Something we’ve come to realize in the last couple weeks, is the increasing subtle distinction between co-creating and transformative design. After reading Kelly’s post about transformative design and the article she sited, we began to understand the roles of the different stakeholders at the library.

We held an action research session in which we spent 3 hrs with different groups of 50 teens at a time at the library. In that session we ran the teens through a design process of generating ideas, sorting and categorizing them regarding different resources they have access to and would like access to in their communities. The categories we outlined were Food, Fun and Find Out. As the groups of teens moved through we realized that some of what we were trying to do was more transformative than co-creative.

We led the teens through a process that they might not have understood completely because it is such a diversion from what they are used to in a school or outside of school setting. This unfamiliarity was detrimental to their participation. Even though we suggest that everyone use the design process, it can be a huge departure from the regular way that people give information to an authority figure. Upon analyzation, we realized that our time might have been better served by running the staff through a process like that to familiarize them with a different way of working. There must be a better way to have more of a co-creative atmosphere when working with the teens.

Although the sessions went well and the teens were responsive for the most part, we learned a lot by being critical of our methods and tools when addressing teens. It is hard to quantify the effect that we’ve had on the teens and the validity of their responses. By using current library staff to run an event like that we would be able to get the co-creative input from the teens while doing transformative design with the staff. This is important because it allows our role to be that of facilitator and preparer while leaving the staff who the teens are familiar with to interact with them. Our understanding of the distinction of these two ways of working are crucial for moving forward when engaging the staff and the teens at the Library.

Vía Kelly and Alex's Thesis