Alannah Oleson


Peer-reviewed papers.

Alannah Oleson, Brett Wortzman, Amy J. Ko (2021)
ACM Trans. Comput. Educ. (TOCE) 21, 1, Article 2, 34 pages. [ACM DL Link]
Characterizes the ways design skills and activities manifest in K-12 computing curricula and standards, finding that many of these materials conflate program-space (disciplinary) and problem-space (nondisciplinary) design, masking the distinct challenges that arise when learning and teaching problem-space design. Calls for more investigation into the unique intersection of computing and applied design education, with the goal of supporting more critical, ethical computing education.

Alannah Oleson, Meron Solomon, Amy J. Ko (2020)
ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 1-14. [ACM DL Link]
Investigates the challenges that computing students face in learning HCI design, finding challenges in understanding design as distinct from engineering, understanding design methods, finding resources to support design, interpreting feedback, scoping design problems, choosing between alternatives, and designing for diversity.

Amanda Swearngin, Chenglong Wang, Alannah Oleson, James Fogarty, Amy J. Ko (2020)
ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 1-13. [ACM DL Link]
Presents a system to support designers ideation of user interface layouts, allowing designers to provide high-level preferences, obtain a set of layouts that meet those preferences, provide feedback on those preferences, and iteratively converge towards preferred layouts. An evaluation showed that designers who used Scout accelerated ideation and found more diverse designs that designers without it.

Alannah Oleson, Christopher Mendez, Zoe Steine-Hanson, Claudia Hilderbrand, Christopher Perdriau, Margaret Burnett, Amy J. Ko (2018)
ACM International Computing Education Research Conference (ICER), 69-77. [ACM DL Link]
Through observations and interviews with 9 teacher-researchers at 8 U.S. universities, this paper identifies 11 pieces of pedagogical content knowledge for teaching inclusive software design in higher education, including strategies for anticipating and addressing resistance, modeling and scaffolding perspective-taking, and tailoring instruction to students' prior beliefs.

Christopher Mendez, Zoe Steine Hanson, Alannah Oleson, Amber Horvath, Charles Hill, Claudia Hilderbrand, Anita Sarma, Margaret Burnett (2018)
IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, 23-32. [IEEE DL Link]
Through a field study and a controlled 92-participant study, discusses the benefits and drawbacks of semi-automating parts of the software inspection process from the perspective of cognitive load.

Margaret Burnett, Todd Kulesza, Alannah Oleson, Shannon Ernst, Laura Beckwith, Jill Cao, William Jernigan, Valentina Grigoreanu (2017)
Chapter in New Perspectives in End-User Development (F. Paterno and V. Wulf, eds.). [Springer Link]
The field of end-user software engineering (EUSE) has grown to include a large body of literature since the early 2000s, but it can be difficult to build upon projects in the absence of cross-cutting theoretical foundations. We advocate for stronger theoretical foundations and present examples of EUSE projects that successfully went beyond individual tools to produce general methods and principles.

  ★   Best Paper Honorable Mention  
Charles Hill, Maren Haag, Alannah Oleson, Chris Mendez, Nicola Marsden, Anita Sarma, Margaret Burnett (2017)
ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 6658-6671. [ACM DL Link]
Using multiple profile pictures on one persona may expand product designers' consideration of multiple genders without harming persona engagement or advancing harmful gender stereotypes.

William Jernigan, Amber Horvath, Michael Lee, Margaret Burnett, Taylor Cuilty, Sandeep Kuttal, Anicia Peters, Irwin Kwan, Faezeh Bahmani, Amy J. Ko, Christopher J. Mendez, Alannah Oleson (2017)
Journal of Visual Languages and Computing, Vol. 39, 51-65. [Elsevier Link]
End-user programmers who are not necessarily interested in learning programming can benefit from a just-in-time help system called the Idea Garden, which is built on the presented generalized architecture.

Charles Hill, Shannon Ernst, Alannah Oleson, Amber Horvath, Margaret Burnett (2016)
IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC), 199-207. [IEEE DL Link]
Software practitioners who use the GenderMag method to identify gender-inclusiveness issues in their software interfaces engage with the GenderMag personas at a high rate, but may also detour and introduce recording errors during GenderMag sessions.

Dastyni Loksa, Amy J. Ko, William Jernigan, Alannah Oleson, Christopher J. Mendez, Margaret M. Burnett (2016)
ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 1449-1461. [ACM DL Link]
Teaching novice programmers explicit problem-solving strategies can positively impact their productivity, self-efficacy, independence, and growth mindset development.


Amy J. Ko, Alannah Oleson, Mara Kirdani-Ryan, Yim Register, Benjamin Xie, Mina Tari, Matthew Davidson, Stefania Druga, Dastyni Loksa (October 2020)
Communications of the ACM (CACM), Vol. 63, No. 11. [ACM DL Link]
"By which 'critical' means an intellectual stance of skepticism, centering the consequences, limitations, and unjust impacts of computing in society." Proposes three ideas that computing education needs to center if we want a more equitable world: That computing has limits, that data has limits, and that computer scientists have responsibility for the things they choose to build.

Workshops + Symposia.

Alannah Oleson, Amy J. Ko (2020)
Workshop at EduCHI 2020: 2nd Annual Symposium on HCI Education.
Based off prior work of ours on student learning difficulties in HCI education, proposes that to move forward with HCI education, we the community should focus on developing a robust body of HCI pedagogical content knowledge. This "unsolved challenge" paper will be the basis for a collaborative brainstorming session at the symposium.
Margaret Burnett, Zoe Steine-Hanson, Alannah Oleson (2019)
Workshop at EduCHI Symposium 2019: Global Perspectives on HCI Education.
Describes the origins of the GenderMag-Teach project, focusing on how we established and developed an online community of practice for educators teaching gender-inclusive software interface design.
Margaret Burnett, Anita Sarma, Christopher Mendez, Alannah Oleson, Claudia Hilderbrand, Zoe Steine-Hanson, Amy J. Ko (2018)
Workshop at VL/HCC 2018: Designing Technologies to Support Human Problem Solving.
Position paper to call attention to how software can be biased against certain problem-solving styles, espcially those favored by women, and how to address these issues from the perspective of the GenderMag Method (


Smart Guide to Capture Digital Images that Align with a Target Image Model
Alannah Oleson, Radomir Mech, Jose Echevarria, Cynthia (Jingwan) Lu
Filed Feb. 2018 as US15/897,951. Published as US20190253614A1 and US10574881B2. [Google Patents Link]
Motivated by the observation that most smartphone photographers are not trained in portrait photography techniques, this system provides a model for analyzing a device's camera feed as a picture is being taken and guiding the user to achieve a higher-quality selfie or portrait.