iSchool Assistant Professor Amy Ko is one of a handful of researchers to receive a $25,000 SEIF grant from Microsoft Research intended to advance software engineering applications and tools, particularly those using a natural user interface (NUI).
Microsoft believes that NUI-based applications can promote digital inclusion of older adults, people with disabilities or other underserved populations. Teens, especially girls, are one such population.
Ko’s project will engage teenagers in writing and diagnosing computer software applications. Her award-winning project will create a mobile game that teaches players about sensors and computing on mobile platforms within a social-sharing environment.
“Computing education today all too often isolates teens on the desktop or in the classroom, giving them little opportunity to see that computing can impact society in a meaningful way,” said Ko about the problem his research is trying to address. “My project takes computing education into teen’s lives through gaming and mobile devices to make it less intimidating and more fun.”
This latest project will build upon Ko’s previous research on developing ‘debugging games’, a game genre that challenges players to fix a series of defective software programs, learning the fundamentals of computer programming and invaluable diagnostic thinking skills.
Last fall, Ko received a three-year, $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create an interactive website that offers debugging puzzles to learners, allowing them learn diagnostic strategies and computing concepts at their own pace and in collaboration with their peers.