16th March 2021

Co-Design kick-off

Screenshot from co-design workshop

Visioneers is the Academy of the Near Future's Transition Year programme, funded by Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover Programme. This blog describes the ‘co-design’ approach we are taking to developing the programme and some of our learnings so far.

What is co-design?

Co-design is about facilitating collaborative creativity through the involvement of the users (in our case, students) throughout the design and development process. It’s a methodology rooted in user-centred and participatory design practices, and involves including users from the very beginning of a project, sometimes referred to as the ‘fuzzy front end’.

(Image source)

While this blog describes our initial co-design activities, it’s worth noting that the co-design process is continuous and will involve actively engaging students as we prototype, develop and iterate the programme to make sure we continue to meet student needs.

Why co-design?

We decided to co-design our programme to help us to de-risk the design process, as working with students from the beginning means we can avoid spending time creating a programme that doesn’t meet their needs. It also helps us to examine our assumptions, iterate and improve on ideas faster, and provides a space for creative collaboration with our users.

Through the co-design process we aim to (i) better understand Transition Year student needs regarding educational experiences and (ii) learn how students themselves would design an education programme that would appeal to them.

How did we do it?

Following the Design Thinking process, our first steps included a series of one-to-one interviews and ideation workshops. The insights gathered from these activities will inform our programme prototypes, which we can test with students.

With help from CTYI, we recruited twelve students from across Ireland to participate in the co-design process with us but due to Covid restrictions, our co-design activities were delivered online using Zoom video conferencing and Miro, a digital whiteboard that groups can work on together.

(Source: Interaction Design Foundation)

One-to-one interviews

The primary objective behind these interviews was to gain insight into individual learning motivations, patterns and preferences to support the programme. However, they also provided a great opportunity to welcome each student and give them a chance to ask questions, which really helped create a comfortable, collaborative atmosphere before the group workshops.

Group workshops

Our goal for the workshops was to generate ideas from the students themselves on how they would design a programme similar to Visioneers. We designed a number of activities to support their thinking, including takes on Crazy 8s, Lotus Blossom brainstorming and service blueprints.

Screenshot from co-design workshop

To assess the experience of the workshops themselves, we used Google forms to send a short survey to the group after each workshop. We used the traffic light feedback method which allowed students to provide actionable feedback to help our team improve future activities.

What’s next?

Next up, prototyping and testing before delivering our first workshops with the brilliant Bridge21 at the end of April. We’ll then be starting to line up workshops across Ireland during the next school year, so keep your ears open!


Interested in our team delivering a Smart Cities workshop for Transition Years at your school? Get in touch at or via the contact form on our website.