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GDST Digital Leaders’ Conference 2017

On Thursday 2nd March four students from the Junior School and four from the Senior School went to the Digital Leaders’ conference in South Hampstead High School. The aim of the day was to design a software program to help people learn languages.

The keynote speech was given by Inky Gibbens, an entrepreneur who has created the language platform Tribalingual. She told us that many languages around the world are endangered, and we were shocked to learn that one language becomes extinct every two weeks and that by the end of the century half of the world's 7000 languages are expected to disappear.

After her inspiring speech about saving culture and language, we met our mentor for the day, Aga, who helped us throughout the conference. We decided that our company’s goal was to encourage Year 7 pupils to learn languages whilst having fun and being motivated.

We wanted to create a piece of virtual-reality software that had games which would help students with speech and pronunciation, writing and spelling, and reading. We planned to make a prototype and called it ‘Linguaroom’. There were several tools to help us present our prototype, such as a stand where we could create videos with a green screen, drones, a cardboard virtual-reality device, iPads, laptops, Chromebooks and more. We selected the tools we wanted to use which were the Chromebooks and the cardboard virtual-reality device and started to plan our software.

Then it was time to prepare our pitch. To give people an idea of our company’s goal, we used the cardboard virtual-reality device to explain the software. We also had to think about how we wanted to market and advertise our software and how we would make profit from it. We had help from Aga and eventually came up with a speech.

Our pitch gave the judges an insight into the virtual-reality program that we would create. We acted out to the judges what the game would be like and even tested them on the vocabulary. We also explained how we could build on our program, using different apps and software, what we would do to promote the program, and how we would make money from it. It was fun because everyone got involved and pretended to be part of the software.

After this, we went to a workshop where we learned about text compression. This is when you take a large file and make it smaller; for example, you could make a movie go from 800GB to 100MB. This is by substituting specific things for others. We got to choose one of four songs and compress it as much as we could. We did this by replacing a repeated word or phrase with a symbol. One of the songs was ‘Frère Jacques’ which has a lot of repeated phrases. For example, each time the song said ‘Frère Jacques’, it could be replaced with an umbrella symbol. Jorja managed to compress the song by 85.55%, which was the highest anyone had done on the day!

Finally, we went back into the main hall and took part in a question-and-answer session with some businesswomen who worked in technology. They talked about the difficulties of their jobs, and what it was like to be a businesswoman. Then we were given the results. We did not get one of the three prizes, but it was a great day and a fun one too!

Ji-Hyung Choi, Alexandra Lam & Jorja Plummer Year 8

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