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HCI Knowledge Dissemination in South Asia through both Coursework and Community Engagement

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Abstract

Emerging economies, such as those in South Asia, have begun to invest in the HCI discipline through research and innovation, affecting HCI as a knowledge discipline throughout the area. However , limited research has been conducted to understand how HCI learning is imparted and how students get introduced. With the advent of innovation in knowledge sharing, newer avenues have emerged that help students better understand the field. We surveyed 64 participants to investigate the avenues of HCI exposure in South Asia. We categorized these avenues into Traditional, Emergent, and Intersectional based on findings. We unpack the implications of avenues in facilitating HCI knowledge dissemination. We found access to community events and institute ranking play essential roles in accessing HCI knowledge. CCS CONCEPTS • Human-centered computing → Empirical studies in HCI; Collaborative interaction; Web-based interaction.
HCI Knowledge Dissemination in South Asia through both
Coursework and Community Engagement
Pranjal Jain
pranjal.jain@swansea.ac.uk
Swansea University
Swansea, Wales, UK
Anirudh Nagraj
anagraj@userworks.com
UserWorks, Inc.
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Kartik Joshi
nckd.joshi@gmail.com
HCI for South Asia
India
Taru Jain
jaintaru11@gmail.com
HCI for South Asia
India
Dilrukshi Gamage
dilrukshi.gamage@gmail.com
Tokyo Instute of Technology
Tokyo, Japan
Sayan Sarcar
Sayan.Sarcar@bcu.ac.uk
Birmingham City University
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Nova Ahmed
nova.ahmed@northsouth.edu
North South University
Dhaka, Bangladesh
ABSTRACT
Emerging economies, such as those in South Asia, have begun
to invest in the HCI discipline through research and innovation,
aecting HCI as a knowledge discipline throughout the area. How-
ever, limited research has been conducted to understand how HCI
learning is imparted and how students get introduced. With the
advent of innovation in knowledge sharing, newer avenues have
emerged that help students beer understand the eld. We surveyed
64 participants to investigate the avenues of HCI exposure in South
Asia. We categorized these avenues into Traditional, Emergent, and
Intersectional based on ndings. We unpack the implications of
avenues in facilitating HCI knowledge dissemination. We found
access to community events and institute ranking play essential
roles in accessing HCI knowledge.
CCS CONCEPTS
Human-centered computing Empirical studies in HCI
;
Collaborative interaction;Web-based interaction.
KEYWORDS
Human-Computer Interaction; Emerging Economies; South Asia;
Knowledge Production; Exposure; Learning; Global South; HCI
ACM Reference Format:
Pranjal Jain, Anirudh Nagraj, Kartik Joshi, Taru Jain, Dilrukshi Gamage,
Sayan Sarcar, and Nova Ahmed. 2022. HCI Knowledge Dissemination in
South Asia through both Coursework and Community Engagement. In
EduCHI’22: 4th Annual Symposium on HCI Education, April 30-May 1 2022,
New Orleans, LA, USA. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 8 pages.
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EduCHI’22, April 30-May 1 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA
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ACM ISBN 978-x-xxxx-xxxx-x/YY/MM.
1 INTRODUCTION
Researchers and practitioners across the globe have inculcated a
mindset of human-centered design in their research and technol-
ogy design. Having human as the center of the design had led
eective technological solutions to the right audience. erefore,
before designing, the understanding of the human at their context
with cultural values plays an important role. e eld of Human
Computer Interaction (HCI) plays a vital role in this as it fundamen-
tally teaches on how to understand the needs of humans before
designing any solution. On the other hand, the HCI training and
pedagogical development plays an inuencing role for designers to
be trained to build such eective systems.
Although prior research has advocated how HCI can have an
impact on the emerging economies by designing tools and tech-
nologies while understanding low income users, users with limited
abilities, or even users under dierent cultural environment, much
of these implementations have been designed with an inuence
from western cultures. We believe this is mainly due to the in-
uence of HCI learning obtained from the west [
31
,
48
]. From the
perspective of HCI learning, research in the west has focused on the
challenges of teaching HCI in the U.S. and Australia [
16
,
34
,
46
,
47
].
