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HCII Seminar Series - Susan Wyche

Susan Wyche

Susan Wyche
Associate Professor, Michigan State University, Department of Media and Information


This seminar will be presented virtually.

Video link


"Reconsidering Human-Centered Approaches to Design in Human-Computer Interaction and Development (HCI4D): Using Design Methods to Reimagine Technology in Rural Kenya"

Enthusiasm for using human-centered design persists among HCI and HCI4D researchers and practitioners; funding agencies continue to support efforts to use this design strategy in development projects. However, few—if any—of these projects reach their potential. Given that most of these projects fail, researchers and practitioners might consider adopting different approaches to design. In this talk, I will offer an alternative to human-centered design. This approach draws from 10+ years of studying technology use in sub-Saharan Africa, in (primarily Kenyan) sites, as well as my training as an industrial designer. In particular, I will present three case studies detailing my use of these design methods in research conducted in rural Kenya: cultural probes, speculative design, and design workbooks. My findings raise questions about generalizability, objectivity, and the pursuit of a single solution in design. These findings also draw attention to different ways for people to participate in design processes, and to the value of long-term engagement with communities.

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Susan Wyche (she/her) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Information at Michigan State University (MSU) and has a courtesy appointment in MSU’s African Studies Center. Her research primarily contributes to the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICTD) fields. She is interested in developing an understanding of technology use in sub-Saharan Africa, that is grounded in people’s experiences. To achieve this goal, she conducts fieldwork in—primarily Kenyan sites—that she has been visiting since 2008. This research is funded by awards from Google, Facebook, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Wyche is a 2015 recipient of an NSF CAREER Award. She earned her PhD in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Tech, an MS from Cornell University, and an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from Carnegie Mellon University.  Susan also worked as a professional designer in the housewares industry, prior to pursuing her PhD. 

Speaker's Website

Jodi Forlizzi