Co-Design as Learning: The Differences of Learning When Involving Older People in Digitalization in Four Countries Academic Article uri icon

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  • Involving older people through co-design has become increasingly attractive as an approach to develop technologies for them. However, less attention has been paid to the internal dynamics and localized socio-material arrangements that enact this method in practice. In this paper, we show how the outcomes that can be achieved with user involvement often pertain to learning, but their content can differ significantly based on how the approach is implemented in practice. Combining explorative, qualitative findings from co-design conducted in four countries (Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden), we illustrate how different types of learning occurred as design workshops engaged the experiences and skills of older people in different ways. Our findings make visible how learning can be a core outcome of co-design activities with older adults, while raising awareness of the role of the power relations and socio-material arrangements that structure these design practices in particular ways. To benefit from the full wealth of insights that can be learned by involving older people, deeper knowledge is needed of the implicit features of design, the materials, meanings, and power aspects involved.


  • Fischer, Björn
  • Östlund, Britt
  • Dalmer, Nicole
  • Rosales, Andrea
  • Peine, Alexander
  • Loos, Eugène
  • Neven, Louis
  • Marshall, Barbara

publication date

  • June 1, 2021