However, HCI training and research in emerging economies is still
in the nascent stages, where the focus is on the challenges and
opportunities for devising a HCI curriculum [
15
,
18
,
49
]. HCI as a
discipline is relatively new to South Asia, specically to the South
Asian region which is the central focus of this study. South Asia con-
sists of eight countries as per the United Nations [
1
] and the South
Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) council [
37
].
is includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives,
Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. South Asian regions share similari-
ties in terms of diversity with respect to religion, socio-economic
status of people, culture, language, and specially the way academia
is structured in terms of schools and colleges [26].
Research shows that HCI education in Asia faces more challenges
as institutions place HCI in the periphery of their curriculum. Find-
ings from the HCI Education in Asia Pacic workshop signals that,
EduCHI’22, April 30-May 1 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA Jain et al.
“In developing countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Srilanka, HCI
is not considered as a priority compared to developed nations like
Singapore and Australia.[
39
]. eir work also highlights that the
existence of HCI as just a ‘fulllment criteria’ for students to gradu-
ate and, in many cases, non-existent from the curriculum itself. e
absence of HCI from the curriculum may contribute to the relatively
lower number of people pursuing HCI in such countries compared
to the countries in the west. Moreover, in the South Asian context,
the initiatives to study HCI
1
have largely focused on perspectives
of educators’ and industry practitioners [
23
,
39
]. Due to the lack of
formal opportunities, learning HCI has been a wicked problem to
South Asian students as there have never been a straight path [
22
].
In order to articulate a beer road-map for learning HCI in South
Asia—we explored the current context and the existing ways in
which HCI is introduced to students from South Asia through their
eyes. For this, we conducted a qualitative study aiming to answer
the following research questions:
RQ1
: What are the dierent avenues for students to explore HCI
in South Asia?
To answer RQ1, we surveyed 64 students from South Asia. Exam-
ining the current context, it is no doubt that various technological
interventions have impacted the ways in which knowledge is dis-
seminated. Given the ubiquitous nature of the internet, there have
been newer sources of learning in conjunction with the institution-
based learning. In our study, we found that participants aributed
their familiarity of HCI to an array of avenues like learning about
HCI while on a job, reading research papers, learning through
coursework, community engagement through conferences, events
and their interaction on social media platforms. ese avenues,
in majority, contribute to the ways in which knowledge is gener-
ated and received. We categorize these avenues into three types -
Traditional, Emergent and Intersectional. Traditional avenues are In-
stitutional oerings that include academic coursework, career fairs
and industry-related training. Emergent sources are mostly non-
institutional oerings that include but not limited to community
events, online courses, and social media. Intersectional avenues are
catergorized such as they may fall into either Traditional or Emer-
gent. Intersectional Avenues include student chapters, mentoring,
research papers and alumni networks.
From our ndings, we uncover dierent trajectories and chal-
lenges faced by students while following Traditional, Emergent and
Intersectional avenues in geing to learn about HCI. Results from
our work can help organizations and institutions to understand
students needs and desires to augment the learning of HCI globally.
2 RELATED WORK
In this section we provide an outline of previous work centered
around dierent HCI education in global context and a background
to education structures found in South Asia to provide a glimpse
of the current context. en we provide the outlines of theoretical
domains incorporated in the analytical lenses in our ndings and
discussions.
1
We would like to point out by referring to “HCI”, we imply all other similar terms that
fall under the broader eld of Human-Computer Interaction (For example, ”Human-
Centric design”, “Science and Technology Studies”, “Game Experience Design”, “Inter-
action Design”)
2.1 Dynamic Nature of HCI Education
ere have been signicant aempts to understand the factors that
inuence development of HCI education and research practices
across borders. Specically, the need of keeping up with global
advancements and pacing with local development issues by having
a local HCI curriculum was found to be imperative[
6
].In particular,
Churchill et al. demonstrated the importance of a global yet local
HCI curriculum so as to keep up with the advancements made glob-
ally and yet focus on local development issues [
6
].is was found
as results from a rst of its kind study across several countries to
understand “most important subjects, topics, methods, challenges,
and resources in human-computer interaction”[
36
]. is work was
conducted under the broader SIGCHI Education Project, which
was the rst of its kind study across several countries to under-
stand “most important subjects, topics, methods, challenges, and
resources in human-computer interaction” [
36
]. Apart from it, the
need of locality was emphasized. Specically, Gradhi in his research
stated how opportunities and needs, specic to a culture shape up
research development and accordingly pedagogical practices [
14
].
