Participatory Design and International Development
A workshop at PDC 2006, Trento, Italy (www.pdc2006.org)
Wednesday 2nd August 2006
Postion paper or expression of interest:
Friday 9th June 2006 Notice of acceptance:
Tuesday 13th June 2006
Early registraiton deadline for Conference: 15th June 2006
Workshop: 2nd August.
A large body of work in the field of international development
emphasises the need for host communities in development projects to be
empowered in designing and controlling those projects (Chambers, 1991,
Anderson et al., 1999, Beardon et al., 2005). Many projects are making
use of ICT as part of their plan (ITID, 2003 - 5). here have been few
explicit efforts to bring together the international development and the
participatory design (PD) communities to support mutual learning. The
aim of this workshop is to initiate a debate.
Despite the clear similarities in perspective between PD practice in the
developed world and the requirements of development projects, there are
also important specificities in applying participatory approaches to
development. Possible specific factors include:
1. In development projects one of the key goals is enhancing the
long term capability of host communities after the project ends. Thus
the mutual learning that is characteristic of PD could be more important
than the immediate results of any particular projects.
2. Developing-world design projects may widen the analysis and
design spaces to take into account issues such as local economic
conditions, political structures, resource availability, and long term
financial sustainability of solutions.
3. Developing-world projects are, by definition, conducted against
a background of severely constrained resources.
4. Collaborative design activities must be sensitive to the
relatively high costs of face-to-face working between developed and
developing countries, but also to the limitations of available
5. Establishing effective partnership working in development
projects may be very difficult, requiring significant time periods,
because of the enormous disparities in perceived status between host
communities and designers.
6. Developing-world projects may involve cultural and language
barriers between technologists and hosts, which are more extreme than
those encountered in projects in the developed world.
7. The institutional arrangements and historical context that
surround international development can easily distort project priorities
and result in inappropriate decisions.
This workshop will provide a space to exchange experiences, explore
differences between developed and developing world contexts, to develop
new partnerships, and to learn from each other about problems we have
encountered and ways of working that we have discovered.
The workshop will be open to anyone with experience of participatory
design, and / or international development. Participants should submit a
2 page paper describing either: a relevant experience or arguing a
particular position in relation to PD in development contexts.
Participants in the workshop will be asked to present their submission
by telling a story. These stories will be followed by collaborative
working to explore and collate issues raised by the participants.
Depending on the number of participants, we expect to spend the first
session in the morning on introductions and story telling.
After the coffee break, we will use brainstorming and card sorting
techniques to identify and group relevant topics and concerns.
In the afternoon, the focus will move to developing outputs to feedback
to the wider PDC audience. The expected output will be a series of
research challenges and questions presented as a poster to stimulate
discussion among attendees at the conference, and an on-line
presentation to reach the wider PD audience.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
To participate in the workshop, please send a 2 page position paper or
statement explaining your interest and experience in this topic to:
Andy Dearden ([log in to unmask]) by Friday 9th June 2006.
The early registration deadline for the conference is Thursday 15th
We will respond to confirm your involvement in the workshop by Tuesday
1. Anderson, J. Van Crowder, L. Dion, D & Truelove, W., 1999.
Applying the lessons of participatory communication and training to
rural telecentres. FAO.
2. Beardon, H., Munyampeta, F., Rout S. & Maiso Williams, Grace,
2005. ICT for Development, Empowerment or Exploitation. ActionAid.
Available from www.reflect-action.org
3. Chambers, R. 1992. Rural Appraisal: Rapid, Relaxed, and
Participatory. Institute of Development Studies Discussion Paper 311.
4. ITID, 2003 - 5. Information Technologies and International
Development, MIT Press Journals.
ABOUT THE ORGANISERS
Andy Dearden is a participatory designer with a background in human
computer interaction. His recent work has investigated tools to support
distributed forms of participation in design and the design of ICT
systems to support 'social action' in voluntary and community groups,
NGOs and 'civil society'.
Alan Jackson is a director of Aidworld, a UK based non-profit
organisation working on ICT for development. He recently initiated a
new research programme from the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences
Research Council on 'Bridging the Global Digital Divide'.
Ann Light is chair of trustees for The Fiankoma Project
(www.fiankoma.org), a charity promoting cultural exchange through ICT by
linking people in the UK and Ghana and establishing collaborative media
projects. She is a visiting research fellow at Queen Mary University of
London, researching people's understanding of and response to digital
networks to inform interactive systems design, with a particular
interest in qualitative methods. Ann is also editor of
Paul Matthews is Knowledge Management and IT officer for the Overseas
Development Institute (ODI). ODI is Britain's leading independent
think-tank on international development and humanitarian issues. His
interests include ICT for development, collaboration and information
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