“How to behave in the situation [when different actors perceive robotic artifacts differently], whether you prefer to do this constantly in individual situations or with an entire group, how to deal with the dynamics. These are all things that can be better explained by such studies [on learning processes regarding robots] at some point.” (Paluch and Müller, 2022, p. 23).
This quote is an interview excerpt from our study in which robotic pets were used in a nursing home. One of our research interests was the creation of mutual learning spaces for the residents, care attendants, and university researchers. The care attendant had pointed out that co-creative learning spaces were necessary for developing an imagination on how the usage of robotic pets could be meaningful in different care situations. In our view, such spaces for mutual learning and co-creation are necessary to foster the development of functionally better technologies and reflect on their use with all participants.
We need to co-create spaces for people to appropriate new technologies such as robots (Stevens and Pipek, 2018). For this, three questions are important: (1) How to include spatial aspects in design? (2) What could be learned in various spaces? (3) What role does the body play in human-robot interactions? Thus, we define three interrelated foci:
(1) The emphasis is on not only developing a specific technology, but also having a space in which to explore a technology. A robot also needs an environment in which it can function and be used (Lindemann and Matsuzaki, 2014). That includes spatial aspects that we would like to emphasize in our Participatory Design (PD) approach (Simonsen and Robertson, 2013).
(2) How can learning processes be supported through PD? It is not only about how to use technology. One also needs to learn in which situations it is appropriate to use technologies (Cerna et al., 2022).
(3) The human-robot interaction is characterized by the fact that both the human and the robot have a body. Robots are embodied technical artifacts. This distinguishes robotic systems from other digital technologies (Bartneck et al., 2020, p. 7).

Creation of learning spaces through PD
In PD, emphasis is placed on allowing users to participate in all stages of design. Design ideas are gained by focusing on usage practices, and novel technical possibilities can be explored. This can be achieved by discovering a more creative solution to a problem. With PD methods, it is possible to strengthen mutual learning in an iterative development. In addition to the socio-cultural structures or technical artifacts, this also requires an environment in which collaborative participation is possible. Thus, PD studies need to create suitable learning spaces (Bratteteig and Wagner, 2012; Suchman, 2011). Compared to user-centered design, we would like to use the term PD to emphasize that this is a co-research process in which the emphasis is on the inclusion of all perspectives (Duque et al., 2019).
In co-creative learning spaces, where groups of people from different contexts take part, the sense of technologies could be negotiated together. Negotiating in spaces have been crucial in participatory research methods and Scandinavian design for decades based on the democratic ideal that everyone should have the right to participate in decisions impacting one’s own life (Ehn, 1993; Nygaard, 1996). In co-creative learning spaces, this approach has a central importance, as freedom of expression is an essential aspect in successful participation and negotiation, and at the same time contributes to maximizing the learning effect and empowerment (Brown et al., 2014; Ogonowski et al., 2018). Co-creation is consequently always a learning journey (Akhilesh, 2017), which makes it an appropriate format to support learning effectiveness and autonomy (Kaptelinin and Bannon, 2012; Vassilakopoulou et al., 2018).

Learning and empowerment through interaction with robotic technologies
Learning to use technical artifacts is an important practice that remains with people throughout their lives and takes place in various spaces, environments, and situations, covering formal, non-formal, and informal learning (Aoki, 2020). In societal discourse, current debate is about how lifelong and lifewide learning can be designed and supported (Zhuang et al., 2017; Findsen and Formosa, 2011; Fischer, 2000), and in which social contexts learning processes must be placed to generate positive impacts such as empowerment and improved living standards (Carr et al., 2018). For example, scientific studies refer to how older persons can learn technical skills so that they can use different technical artifacts (e.g., Lee and Riek, 2018; Schreurs et al., 2017). There are also a variety of digital technologies that teach people in everyday life (e.g., Cerna et al., 2022; Fong et al., 2021; Johnson et al., 2012; Kuoppamäki et al., 2021; van den Berghe et al., 2019).
In this context, empowerment describes a social construct or interpersonal process between at least two people in which tools, resources, and environments are combined and made available in ways that increase the capabilities of the empowered persons and develop new skills (Hawks, 1992). This empowerment supports individuals‘ abilities to make purposeful decisions and thus transform them into desired outcomes. Thus, empowerment not only describes the goal itself, but is also considered a driver for development (Alsop, 2006). Accordingly, it is also necessary to evoke the feeling of empowerment in the participating individuals in advance so that they can efficiently and effectively participate in the negotiation processes of co-creative methods (Fraser et al., 2006).

