The “virtual design
studio” concept has been used by many researchers for computer
supported cooperative work. But these are typically specialized for
professional projects (e.g. architects talking to architects). Here
we seek to create a virtual design studio dedicated to participatory
development with lay communities.
Our pilot project
is titled: "A Virtual Design Studio Pilot Project: Facilitating
the Participatory Design of an AIDS/HIV Awareness campaign
with a remote audience in Kenya." In this research project we
sent our graduate research assistant to Kenya to participate in an
AIDS/HIV Awareness campaign design. The GRA then established
internet communications with our design team here at RPI, with the
Demonstrate the feasibility of creating a virtual design
studio to help HIV prevention in Africa.
Provide a "proof of concept," showing major funding agencies
how a participatory design approach can be used by a
computing center in Kenya.
Demonstrate how a participatory design process can improve
Enable us to determine the limitations and maximum potential
of our existing information technologies ; a critical data set in justifying the
external funding needed to generate IT innovation for the full virtual design studio
The success of this
project promises to open new multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary
research frontiers. A virtual design studio is more than just a tool
to hand over to local folks; it offers a profound bridge across
geographic and cultural distances.
was dedicated to preparation for the mock-run of VDS in the summer.
We assessed our computer equipment needs and other technical
logistics for the mock-run's communication infrastructure. We
derived a feasible plan for recruiting Kenyan participants and
applied to the Institute Review Board for clearance to work with
saw a mock-run of Virtual Design Studio carried out by our Kenyan
graduate student using a combination of local instruction and
small-scale distance education simulations. Collecting the posters,
flyers and other communication materials generated by the
participants, based on their local knowledge systems and worldview,
was a critical part of our research data set. A second data set was
generated from information on technology interactions; both from the
view of remote instructors as well as local participants.
Fall 2003 is
focused on the qualitative analyses of this data and generation of
subsequent proposals for major external funding. Individual members
of the team are also developing entrepreneurial research projects on
HIV/AIDS and writing papers on the current state of distance
learning in graphic design: