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Hi there! I’m a design researcher investigating how technologies can support healthier, informal networks in later life. 

Co-Designing Value in Informal Care
Jan 2023 - Present

Design Informatics, The University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh, UK

As part of the ACRC work package on Understanding The Person In Context,  I look to understanding the value of informal care in later life, and how it could be supported through emerging technologies. This project involves qualitative research, co-design techniques and design-led prototyping to work with participants, their families, carers, and healthcare workers over the coming two years.

As a research fellow within the Edinburgh Institute for Design Infomatics, I seek to understand how emerging technologies underpinned by data may support healthier, informal networks.

PhD: Designing for Social Engagement in Later Life

School of Design, RMIT University
Melbourne, Australia

My PhD research investigates the design of social engagement technologies with older Australians, demonstrating how modes of interpretative flexibility can support interaction designers in co-creating with ageing communities. This research speaks to two collaborative interdisciplinary projects that interrogate the digital divide and uneven social participation for older adults. With this phenomenon magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic, this thesis addresses a lack of understanding around social engagement technologies for later life.

☞  Thesis (Forthcoming): Designing for Social Engagement in Later Life

Long-COVID Patient journey
Aug - Dec 2022
Eat Health Move Program, RMIT University

Mapping the experiences of people with long-COVID, an interdisciplinary team conducteda 3-month study of patients experiences of long-COVID. Analysing daily issues and coping over this period, we visually map the health literacy, self-efficacy, enjoyment of life and eating, and physical activity habits with those suffering with long-COVID.

☞ Program: Eat Health Move multi-College collaborative research ︎

☞  Grant (2022): RMIT Strategic Capability Development Fund

Safeness by Design Research Program
Sep 2021 - Dec 2022

Industrial Design, RMIT

An initiative of the Safeness by Design program, In collaboration with WorkSafe Victoria, we employ research and design innovation to provoke conversations to direct the creation of safer urban environments.

☞ Studio Report (2022): Future of Work Report ︎

☞ Article (2022): Towards Re-Imagining Industrial Design Education for the Contemporary Period ︎

☞ Studio Report (2021): Enabling an Ageing Workforce Report ︎

Co-designing Participatory ICT Strategies With Older Adults
Aug 2020 - Aug 2022

Shaping Connections Research Program, RMIT
Melbourne, Australia

Perceived risks remain are one of the main reasons many older adults do not engage with ICT and the digital economy. In better equipping older Australians to engage with the digital economy,  we explore the perceived ICT risks that affect older Australians and co-designed strategies with them – connecting practices with perceptions.

Article (2022): Co-Creating ICT Risk Strategies with Older Australians ︎

☞ Final Report (2022):  Co-designing Participatory Strategies With Older Adults ︎

☞ Interim Report (2021): Reducing Perceived Risk & Promoting Digital Inclusion ︎

Grant (2020-2022): Australian Communications Consumer Action Network Grants Projects ︎

2022 - Co-creating ICT Risk Strategies with Older Australians: A workshop model ︎

Sheahan, J., Hjorth, L., Figueiredo, B., Martin, D., Reid, M., Aleti, T., & Buschgens, M.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
As digital inclusion becomes a growing indicator of health and social wellbeing in later life, the need for older adults to adopt Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and develop digital literacy sees them face barriers (such as their perceived ICT risks and capacity to learn). This article describes the results of a series of co-design workshops conducted with older adults to develop strategies that support those in later life to use ICT and reduce their perceived risks around it. We argue that by using co-designed persona methods, we can develop more nuanced ICT risk strategies that are built with and for older adults.

2022 - The Future of Work: Designing for Safety, Wellbeing and Workplaces of Tomorrow ︎

Dim, W. & Sheahan, J.

RMIT University & Worksafe Victoria
The future of work is a context that is rapidly being shaped by powerful forces; the growing adoption of artificial intelligence in the workplace, the increasing casualisation of the workforce, and the decentralised nature of where and how ‘work’ is being performed. This report, The Future of Work, centres on research and case studies that speculate the issues facing all workers in the workplaces of tomorrow.

2022 - Gaining Resolution when Creating Imagery of Aging ︎ 

Sheahan., J.

Frontiers in Sociology
In seeking to support healthy ageing, designers have struggled to reduce their assumptions and biases towards older adults, interpret the worlds of later life through unfiltered imagery, engage with stigmas, and ultimately diminish the technologies they construct. Towards this, we proposition ‘resolution’ as a concept indicative of the level of detail that seeks to characterise the fidelity that representations of later life have. Responding to the inequities and social isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, this concept is explored through a cultural probe study that investigated the sentiments of several older Australians.

