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IDIA2014 Conference
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
3-4 November 2014

Self-recorded audio feedback as a means to allow young, vulnerable children to participate in design

Helene Gelderblom
Dept of Informatics
University of Pretoria
South Africa

Jason Yip
Digital Youth at Information Schoo
University of Washington
Seattle USA

Elizabeth Bonsignore
University of Maryland College Park

Bester Chimbo
School of Computing
South Africa

Full paper


Cooperative inquiry is a widely adopted method for involving children as full partners in technology design. There is a notable absence of reports on the use of cooperative inquiry (CI) in the developing world. One explanation could be that aspects of the developing context (e.g., cultural issues, socio-economic circumstances) make it more difficult to conduct CI. We argue that nothing should prevent designers from involving children from disadvantaged communities, but that it may be necessary to devise mechanisms for participation that overcome the more pronounced vulnerability of these children. The research reported here was conducted in the context of a design project whose aim is to develop a social media based, cross-age tutoring system whereby teenagers can provide online homework support to younger children from less advantaged communities. Our approach was to design the system in collaboration with children from both intended user groups. The team included nine teenagers from privileged communities and six younger children from a children’s home in Pretoria. Our design team lacked design experience and they did not have sufficient content and pedagogical knowledge. Neither the teenagers nor the young children had previously been involved in cross-age tutoring. Our strategy was to let them engage in face-to-face tutoring sessions over four weeks so that when we subsequently conducted the CI sessions both groups would know what such tutoring support entails. To obtain feedback on the face-to-face sessions, we invited the children to record audio feedback after each session. This would be used as supplementary input into the design. By sharing the surprising results and the problems we encountered along the way, we provide the ICT for development community with pointers on how to maximise children’s contribution to design solutions.

Key words

Children’s voice, cooperative inquiry, participatory design, audio recordings