Alannah Oleson

HCI + Design + Computing Education.

I'm a PhD candidate in the Information School at the University of Washington, advised by Prof. Amy J. Ko in the Code & Cognition lab.

My research lies in the intersection of human-computer interaction (HCI), justice-centered computing education, and software interface design. I investigate how we can best teach computing students and software practitioners to create technology that supports all kinds of users, not just those from socially and culturally dominant groups. I work toward a future where everyone can authentically and effectively interact with and be represented by the technologies they use.

A diagram of the five CIDER stages, with arrows pointing from one to the next. Icons illustrate each stage: A magnifying glass for critique, a thought bubble for imagine, a ruler and pencil for design, two speech bubbles for expand, and two arrows pointing at each other for repeat.

My dissertation work explores how to help computing think critically about the technology they create and design more inclusive user interfaces. I created a pedagogical design evaluation technique called CIDER (Critique, Imagine, Design, Expand, Repeat) to help post-secondary HCI students learn to recognize and respond to implicit assumptions about users embedded in technology designs. A mixed-method case study evaluating CIDER’s efficacy in a post-secondary introductory interface design course found that the technique helped significantly increase students’ self-efficacy for inclusive interface design, expand students' concrete understandings of design biases, and even had long-lasting impacts on students' design approaches (read more here). In the 2022-23 academic year, I will be working with educators to evaluate CIDER in a variety of learning contexts.

Prior to attending UW, I was a student at Oregon State University advised by Prof. Margaret Burnett, researching gender-inclusive software design as part of the GenderMag project. I founded the GenderMag-Teach effort to understand the pedagogical content knowledge that university-level educators develop as they teach their students the principles of inclusive software design.

I am a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow and formerly an Adobe Research Women-in-Technology scholar.