2022 - Co-designing Participatory Strategies With Older Adults: Reducing Perceived Risk and Promote Digital Inclusion ︎

Figueiredo, B., Aleti, T., Reid, M., Martin, DM., Hjorth, L., Sheahan, J., Buschgens, M.,  Kutin, J., Wall, G., and Grigg, A.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
As the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, digital engagement is crucial for fostering social inclusion forolder adults, however, perceived risks are one of the main reasons many older adults do not engage with ICT and the digital economy. In addressing such concerns about better equipping older Australians to engage with the digital economy, our report explains the perceived risks that affect older adults the most and outlines co-designed strategies that respond to their lived experiences of ICT – connecting practices with perceptions.

As the field of Industrial Design moves beyond its industrial manufacturing roots, exploring curricula that anticipate diverse participation and complexity in creative innovation is still emergent in this era of education. This paper discusses the adoption of the RMIT University, My First 6 Months (MF6M), finding the approach required less teaching staff intervention and gave more flexibility to students, reinforcing notions of trust and self-efficacy in learning.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Jan 2023 - Present

Design Informatics,
University of Edinburgh
☞ Co-Designing Value in Informal Care : developing rich understandings of how value in informal care for later life is understood and constructed and how these could be supported through emerging technologies.
☞ Design Research: Working with participants, their families and carers, health and care workers, businesses and service providers to understand how emerging technologies underpinned by data may support healthier, informal networks.
☞ Interdisciplinary Collaboration:
Contributing to the ACRC,  a multi-disciplinary research programme combining research across fields including medicine and other care professions, engineering, informatics, data and social sciences.

Institute for Design Informatics ︎ designs systems for better human data interaction, in diverse settings such as health, culture, mobility and finance. We explore design from, with, and by data: the central concern is the design of flows of data that sustain and enhance human values.

Research Assistant
Aug - Nov 2022

Long-COVID Patient Journey, RMIT School of Health & Biomedical Sciences
☞ Qualitative Methods & Analysis: Conducting participant interviews, collating and analysing long-study data to develop health journey and experience maps.
☞ Co-design Research: Co-ordinating and conducting sessions with long-COVID patients to co-design health journey maps using their data points.
☞ Interdisciplinary Collaboration:
Supporting researcher from Allied Health, Applied Science, Customer experience and marketing.

Eat Move Heal ︎ is a multi-school, multi-College collaborative research project with external partners Northern Health, City of Whittlesea and SaferCare Victoria, aims to co-design diet, nutrition, exercise and mental health support tools to recovery (brain, heart, immune system) from long COVID-19.

Research Assistant
Sept 2021 - Nov 2022

Safeness by Design, RMIT School of Design
☞ (2022) Future of Work: Literature review, coordination of WorkSafe student studio and report.
☞ (2021) Enabling an Ageing Workforce:
Literature review and development of WorkSafe report.

Safeness by Design ︎, an initiative emerging from RMIT University’s School of Design, aims to enhance health, wellbeing, and social values by using design to achieve actual and evident safeness across various environments and contexts.

Research Assistant
Aug 2020 - August 2022

Shaping Connections, RMIT School of Economics, Finance & Marketing

☞ Qualitative Methods & Analysis: Conducted remote interviews and workshops for thematic analysis.
☞ Logistics & Accessibility: Coordinated with participants, producing all materials to ACCAN standards.
☞ Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Engaged with professionals and specialists towards achieving goals.

Shaping Connections ︎ research program brings together academics and stakeholders with a variety of expertise and seeks insights on connectedness and technology use among older Australians to better understand and enhance social inclusion and participation.

Sessional Lecturer

Industrial Design, RMIT School of Design

☞ Teaching Fundamentals: Organised class material, taught weekly tutorials, and assessed students’ work.
☞ Design Studies Course:
Developing the context and stucture for the Materials of Ageing course.

The Materials of Ageing Course: This course explores how older people continue to be unsupported and misrepresented by the products and services meant to support later life. With the technification of later life, we seek to engage with older people to understand their concerns around being left behind and develop responsive design initiatives.

I acknowledge the peoples on whose unceded lands I conduct my work. I respectfully acknowledge their Ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging.

©2023 Jacob Sheahan