Participatory Video Processes: building inclusive engagement and community-led change

Monday 11 September 2017 - Friday 15 September 2017 10:00 to 17:00
IDS Convening Space

How can participatory video be applied ethically and effectively to support community-led change? In what ways can this methodology increase social and political influence for marginalised groups? How can facilitators of participatory video processes improve and deepen their practice?

Image for PV Short Course information on IDS website. This image was co-constructed by Real Time working with local participants and participatory research group (PRG) partners. This was part of the Participate Initiative, Institute for Development Studies, UK.

In response to these questions we are pleased to announce our new and unique five-day course which will take place at IDS this autumn. This course will enable participants to develop understanding and skills in the theory and practice of Participatory Video, and equip them to plan, prepare and deliver participatory video projects in their own settings. It will be run by Jackie Shaw and Clive Robertson who have over 30 years of expertise as consultants, trainers and facilitators of participatory video in a wide variety of UK and international community and development contexts. To ensure quality teaching time and hands-on practice, participant numbers are limited to ten.

Course objectives

This course will enable participants to develop practical skills so that they can plan and run extended participatory video projects. As with all participatory methodologies, participatory video involves ethical questions, tensions and trade-offs when applied in the real world. So in addition to taking participants through the basics of techniques and practice, the course will delve deeper into more nuanced knowledge including how to address ethical issues and tailor processes more effectively to context.

A participatory training approach will be used which will respond to the interests and needs of the participants, and build on their previous experiences. Both equipment operation skills and knowledge of participatory video exercises and activities will be developed in parallel through active learning and reflection. Learning will be facilitated through team-work and by drawing on and building on the ideas, knowledge and previous experiences of group members.

Real-world case studies to prompt discussion will deepen understanding of the potential and difficulties. Participants will work in small groups to consider how to best maximise the possibilities of participatory video, to anticipate and negotiate the key tensions and challenges, and be supported in grounding their new understanding through planning their own projects for particular settings.

Before the start of the course participants will be asked to think about a situation they would like to use participatory video in, which will form the basis for producing a participatory video project plan that they will be able to run after the course. Following the course each participant will also be offered a Skype follow up to support them and trouble-shoot as they put the methods into practice.

More about this approach

This particular approach delves deep into the ethics and learning processes involved in using participatory video within communities for action research or to build inclusive change relationships. It is an interactive group process which incorporates contextualised approaches and is generally facilitated by a practitioner, with video recording and playback serving different purposes through different stages of engagement.

These can include group forming and building, exploring issues and solutions, collaborative video-making, and reflective dialogue with peers. Working this way can enable participants to tell their own stories about their lives and realities, unearth neglected perspectives on complex social issues, and reveal subjective, emotional and dynamic factors that are hard to access or may be missed by other methods. Later in a process it can stimulate exchange across communities, community-led action, and engagement with decision makers at local, national and global levels.

This iterative and nuanced approach to participatory video processes strives to avoid rushed and token participation, and ensure that practical challenges and ethical risks are fully embraced and addressed during the learning processes. It is often what these processes make ‘visible’ that contains the deepest insight into local and structural opportunities for social change and political influence.

Course outcomes

Participants of this course will:

  • Develop critical understanding of the advantages and limitations of different participatory video applications and approaches
  • Learn and practice the basic video equipment, narrative and production skills needed to facilitate participatory video processes
  • Build a tool-box of different exercises to draw on at different project stages, and the confidence to facilitate them with groups
  • Understand what video offers as a means for participatory action research and/or building pathways to accountability (from community engagement and empowerment processes to influencing action through video)
  • Through considering case-studies and their own experiences, develop greater awareness of the key risks, dynamic tensions and practical challenges of applying participatory video in community contexts
  • Gain knowledge of how extended participatory video can help negotiate processes more ethically and effectively with marginalised and disadvantaged groups
  • Consider the different participatory video communication purposes and audience issues
  • Understand the differences between in-camera editing and non-linear editing, and when they are appropriate
  • Know what to consider when structuring and organising a participatory video project
  • Plan their own participatory video projects for a particular group purpose and situation

Course audience

The course welcomes participants from a wide audience of policy makers, practitioners, researchers, project managers and others who are already using, or who wish to learn how to use, participatory video. It will be tailored to a mix of beginners and those with previous participatory video experiences. Numbers will be limited to a maximum of ten.

Course level and entry requirements

The course will be taught in English. To derive the maximum benefit from the course, participants should be proficient in English at an intermediate standard or higher (or an IELTS score of 6 or above).

Teaching staff

Jackie Shaw, Research Fellow with the Participation cluster at IDS, is expert in the use of visual methods to structure and drive participatory action research and community empowerment processes. From 1984 she pioneered participatory video practice both as co-founding director of Real Time, a leading UK participatory video organisation and author of Participatory Video, (Shaw and Robertson, 1997). Her work since then has prioritised the most marginalised communities, such as people living in poverty, refugees, people with disabilities and mental-health issues, elderly people, vulnerable women and homeless people. She regularly provides participatory video training and consultancy input in community, development, health and research contexts.

Her social psychology thesis (2012) built nuanced understanding of the possibilities and constraints of the approach and as a key critical thinker in the field, Jackie has influenced international practice, recently extending video methodology to negotiate the risks more ethically. As convener of the Participate Visual Methods programme (2012-2014) she worked with partners in India, the Palestinian West Bank, Kenya and the Philippines to bring the reality of poverty to UN decision makers during post-2015 deliberations and her current research focuses on how videoing processes can evolve to build more inclusive and equitable relationships towards social accountability.

Clive Robertson is co-founder and current Director of Real Time, and co-author of Participatory Video. An experienced film maker, trainer and producer with a comprehensive understanding of video and digital media, he specialises in using video in community settings, particularly with marginalised and hard-to-reach groups. This includes using video interactively to support community action, linking participatory processes and collaborative film making to ensure authenticity.

Clive has worked with many partner organisations in educational, statutory, corporate and voluntary sectors with over 30 years experience in the independent and NGO sector. He is experienced in delivering a wide variety of high quality video and media projects in the UK and internationally.

Recently Clive directed the documentary 'Work with Us' for the Participate Initiative, collaborating with groups from seven countries to explore their stories and messages and communicate them to decision makers. He is currently working on participatory video and digital advocacy projects in the UK with homeless groups and young people with disabilities.

Course fee

The course costs £1950. This includes all tuition fees, course materials, lunches, refreshments and two group dinners. It does not cover accommodation, insurance or travel costs.

Application process

All applicants should read the Terms and Conditions before applying. The application procedure is a 3-stage process:

Stage 1: Deadline for applications is 31 May 2017. Applications can be made by completing the online application form. If you are not able to complete the application form online you may request a paper copy from the course coordinator.

Stage 2: Applicants will receive the outcome of the review process in the week beginning 19 June 2017. Successful applicants will receive details of how to pay the course fees and a Stage 2 booking form. Places on the course are not guaranteed until fees have been received and the Stage 2 booking form has been completed.

Stage 3: Once fees have been received, applicants will receive confirmation of a place on the course and a letter to support their visa application (if required).

For more information about the course please contact Richard Douglass

IDS is accredited by the British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education as a Short Course Provider.


Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1 9RE, UK.
E:R.Douglass@ids.ac.uk