Posted by Selina on Tuesday April 18th 2017 at 09:17

Please find below the call for participation for the Participatory Design Conference in 2018, co-organised by Social Spaces, LUCA School of Arts.


The 16th biennial Participatory Design Conference (PDC)

Hasselt & Genk, Belgium, 20 – 24 August 2018


“Participatory Design, Democracy and Politics”

The Participatory Design Conference (PDC) is a conference with a long history in bringing together scholars who present research on the direct involvement of people in design, development, implementation, and appropriation activities of information and communication technologies, spaces, artefacts, and services. PDC brings together a multidisciplinary and international group of researchers and practitioners encompassing a wide range of issues that emerge around participatory design, encountered and discussed in multiple fields. These include, but are not limited to, HCI (Human-Computer Interaction), CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work), co-design, design research, CSCL (Computer Supported Collaborative Learning), ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development), development studies, design anthropology, sociology, media studies, architecture and spatial planning, and arts.

In 2018, the Participatory Design Conference will be held in Belgium, in a year that is characterised by municipal elections in the region. Not only on a local level are things in motion; we are facing several challenges on a global level too: growing economic and social inequalities, growing migration rates, and a rise of xenophobia, right-wing upsurge and securitarian policies. PDC 2018’s theme, ‘Participatory Design, Politics and Democracy’, questions both the role of participatory design practitioners in the PD processes themselves and in the changing political landscape.

Please see the full call:

Also, join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram



* Full papers: 10 November 2017, 23:59 CET.

* First notification to full papers authors: 12 January 2018, 23:59 CET.

* Full-paper revised submission, Short papers, workshops, tutorials, doctoral colloquium and situated actions submission: 9 February 2018, 23:59 CET.

* Second and final notification of acceptance: 27 March 2018, 23:59 CET.

* Camera ready versions: 18 May 2018, 23:59 CET.


See below for the submission instructions.


Call for Participation for the 14th biennial Participatory Design Conference

Posted by Jessica on Thursday September 3rd 2015 at 09:05


Join us for the 14th biennial Participatory Design Conference (PDC)
Aarhus, Denmark, 15 – 19 August 2016

The Participatory Design Conference (PDC) is a premier venue for presenting research on the direct involvement of people in the design, development, implementation and appropriation of information and communication technology. PDC brings together a multidisciplinary and international group of researchers and practitioners from multiple fields encompassing a wide range of issues that emerge around cooperative design.

Social Spaces @ the PLATE conference (Nottingham Trent University, UK)

Posted by Selina on Thursday June 18th 2015 at 13:09

Today, Social Spaces is at the first international conference to examine Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE), organised by the Nottingham Trent University (UK). This conference aims at reviewing current research on how and why increased product lifetimes have become an important element in resource efficiency, waste reduction and low carbon strategies for sustainability. In the context of sustainability, the conference embraces a multi-disciplinary perspective including design, geography, anthropology, business management, economics, marketing and consumer behaviour, sociology and politics. For more information, see:

At the PLATE conference, we (Katrien Dreessen, Liesbeth Huybrechts & Selina Schepers) are presenting our paper titled ‘Objects are actors too: the ‘hack-a-thing’ workshop series as a case for revising new user-object relationships’.


MELoDiA: designing an educational music application

Posted by Selina on Monday March 23rd 2015 at 09:09

Our colleagues from CUO wrote the following blogpost on the MELoDiA project. Check it out:

(Image by Niek Kosten)

We are happy to have been part of the MELoDiA design team that delivered a marketable product only months after the end of the project. Just as a record only holds polished songs, a game in the App Store does not reveal the iterations it underwent. Since we are proud of the end result and the research trajectory that led up to it, we want to put the user insights that formed the end product in the spotlight. Drum rolls, please!

From concept…
At the start of the project the research groups SMIT & CUO |Social Spaces, together with the partners, had worked out a concept for an application aimed at children between 8 and 12 years old. We wanted to work towards a mobile game application that provides a fun learning experience to novice music learners while learning to sing. Also, we made use of popular content that fits in with children’s personal music experiences. Furthermore, we aimed to include real-time feedback. Lastly, we wanted to make a game that keeps children motivated while learning, so they would not quit on music.

While the concept was clear to all project partners, we had questions about our targeted end users and music education. Firstly, we did not know what children (aged 8 to 12) with little to no experience with music education expect from music games. Secondly, we had to discover which practices in music education could be translated into a digital learning environment. In order to find answers to these questions we conducted user research with children and music teachers. Ultimately, the insights we gathered informed the design of this new music game.

… to educational music application
We learned that children are eager to learn. Consequently, they accept negative and positive feedback, as long as the feedback allows them to improve their performance. As such, the application gives children detailed feedback on their performance. Taking up the children’s challenge to be bold, the designers experimented with a virtual audience that appealed to the children during user tests. Also, children indicated that by obtaining scores, they could enter in competitions with their friends or siblings. In order to support the children’s motivation, we included a point system and high scores in the application. The children involved in our research also shared some concerns, for instance about the aggravating hours they have to spend practicing. Many children experience this as the least fun part about learning music. While children put in much effort, this effort usually only pays off in the long run. Therefore, we decided to score effort as well. Importantly, we learned that children wanted to be in control. So, we suggested to implement a learning path that children can decide to follow – or not. Another important insight concerned the need for children to practice in private, but share their ability with their peers. Thus, the children can record and replay the recordings they like with the application.

After talking with the children, we turned to the teachers for insights on music teaching. Teachers mentioned that they break up a song in different pieces so it is easier to learn. As such, the interface of the game clearly separates these elements. The teachers also told us they give feedback as soon as possible so children do not learn ‘wrong skills’. However, when children make many mistakes teachers work on the most important errors so children are not discouraged. To support this insight, the design team decided to ‘flag’ the most important errors children can focus on.

This was the ‘behind the scenes’ story of the design of an educational music application for novice music learners. We now welcome all children to the stage to learn to sing with K3.

(Picture by Cartamundi Digital)

Project realized with the support of iMinds Media & together with Cartamundi Digital, MU Technologies (with financial support of IWT), Halewijnstichting and LUCA School of Arts (Lemmensinstituut)

Problematizing ‘participation’ in ‘public space’ [Summer School results]

Posted by Selina on Wednesday October 15th 2014 at 09:29

The first TRADERS Summer School started with an official Kick-off at Z33, the 31st of September, when the results from the Training Week and first TRADERS exhibition were shown to all the participants. The 1st of October we had a lecture from Ramia Mazé, who gave many insights and examples of ‘disruptive’ approaches to participatory practices in design, and guided the participants divided into 6 groups on a workshop during the afternoon. The 2nd of October Martijn De Waal gave a lecture on the ‘playful’ approach and guided the groups to finalize their proposals to ‘prototype’ in public space. The 3rd of October we had the morning to finalize our proposals and videos and in the afternoon organized a ‘public forum’ to show the results from the different projects realized and reflect on different issues dealt with during the past days.



As there was a strong focus on ‘documentation’, guided by the project Backstories, the resulting outcomes are videos. The proposals ranged from (1) direct intervention’ in the public space (check out the video here) to a (2) new way of conceiving participatory practices in design through exchange (check out the video here), from (3) questioning the role of the designer in society (check out the video here) to a (4) collaborative mapping exercise (check out the video here), and from (5) questioning the need of designers to intervene in ‘public matters’ (check out the video here) to a (6)performative dialogue that presented a ‘multi-vocal’ approach to design interventions (video to be uploaded soon).

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