Leapfrog and the Digital Health Institute lab team both work with tools to engage communities in creative ways but the perspective that each team takes on the concept of tools is different. Day 2 of our Spring Internal event gave us all the opportunity to share our favourite tools, exchange ideas and concepts and work together in small groups to design new tools based on an open brief.

The Digital Health Institute at Glasgow School of Art (DHI) are a team of Design researchers who work with health professionals and members of the Scottish Highlands and Islands communities through experience labs. Each experience lab aims to collaboratively explore, design and test solutions for specific issues regarding health in Scotland. The tools they create are often technological in focus, bespoke and designed as a vehicle to help community members envisaged in those specific scenarios generate data through interaction with the tool. For instance, one experience lab produced Game Jam, a social media based game co-​designed by and for young people with learning difficulties to promote their safety online. The DHI focus is to find novel ways of interacting and generating data directly with individuals in specific scenarios identified as being underserved, using the tools as vehicles to do this. The experience lab then uses that data to co-​design solutions. 

By contrast, instead of designing tools and interacting directly with the communities in mind, Leapfrog co-​design tools with partners who are already working to engage communities, families and individuals across a range of contexts. One purpose of the tools is to satisfy the existing engagement needs of the partners co-​designing them. The other purpose is that the tools are sharable, transferable and flexible. Leapfrog envisages the tools we produce as something that engagement practitioners are able to use their own skill to adopt and usefully assist (and even transform) existing practice. They are freely shareable and aim to use relatively cheap and few resources to reduce barriers to tool adoption, appropriation and adaptation. The Leapfrog focus on tools is therefore tools that engagement practitioners can use to undertake their own work in facilitating engagement. 

These different perspectives on tools produced lively debate and playful new concepts from which both teams could learn and benefit, drawing from aspects of their favourite tools. Ideas included take-​away keepsakes designed to help build a relationship with on-​going co-​design groups; a watch-​style tool that could help people choose available tools for engagement activities and; a dandelion-​style sculpture that could use ‘leaves’ for recording written information and record vox-​pops to help the DHI team work with local residents at the Altyre Estate in Forres to build ideas with them for using on this creative campus in the future. Another playful tool concept was a rocket that orbited a research context and generated insights and patterns. This idea addressed a common challenge for researchers working with Design and community engagement.s