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One of the pillars that meSch is built upon is co-design. It means that all our prototypes and exhibitions are developed in cooperation between designers, cultural heritage professionals, technical personnel and future users. The recently submitted deliverable, “D1.1 Co-Design and Collaborative Learning”, documents and reflects upon the overarching co-design strategy underpinning meSch and its realisation. It presents the results of substantial co-design work conducted within the meSch project over the course of 32 months on shaping, coordinating and implementing participatory activities to connect cultural heritage settings and stakeholders to technical and prototype development.

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Sample pages from the co-design booklet which can be downloaded as pdf.

A resource for cultural heritage professionals

As well as a traditional report and academic papers, the deliverable includes the website (mesch-project.eu/codesign) and a companion booklet where the meSch co-design strategies, techniques and lessons learned are documented and made available to other practitioners. The website and booklet were designed to serve as a resource for cultural heritage professionals who wish to co-create their own interactive exhibits using co-design methods and techniques. They include a collection of co-design case studies and methods based on the meSch experience of running co-design workshops and exercises. A number of co-design case studies and methods were compiled in order to capture and share a snapshot of the wealth of creative applications of co-design for cultural heritage professionals. The results of this work provide a substantial contribution to existing research on and practice of co-design for cultural heritage technologies, and co-design in general.

The role of co-design within the entire meSch project.

Of course, several previous research projects have adopted participatory approaches to interaction design, however co-design in meSch has involved a significantly larger team and range of stakeholders working towards several design outcomes: the team has included three partner heritage institutions and numerous external collaborators contributing to the design of exploratory prototypes (in WP2), the three meSch case studies (in WP6), and the meSch authoring tool and visualisation strategy (in WP3). This makes for significantly complex, challenging and extensive co-design practice within the same focused research programme, on a scale that has not been realised before.

Furthermore, co-design work in meSch has employed a large variety of participatory techniques within various phases of co-design, and these have been also comparatively reflected upon and successively adapted. Overall the meSch co-design strategy makes for a significant research contribution on participatory approaches to design and represents a case study in participatory methods of unprecedented breadth.

Further co-design activities in meSch

The work conducted on WP1 will continue to produce outcomes well beyond the completion of WP1, and of meSch, not only in the forms of additional publications, but also by virtue of the release of the booklet and companion website, in connection to evaluation activities for the case studies in WP7, and to dissemination activities in WP8.