A Namib­ian Design Jour­ney: Towards Local Appro­pri­a­tion of Design and Eval­u­a­tion” by Prof Dr Heike Winschiers-​Theophilus

Date: Fri­day, 16 Novem­ber 2012
Time: 3.00 p.m.
Venue: ISITI Meet­ing Room, Level 1, Block B, FCSIT Build­ing

Pre­vi­ous work has demon­strated that well defined con­cepts, meth­ods and frame­works in the field of Human Com­puter Inter­ac­tion are not uni­ver­sally applic­a­ble. Fur­ther, recent research in cul­tural psy­chol­ogy has revealed cul­tural dif­fer­ences in, what was for­merly regarded to be, core human func­tion­ing. We need to recon­sider many assump­tions that guide design and eval­u­a­tion deci­sions, within local con­texts and pur­sue a more crit­i­cal research agenda within an indige­nous epis­te­mol­ogy. This leads us to ques­tion the valid­ity of tech­niques and inter­pre­ta­tions of inter­ac­tions orig­i­nat­ing from a West­ern sci­en­tific par­a­digm and pur­sue the cre­ation of an indige­nous HCI par­a­digm to frame design meth­ods. In this pre­sen­ta­tion I will share our expe­ri­ences of com­mu­nity dri­ven design in Namibia and espe­cially the insights and chal­lenges in the design and devel­op­ment of an indige­nous knowl­edge man­age­ment sys­tem in a rural pilot site.

Heike Winschiers-​Theophilus is a Direc­tor (Pro­fes­sor) in the School of Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy at the Poly­tech­nic of Namibia. She has lived in Namibia and lec­tured in the field of Soft­ware Engi­neer­ing at the Uni­ver­sity and Poly­tech­nic since 1994. Her PhD (2001) explored cross-​cultural design issues and sug­gests a frame­work for cul­ture cen­tered dia­log­i­cal design. Since then her research has included cross-​cultural issues in in human-​computer-​interaction (HCI), cul­tural appro­pri­a­tion of design and eval­u­a­tion con­cepts and meth­ods, rep­re­sen­ta­tion and retrieval of indige­nous knowl­edge, community-​centred design of infor­ma­tion sys­tems sup­port­ing local con­tent cre­ation, stor­age, organ­i­sa­tion and retrieval. In 2008 Heike estab­lished a niche area research clus­ter at the Poly­tech­nic of Namibia in Community-​Centred Design, with the aim to imple­ment an Indige­nous Knowl­edge Man­age­ment Sys­tem. She leads this research group con­sist­ing of Poly­tech­nic of Namibia staff mem­bers, Mas­ter and Hon­ours stu­dents, sev­eral exter­nal inter­na­tional research col­lab­o­ra­tors (South Africa, Den­mark, Ger­many), and local indige­nous knowl­edge hold­ers. In 2011 she chaired the first ever Indige­nous Knowl­edge Tech­nol­ogy Con­fer­ence in Wind­hoek, Namibia to ini­ti­ate a world­wide dia­logue on the ten­sions in dig­i­tal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Indige­nous Knowledge.

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To be a lead­ing (an inter­na­tion­ally acknowl­edged) research insti­tute that trans­forms social com­mu­ni­ties into a knowledge-​based soci­ety by lever­ag­ing on ICT inno­va­tion.
To gen­er­ate, dis­sem­i­nate, apply and pre­serve knowl­edge through an inno­v­a­tive and mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary approach to empower soci­ety to sus­tain­ably address their devel­op­men­tal needs in a wider social and eco­nomic con­texts.