Such studies have motivated scholars worldwide to explore HCI
knowledge dissemination practices in dierent seings. Lawrence
et al. present the impact and inuence of HCI on students at the
school level in the United Kingdom [
30
] and Oleson et al. have
studied diculties faced by computing students in the U.S. while
learning HCI [
34
]. ey nd that educators mostly underscore
students having a dierent perception of design than in reality
and lean on more towards conventional design paerns. Similarly,
ompson et al. have captured the perspectives of educators in
the Australian tertiary education system to improve pedagogical
practices for HCI [3].
ere have also been numerous eorts that unpack the chal-
lenges faced by students while transitioning from academia to HCI
and UX related jobs. In particular, Gray demonstrates how percep-
tions of HCI students in the U.S. aects their competence in a UX
role [
16
]. Vorvoreanu et al. show how studio-based learning models
aid in improving the industry-relevant skill set for undergraduates
in the U.S. and help in transitioning to the UX industry roles [
46
].
Watkins et al. investigate the ways in which the design philosophies
of HCI students in the U.S., inuence their design practice at the
workplace [
47
]. Similarly, Siegel et al. also focus on the ways in
which students from non-designers backgrounds morph into design
roles when transitioning into the industry [40].
Studies in emerging economies have largely focused on advocat-
ing the importance of nuanced HCI courses [
39
,
43
]. In addition,
these studies also bring up initiatives to devise relevant curricu-
lum and pedagogical practices to incorporate HCI and its related
elds. [
7
,
18
,
20
]. For instance, Sari and Wadhwa in their research
on understanding HCI education landscape in Asia-Pacic uncov-
ered a way towards designing a exible and culturally relevant
curriculum for HCI based on the perceptions of HCI educators
and practitioners [
39
]. Collazos et al. demonstrate how HCI as
a eld is emerging in Ibero-America, and provide recommenda-
tions to establish HCI as an important discipline that is separate
from soware engineering [
7
]. Guimaraes et al. present educators’
perspectives on introducing HCI courses within computing under-
graduate courses in the Brazilian context covering both curriculum
HCI Knowledge Dissemination in South Asia through both Coursework and Community Engagement EduCHI’22, April 30-May 1 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA
design and pedagogical practices [
18
]. eir interviews with 13
professor who teach HCI courses revealed that most professors use
a project-centered approach in the course while balancing theory
and practice in HCI education. Gutierrez et al. advocate the im-
portance of situating CSCW knowledge production and research
in the cultural context and incorporating the opinions of students
in curriculum design [
20
]. On the other hand, Lazem’s work set
in the Egyptian context, provides recommendations to improve
inclusion in HCI education using a decolonial lens [
31
]. In that
spirit, Alabdulqader et al. took an initiative to bring together HCI
researchers and practitioners in order to improve the HCI educa-
tion landscape in the Arabian countries [
2
]. As demonstrated by
several researchers [
5
,
9
,
11
,
33
,
43
,
44
], the eld of HCI acts as a
motivation for incoming students to pursue the same on account
of its positive impact on the socio-economic progress in emerg-
ing economies[
2
,
13
,
48
]. Understanding the factors that inuence
awareness and uptake of HCI in emerging economies therefore
becomes an important point of inquiry.
2.2 Education structure in South Asia and HCI
Considering the context of South Asia, majorly of students in their
completion of schools explore avenues to transition into the higher
education environment. e higher education comes in the form of
dierent colleges and universities oering dierent programs/elds
to specialize in (to name a few, IIT-Bombay, IIIT-Delhi, Srishti In-
stitute Bangalore, Bangladesh University of Engineering Technol-
ogy (BUET), Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
[
8
,
21
,
24
]). is oers an opportunity for students to pursue either
their careers or continue in academia with respect to what they
do in higher education. Or in many cases, a transition to other
elds. ey oer a variety of programs including, but not limited
to, Engineering, Architecture, Design, Psychology to name a few.
In the context of India, when it comes to HCI as a subject, it is
seen that HCI is introduced to students by certain design schools
and other institutions and not the numerous other institutions that
oer Computer Science as a program. Additionally, one can suggest
that from the myriad of education sources in India, Computer Sci-
ence may not necessarily be the driving force for HCI professionals,
rather other educational landscapes at large [23, 43, 50].
In Bangladesh, the HCI education is in its infancy. HCI and
related courses are oered at undergraduate and graduate levels
in various public and private institutions only as an optional topic
or special topic from computer science curricula as well as from
design perspective. ere has been growing interest about this topic
enhanced by the local SIGCHI communities and multiple chapters
present in Bangladesh such as SIGHCHI, Dhaka and SIGCHI, Sylhet;
oering workshops, meetups through informal learning activities
(currently removed for blind review).
