Oh Yeah, Work.

Entrance to UOC Learning Technologies BuildingAfter 3 days of touring the city, learning the metro and drinking mojitos on the beach, today was the first day of my research internship at the Universidad Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). An alarm clock malfunction (or rather, the realization that my clock had been set at the wrong time for 2 days), left me rushing out to the metro barely awake, only to find that the L7 stop near my apartment is under construction. I arrived at the university half an hour late, but was relieved to find my new boss, Eva de Lera, terrifically warm and gracious. I think she took pity on me because I was positively shiny with sweat after climbing the steep hill from the metro to the office, which is situated in an exclusive residential area in the mountains surrounding the city. The UOC is one of a handful of global, accredited universities in the world with an entirely virtual campus. It was founded in 1994, with the mission to leverage the concept of mainstream personal computing and the newly emerging Internet to offer a world-class, highly accessible, distance education to students all over the world. It was an absolutely revolutionary idea in 1994, but today there are several other "open" universities, including two in London and China built on a similar model. With 100% of the students and faculty working remote from campus and from one another, the success of the model is utterly dependent on the school's state-of-the-art Virtual Campus, a technology platform through which all content and interactions are delivered and facilitated. Beyond usability, affective engagement and emotionally-rich human-through-computer-to-human interaction is the critical design goal. To that end, Eva has tasked me with helping her define new and better ways to measure affect, beyond satisfaction surveys and even facial scanning and skin conductivity. I'm excited to dive into the innovative work Eva's team has already published on e-learning, emotion and HCI. We're meeting on Monday to discuss which specific projects I'd like to tackle while I'm here!