I spent the year of 2017 as a post-doctoral researcher in Montreal, Canada, at McGill University, more specifically at the Accessible Computing Technologies – ACT Lab, directed by Prof. Karyn Moffatt, at the School of Information Studies.
I worked in the project CONNECT-CREATE: Promoting Social Connectedness Through Collaborating on Digital Storytelling and Knowledge Creation and Sharing, from AGE-WELL – Canada’s technology and aging network. The goal of this project was to find technological solutions to improve older adults’ communication, and thus reduce their social isolation. Design workshops were run with older adults, and I worked primarily on the analysis of the data and the method for designing with this population.
I had the opportunity to share some of my work at the AGE-WELL 2017 conference in Winnipeg, and at the 30th ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium – UIST, in Quebec city.
Getting to know and live in Canada was interesting but challenging! I learned a lot, and this includes how to survive in the snow!
Following the BRAGFOST meeting, I was given the opportunity to apply for the Alexander von Humboldt foundation CONNECT program, to spend a month in a research visit, hosted by a German participant of BRAGFOST.
I was very fortunate to be granted the fund, and spent a month visiting professor Korbinian Moeller and his team at the Knowledge Media Research Center of the Leibniz Institut für Wissensmedien, at the lovely and charming “university-city” of Tübingen.
During my research visit, we worked on developing scenarios for an interactive surface which also recognises tagged physical objects. The scenarios developed target the learning of the concept of partner numbers (adding up to 10) by young children, and use LEGO-like interaction devices. It was an opportunity to do work related to my job at the London Knowledge Lab, dealing with tangibles and science learning.
We also attended the 34th European Workshop on Cognitive Neuropsychology, in Bressanone, Italy. It was an excellent opportunity for networking and learning about a very different area, but with potentially related applications. In particular, I participated in the sessions on Numerical Cognition, a theme of common interest, where Dr. Moeller and partners presented their work. Learning about the neuropsychological aspects of mathematics learning was a fascinating and extremely enriching experience. Bressanone – or Brixen, in German – is an Italian town just by the Plose mountain in the Alps, where you will feel more in Germany than in Italy (although there is great Italian food 🙂 )
Apart from struggling with German language in the everyday routine of moving around and eating, I had a fantastic time!
(Neckar river in Tübingen)