In the context of Sri Lanka, HCI as curriculum oered in un-
dergraduate level in many of public, private universities and intu-
itions. However, compared to Indian context, Sri Lankan students
who would interest in HCI would need to be enrolled in a com-
puter science, Information Technology, or related degree program
where design schools programs do not included with any HCI
courses [17, 29].
Researchers also point out that only a few institutions incorpo-
rate HCI while suggesting that HCI is non-existent for the large
parts in the overall institutional domain [
42
] - a thought echoed
by other researchers who suggest that HCI is either placed on the
periphery of the curriculum or not considered as a subject at all
[
39
]. However, Institutions in domains other than the ones oering
Computer Science have aempted to incorporate HCI in their cur-
riculum. For instance, students from Architecture and Psychology
also pursue HCI [27].
3 METHODOLOGY
Our main objective was to explore the factors that shape awareness
and acquaintance of HCI in South Asia. Specically, we aimed to
derive insights on the dierent avenues for students to explore HCI
in South Asia.
To achieve this goal, we conducted surveys over a period of three
months (May-July 2021). Before we launched our surveys, we ob-
tained our institutional IRB approval by explaining our procedures
and impact of our study. Number of survey respondents roughly
resonated with the proportion of population in South Asian coun-
tries, where we had total of 64 (54 survey respondents from India,
5 from Bangladesh, 5 from Sri Lanka, 1 from Pakistan, and 1 from
Nepal).
3.1 Online Survey
To expand our reach and recognition, we collaborated with [blinded]-
a developing community of [blinded] HCI researchers and practi-
tioners. We consulted members of the community for designing
the survey for external validity and made sure our survey is easily
understandable to any South Asian student and that it captures data
for study objectives. e survey included a total of 28 questions
with 9 questions on demographics and 10 multiple-choice questions,
and 10 questions with open-ended questions. ese questions were
designed to reveal factors that contribute to participants’ current
familiarity towards HCI, such as coursework, conferences, commu-
nity events, online courses, their level of interest in HCI, and their
career aspirations. e survey was designed to be completed within
15-20 minutes.
We administered our survey using Google Forms draed in Eng-
lish. To conduct the study, we rst reached out to close friends and
acquaintances to share the survey and also emailed it to relevant
mailing-lists. Our recruiting method followed snowball sampling,
using platforms like email, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Twier, Facebook,
Discord, and Slack. However, to bring more inclusiveness to our
sample representation, we also reached out to HCI advocacy groups,
SIGCHI student chapters, and other online HCI communities that
had considerable student representation. In parallel, we spread the
word in our home institutions for beer outreach.
We explained the objective of our study, privacy and conden-
tiality guidelines, and sought wrien consent through a note at
the beginning of our survey. We screened the survey responses to
remove duplicate entries. Some participants who took part in the
survey are currently not in South Asia, either because of higher
education or working in the industry in the West. However, all
but two participants initially pursued an education in South Asia.
We then analyzed the surveys, drew conclusions, and prepared the
EduCHI’22, April 30-May 1 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA Jain et al.
interview protocol and questionnaire based on the survey ndings.
67 participants lled out the survey, out of which we were le with
64 responses aer screening for duplicate entries, see Table 1. All
participants were based out of the SAARC countries, collectively
representing the South Asian region. e participants’ ages ranged
from 18-55, and they consisted of various backgrounds across South
Asia. Some participants currently work in the industry either in
UI/UX or Soware, while others are now in academia. See Table xx
for detail descriptive.
Table 1: Survey Participant Demographics
Demographic No of participants Participant percentage
Bangladesh 5 7.8%
India 52 81.3%
Nepal 1 1.6 %
Pakistan 1 1.6 %
Sri Lanka 5 7.8%
3.2 Analysis
We analysed the open-ended questions using thematic analysis [
4
].
Examples of codes included types of exposure, timeline of exposure
.e remaining responses were analysed by calculating percentages
and cross-tabulation [
28
]. An example of cross-tabulation included
comparing answers to “Please select the Human-Computer Interac-
tion (HCI) related terms (if any) that you might have come across”
and “What all would you say has contributed to your exposure to HCI
and related subjects?”. Our analysis of survey responses was mainly
helpful in corroborating our ndings.
