Review: Meetup by Girl Geeks Toronto

Posted by Albert Gareev on Feb 11, 2015 | Categories: Reviews

On Monday I attended  a meetup provided by Girl Geeks TO.

While commuting home I organized my review notes that I present now in a structured form: Purpose – Attendance – Content – Experience – Cost – Organization – Location – Time. Or PACE COLT, if you like mnemonics (as I do).


The theme of the meetup was: “Designing for the digital-first gen: How kids shape & are shaped by digital media”. Two talks were presented and lightly discussed. I can say that the presenters did address the topic, each with their own angle.


According to the stats, 60+ people signed up, and indeed, many came – but it didn’t feel too crowded.


I liked the quality and presentation of the content, and I’d say it was overall well received.
The content itself deserves a review. I might expand on that later, now my summaries.

Making Educational Games for Kids

By Jessica McLaughlin.

  • Kids Online – TVO – they create educational games for kids ages 2-5 and 6-11 years old, and for the client – Ministry of Education.
  • They’re small team that produces and maintains software for Desktop and Web. Part of production is outsourced and community-supported.
  • Noted: familiarity. The games often complement TV programs, have same setting and characters.
  • Notable: I heard a lot – “testing, testing, testing, testing”. And yet they don’t have a “QA” team or dedicated testers. I’d say: very reasonable for the former – they own the quality themselves, and a little alarming for the latter – whether they reasonably don’t see a value in scripted test case execution or haven’t been shown the difference with skilled testing approach.
  • Noted. Children are comfortable interacting with and operating programs in certain ways, not always identical to adults’, and children-oriented product development must adapt. That includes game process (focus on little tasks over goals), handling keyboard and mouse, and listening to and reading game instructions.

Digital Kids on Branding, Privacy, and Technology Bias

By Andrew Smyk.

  • Andrew presented a composition of personal experiences, results of accidental and planned experiments, incorporated in his field of study and work. The presentation – and performance – were really cool.
  • Notable. Even though it’s about digital, it appeared that one of main Andrew’s tools is still good old paper notebook and hand-written notes.
  • Noted term: technology cluster.
  • Noted: what matters is content; not particular platform or technology, though the general expectation that the content will be available on all devices.
  • Noted term: “finger-friendly design”.
  • Noted: kids naturally switch between physical (analog) and virtual (digital), whatever is easier and serves the purpose better.
  • Noted: kids don’t appreciate privacy features, rather see them as obstacles.


I had a positive experience overall, and will keep an eye on the future GGTO meetups.

I’d say this event was a success in terms of meeting of the purpose, organization, and performance. My thanks and congratulations to the GGTO team. It’s still a hard work on the back stage and the praise is well deserved.


The event cost was $10 per person, which I found more than reasonable considering the place allocated, and food and beverages provided to all attendees.
Other costs, for me, where also quite affordable – the place is in Downtown, Subway station close by, convenient evening hours.


Without exposure to the back stage, I judge the final results.

  • The announcement was posted with a reasonable advance
  • Instructions were available and concise
  • There were directing signs
  • All attendees were met and greeted
  • (Most of) setup was done in advance
  • The agenda was planned and carried out effectively and efficiently

For the further improvement I’d suggest –

  • Communicating the agenda along with the event details
  • Facilitating and encouraging introductions and networking before the talks or at the end


It was OANDA’s place in Downtown, and Jason, Director of Development, was a non-intrusive but all-supportive host.
We had more than everything needed – huge screens, audio system, plenty of seats. It’s a 5 minutes walk to St. Andrew station, and most of it is also available through the PATH underground.


I’d say, 6.30pm-9.30pm is a perfect timing. Having it on Monday though was a little bit of a challenge.

I also liked timing of the talks and question blocks, and how it all was staged.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work by Albert Gareev is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.