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My research approach is broadly qualitative, design-led and participatory. In the past two years I have developed a number of research projects resulting in my recent acceptance to the DCRC research group at the Pervasive Media Lab. I am an international research partner with the ‘Robotics4SEN’ research project at the VTC Hong  and I’m working as part of a research/practice collective in the Arctic Circle.

PhD Research

My EPRSC funded MSc and PhD research was concerned with the use of participatory design methods for developing creative technologies within a UK Special Educational Needs school. I embedded myself within a Special Educational Needs school in Bath for four years, working as a researcher, teaching assistant and artist. During my PhD I also worked on a joint research project at a special educational needs school in Newcastle with Culture Lab’s (Newcastle University) SIDE project (Social Inclusion through Digital Economy’s). During my research I used a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods and methodologies giving me a strong grounding in the conceptual and practical applications of research methodologies within interaction design as well as the practical programming and engineering skills required for designing in these challenging environments.

During my PhD I have co-published and presented papers for international conferences and journals including the Interaction Design and Children Conference (IDC) and Digital Interactive Systems (DIS). I have also had paper accepted in both performance studies and music technology research conferences. I believe that writing no matter what the audience should be clear and concise and accessible to a wide range of readers.

Research Assistant Positions

I have worked as a research assistant in various academic contexts including at the Visualisation Research Unit (VRU), BIAD, Birmingham, the Fine Art Digital Environment (FADE) research group at Chelsea College of Arts and for DR Cath Lambert at the Sociology department at Warwick University. I had multiple roles in these positions including supporting researchers in collecting, analysing and disseminating data, managing resources and liaising with other institutions and commercial partners as well as programming and building prototype systems for researchers. I was also given opportunities to pursue and publish my own research including; “Digital Noise” a symposium and exhibition I co-organised at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Greenwich that was funded through a successful research grant bid from both UAL and Greenwich University.

During my time at FADE I worked closely with the Principle Investigator, Prof Paul Coldwell on a three year AHRC funded project entitled “The Personalised Digital Surface”. This practice led research project considered the role of the surface of the print and how when working digitally the relationship to that surface can change.  The FADE project culminated in a symposium and conference at the V&A, ICA and the publicationThe Personalised Surface: New Approaches to Digital Printmaking” enabling me to develop the skills to manage the complexities of publishing and organizing symposia within universities in association with international art institutions.

  • Research Positions

    Research Assistant

    Visualisation Research Unit (VRU) , Birmingham city university, PI Professor Gregory Sporton.

    Fine Art Digital Environments (FADE), Chelsea college of arts, PI Professor Paul Coldwell.

    ‘Fun with Cancer Patients’, Brian Lobel, Fierce festival and Warwick Sociology department, PI Dr Cath Lambart.

    Research Degrees

    MA Fine Art, Birmingham City University, 2007 – 2008 [Distinction]

    MSc Media and Arts Technologies, Queen Mary University, London, 2009 – 2010 [Distinction]

    PhD – Title: Digital Media in a Special Needs Classroom: A Study, Queen Mary University, London, 2010 – 2016

  • Publications

    Journal Articles:
    Abigail Durrant, Jonathan Hook, Roisin McNaney, Keir Williams, Interpersonal expression in the special educational needs classroom: An experience-centred design case study, International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction

    Durrant, A., Hook, J., McNaney, R., Williams, K., Smith, T., Kipling, M., … & Olivier, P. (2013). Design to Support Interpersonal Communication in the Special Educational Needs Classroom, IDC 2013, New York.

    Williams, K., and Poolman, C., 2010 “This Fish is Reversing: touretteshero and Foucault’s concept of articulation.”  Gobsmacked: Getting Speechless In Performance, Queen Mary’s University

    Green, J., Williams, K., & Sporton, & 2007, ‘The Networked Multi-disciplinary Performance Environment’, 2000+Seven Symposium, Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queens University, Belfast.

    Williams, K, Stockman, T., Self Advocacy and Digital Story Telling for Children with Special Educational Needs. IDC 2013, New School, New York.

    Williams, Keir, 2012  “Perspectives on Participation: Evaluating Cross-Disciplinary Methods, Techniques and Practices”, Digital Interactive Systems, Culture Lab, Newcastle University, Newcastle.

    Keir Williams, David Meckin, Nick Bryan-Kinns and Tony Stockman, 2012, ‘Undertaking embedded research in the design of interactive technologies for children with special educational needs’ IDC 2012, Bremen, Germany

    Keir Williams, David Meckin, Nick Bryan-Kinns and Tony Stockman, 2012, “HCI Research in Sensitive Contexts: Ethical Considerations” BCS HCI 2012, Birmingham University, Birmingham.

  • Awards and Peer Esteem

    Awards and funding
    AHRC Preparation for research bursary, £25,000

    EPSRC Doctoral training school bursary, £80,000.
    Chelsea college of arts small research grants, and projection mapping – £2000
    Arctic Dialogues, ACE, British Council, Arts Council Norway, Nordland Akademi. – £40,000

    Peer Esteem
    Reviewer, Digital Interactive Systems 2016, 2017

    Reviewer Computer, Human Interaction 2014, 2016
    Interview Panel – DCRC Research fellow in Interactive Factual Media 2017
    Member of DCRC – Digital Culture Research Centre, Bristol 2017

Research Projects

Fun With Cancer Patients: Research Hub


I worked as a research assistant with the Fun with Cancer Patinets Research Hub during the FIERCE live art festival in Birmingham, UK. The Research Hub formed part of a wider project on researching live art led by Dr Cath…

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Digital Media in a Special Needs Classroom: A Study

Front Page, Research

This thesis presents a series of design-led case studies concerned with the use of digital technology and the practice of interaction design for children within the context of UK special educational needs classrooms. It explores the use and development of…

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Fine Art Digital Enviroments, UWE


I worked as a research assistant for Prof Paul Coldwell from Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts, London as part of the Fine Art Digital Environments research group. I worked on several project including Prof Paul Coldwells large…

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The Visualisation Research Uni, BCU


The Visualisation Research Unit (VRU) was an applied research unit in the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, School of Art that considered the use of digital media in creative practice. I worked for the VRU as a research assistant at the…

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