Using the work done by Gibbons [
12
] as a reference, we catego-
rized the avenues of HCI exposure into Traditional, Emergent, and
Intersectional. Gibbons et al. have studied dierent forms of knowl-
edge production proposing newer non-traditional modes that work
in tandem with already existing institutionalized mode of knowl-
edge production [
12
]. We utilize his work in our reference to HCI
exposure. Mode 1 (M1) represents institutionalized seings, one
which primarily constitutes of institutional oerings. Mode 2 (M2)
represent sources that are not necessarily institutionalized and the
value of the knowledge is materialized by societal contextualisation.
As brought up in his work “e New Production of Knowledge”, these
modes interact with one another and are not disparate [12].
In our ndings we extend the benets and barriers of the above
mentioned avenues, which facilitated HCI knowledge dissemination
in South Asian seing.
3.3 Researchers’ Position
Our study and the interpretation of our data is reected by lived
experiences of studying and living in South Asian academic set-
tings. All researchers in this study completed their undergraduate
program from South Asia. Five researchers are from India, one
from Sri Lanka, and one from Bangladesh. Four researchers iden-
tify themselves as student(s) or early career researchers. Of the
four researchers from India who conducted the eldwork, three
currently reside in South Asia, while one resides and study outside
South Asia. Every researcher in this study was introduced to HCI
during their early career or student phase while pursuing a formal
degree program in their respective countries. Everyone has prior
experience working with and/or guiding students from South Asia.
4 FINDINGS
From the survey data, we nd that participants expressed a wide
range of factors that contributed to their acquaintance to HCI and
HCI-related elds. In our study, we categorize the avenues of HCI ex-
posure mentioned by our participants into
Traditional
: where HCI
is introduced at institutions with a dedicated mechanism;
Emer-
gent
: newer modes of learning beyond formal institutions and
Intersectional Avenues
: avenues of HCI exposure that can either
be from an institutional seing or from an outside environment.
ese avenues collectively form social networks that provide access
in terms of giving exposure to HCI and an opportunity to explore
HCI, but also show potential barriers thereby preventing exposure.
We bring to fore the benets and barriers in these avenues in the
discussion section.
4.1 Traditional Avenues
In this section, we present our ndings on the dynamics of Tradi-
tional avenues.
Within the boundaries of our study and the modes of knowledge
production, we have come across two main institutions provid-
ing traditional avenues, namely academia and industry. Within
academia, our participants reported coursework as one of the start-
ing point. We found job fairs, placement sessions are facilitated
in both academia and the industry. Previous data highlights the
importance of institutional placement and job fairs towards the
contribution of knowledge in a South Asian context [35].
4.1.1 Academic Coursework. Coursework oered by institutions
to its students introduces them to knowledge in dierent domains.
Coursework in our context refers to both curriculum and project
work. Most interview participants and 64.2% of our survey par-
ticipants said that their institutions oered the HCI and design
related courses which gave them an initial push to explore HCI.
Our ndings suggest that presence of formal HCI coursework in
one’s academic institution goes a long way in shaping the under-
standing and interests of our participants.
Coursework oer a transfer of knowledge from educators to
peers. Exposure through coursework evidently plays an important
role as referred by the participants however they also desired to get
an early exposure to HCI during their degree program. Multiple
participants expressed how they would have beneted had they
been introduced to HCI earlier in their undergraduate studies.
4.1.2 Industry related training & career fairs. Participants got ex-
posed to HCI through training while on the job or by aending
career fairs in their institutions. On the job training has been a
common phenomena in the South Asian context as every job re-
quires certain skills [
35
] set that may or may not be imparted to
students while in academia. Similarly, career sessions organized by
institutes also play a vital role in introducing various career paths
to students.
HCI Knowledge Dissemination in South Asia through both Coursework and Community Engagement EduCHI’22, April 30-May 1 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA
Participants came across the term “User Experience Research”
while aending talks at a career fair. One of the participants men-
tioned they got exposed to HCI related terminologies for the rst
time in their senior year while aending a career fair.
e next section in the ndings show how informal avenues play
important role in learning in this regional context.
4.2 Emergent Avenues
Emergent avenues, closely linked with Mode 2 [
12
], are newer
avenues of knowledge production, and one that are not as insti-
tutionalized as traditional ones. ese avenues, despite their lim-
ited structure, oer a fresh perspective on the way one consumes
knowledge and participates in the knowledge production. Emer-
gent avenues include community-led initiatives such as meetups,
conferences, social media, peer groups, and online courses. In our
study, we found that community-led initiatives such as commu-
nity meetups, conferences and its projection on digital spaces such
as social media have helped amplify one’s understanding of HCI
[
10
,
19
]. Participants aributed their interest and understanding in
HCI to these avenues as they came across it during various points
in time.
