Co-designing with the COBWEB Community – Our Call for Proposals and Report from Our Recent Dyfi Workshop

Chris Higgins from COBWEB speaks at the Co-Design Workshop on 20th May. Image taken by Robin Farrar, Ecodyfi.
This week COBWEB officially launches its call for co-design and field testing projects in the Dyfi Biosphere area. This is an exciting phase of the project as it provides opportunities for small groups that are already key contributors and representatives of the local community to run discreet projects that will contribute to the development, pilot data collection and, hopefully, the uptake of COBWEB project outputs. 
Our call for co-design and field testing sub contracting work went live here on the website this week having been previewed at a COBWEB Workshop at Y Plas, Machenlleth on 20th May. The workshop saw members of the COBWEB team based in and around the Dyfi Biosphere meeting with local environmental groups, community groups and activitist organisations for a workshop focusing on co-design aspects and on collaborative activities which have already been taking place in the area. 
The event was opened by Robin Farrar from Ecodyfi, the local regeneration organisation for the Dyfi Valley and one of our COBWEB project partners. Chris Higgins, EDINA/University of Edinburgh then gave an introduction to the project itself, including an outline of the call for co-design and field testing projects that community groups, including those attending the workshop, are encouraged to respond to. Chris’ slides can be viewed on SlideShare or below:

The afternoon continued with presentations from some of the groups participating in the workshop. We were delighted to have representatives from Dyfi Woodlands, Outward Bound, Ysgol Bro Dyfi, Talybont Flood Group and from an Aberystwyth University MSc Group along to talk about COBWEB co-design activities that have already been taking place across the Biosphere. In each case the speakers talked about their current work, how COBWEB helped them, and how they had contributed to COBWEB. 

Kirsten Manley talked about Coetiroedd Dyfi Woodlands, a social enterprise based in the Dyfi Valley, who deliver outdoor volunteering, land and learning programmes across the region. Kirsten spoke about the Community Woodland Management Plan and how Dyfi Woodlands’ activities and woodland surveys work have been feeding into COBWEB. She also talked about other tools the group have found useful, including the Nature Notes app. You can view her Coetiroedd Dyfi Woodlands Presentation on SlideShare or below:

Next James Hodges, from Outward Bound, spoke about the Trust’s work with young people, using outdoors and adventure activities to support the development of young people. James talked about the potential COBWEB has to demonstrate the value of simple environmental activities – such as litter picking, taking pictures of items so that a map can be used to see where it’s come from - to the young people the Trust work with. View his presentation, COBWEB – Existing Work and Future Plans – Presentation by the Outward Bound Trust on SlideShare or below:

Tomi Rowlands, from Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, a bilingual secondary school (for 11 to 18 year olds) based within the Dyfi Biosphere. Ysgol Bro Ddyfi have been working with COBWEB on a workshop/fieldtrip for pupils which takes place next month. As a result of engagement to date Tomi suggested that a smoother workflow would be required and that, in an educational version, a form of “lock down” for devices using this type of app might be helpful for teachers working with groups of students. Additionally the ability to support profile switching – so that groups can share devices – would be helpful in educational contexts. You can view Tomi’s Ysgol Bro Ddyfi Presentation on SlideShare or below:

Mick Fothergill, from the Talybont Flood Group which is also known as the “Talybont Floodees”, spoke about the group’s work monitoring, supporting and advocating around flooding issues. This is a particularly important issue in Dyfi where risk and impact of flooding is significant, indeed one of the COBWEB demonstrators specifically focuses on flooding as a use case. 

Mick talked about the Floodees’ role as a pressure group as well as a support group and therefore emphasized the need for records collected by them, and through COBWEB, to be available online in a visible and accessible form that can be used as “evidence” to present to officials and politicians. You can view Mick’s Talybont Flood Group Presentation on SlideShare or below:

Finally, in this section of the workshop, Crona Hodges from Aberystwyth University, a COBWEB project partner, spoke about co-design and fieldwork activties with MSc students around mapping vegetation. You can view Crona’s presentation, COBWEB: helping to map vegetation – work with Aberystwyth University, on SlideShare or below:

As discussions of communities’ needs and feedback to COBWEB continued the workshop also touched on the technologies being explored the project, including a presentation from Barry Evans, Aberystwyth University, on progress on the flooding prototyoe app. You can view Barry’s presentation on SlideShare or below:

In further discussion of flooding and the COBWEB co-design projects it was noted that much of the data collection on flooding with necessarily happen in periods of heavy rain and that has implications for interfaces and usability. It was suggested by the Floodees that having a simple collection form that does not necessitate typing on screen, and the ability to record audio instead of text could be important ways to make data collection feasible in these conditions. 

There was also discussion of possible connection between schools in the area and the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network, which the COBWEB team will be looking into and discussing with schools in the future. 

The workshop concluded with discussion of the call for co-design and field testing projects. You can view and find details of how apply to this call (in English and Welsh) here. Participants had a number of questions about the process and we share those here with responses in italics:

  1. Will we accept joint applications? 
    Yes, Joint applications are encouraged.
  2. Will we accept multiple applications from the same organisation? 
  3. Will we need to ensure that data collection continues after the end of the project period / funding? 
    No, the funding will be for the purpose of a specific project, but we hope COBWEB systems will continue to be of use and collect useful data after the end of the project.
  4. Will the demonstrators also be relevant to work in primary schools?
    Yes, consideration to be given to primary schools in area
  5. Will we consider proposals implicating data outwith our three case study areas? 
    Proposals should relate to environmental data, preferably within our three categories, but we are open to suggestions.
  6. Can we discuss our ideas with the COBWEB team as we prepare our application?
    You’re welcome to contact with questions, but COBWEB will have to ensure that staff who are part of the decision making panel do not discuss details of applications beforehand.

If you have any questions or comments about the call for proposals, the workshop in May, or COBWEB’s work with local communities and groups in the Biospheres we are working with, please do get in touch. 

Find out more



Wednesday, June 18, 2014 – 09:15

Comments are closed.