Spotlight

Professor Debra Richardson is passionate about students’ access to computer science education, which is not just about access to computers, but about innovation of computing technology.  According to Richardson, “Computer science education builds students’ computational and critical thinking skills enabling them to create—not simply use—the next generation of computationally-oriented devices, tools, and games.”  This fundamental knowledge is needed to prepare students for the 21st Century, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation, giving them the tools they need to make further contributions to technology as well as its application in society.

Thomas LaToza, a postdoctoral research associate, and André van der Hoek, an ISR Professor, have been awarded $1.4M by the National Science Foundation to investigate “Crowd Programming,” applying ideas from microtask crowdsourcing to software development.

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ISR held its eleventh Research Forum on May 16th. The goal of the event is to foster interaction between industry and ISR researchers, and encourage research collaborations amongst all. ISR’s banner event, the 2014 Forum attracted over a hundred attendees from sixteen companies, two law firms, and nine universities.

The Department of Informatics hosted a workshop for the participants in the NSF “SCALE” grant. ISR Prof. André van der Hoek and ISR Prof. David Redmiles are co-PIs for the University of California, Irvine portion of the grant which involves three universities in total: UC Irvine, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (ISR faculty associate and alumna Prof. Anita Sarma, PI), and Carnegie Mellon University (Profs. James Herbsleb, Laura Dabbish, & Linda Argote, PIs/co-PIs). The workshop brought together about 20 faculty, graduate students, post docs, and visiting researchers working together on themes of the grant. The acronym SCALE stands for “Social Coordination Across Large Environments.” This title seeks to capture a set of research themes around software tool support for distributed work environments.

Crowdsourcing systems have demonstrated great success in enabling challenging tasks to be performed rapidly by massive crowds of casual workers.  In 2011, players of the game Foldit were able to produce an accurate 3D model of an enzyme in just 10 days, a problem that had stumped researchers for 15 years.  Over 10 million people use Duolingo to learn a language by translating small snippets of text.  By aggregating these translations, Duolingo is able to rapidly produce translations of websites and other documents.

Marco Aurelio Gerosa, an associate professor at the University of São Paulo (USP), arrived at UCI in July with two of his Ph.D. students, Igor Steinmacher and Igor Wiese, both of whom are also lecturers at the Federal University of Technology - Paraná (UTFPR), Campo Mourão.  ISR Prof. David Redmiles is pleased to be hosting the three Brazilian researchers this year at his Collaboration Research in Action, Design, and Learning (CRADL)Laboratory.  “We are already having exciting collaborations around the theme of global software engineering as a social networking enterprise,” says Redmiles.

ISR is hosting visiting professor Alf Inge Wang, from August 2013 to July 2013, on invitation by his ISR faculty host Director Richard N. Taylor.  Wang is a professor in game technology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and is also co-founder/inventor of Kahoot! – a spin-off company that focuses on game-based learning.  Software engineering, learning, and game-technology have been at the heart of  Wang’s teaching and research since 2006. 

From June 2013 through May 2014, ISR is hosting Prof. Christian Wagner, on invitation by his ISR faculty host Prof. Walt Scacchi.  Wagner is Chair Professor of Social Media and Associate Provost at the City University of Hong Kong, where he also oversees innovation related initiatives, such as CityU’s Idea Incubator.  Glad to take a semi-break from his administrative duties—Christian also served as Associate Dean at CityU’s School of Creative Media until May 2013—he is looking forward to recharging his research agenda in online games, social media, and collective intelligence.  Wagner’s academic background includes undergraduate and graduate degrees in industrial engineering, followed by a Ph.D. in management information systems.

ISR’s headline event, the ISR Research Forum, was held on May 31. Building on the success of last year’s Forum, the program was expanded to include a closing reception with posters and demonstrations to provide additional opportunity for attendees to learn about ISR research projects, and foster interaction between industry and ISR researchers.  A record number of people, drawn from over 20 companies, government agencies, and universities attended the day-long event.

For the past few years, Prof. David Redmiles’ research group has been studying the topic of trust in globally distributed teams.  The definition of trust they rely upon most is that trust, among collaborators, is the meeting of expectations.  In the context of software development, examples of collaborators meeting expectations may include simple behaviors such checking in modules on time or responding to emails within 24 hours.  Expectations can be more complex such as whether an individual or group tends to overcommit or to what degree collaborators are passive or assertive in problem solving discussions.  There can even be different expectations about body language, such as when it is appropriate to smile or not. 

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