The challenge for Massar is to increase the direct participation of young people – the consumers of Massar – into the process of design and content development for the Discovery Centre. This means much more than just involving them in testing and prototyping. While that is all useful and in many ways an expected part of an effective design and content development process, our aim is for us to go further than that. In principle and practice we are hoping to see the “glass wall” between the design/development process and the end user removed as far as practical. In other words, we are asking all of those involved in this process how we can make young people direct participants in shaping the final experience. Not just as a means of evaluating whether “we experts” have got things right for “them amateurs” in what continues to be “our” process, but as a way of removing the distinction between us and them, and making the process shared by everyone (within reason!). In this, we are seeing the process of developing the final discovery centre experience much like any other Massar interactive programme, and asking all the team to find ways to make this activity as rich and involving as possible for our target beneficiaries.
We discussed some of the risks inherent in this, and it will be important for all involved to be clear what the windows of flexibility are as they apply differently to hardware, software and programmes, and when we need to finalise and close down discussion. It is understood that this may well be a less clear-cut (for which read more messy) process, and we may possibly end up with some stuff that is not what we would have done if left to ourselves. And there will be occasions when the functional interest of establishing something that will have a reasonable shelf-life will override a currently popular proposal from the children. So there will have to be a readiness from all for a little give and take.