Betsy DiSalvo, et al., "Participatory Design for Learning: Perspectives from Practice and Research" (Routledge, 2017)


Betsy DiSalvo, assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology, joins us in this episode to discuss the recently published co-edited volume entitled, Participatory Design for Learning: Perspectives from Practice and Research (Routledge, 2017). The book puts into conversation ideas from the fields of the learning sciences and participatory design research. Betsy describes the learning sciences as already an interdisciplinary field of computing and cognition, with ties to psychology, sociology, and education, among others. Despite the common methodology of design-based research, what it means to do design has been underexplored. In contrast, the field of participatory design has developed techniques and scaffolding to engage in the practices of design, but often leaves unexplored how people learn from their design experiences. The opportunity for the fields to learn from, with, and through each other is evident from each chapter in the book. The case studies in the book illuminate the particulars of design, and Betsy describes her work engaging students in video game glitch testing and Day of the Dead puppets. We discuss the details of this case study from three different angles: what it means to use participatory design methods, along the lines of designing for design; the ideas of value-driven learning, in addition to other terms, such as interest-based learning, culturally relevant or responsive practices, and connected learning; and how to communicate the complexity of the design process. As conversations often do, this one leaves the reader (and authors themselves!) with more questions than answers. The authors conclude with a realization that there are far more divergent ideas about participatory design than we had anticipated (p.233) and that the two disciplines have only just begun to scratch the surface of understanding and respecting each other (p. 241). With the book and her perspectives shared in the interview, Betsy describes an area of scholarship that is full of opportunity and meaning at the leading edge of participatory design for learning.
Julie Kallio is a graduate student in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Her research interests include educational change, innovation and improvement networks, and participatory design. You can find more about her work on her website, follow her on twitter, or email her at

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