Final Group Project for Community Informatics Studio

Final Group Project for LIS 590 STG – Community Informatics Studio (Summer, 2014)

Design and Innovation Spaces


Innovation spaces such as Fab Labs, makerspaces, and technology centers have been gaining popularity in communities around the world, yet there is a lack of defined theoretical literature providing the foundation for an approach to adequately implementing these spaces.  Drawing on Amartya Sen’s “Capability Approach”, critical theory, and Paulo Freire’s teaching pedagogy, we have created an approach founded in theory that will result in a community innovation space that is responsive to the needs of its defined community.

In this paper we will provide an introduction to the Capability Approach, define innovation spaces, discuss communicating with communities, and address learning pedagogies for innovation spaces. This approach will help innovation spaces avoid the pitfalls of technocentrism (or putting technology before users) and faddishness (or investing in resources that do not remain relevant to the users) through the process of engaging in continuous dialogue with the intended users in order to ensure that their own needs and wants are met within the design and operation of the innovation space.

Recommendations for Designing and Implementing Effective Innovation Spaces

  • Engage in on-going dialogue with the communities that will be using the innovation spaces
  • Focus on the users rather than on the technologies
  • Demonstrate innovation beyond that which is dependent on digital technologies
  • Implement bi-directional learning between teachers and students
  • Serve the relevant communities through building capabilities, facilitating the development of agency, and satisfying functionings

Enhancing Capabilities Through Community Innovation Spaces

The following presentation was given to members of the GSLIS community on August 9, 2014.

Innovation Space Framework

The above presentation was informed by the various innovation space frameworks constructed by group members. My framework is the following: