First of all, let me describe what a participatory design is and why is it needed.
Participatory design – also called cooperative design – is an approach to designing spaces and products. The aim of this approach is to successfully involve designers, stakeholders and space-users during the design process stage, in order to help ensure that the end product meet the needs of its intended user base.
In February – the 20th; the C-re-aid team organized and conducted a participatory design workshop in the school of Nungwi, involving 10 students – boys and girls; and a teacher. This activity allowed C-re-aid to make a full analyse of the needs assessment for the library and a better understanding of their expectations. Consequently the design suggestion would be closely related to their specific requests.
Before starting with the activities, few things needed to be prepared, as arranging the appointment, selecting the students, the place, prepare the activities etc. For the workshop, 10 students from different grade were needed, a teacher for supervision, and of course a space where we could conduct the workshop. By the time the students and the teacher were ready for the workshop, we decided to conduct the participatory outside, close to the site; with a simple table placed under a tree where we would all gather around. Once everything was ready, we started by a small presentation of ourselves, and what we were going to achieve during the day but also in the next few months. The C-re-aid team members that were conducting the participatory design were Eva Cabuezelo and Samantha Welby. The students also presented themselves.
Then the workshop could start…
The first activity was in the form of two main questions to which they had to answer: “ What do they usually do in a library? ” and “ What would they like to have in a library? “.
They had to write their answers on stickers, then stick it on a big brown paper we had prepare; in the right columns.
The second activity concerned the space and their activities during school hours. We had a model of the plot prepared with few words in link with school. By group of five, they had to choose words and then after place them on the plot – and surroundings. The two groups was actually divided “boys” and “girls”.
The last activity concerned colors. We had pre selected colors that reminds of Zanzibar/Tanzania. From there, we asked them – still by group; to choose 3 or 4 colors and explain their choices.
What was interesting from all those activities was that after each answers, the students had the opportunity to brainstorm together, explain their answers, start a small discussion and justify their ideas. It was also for us the possibility to hear from what they had to say.
It was also funny – specially in both activity 1 and 2; to see how detailed and very serious the answers from teenagers were. It seemed like they were or more serious than I was in secondary school or that they wanted to impress the present teacher and the C-re-aid team. Simple example of it was, in activity 2, from all words they could choose, they all chose LISTEN or LEARN because ” school is important to get knowledge and job in the future.”
But it is not so bad, if we actually want the future library to be filled with students all day long!