LSRI Speaker Series: Dr. Nikita Soni – University of Illinois at Chicago
October 13, 2023
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
1240 West Harrison, Suite 1535, Chicago, IL 60607
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Title: Designing Natural User Interfaces that Do Not Interfere with Learning
Abstract: Natural User Interaction (NUI) based education technologies promote rich learning experiences by allowing users to interact using a range of modalities, such as touch, voice, and motion. However, the mere availability of NUIs for education cannot guarantee effective learning. As emerging technologies continue to become more prevalent in learning environments, there is a need to understand both principles of interaction design and learning sciences to create educational technology that affords learning effectively. In this talk, Nikita will describe her prior and ongoing work, which employs a user-centered design approach to (a) understand how non-expert learners visiting museums (e.g., children and families) naturally interact and collaboratively explore science data visualizations around co-located large touchscreen NUIs of different form factors and (b) design effective touch-based NUIs that are linked to learning more directly, particularly for interactive science data visualizations. This talk will demonstrate that users’ age group, as well as affordances of technology form factors, impact the way learners naturally interact and collaboratively learn and that these differences should be accounted for when designing NUIs for educational technology. Nikita will discuss potential ways to design interactions to accommodate these nuances, outline future research directions, and explore the potential applicability of learning science theories to NUIs beyond science learning, such as digital privacy literacy.
Bio: Dr. Nikita Soni is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and the Director of the Engaging Learning and Creativity Interaction Technology (ELICIT) Lab. Nikita earned her Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing from the University of Florida in 2021. Her current research includes Human-Computer Interaction, Interaction Design, Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Child-Computer Interaction, and Creativity Support Tools. In her research, Nikita seeks to understand the mental models and natural interaction behaviors of both children and adults when using novel and existing technologies. She then leverages this understanding to create and test computing applications that facilitate learning and creativity. Nikita's work has received recognition and honorable mention in the research community at one of the top HCI conferences (Computer Supported Collaborative Work) and her research has contributed to the development of multiple actionable interaction design guidelines for designers and practitioners.
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