Over the past few months, Sheffield Hallam University led an investigation to identify the functional requirements that the CultureLabs platform should have. The perspectives of both the members of the consortium and of relevant external stakeholders were gathered. The study comprised of a survey and interviews.
Even though internal and external stakeholders have different needs, motivations, and previous knowledge, the investigation revealed a common vision on four distinctive features.
First, searching for and accessing useful data were mentioned as one of the most important characteristics for a digital platform, especially one that allows users to find methodologies, tools and possible collaborators. Moreover, both groups emphasised the need for a highly interactive way of sharing, editing, and presenting data and content. This should be underpinned by a principle of reciprocity: taking and giving back.
A second important feature is fostering better communication between collaborators. In the context of managing participatory activities, this stood out as a means of building a network of collaborators and partners more efficiently.
Thirdly, gathering feedback is confirmed a crucial part of managing and conducting participatory projects, and CultureLabs has the opportunity to propose digital solutions that can overcome the limitations of existing established methods of getting feedback, such as online surveys.
Finally, both internal and external stakeholders noted that support for decision-making would be appreciated. This could include the use of voting and scheduling features in the platform. This was seen as a means of facilitating collaboration and gathering participants’ opinions as well as a way of having a centralised platform to keep track of a project and not relying on a variety of external tools (e.g. Doodle, Skype, etc.).
Whilst the two groups of participants represented different perspectives, their answers and elaborations highlighted key features to facilitate interaction, collaborative processes, and the management of participatory projects that CultureLabs will attend to.