Learning Through a Participatory Workshop

As a part of school work, our team of four went for a parcipatory workshop with our chosen social group. We chose the SFU Kendo club earlier on in the semester and have been working with and for them. One of the things we did was the journey framework that I have previously posted. The workshop helped us to create transitions between different design stages and validated our design process before proceeding. At the beginning of our process, we analyzed our cultural probes based on what they provided and our shallow understanding of the group. We, as designers, appropriate as we move from stages to stages. At this stage of our process, when enough appropriation had been made, we compare our process with our target users by providing them with a participatory workshop. The workshop is equipped with various interview questions and activities to get us a further understanding of our target users by observing their behaviours first hand.

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We broke down the workshop to:
Introduction 5 minutes 
It has been eight weeks since we got the cultural probes back from them and we haven’t had any chance to reconnect with them. It was a good time to remind them of our names again and how much we appreciated their time and willingness to participate in the study. We took a few minutes to clarify the process we are at and also give them a chance to ask any question or comments before starting the workshop. After all, it is important to let our participants know and understand what we are doing and why we are doing it. We also politely asked them if they don’t mind us documenting the process.

Ice Breaker 10 minutes
To break the awkward silence and to challenge their memory, each one of us introduced ourselves by saying our names using the sound or accent of an animal. It was a fun exercise to get to know them and for them to get to know us, and get them to be imaginative and fun. After they laughed at each other, we introduced them to the ninja/bear/cowboy game, which is basically just a variation of the classic rock/paper/scissors game. With this exercise, we observed the relationship the two of the members shared and how competitive they are with each other, but also very casual. This was also a good activity to relax them and make them feel more excited to do the exercises following.

Out of Context Scenarios 10 minutes
We asked them such question in leading to the prepared scenario. This question was meant to show which superhero character they like, which implicitly means that they like the characteristics and the powers that the superhero possesses.

These provided scenarios were given to them are irrelevant with each other, yet the three of them encompassed the same theme: what would you do? Their answers showed that the participants are not an aggressive type though they have the power and means to do so. They would rather avoid conflicts than solve them the violent way. These responses were aligned with the principles of Kendo and also show the participants’ responsibilities and maturity level.
In this content question part, we decided to use an informal way to collect data from the participants. Our goal was to find out what their body condition is after practicing Kendo. In this exercise, each participant was provided with a human figure outline and stickers. The human figure is to represent their body, and the stickers is provided for them to pinpoint the locations on their body where they feel they get hurt most. The results are that the participants get hurt easily during their first year of Kendo practice. It is due to inconsistent power used during practice, such as swinging their arms in the incorrect position, and because this happens very often they will also twist their muscles easily. Throughout our exercise we found one of the participants, Hanna, getting hit on her head due to the fact that it is her first year of playing Kendo.

Design Creation Activities 25 minutes
A series of activities was planned for them to freely express themselves and let us analyze their actions. 

The accessorize play-doh activity was the most ‘successful’ in that the answers from the group were much different from each other. In previous exercises the answers yielded from the activity and questions from each individual were quite similar. However, with the play-doh activity gave them much freedom to make it their own and thus, the result of each of the three were unique and personal.
From this exercise, we got a sense that all three participants were quite feminine in a sense that they designed products that were specifically geared towards women. In addition, they also added some more feminine touch with the flower ornaments and the detailed put in. We were not anticipating them to create any of these products. While they were doing this exercise, we also observed that none of them were wearing any jewelry and thus making one for them would not make much sense.

Exit Interview & Conclusion 5 minutes
By the time they were done with all of our exercises, they were already late for their planned ice breaker. So we quickly thanked them for their time and participation and took a few group shots of them, capturing their beautiful smiles and high spirit.

We made a huge assumption prior to the workshop, thinking that they do exercise outside of their regular Kendo practice. However, after this workshop, we realized that they don’t and nor they wear any athletic accessories. The workshop has given us insights and a thorough understanding of how we should change our design to compliment them more.

 

 

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