Human-robot interaction and embodiment
The different aspects of embodiment have been explored in various fields of science and from diverse perspectives, for example in studies in communication and psychology, modern philosophy, HCI, (E)CSCW and sociology. We align our work with existing (E)CSCW and HCI literature on embodied interaction and action (Al-Sada et al., 2021; Ducheneaut et al., 2009; Schmidt, 2018; Yamazaki et al., 2012). Our understanding of embodiment builds on two key points:
“First, that cognition depends upon the kinds of experience that comes from having a body with various sensorimotor capacities, and second, that these individual sensorimotor capacities are themselves embedded in a more encompassing biological, psychological, and cultural context” (Varela et al., 1991, pp. 172-173).
In other words, it is the bodily engagement with the social and physical environment that constitutes the interaction between humans and robots (Dourish, 2001).
Using the term “embodied”, we aim to highlight that both humans and robots interact with the world through their bodies (and not only their minds or software) and this active experience of the world shapes how they perceive their surroundings. The embodied aspect is crucial as it mediates our various human-robot interactions (Klemmer et al., 2006; Lindemann and Matsuzaki, 2014).

Akhilesh, K. B. (2017): Co-creation and learning. Concepts and Cases, Springer, New Delhi.

Al-Sada, M., Yang, P. C., Chieh Chiu, C., Pradhono Tomo, T., Yamen Saraiji, M., Ogata, T. and Nakajima, T. (2021): ‘From Anime To Reality: Embodying An Anime Character As A Humanoid Robot’, in Extended Abstracts of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 2021, pp. 1-5.

Alsop, R., Bertelsen, M. F. and Holland, J. (2006): Empowerment in practice: From analysis to implementation, The World Bank, Washington.

Aoki, K. (2020): ‘Technologies for lifelong and lifewide learning and recognition: a vision for the future’, in S. Yu, M. Ally and A. Tsinakos (eds.): Emerging technologies and pedagogies in the curriculum, Springer, Singapore, 2020, pp. 41-52.

Bartneck, C., Belpaeme, T., Eyssel, F., Kanda, T., Keijsers, M. and Šabanović, S. (2020): Human-robot interaction: An introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Bratteteig, T. and Wagner, I. (2012): ‘Spaces for participatory creativity’, CoDesign, vol. 8, no. 2-3, May 2012, pp. 105-126.
Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. III and McDaniel, M. (2014): Make it stick: The science of successful learning, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Carr, A., Balasubramanian, K., Atieno, R. and Onyango, J. (2018): ‘Lifelong learning to empowerment: beyond formal education’, Distance Education, vol. 39, no. 1, February 2018, pp. 69-86.

Cerna, K., Dickel, M., Müller, C., Kärnä, E., Gallistl, V., Kolland, F., … and Otto, U. (2020): ‘Learning for life: Designing for sustainability of tech-learning networks of older adults’, in Proceedings of 18th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET), 2020.

Cerna, K. and Müller, C. (2021): ‘Making online participatory design work: Understanding the digital ecologies of older adults’, in Proceedings of 19th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET), 2021.

Cerna, K., Müller, C., Randall, D. and Hunker, M. (2022): ‘Situated Scaffolding for Sustainable Participatory Design: Learning Online with Older Adults’, in Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 6, issue GROUP, January 2022, pp. 1-25.

Dourish, P. (2004): Where the action is: the foundations of embodied interaction, The MIT press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London.

Ducheneaut, N., Wen, M. H., Yee, N. and Wadley, G. (2009): ‘Body and mind: a study of avatar personalization in three virtual worlds’, in Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems, April 2009, pp. 1151-1160.

Ehn, P. (1993): ‘Scandinavian design: On participation and skill’, in D. Schuler and A. Namioka (eds.): Participatory design: Principles and practices, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, Hillsdale, New Jersey, Hove and London, 1993, pp. 41-77.

Findsen, B. and Formosa, M. (2011): Lifelong learning in later life. A handbook on older adult learning, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam.

Fischer, G. (2000): ‘Lifelong Learning — More Than Training’, Journal of Interactive Learning Research, vol. 11, no. 3, 2000, pp. 265-294.

Fong, F. T., Sommer, K., Redshaw, J., Kang, J. and Nielsen, M. (2021): ‘The man and the machine: Do children learn from and transmit tool-use knowledge acquired from a robot in ways that are comparable to a human model?’, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 208, August 2021, Article 105189, pp. 1-10.

Fraser, E. D., Dougill, A. J., Mabee, W. E., Reed, M. and McAlpine, P. (2006): ‘Bottom up and top down: Analysis of participatory processes for sustainability indicator identification as a pathway to community empowerment and sustainable environmental management’, Journal of environmental management, vol. 78, no. 2, January 2006, pp. 114-127.

Hawks, J. H. (1992): ‘Empowerment in nursing education: concept analysis and application to philosophy, learning and instruction’, Journal of advanced nursing, vol. 17, no. 5, May 1992, pp. 609-618.

Johnson, D., Malmir, M., Forster, D., Alac, M. and Movellan, J. (2012): ‘Design and early evaluation of the RUBI-5 sociable robots’, in 2012 IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and Epigenetic Robotics (ICDL), November 2012, pp. 1-2.

Kaptelinin, V. and Bannon, L. J. (2012): ‘Interaction design beyond the product: Creating technology-enhanced activity spaces’, Human–Computer Interaction, vol. 27, no. 3, August 2012, pp. 277-309.