4.2.1 Community Engagement. Community engagement is the in-
volvement and participation by individuals in a society, club, as-
sociation or in any kind of a group environment. Largely, these
communities are driven only on a volunteer basis. From survey, we
noticed that community engagement in the form of conferences
and community meetups and events play an important role in en-
hancing the exposure to students who want to know about HCI
and learn more about the eld. Nearly half the survey participants,
47.9%, noted that conferences contributed to their exposure of HCI.
Some of the constructive markers mentioned were that of one-one
networking, and mentoring opportunities.
However, participants can also feel socially isolated while at-
tempting to participate in community events due to various reasons
such as feelings of disconnect while aending community events
and feelings of being an outsider, and these limit access to the com-
munity learning benets. One participant, for instance, highlighted
feeling “le out” when it came to engaging at conferences.
4.2.2 Social media. Social media websites are known to provide
networking opportunities and form an important source of aaining
knowledge about the eld [
25
]. ere are numerous networking
websites and applications in South Asia that allows the students
to create their digital identity and interact on these platforms for
various purposes.
In our study, participants mentioned social media platforms to be
a crucial factor in introducing them to HCI. Social media platforms
like Twier and LinkedIn play a part by acting as a bridge between
the people who know about HCI and those who wish to learn
more. Multiple participants reported how their engagement and
interaction on social media facilitated their exposure to HCI.
Other participants described how they utilized social media such
as Twier, a micro-blogging website, to help them evolve their
understanding of HCI and research. Twier also aided them in
learning about HCI scholars who post content related to the eld
of HCI. is enabled them to gain expansive knowledge about the
latest happenings and projects from the world of HCI and have
a penchant for HCI learning. ey also beneted by following
conference related Twier handles which gave them access to the
accepted research in that venue. is way participants mentioned
that they saved their time by not aending the conference.
4.2.3 Online courses. Online courses on the other hand are not
strictly related to an institutional seing. Rather, these courses are
shared via platforms such as LinkedIn, Coursera, Udemy (MOOCs).
Hence we place online courses into Emergent avenues. ese courses
can either contribute towards a certication or can aid formal
coursework. 38.8 % of our survey participants aributed geing
exposed to HCI through online courses.
4.3 Intersectional Avenues
Our ndings directed us to another category of avenues, one whose
creation is institutionalized but their functioning depends on strong
societal contextualisation, that is, the onus of sustainability of such
avenues is on student communities. As our ndings show, support
from this category is facilitated by the academic institutions. It
is also a mode of learning for young learners who are at their
transitions; exploring pathways within and across academia and
industry.
4.3.1 Student Chapter. Student chapter is the association primarily
run by a group of students or individuals who may be aliated
with an institution. e chapter has autonomy to conduct its daily
aairs with the facilitation from educators, institutions’ manage-
ment or from other independent organizations with whom they
are associated [
41
]. From our survey data, we see that 46.8% of the
survey participants are exposed to HCI via meetups and events
facilitated by student chapters. is is actually a signicant number
and a positive inuence on someone who is geing to know more
about the eld of HCI.
4.3.2 Research papers. Research papers promote learning in depth
on a certain topic. 47.2% of the survey participants mention that
research papers were a factor in exposing them to the eld of HCI.
We place research papers in Intersectional avenues as they can
either be facilitated from an academic institution seing or can
be facilitated from outside the realm of academia either in the
form of conferences or through self learning. Interview participants
suggested that people (Students/Professionals) who want to know
more about the eld of HCI can go through research papers to learn
more about some of the happenings in HCI, thus giving them a
chance to know more about the researchers who conduct the work,
their expertise and associated ventures. Research papers constitute
a novel form of information channel and can consequently lead
to more participation in conferences and bolster the number of
students trying to pursue HCI from emerging economies.
4.3.3 Mentoring. Mentoring comes in the form of an educator-
student relationship. Some of the inherent benets of mentoring
include knowledge transfer from the educator to the student, and
enabling the student to succeed in the desired eld. We place men-
toring as an Intersectional avenue because the knowledge transfer
can either be within the realm of academia or can be in an outside
EduCHI’22, April 30-May 1 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA Jain et al.
seing. For instance, mentoring obtained through networking on
social media platforms or community events.
