Over the first weekend in March, we hosted the Belfast leg of Global Service Jam (organised by Darcie Graham) in the Rumble Laboratory.
The event gave teams formed on the first day 48 hours to develop and prototype new services inspired by this years theme, ‘grow’. Upon completion these new services would be published online and shared with the world.
Ideas were quickly tossed around the room by the fantastic turnout of designers, developers, teachers and even gardeners! Every thought was written down on a sticky note and placed on the walls of the Lab. In the process a direction emerged.
We discussed the limitations of current education in the modern world (especially within the web development industry). Curriculums are largely unable to react and adapt their course wear to keep up to date with the latest trends, methodologies and languages.
Because of this, a trend has started to emerge where the people who choose to learn their own way often end up being more successful than those who choose to enroll in higher education. They choose to learn what they need to know, rather than what they are told (which is often irrelevant to the direction they wish to take). They are often better placed to become contributing and innovating members of the creative and technology industries.
So we started to think about ways in which people can self educate and learn. We asked ourselves… where do we go when we need to know something? The answer was ridiculously obvious, the internet! In the 21st Century when you have a thirst for knowledge you likely open up a web browser and search google or visit a website you know has the info you need. The internet is constantly updated by millions of people, rethinking how things are done, sharing new ideas. It is the most up to date learning platform in the world.
But how is all this information being organised and discovered? The popular stuff rises to the top of search engines but what about the rest? There are so many great things that can’t be learnt that are only a few clicks a way that we will likely never find.
The opportunity was obvious to our team of web savvy buccaneers. We had 48 hours to develop a concept… we needed to make a place where people go to learn things.
We didn’t just want to create an idea though, we wanted to produce a real working resource that people can use within 48 hours. Easy right? Well our ambitious and experienced team jumped at the challenge and dove straight into development the next morning.
A rails app was quickly set up, Twitter Bootstrap was added to give us a headstart and a framework to build on. We sketched the key functionality, refined it a few times then jumped straight into the app build. The limited time available meant we were forced to commit early to ideas and carry them through rather than overthinking things too much.
Along the way we also had at the back of our minds, what should we call our app? Various name ideas were bounded about but in the end the team agreed on Lrnr. It had a nice short domain available in the form of lrnr.co (always important) and some interesting possiblities to carry the language throughout the app.
We were ambitious in what we hoped to achieve but we felt it was all possible. After a late finish on Saturday and an early start on Sunday we did manage to pull through and deliver a live working product by 4pm, less than 48 hours later! A couple features had to be removed and scaled back along the way but the fundamental idea and core functionality was delivered successfully.
I was delighted that we pulled it out of the bag and the end result isn’t too shabby if I do say so myself! I’d like to thank everyone who helped make it happen. The initial team that formed consisting of Tommy Palmer and I (Steven Hylands) from Rumble, Rory McCawl, Jonathan Goodman and Andrea Francis. Along the way others made great contributions so big thanks to Mark Leetch, David Rice, John Rowe, Stephen Holdsworth and Matt Campbell.
It is possible to take an app from concept to launch in 48 hours. Lrnr.co is living proof of that. Why not sign up today and start taking the initiative and learning what you really want to?