Examining Technology Tools Used in Online Intergenerational Participatory Design Teams

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Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many intergenerational design teams were forced to pivot to online sessions and had to rely heavily on technology tools to facilitate these sessions. This thesis examines the technology tools used in two intergenerational participatory design teams and explores how these tools affect design participants (both children and adults) to execute participatory design techniques to their full potential. Through exploratory analysis of data collected from four sources (observation of participatory design sessions, participatory design sessions’ artifacts, semi-structured interviews with adult participants, and expert interviews), this thesis reports on three themes that emerged on how technology tools impact online intergenerational collaboration: 1) social ability online, 2) technical challenges, and 3) power dynamics in online participatory design sessions. To mitigate the barriers caused by technology tools, recommendations on the participatory design processes as well as design of technology tools used in online participatory design work are discussed, with the aspirational goal of achieving equal partnership in the intergenerational design process. The findings of this research would ultimately encourage further meaningful collaboration in online synchronous design teams of all ages.