Participants interestingly found mentoring through their peer
network on the WhatsApp groups, where alumni of their insti-
tution were present. ey got exposure to HCI related elds by
exchanging information such as research paper submission dead-
lines and various competitions deadline on the group with each
other. Hence this facilitated peer-peer mentoring which led to the
guidance and networking among the peers. Peer-peer interactions
are oen devoid of any power structures and therefore allow for
reciprocity to thrive.
5 DISCUSSION
HCI as a discipline is emerging in South Asia with more people
pursuing it professionally [
32
]. is uptake in HCI can be aributed
to the increase in knowledge obtained through Traditional, Emer-
gent, and Intersectional avenues. HCI scholarships have previously
shown the importance and impact of institutional oerings such as
coursework through studio based design courses. [
46
]. While this
draws our aention to the innovation carried out in a classroom
seing, there is also a pressing need to acknowledge “beyond the
classroom” learning initiatives. By not accounting for such sources
of exposure, the HCI community faces the risk of an over-emphasis
on classroom learning. Our work is an eort to address this gap
by describing in depth these diverse learning avenues beyond the
realms of academia in addition to the ones in it. From our study,
we found several avenues that cater to the growing demand of HCI
knowledge exchange in a South Asian context. While traditional
avenues (those primarily constituting institutional oerings) are
prevalent, there exist Emergent and Intersectional avenues where
students go beyond institutional boundaries to seek the knowledge
they wish to gain. It is this pursuit of learning that drives them to
explore a myriad of avenues that aid in knowledge production.
All the avenues collectively constitute social networks that pro-
vide value in terms of giving exposure to HCI. In turn aecting
HCI learning, and hence providing an opportunity to explore the
oerings of the discipline. ese avenues may aect the learning
process either independently or in conjunction with other external
factors. ere is no hierarchy in these avenues. e access to the
benets from such avenues is reected in (Section 5.1). Besides ac-
cess, there are barriers to some extent that impact HCI knowledge
dissemination in the region in (Section 5.2). Based on the bene-
ts and barriers as observed from the participant data, we provide
recommendations to improve HCI knowledge dissemination.
5.1 Access to HCI Knowledge Dissemination
In our study, we found that being a part of the avenues of HCI
exposure introduced students to a web of resources. Participants
felt the need to form social ties and build a community that is
mutually helpful to all members of the network. We would like
to point out that there are common sentiments around learning
and curiosity to contribute to the repository of knowledge. e
emotional bonding in the network motivates students to learn and
grow in professional seings.
Furthermore, by being a part of such social networks, students
get
novel information
. e data from our surveys and subsequent
analysis suggests a positive impact of social networking on learning
and exposure to HCI. e amount of information present on social
media platforms allows free transfer of knowledge and increases the
outreach of HCI among people, particularly students in South Asia.
With the rise in the number of people on social media platforms,
increased networking improves knowledge sharing - a by-product
of interactivity. e above mentioned is arguably in line with the
work done by other researchers [
45
] who talk about the increase
in human engagement due to message interactivity and this was
highlighted by our participants who claimed to have increased
exposure and learning through networking and interaction on social
media. In emerging economies such as South Asia, where HCI as
a discipline has just started to gain eminence, such channels of
information ow go a long way in establishing epistemological
foundation of HCI.
We found that a lack of HCI coursework within the formal cur-
riculum, led to the creation of emergent avenues by the students
who once faced challenges in encountering HCI. Participants in our
study have been responsible in creating a platform for other stu-
dents, promoting HCI and related content, and providing a source
for distant learning. is is the
collective action
taken by students
which results in a larger good by creating more avenues.
Additionally, Samson et al. talk about fostering good network-
ing among academics and practitioners and growing a research
community from Asia [
38
]. is shows how there is a growing
need for networking and constructing elements to aid exposure of
HCI among people in academia and beyond, while emphasizing
challenges in aending community events such as workshops and
conferences.
5.2 Barriers to HCI Knowledge Dissemination
e social networks through which students get access to HCI
knowledge dissemination, also have the elements of dierential
access that create barriers. ese elements reproduce inequalities,
which demonstrates control and exclusion in participation by the
students. Students struggled while trying to collaborate with estab-
lished researchers. In such situations geing relevant experience
in HCI was a “privilege” and the lack of experience loop continued.
