Engineering and science can improve the human condition, but this is not inevitable. I employ the human sciences (learning, behavioral, social) in analysing and designing the relationship between people and technologies. I am a Professor in the Computing and Software Systems program in the Institute of Technology at the University of Washington, Tacoma. In my teaching and research I pursue three main areas of inquiry: Computing Education, Human-Centered Design, and the Socio-Politics of Technology.
In order to improve computing education, it is necessary for computing educators to improve their teaching, and to provide a research base to support these educators. My efforts are directed toward both of these ends.
During 2001-2004, I worked with Sally Fincher from the University of Kent on an NSF-funded project called Bootstrapping Research in Computer Science Education. This project was designed to establish a community of computing educators with the skills to engage in rigorous, high-quality computing education research.
Sally Fincher and I are currently collaborating on an NSF-funded project called the Disciplinary Commons. This project involves a group of computing educators meeting monthly throughout an academic year from different institutions who teach the same course. Each participant constructs a course portfolio in monthly increments that are discussed and critically reviewed by the other participants, with the final version publicly archived. To date, five cohorts of educators in the US and the UK have participated in this project, and two additional cohorts will run during the 2010-2011 academic year.
I have also started a project called Industry Fellows. This project involves a practicing college or university faculty member and practicing industry professional (the industry fellow) in the joint curriculum review, planning and delivery of a course related to the professional's domain of expertise. Working together exploits what each does best. I piloted the Industry Fellows project in winter 2009 with Adam Barker of Google (now with LinkedIn) where we co-taught the Human-Computer Interaction at the Institute of Technology, and taught with two additional industry fellows (Jake Knapp from Google, and Beth Whitezel from the Law Enforcement Support Agency) during the 2009-2010 academic year.
I am currently serving as co-Editor-in-Chief along with Robert McCartney (University of Connecticut, Storrs) of the Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), published by the Association for Computing Machinery. I also maintain the Computer Science Education Research email list, to which anyone may subscribe.
Human-centered design concerns the deliberate shaping of digital artifacts for use by people to satisfy their needs within social contexts. Because these artifacts exist within these social settings, they become resources from which people construct their social, political, economic, and moral lives. I currently teach Human Computer Interaction (sometimes with an Industry Fellow) using a human-centered approach.
I recently worked with Youn-Kyung Lim and Erik Stolterman during my sabbatical with the Human-Computer Interaction Design Group at the School of Informatics, Indiana University. We wrote a TOCHI paper that defines an "anatomy of prototypes" to help designers make better use of prototypes to explore design spaces.
A research project that a graduate student Kristen Shinohara (now a PhD in Informatics at UW Seattle) and I undertook was the cover story of the August 2009 Communications of the ACM. This paper described our ethnographic study of a blind college student's use of technology which uncovered the interplay between usability and the socially-situated meaning associated with technology use.
Technologies do not simply happen, nor are they neutral in their effects. Technologies are deliberately shaped by the human hand, head and heart, and influence social relationships, economic systems, and political power. I use an institutional approach (learned from the researchers at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University during my sabbatical in 2006-07) in analysing both the ways in which software developers construct software, and the ways in which technologies affect power arrangements.
Here is a list of my publications, which I update about yearly. I can send to you copies if you request, and someday I will have hyperlinks to the papers.
18 October 2010