International Development Programs provide multiple resources to better equip development practitioners while implementing their projects in the field. Various social theories agree that communities of practice (CoPs), such as International Development Programs, benefit from the knowledge that each member contributes with, as well as the use of technologies as useful platforms for sharing and storing this knowledge. However, existing social and technological barriers limit community members’ contribution, especially in communities with geographically distributed members and high staff turnover rates.
This project provides a case study on the benefits and limitations of using geographic information systems (GIS) as information and communication technologies (ICTs) to facilitate knowledge exchange in communities of practice involved in international development efforts. Results from a one-year study conducted with the UC Davis International Agricultural Development Graduate Program as the study group concluded that GIS have advantages compared with existing technologies (low cost and time required to implement and maintain), thus GIS can be used as effective communication platforms for knowledge exchange. However, there are technological and social barriers (such as under-contribution and technology adoption) that are presented in this document to invite further research.
This project used the Participatory Design Approach as the methodology for co-creating the online interactive map called “D-Map” in collaboration with the International Agricultural Development Graduate Program at UC Davis. The participatory design approach combined aspects of both the Design Process and the Human-Centered Design Approach. While the Design Process is a structured and iterative approach, IDEO also proposes the concept of Human-Centered Design as a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs. This is how the Participatory Design Approach it’s a change from a user-centered design process to that of participatory experiences. It is a shift in attitude from designing for users to one of designing with users.
Three iterative steps occurred during the Participatory Design Process that followed the co-creation of D-Map:
- Problem Framing Process: Collecting information and gain knowledge about the problem, context, and user.
- Idea’s Generation: Coming up with ideas and generate multiple alternatives to solve the problem, in such a way that it is possible to choose the best approach to solving it.
- Implementation and Validation: The third step is to implement and validate the solution to learn and improve the solution as much as possible before moving to the following development stage”. 
- D-Map Manual: How to design, build, promote, and maintain your own D-Map. Manual
- Capstone Project: Maps as Knowledge Sharing Platforms
 Creative Capacity Building, Design WorkBook, IDDS Education, Colombia, Bogotá, 2016