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Wednesday, August 5 • 13:30 - 14:00
Action Research or Design Science Research As Methodology for the Development of a Historical Digital Graphical Novel? A Critical Systems Perspective.

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The legacy of Nelson Mandela is part of the lives of most South Africans. His story inspires South Africans and people around the globe to forgive and work hard to achieve freedom from oppression and poverty. For this reason, we need to keep his story alive and teach young people about the sacrifices he made to achieve his goals. Funded by an international consortium, a project called Mandela27 was launched to educate people around the world on the life of Nelson Mandela. Part of the project involved the development of a digital graphical novel depicting life in the prison where he served a 27 year sentence.

This paper investigates action research and design science as design methodologies for the development of the digital graphical novel.  The development of the graphical digital novel was commissioned to the Serious Games Institute of South Africa (SGI-SA) based at the North-West University.  A serious game is a computer game that aims not only to provide entertainment but also to provide an educational experience to the user.  

The SGI-SA often uses design science research as research methodology when developing games. Design science research (DSR) is a methodology used mostly by engineers to develop artefacts.  It is currently receiving high scholarly attention in the field of information Systems (IS). An important journal in the IS field, Management Information Systems Quarterly, recently published guidelines for the use of DSR in IS.  DSR aims to provide scientific rigour in the process of designing, developing, and evaluating artefacts. Its epistemological stance is that knowledge is created through the making of an artefact and evaluating the success thereof.  Many different approaches are documented but most often the following cyclic phases are proposed:  Awareness of the problem, suggestion of possible solutions, development, evaluation of artefact, and conclusion.

Since these phases are comparable with typical AR phases (diagnosis, action planning, action taking, and specifying learning) the developers of the graphical digital novel had to reflect carefully on AR and DSR to select an appropriate methodology for the project. Both these methodologies use existing theory to guide the development process. Critical systems thinking promotes holistic thinking, pluralistic problem solving, emancipation, and reflection. This paper provides a reflection on the design of the digital graphical novel from an AR and DSR methodological perspective within the framework of critical systems thinking.

The paper starts with a discussion of the problem environment followed by a short literature review of theoretical concepts involved in the project.  It then proposes a DSR research plan as well as an AR research plan for the development of the artefact. These research plans are then reflected upon from the perspectives of critical systems thinking. The selection of an appropriate research methodology is then substantiated.

avatar for Shankar Sankaran

Shankar Sankaran

Professor, University of Technology Sydney
Vice President Research and Publications, International Society for the Systems Sciences.SIG Chair: Action Research (see below for information)Shankar Sankaran specialises in project management, systems thinking and action research. He is a Core Member of a UTS Research Centre on... Read More →


Wednesday August 5, 2015 13:30 - 14:00 CEST
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany