UnBox!

NEWSLETTER || MARCH 2016 Another Big Month for UnBox! Kevin Shane February 2016 was a big month for UnBox, with two significant events taking place: UnBox Caravan and EyeMyth Festival. Read all about both in this month’s newsletter! UnBox Caravan 2016 took place February 1-13th in Ahmedabad at the National Institute of Design. The Caravan was a metaphor for the collective journey – a journey through which makers, artists, designers, developers, and technologists exchanged ideas and collaborated across disciplines and practices. Participants were asked to focus on the broad theme of “Digital Futures and Connected Communities”, through a malleable program structure of engagement, ideation, building, and sharing. The Caravan began with an immersion phase in which participants explored Ahmedabad and engaged with both the local community and NID students to understand various traditions and approaches to making from an embedded perspective. The engagement as a group then shifted to sharing possibilities, the crafting of research plans, and constructing rough prototypes in collaboration with local Ahmedabad residents and students. Following this, an exhibition of work in progress was presented at the Conflictorium in the old city to engage with local communities and on the NID campus, prompting feedback and thoughts on further ideation going forward. Following this, an exhibition and brief talk was presented on the NID campus, prompting feedback and thoughts on further ideation going forward. Throughout the Caravan participants reflected and wrote on themes including the caravan past, present, and future, rethinking making (self, practice, city), and digital futures. You can find a few of these reflections on Medium, and the rest will be featured in our forthcoming...

Realistic Resolutions!

NEWSLETTER || JANUARY 2016 Realistic Resolutions Team Quicksand The Realistic New Year’s Resolutions Newsletter This holiday season we thought we’d keep it real with our New Year’s Resolutions. Happy holidays! What’s your resolution this year? Here are some of ours: #2: Enough pussyfooting – it’s sub 1:40 for a half (marathon) this year! #3: I will learn how not to drown when in water. #4: I resolve to end the last of my twenties with an epic bang! #5: Climb another mountain, read more Adichie, and always ask for extra guacamole. #6: It’s time to get a vegetable & herb garden going on the terrace and gift plants to the studio’s friends. #7: I resolve to draw freer, write more and consume mindfully. #8: Cultivate a relationship with total chaos, come unglued and fall apart all the time, and pay more attention to all the things that bubble up through the cracks. #9: I will eat healthy in 2016, as long as there is cake! #10: I will gradually memorise and practice the essential chords and their synonyms. #11: I will keep a cat in the flat without my flatmates’...