Design Blog

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Participatory Design Blog Post

When designing new technology it can be challenging for designers to imagine everything a potential user of that technology would want it to be able to do and also what their experience of using the technology will be. This can be particularly true when technology designers are designing for a specific minority group with a very different background to their own, such as users with particular disabilities or additional educational needs. One solution to this problem is to involve the potential end users themselves in the design of this new technology. This allows the end users to directly influence the outcome of the technology design process and the designer isn’t then making assumptions about their needs and preferences. This approach to technology design is often referred to as ‘participatory design’ or ‘co-design’.

End users can be involved in design process in a number of different ways. They could take part in brainstorming discussions with other design team members, interact with and evaluate existing similar technologies, participate in design workshops using art materials to create low-tech prototypes of the new technology, trial and give feedback on early prototype versions of the technology or even be involved in directly developing part of the technology.

There are multiple benefits of involving end users in the technology design process in terms of both improving the final product as well as benefiting the participating users themselves, for instance by providing them with a sense of empowerment as well as the opportunity to develop new skills.

By incorporating a participatory approach into the design of our tool, by involving children, teachers and parents, we hope that we can not only ensure that the tool fulfills the needs and preferences of the children (as well as their teachers and parents) who we are designing for, but that the process will also provide some form of tangible benefit for everyone that participates whether it is expanding their knowledge in a particular area, developing a new skill or simply having an enjoyable experience.

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Month 1 Update

The team have been discussing issues affecting dyslexic students in Primary Schools with literacy activities including guided reading, independent reading and one-to-one tutoring and in Secondary School with continued fluency in reading.   These have been used to create examples (Use Cases) along with recognised strategies that are used to support students in reading.  These now need validating and we will be running interviews and surveys in December and January, to validate the teams views prior to an evaluation tool being developed early 2015.

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