Computing and Information Systems - Theses

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    Designing video-mediated technologies to cultivate indigenous knowledge over distance
    Awori, Kagonya ( 2017)
    Technology design influences what users know about the world, and how they construct that knowledge. This is especially true for technologies that underlie the communication and representation of information and knowledge. Relatedly, how designers understand and prioritise certain ways of knowing over others influences how technologies are designed for people within a given context. From these premises, this thesis investigates how video-mediated technologies may be designed to support transnationals in cultivating the indigenous knowledge (IK) of their homeland, while they live elsewhere in the world. Through three field studies between Australia and Kenya, this thesis investigates how digital technologies currently used by indigenous members support or alienate the cultivation of IK, and how the design of video-mediated communication technologies in particular can be grounded in indigenous ways of knowing. In Study 1, I conduct field interviews with 8 Kenyan transnationals in Melbourne, Australia about the practice of their indigenous culture while in the diaspora, and the role that current digital technologies play in supporting them to do so. Next in Study 2, I travel to Kenya to conduct a field study of 10 video-mediated sessions between rural elders and remotely-located youth. Based on findings from Study 1 and Study 2, I generate design themes that guide the design and evaluation of Study 3. Here, I investigate the use of the new medium of 360º video-conferencing to connect learners of indigenous knowledge in Australia, with elders in rural Kenya. Through findings from these studies, this thesis makes three contributions to technology research on indigenous knowledge. First, I propose a People-Place-Praxis lens as a productive conceptual framework in which to design for IK. The lens facilitates an understanding that aligns with indigenous ways of knowing; and motivates technology design in ways that support indigenous knowledge. Secondly, I demonstrate a way by which epicentres of indigenous knowledge can be extended through use of custom video-mediated sessions. This thesis makes explicit the need to design effective deployments of the technology, that is to design what I call ViMik sessions to effectively facilitate learners in the diaspora to cultivating IK from indigenous epicentres. Lastly, this thesis extends knowledge on how to enhance the experience of ViMik sessions for learners, over distance. The approach involves supporting an individual-yet-communal experience of the ViMik session, and mediating a sense of mobility for the learners at the remote indigenous location. This thesis concludes with opportunities for future research in this area.