As part of my work as a research assistant for Dr. Andrew Clement at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information, I have been facilitating participatory design workshops. Here is our first research video, made of our first “low-fidelity” workshop held at the Knowledge Media Design Institute in December 2010.
The Future Workshop was developed for participatory design of information systems by Junkt and Mullert in 1987 (McPhail et al, 1998). It consists of three phases – critique, fantasy and implementation which enable potential users of an information system to expose flaws in their current system, bring to light their ideal system or features and decide what they would like to see prototyped.
On February 19, 2011, Alexandra Hall and I went to Peterborough, ON to lead a Future Workshop with staff, volunteers and other stakeholders at Kawartha Heritage Conservancy, a land, biodiversity and cultural heritage conservation organization. Our objective was to engage in a participatory design session which would shed light on our development of an Intranet to support the organization’s knowledge management strategy.
Although we intended to begin the workshop with an icebreaker, our time was limited and we skipped right into the critique phase, during which participants pointed to weaknesses in their current file organization and sharing system. For the fantasy phase, we were inspired by a session organized by Terry Costantino at Usability Matters earlier this month. The participants imagined their ‘dream’ information system and wrote down each idea on a post-it which they then put on the wall. Afterwards, we had intended to use a “dot-mocracy” exercise for the implementation phase, where participants would each vote for their favourite post-it using 5-10 dot stickers. However, again in the interest of time, we ended up having an open discussion of the proposed features instead. All in all, it was a very informative session and I look forward to showing them the first prototype.
On February 10, 2011, I had the pleasure of facilitating the second visual research methods workshop the the University of Toronto, with the support the Knowledge Media Design Institute and the Faculty of Information.
The workshop was inspired by David Gauntlett’s ArtLab Lego Serious Play project, during which he had research participants build representations of the identities out of clay.
In this version of the workshop, the participants – students, researchers and professors – modelled their research ideas out of clay and explained their clay models with each other. This physical representation of an abstract concept allowed the participants to focus their ideas and discuss them with their peers. In turn, the other participants were able to quickly understand the research idea and provide feedback, suggestions and critiques.
The workshop would not have happened without each person’s commitment to the workshop and enthusiasm for this technique. Thank you to all who, through their support and encouragement, made this possible. I hope that we will soon have another!