27 January 2006

Project Finland, cyber diplomacy with a child’s view

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Project_finland
Some years ago, the media office at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C. saw the potential and possibilities of investing time and effort on children as a novel target group for building relations and international understanding. This was the beginning of Project Finland, a fun and interactive Web site designed with middle school-aged Americans in mind.

The design of Project Finland can be characterized as a user-centered participatory process. First, the project idea began as an attempt to find effective ways to reach young audiences to share information about Finland. But not just any information. The authors wanted to engage the children intellectually by looking for solutions in cutting-edge fields such as high technology, bioenergy, water, the education system and physical fitness.

Secondly, the user-centered design process means that feedback and the user experiences of children and teachers have been gathered by utilizing multiple methods (e.g. usability analysis, embedded feedback, interviews, observation). The collected data has provided valuable insights for further development of the user-interface and contents of the Web site.

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