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Participatory Design as a Practice in the Learning Sciences

Betsy N. Disalvo
Assistant Professor, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech


Newell-Simon Hall 1305 (Michael Mauldin Auditorium)

Video link


The goal of the learning sciences is to not only understand the phenomena of learning, but also to impact educational practices and enable more effective learning. To meet these goals, learning scientists use iterative and design methods as they design curriculum approaches, learning technologies, and technology-rich learning environments. Until recently, however, the learning sciences community has not focused on design of artifacts for supporting learning as a formal practice, discipline, and field of research. Nowhere is this oversight more evident than with regard to engaging stakeholders actively in the design process. Participatory Design (PD) is a field of research and design that examines how stakeholders are able to participate with designers on the development of tools, artifacts, and activities that are important to the user group.

In this talk DiSalvo explores how participatory design can inform the development of learning technology. DiSalvo will address how participatory design can help in creating value-driven learning experiences through formative participatory design work with marginalized groups, creating probes to better understand how to leverage everyday technology practices for learning, and the use of meta-design to scaffold students incorporating their values into the learning experience.

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Betsy DiSalvo is an Assistant Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. At Georgia Tech she leads the Culture and Technology (CAT) Lab, which focuses on research studying cultural values and how they impact technology use, learning, and production. Currently, the CAT Lab is exploring parents’ use of technology for informal learning. In its first stages, this research is developing an understanding of how and why parents use or don’t choose to use computers, mobile devices, and other technology for learning. DiSalvo is also the PI for an NSF funded project exploring how maker oriented learning approaches may increase transfer and reflection in undergraduate computer science courses and a exploring related projects that tie art and technology to increase learning across disciplines. DiSalvo’s work has included the development of the Glitch Game Tester Program and projects for the Carnegie Science Museum, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Eyedrum Art Center and the Walker Art Center. DiSalvo received a Ph.D. in Human Centered Computing from Georgia Tech in 2012.  Previous to coming to Georgia Tech she was a research scientist at the University of Pittsburgh Learning Research and Development Center.