Toni Granollers, Jaime Muñoz-Arteaga, César Collazos, Huizilopoztli Luna-García
In 2005, the Asociación Interacción Persona-Ordenador (AIPO, the Spanish Human-Computer Interaction Association; http://www.aipo.es) promoted its first workshop on teaching HCI for the Spanish-speaking context: Jornadas de Trabajo sobre Enseñanza of CHI (CHIJOTE) . At that time, HCI (Interacción Persona-Ordenador, IPO) had very little impact on academic curricula. The European Higher Education Area (EHEA), also known as the Bologna framework, was being consolidated and it was necessary to revise and ensure the validity of the curricular contents, methodologies, and pedagogical paradigms related to HCI that were being taught mainly in European universities [2,3].
Since then, Spanish computer science degrees moved from having HCI as an elective to it being compulsory. The digital industry that demands professionals with UX skills is growing noticeably. However, the social and economic impact of university-industry relationships is far from reaching its full potential . As a result, Spanish universities have widely different support structures for interacting with social and economic agents.
Extending to Latin-American countries, HCI is also a promising area, not only in academia but also in industry ; however, it is still not a basic part of the computer science curricula. Some studies have suggested that one of the main problems associated with HCI teaching is the lack of well-equipped usability labs and lecture facilities, and an insufficient number of teachers well trained in HCI [6,7]. More recently, some of us participated in the SIGCHI initiative HCI Across Borders , during which the scantly established knowledge of HCI in these regions emerged. One of the main needs identified was the lack of open digital repositories with academic resources available to the scientific community.
To reinforce the HCI field in Latin America, the Collaborative Network to Support the Teaching-Learning Processes in Human-Computer Interaction at the Ibero-American Level (HCI-Collab; http://hci-collab.com) was created. This network is sponsored by the Asociación Universitaria Iberoamericana de Postgrado (AUIP) and brings together more than 40 higher-education institutions from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and Venezuela.
The main goal of HCI-Collab is to define an HCI curriculum to be used in Latin-American countries. To reach this goal, it is necessary to identify what people are doing in HCI, what research projects they are working on, and what initiatives have been structured. A first survey  identified some pitfalls—the scarcity of HCI/UX teaching material in Spanish and Portuguese (and that what exists is really outdated) being the most important.
Some actions have been taken to try to mitigate this problem. The last two INTERACCIÓN conferences (the 19th in 2018, the 20th in 2019) added two more sessions of CHIJOTE. Their main purpose was to revise the current state of the art of teaching HCI, analyze current academia and industry trends and needs, and (attempt to) foresee what the future could be.
In the 2018 conference, HCI-Collab representatives presented the One Year of HCI Webinars in Spanish initiative (http://hci-collab.com/2018/12/20/webinars_hci). The idea was to run a full year of online seminars to involve the community, with the aim of building up a collection of short videos (15 minutes max.) explaining interesting HCI-related topics. A great number of volunteers agreed to participate, all of them accepting that their video would be online for free under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.
First edition. Almost every month from January to December 2019, a one-hour Facebook Live video session with two HCI topics was offered. After each talk, the participants had some time for questions or comments. The pages on the website (http://hci-collab.com/2018/12/20/wipo2019) and the YouTube channel (https://bit.ly/3iV5FVh) offer the complete collection of material to complement classes in our respective universities. The year ended with 19 talks covering general topics such as usability, accessibility, and user experience, and other more specific ones like multiculturalism, design for people with special needs, evaluating with heuristics, emotions, UI patterns, value-sensitive design, citizen science, intelligent environments, and conversational AI.
Except for two, the contributions mainly came from academia. Of those two, one was given by a freelance professional who works as a UX researcher and designer, the other by an expert on UX consulting and usability at one of the main financial institutions in Spain.
It should also be noted that, although the purpose is to provide a repository of HCI topics in Spanish, one of the presentations on November 14 was in English. This was because that day was World Usability Day (https://worldusabilityday.org) and we decided to commemorate it by making an exception with the language.
Second edition. One of the main objectives of the HCI-Collab network has been achieved. Although participation in the first webinars was not as high as we expected, the audience has grown as time has passed, and the numbers of visits, downloads, and real-time questions from the audience have increased significantly. The topic of HCI in Ibero-American countries has been disseminated and university teachers from the Spanish-speaking context have started to use the recently created teaching material.
It encouraged us to give continuity to this action, so a second set of webinars was scheduled for 2020. Twenty-five talks (http://hci-collab.com/2020/01/28/wipo2020) have been confirmed, and have been running thus far with significant success.
Additionally, the global situation resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic has forced people all around the world to remain at home as a preventive measure. Under these lockdown conditions, online activities have become crucial to everyone. Beyond our initial goal, we considered the webinars (in both editions) as an alternative solution to generate digital resources for HCI courses from different Ibero-American university institutions.