Klemmer, S. R., Hartmann, B. and Takayama, L. (2006): ‘How bodies matter: five themes for interaction design’, in Proceedings of the 6th conference on Designing Interactive systems, June 2006, pp. 140-149.

Kuoppamäki, S., Tuncer, S., Eriksson, S. and McMillan, D. (2021): ‘Designing Kitchen Technologies for Ageing in Place: A Video Study of Older Adults‘ Cooking at Home’, in Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, vol. 5, no. 2, June 2021, pp. 1-19.

Lee, H. R. and Riek, L. D. (2018): ‘Reframing assistive robots to promote successful aging’, ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction, vol. 7, no. 1, May 2018, pp. 1-23.

Lindemann, G. and Matsuzaki, H. (2014): ‘Constructing the robot’s position in time and space. The spatio-temporal preconditions of artificial social agency’, Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, vol. 10, no. 1, January 2014, pp. 85-106.

Nygaard, K. (1996): ‘“Those Were the Days“? Or „Heroic Times Are Here Again“?’, Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, vol. 8, no. 2, 1996, pp. 91-108.

Obaid, M., Alaca, I. V., Woźniak, P. W., Lischke, L. and Billinghurst, M. (2016): ‘The future of books and reading in HCI’, in Proceedings of the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, October 2016, pp. 1-2.

Ogonowski, C., Jakobi, T., Müller, C. and Hess, J. (2018): ‘PRAXLABS: A Sustainable Framework for User-Centered Information and Communication Technology Development-Cultivating Research Experiences from Living Labs in the Home’, in V. Wulf, V. Pipek et al. (eds.): Socio-Informatics: A Practice-Based Perspective on the Design and Use of IT Artifacts, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2018, pp. 319-360.

Paluch, R. and Müller, C. (2022): ‘“That’s Something for Children“ An Ethnographic Study of Attitudes and Practices of Care Attendants and Nursing Home Residents Towards Robotic Pets’, in Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 6, issue GROUP, January 2022, pp. 1-35.

Schley, A. and Balzer, K. (2020): ‘Using MEESTAR for early evaluation of ethical, legal and social implications of a socio-technical support system for mechanically ventilated patients. Lessons learned from the ACTIVATE project’, in J. Haltaufderheide, J. Hovemann and J. Vollmann (eds.): Aging between Participation and Simulation. Ethical Dimensions of Socially Assistive Technologies in Elderly Care, De Gruyter, Berlin, Boston, 2020, pp. 105-122.

Schmidt, K. (2018): ‘Practice and technology: on the conceptual foundations of practice-centered computing’, in V. Wulf, V. Pipek et al. (eds.): Socio-Informatics: A Practice-Based Perspective on the Design and Use of IT Artifacts, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2018, pp. 47-103.

Schreurs, K., Quan-Haase, A. and Martin, K. (2017): ‘Problematizing the digital literacy paradox in the context of older adults’ ICT use: Aging, media discourse, and self-determination’, Canadian journal of communication, vol. 42, no. 2, May 2017, pp. 59–377.

Simonsen, J. and Robertson, T. (eds.) (2013): Routledge international handbook of participatory design, Routledge, New York, vol. 711.

Stevens, G. and Pipek, V. (2018). ‘Making use: understanding, studying, and supporting appropriation’, in V. Wulf, V. Pipek et al. (eds.): Socio-Informatics: A Practice-Based Perspective on the Design and Use of IT Artifacts, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2018, pp. 139-176.

Suchman, L. (2011): ‘Anthropological relocations and the limits of design’, Annual review of anthropology, vol. 40, October 2011, pp. 1-18.

van den Berghe, R., Verhagen, J., Oudgenoeg-Paz, O., Van der Ven, S. and Leseman, P. (2019): ‘Social robots for language learning: A review’, Review of Educational Research, vol. 89, no. 2, April 2019, pp. 259-295.

Varela, F. J., Thompson, E. and Rosch, E. (1991): The embodied mind. Cognitive science and human experience, The MIT Press, Boston.

Vassilakopoulou, P., Grisot, M. and Aanestad, M. (2018): ‘Between personal and common: the design of hybrid information spaces’, Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), vol. 28, October 2019, pp. 1011-1038.

Yamazaki, R., Nishio, S., Ishiguro, H., Nørskov, M., Ishiguro, N. and Balistreri, G. (2012): ‘Social acceptance of a teleoperated android: field study on elderly’s engagement with an embodied communication medium in Denmark’, in International Conference on Social Robotics, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, October 2012, pp. 428-437.

Zhuang, R., Fang, H., Zhang, Y., Lu, A. and Huang, R. (2017): ‘Smart learning environments for a smart city: from the perspective of lifelong and lifewide learning’, Smart Learning Environments, vol. 4, October 2017, pp. 1-21.

Important Dates

Paper Deadline
May 3rd, 2022

Notification of Acceptance
May 6th, 2022

Workshop @ ECSCW
June 27th, 2022

ECSCW Conference
June 27th – July 1st, 2022
Coimbra, Portugal

Important Links

ECSCW 2022 – Registration

ECSCW 2022 – Program