Designing a more effective way to surface the information needs of people in developing communities

19 Sep 2017

This paper is a reflection on the research design of an information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) research project using design science research (DSR) in the pragmatic tradition. The artefact created and evaluated during the study is the Community Shaping Solutions Framework (CSSF) in response to the problem that this study addresses: how should the information needs that are meaningful to women working as domestic workers, be effectively translated through the use of ICT in order to enhance their experience of the good life as defined by Sen’s (1999) capability approach and to contribute to the success and social value of ICT4D projects. The study is conducted in Pretoria and Johannesburg, South Africa. A group of women from the domestic cleaning sector represents a developing community in an urban setting and is selected using snowball sampling to participate in the study. Six organisations that have an interest in interacting with developing communities were selected using purposive sampling and participated in the study to provide a perspective on information inclusivity. The study has three phases starting with the group of women using journals to self-document their interactions with information, followed by a design thinking workshop with the women and ending with the organisational interviews. The CSSF contributes to knowledge as a theory of design and action. The novelty of the CSSF is the combination of DSR with ICT4D, the use of journals as a self-documentation technique to collect data, followed by a design thinking workshop and interviews. The effectiveness of the CSSF and utility to the community of users are demonstrated through the participatory approach to facilitate the community to shape solutions that they value and the empowerment experienced through both the activities as well as the impact of the solution as an expansion of choice.