A late introduction oen leads to missed opportunities in both
the seings. Participants expressed how they would have beneted
had they been introduced to HCI earlier in their studies, which
would have given more time to explore their interest areas. For
instance, the term ”User Experience” or ”UX” is rapidly rising in
South Asia. Should the course of HCI be introduced earlier and UX
be taught in schools, students may have the opportunity to delve
deeper into the subject and take that knowledge into the industry.
For example, some participants felt that they might have seen a
change in their career trajectory if they had known about HCI
earlier during their time in academia by stating, Introduction of
HCI earlier can lead to an enhanced interaction between faculty and
students, thereby leading to an increased interest among students.
5.3 Improving Social Network in Avenues - A
Way Forward
First, while envisioning a community that caters to the diverse
needs of the students from South Asia, there is a need to account
HCI Knowledge Dissemination in South Asia through both Coursework and Community Engagement EduCHI’22, April 30-May 1 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA
for the local values. It should be noted that no avenues are om-
nipotent and more importantly, can not be considered as panacea
for achieving HCI knowledge transfer throughout the geographies.
Rather, pluralistic values in the avenues ensure HCI exposure. As
unpacked from our ndings, it could be easy to assume that certain
emerging and intersectional avenues such as student chapters and
community events like conferences provide invaluable experience.
However, entry to such avenues is still restricted to certain sections
in the socio-economic spectrum within the region. Oen, the incen-
tives of joining a community are not communicated to the students.
While the local chapters intend to provide a global platform, in so
doing it gets reduced to conducting few events and other benets of
such avenues remain sidelined. is acts as a barrier in being a part
of the community that engages in the knowledge exchange of the
eld of HCI. By not incorporating local mechanisms in the everyday
operations of these avenues, we risk impressing “socio-economic
eliteness” in the process of HCI dissemination.
Secondly, these avenues should be democratic and inclusive,
allowing people from dierent demographics and experience to
express themselves. Such demographic-agnostic avenues ensure
that the process of HCI knowledge dissemination is equitable and
discards ”geopolitical eliteness” that these avenues might bring.
Moreover, power dynamics inherent in these avenues exacerbate
the issue of access. Especially in South Asian context where cul-
tural hierarchy drives the social interaction between students and
educators, seeking mentorship becomes dicult. By leveraging
benets of social networks, there is a room to improve mentorship
outcomes.
6 LIMITATIONS
Our work sheds light on the dierent avenues and barriers towards
HCI learning and exposure for students in South Asian region.
Given the amount of diversity in the South Asian region, it is di-
cult to generalize our ndings more broadly. Our participant sample,
recruited volunteering through various targeted social media plat-
forms, may be under-representative of the South Asian diversity
- country wise and within a country. For instance, two countries
that are represented in the survey are not represented in the inter-
view data (Pakistan and Nepal) due to the diculty in participant
recruitment. Further, the population of these countries comprising
South Asia vary greatly, as is also seen the number of participants
recruited per country, with the largest number being from India.
However, this is somewhat expected through our participant re-
cruitment approach, and our participant samples are in a sense
representative of the South Asian population as a whole.
7 CONCLUSION AND FUTURE WORK
In this paper, we investigated the avenues for students to explore
HCI in South Asian context and further how these avenues aect
students’ interest and understanding of HCI. Our results found an
array of themes relating to the avenues from a survey and set of
semi-structured interviews. We categorized them as Traditional,
Emergent and Intersectional based on their context. Traditional
Avenues represented the conventional institutional avenues such
as universities and institutions. Emergent avenues represented the
newer forms of HCI exposure (Social Media, Online Platforms).
Intersectional Avenues represented of those avenues that can either
fall into academia or can be in a non academic seing. For example,
some students had the exposure to HCI via alumni network or
reading HCI related research papers.
e ndings of this study can be used by students, faculty and
other seasoned HCI researchers in South Asia to enlighten on the
gaps where we could improve the exposure and manifest goals to
grow interest towards HCI from many of under represented groups
in South Asia. As a next step, we will look into the avenues of
HCI exposure from an educator’s perspective, combine it with the
student’s to come up with probable solutions to slowly incorporate
HCI into the general higher education curriculum. We anticipate
to expand our study and consider people of a wider demographic
within the South Asian context for a beer understanding of higher
education curriculum spread and functioning. Expanding the study
would lead to a comprehensive and detailed version to match the
requirement and placement of HCI of a diverse population within
South Asia.
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