The design group

Running on little sleep, and fueled by pizza, 30 students from the Digital Futures Initiative (DFI) program’s first cohort created Torontosaur, a digital magazine for Toronto teens, in a marathon three days. The magazine went live on November 8 and can be read online at It focuses on the topics relevant to the 16-year-old consultants the students interviewed as part of their market research: technology, advice, music and Toronto city life.

“It was three days of extreme cooperation and bad food,” says Alanna Predko, the magazine’s managing editor. “We all learned a lot about the people we worked with, and I learned about managing people and bridging them together.” From an educational perspective, the project was a key part of the DFI mandate to create what Tom Barker, the program chair, calls an “X” shaped designer, with skills from each point of the X: art, science, design and enterprise. It also helped prove Barker’s theory that the innovation cycle can be shortened to under six days.

As part of the project, students had the opportunity to seek support and advice from some of Toronto’s best known media experts, including Hamutal Dotan from the Torontoist, Matthew Blackett and Shawn Micallef of Spacing, Benjamin Boles, NOW magazine’s music editor, Adil Dhalia, founder of MyCityLives and Edward Gajdel, a portrait photographer.

Each student was assigned a role on the magazine, such as managing editor, feature editor, designer, roving reporter, photographer or technician. Students were also responsible for their own public relations and branding, and their work in these areas resulted in coverage in Metro and Yonge Street, together with a dedicated following on Twitter and Facebook. 

DFI is a collection of research laboratories, graduate and undergraduate programs that sit at the cutting edge of creative digital technology and industries. The programs respond to the increasingly important and sophisticated role of digital media and technology as a magical catalyst for change. Students participate in and prepare for Renaissance 2.0 – the global digital revolution that fuses together disruptive technology and new thinking. 

The Torontosaur team is currently discussing whether or to continue the project on a volunteer basis. 

Images courtesy of the Torontosaur team.