The importance of considering local context and partnering with target users are well established in co-design. Less common is an examination of the adaptations needed when deploying the same co-design program across heterogenous settings to maximize program efficacy and equity. We report on our experience co-designing educational games with six culturally and socioeconomically diverse afterschool sites over a 2-year period, and insights from interviewing nine program administrators across all sites. We found that even within the same afterschool program network, site differences in organizational culture and resources impacted the effectiveness of co-design programs, the co-design output, and expectations for student engagement. We characterize our afterschool partners into different archetypes – Safe Havens, Recreation Centers, Homework Helpers, and STEM Enrichment Centers. We provide recommendations for conducting co-design at each archetype, and reflect on strategies for increasing equitable partnerships between researchers and afterschool centers.
Judith Uchidiuno is an Assistant Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Interactive Computing. She designs culturally informed STEM education technologies, and increases access to computer science education in sustainable ways for students from low income and underserved communities. Her work prioritizes identity development, engagement, and long-term sustainability of interventions. Her research has contributed to the design of a tablet-based learning system used to supplement formal education by over 500 students in rural Tanzania, programmable video games codesigned with children to increase computational thinking and coding skills among low income and marginalized youth in the United States, co-design of a state-wide Artificial Intelligence middle school curriculum, and active collaboration with several schools and organizations.