This initiative enabled the creation of a shared understanding about the foundations of HCI in our context, which is fundamental to creating a specialized HCI cluster in Latin America.
Moreover, as one of the key outcomes of this HCI network, and of the HCI Across Borders initiative mentioned earlier, the CAFETEROS local SIGCHI chapter (https://sigchi.org/chapters/) emerged to connect the main Colombian HCI specialists. Thus, we are working with people from other Latin-American countries to create new SIGCHI chapters in every region.
There are other interesting outcomes to consider, such as the REHAB workshop (http://rehab-workshop.org) on ICT for improving patients' rehabilitation research techniques, or the Jornadas Iberoamericanas de Interactión Humano-Computador, yearly workshops that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, recently ran as an online workshop (https://www.ucsm.edu.pe/hci2020). Both events enable intercultural exchange and cooperation between people with different backgrounds and needs. We believe HCI-Collab initiatives should foster the production of research and technology in HCI areas that can be used and appreciated by as many Ibero-American people as possible.
Next steps will include activities related to formation and transformation. Here are the most positive aspects found when we reflect on the experience as a whole:
- The community around the HCI-Collab network is building a repository of completely free HCI educational resources in Spanish. Whoever wants to use it will not only have access to an updated body of knowledge but will also be able to contact the authors to extend some aspect or simply to collaborate.
- Although we have the views of both academia and industry, we are aware that we must strive to increase the contributions from the HCI business world. People worldwide do everyday actions using technology, and our goal is to provide usable ICT solutions for everyone (including people with disabilities, the elderly, and multicultural communities). So, the number of HCI-skilled professionals has grown significantly. Moreover, the current situation of the global pandemic only increases this need. Much of the impetus for integrating HCI into information systems comes from industry. The role of the information systems professionals in industry has become crucial and indicates a need for understanding HCI topics. Accordingly, a close relationship between the academy and industry has become necessary.
- The opportunity to present research works to people in Latin America is enabling the creation of specialized subcommunities about specific HCI topics.
- This ongoing action clearly supports the growth of the community. New members have joined the network as they find the common meeting point for the Spanish-speaking HCI people they were looking for.
- Even though we have included some HCI professionals from the business world/sectors, we believe that more people from HCI-related private companies must be included in this network. It is important to add them and help scholars to bridge the gap between both sides of the same situation. We really need to include what people do outside the university research groups and how they perceive HCI. In that sense, and as an example of these efforts at inclusion, in the last INTERACCION Conference, we held another session of the CHIJOTE workshop (https://interaccion2019.ehu.eus/?page_id=1006). In this case, the seminar was focused on solving three real cases and led by three experienced HCI professionals.
In general terms, our efforts have raised new ways of organization and participation, enabling the emergence of new collaboration scenarios, where HCI-Collab can manage to increase knowledge so that it becomes an added value for HCI professionals and organizations in the Ibero-American context. Several subjects to study are considered here as future work, in particular the study of user satisfaction and better online services to access the HCI educational content.
Finally, we already have in mind new challenges to tackle as a field. As the list of HCI books in Spanish is scarce (the first, edited by the AIPO pioneers, appeared in 2000, and since then only four more, the most recent published in 2015), a subgroup has already started the work to publish an online HCI book in Spanish. We believe that societies such as AIPO or ACM could support our efforts to increase and improve the HCI field in Latin America and, more generally, in all Spanish-speaking countries.
1. Acronym that, skilfully, united the spirit of the days with the host land, Castilla-La Mancha, and with the IV Centenary of the first edition of the book The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha, worldwide known as Don Quixote.
4. García-Aracil, A. et al. University Technology Transfer: The Case of Spain. In University Technology Transfer: The Globalization of Academic Innovation, Edition: 1. S.M. Breznitz and Henry Etzkowitz, eds. Routledge, 2015, 253–270; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281966562_University_Technology_Transfer_The_Case_of_Spain
Toni Granollers has a Ph.D. in computer science, specializing in human-computer interaction, from the University of Lleida, Spain (2004). After several years of working in companies as a computer programmer and project manager, he is now fully involved in teaching and research activities in the field of HCI. email@example.com
Jaime Muñoz-Arteaga is a professor at Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes (UAA), Aguascalientes, México. His research topics are in the domain of human-computer interaction, e-learning, and Web engineering. firstname.lastname@example.org
César A. Collazos is a full professor in the Systems Department, Universidad del Cauca, Colombia, where he is head of IDOS research group. He has a Ph.D. in computer science. His main research areas include HCI, CSCL, and CSCW. email@example.com
Huizilopoztli Luna-García is a researcher and professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas, Mexico. His research interests are human-technology interaction, user-customer experience, design patterns, infotainment systems, software engineering, and educational technology. firstname.lastname@example.org
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