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Methoden & Kenntnisse

Participatory Methods

The Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI) has a profound methodological expertise in design user involvement processes adapted to various contexts, such as workplace, schools, or home environments. ZSI experts also have the practical expertise on how to involve, motivate, and guide involved stakeholders through this process. In fact, approaches that support citizens in shaping the world they live in become increasingly important for many reasons: Above all is the involvement of those who are affected by new solutions to the design process, which not only supports the ownership of those involved, but also helps people to develop realistic expectations and supports change processes.

In participatory design, the people meant to use a future system, process, product, or environment play a critical role in designing it. This approach assumes that people themselves are in the best position to determine how to improve their living environment. Participatory design forms partnerships between designers and users of a future product or system, where users are seen as the experts of their living environment and the research-designer’s role is to provide stakeholders with a more accurate understanding of how processes and systems work, and how they can be improved.

Path to intuitive and responsive design
The reasons for participatory design are manifold in today’s world: The design of everyday objects is not always intuitive, and at times, it leaves the user frustrated and unable to complete a simple task. Often newly developed products, environments, or systems miss the real value for those who should use them at a later stage, and are based on the assumptions of designers, developers, and researchers on what “might be needed”. Thus, participatory design aims to improve the knowledge of how systems and products are built. With this goal, participatory design also opts for a more socially responsible and responsive design, aiming to include those outside of the mainstream into the mainstream, e.g. people with disabilities.

Bottom-up driven innovation and ownership
Involving those who are affected by new solutions into the design process not only supports the ownership of those involved, but also helps people to develop realistic expectations and support change processes. Moreover approaches, which support citizens in shaping the world they live in, become increasingly important. Participatory design gives members of a community or organisation the right to participate in decisions that are likely to affect their lives.

Participatory design by ZSI
The design of user involvement processes is a critical task, which is strongly influenced by the initial problem, the involved target group, the expected outcomes, and the context in which it takes place. It requires careful elaboration of an adequate methodology about “whom to involve and how,” as well as steering, moderation, and analysis of outcomes from this process.
The participatory design experts at ZSI are involved in diverse research projects involving the design and evaluation of socio-technical innovations. Our work is characterised by diversified target groups, e.g. workers, students, teachers, scientists, older people, and people with disabilities. We have expertise in a portfolio of quantitative and qualitative instruments applied in the four phases of participatory design, based on contextual investigation, idea generation, prototyping, and evaluation, fostering the mutual learning between the involved stakeholders, like technicians, researchers, designers, and end-users.

Relevant articles:

  • Holocher-Ertl, T., Kieslinger, B., Fabian, C.M. (2012): Designing for the Users or with the Users? A Participatory Design Approach for Science Teaching in Schools. In the Proceedings of the 22nd annual eChallenges e-2012 Conference, October 2012, Lisbon, Portugal (Accepted).
  • Holocher, T., Kieslinger, B., Fabian, C.M. (2011): Applying Participatory Methods to Address Motivational Aspects in Informal Workplace Learning. International Journal of Advanced Corporate Learning (iJAC), Vol 4, No 1, ISSN: 1867-5565
  • Holocher-Ertl, T., Kieslinger, B. (2011). Partizipatives Design als Innovation im Wissensmanagement. In Pendeln zwischen Wissenschaft und Praxis. Reflexionen über das Arbeiten an sozialen Innovationen. Vienna: LIT Verlag.
  • Holocher-Ertl, T. & Schwarz-Woelzl, M. (2011). Methodology of research in requirements elicitation with older people (Go-myLife report No. 2.1). Retrieved from http://www.gomylife.eu/filedepot
  • Holocher-Ertl, T. & Schwarz-Woelzl, M. (2011). Participatory workshops with older people (Go-myLife report No. 2.2). Retrieved from http://www.gomylife.eu/filedepot
  • Holocher-Ertl, T. & Schwarz-Woelzl, M. (2011). Methodology of pilot testing and evaluation with older people (Go-myLife report No. 6.1). Retrieved from http://www.gomylife.eu/filedepot
  • Kieslinger, B., Pata, K., Fabian, C.M. (2009). A Participatory Design Approach for the Support of Collaborative Learning and KnowledgeBuildingin Networked Organizations. International Journal of Advanced Corporate Learning (iJAC), Volume 2, Issue 3. ISSN: 1867-5565

References:

  • Asaro, P. M. (2000). Transforming society by transforming technology : the science and politics of participatory design. Accounting, Management and Information Technologies, 10, 257–290.
  • Cassim, J., Coleman, R., Clarkson, J., & Dong, H. (2007). Why Inclusive Design? In R. Coleman, J. Clarkson, H. Dong, & J. Cassim (Eds.), Design for Inclusivity: A Practical Guide to Accessible, Innovative and User-Centred Design (pp. 11–21). Hampshire, UK: Gower Publishing Limited.
  • Schuler, D., & Namioka, A. (1993). Participatory Design: Principles and Practices. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Spinuzzi, C. (2005). The Methodology of Participatory Design. Technical Communication, 52(2), 163–174.

If you are interested in our competences on participatory design, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Ansprechperson: Magª. Teresa Schäfer, (former known as Holocher-Ertl)

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