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Current Teaching at Aalto University

CS-E400207: Designing Trustworthy AI Systems and Practices
March 30 – June 8, 2023 (10 weeks)

In this exploratory seminar, we examine the critical role of trust in designing, developing, and deploying systems using Artificial Intelligence (AI). By exploring various disciplines we examine how trust can be understood socially, culturally, and cognitively, while devising means for critically engaging these constructs to devise ethical, inclusive, and trustworthy AI systems and practices. The seminar primarily draws on emerging literature on the topic from areas including Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAccT), Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Designing Information Systems (DIS), computational linguistics, participatory design research, ethical and responsible AI, governance and AI regulation.

Participants conduct applied research on existing AI systems, prototype novel approaches, conduct speculative design research, and evaluate potential outcomes. Conceptual, theoretical, and philosophical approaches for critical inquiry are also encouraged. As a graduate-level seminar, all participants must conduct original research in this course, leveraging their own disciplinary backgrounds, critically reviewing published literature, and co-learning from their peers, while contributing to the emerging field.

Guest speakers and visiting researchers will be invited to offer critical multidisciplinary perspectives on emerging research in these areas.

Course website: https://mycourses.aalto.fi/course/view.php?id=38269

ELEC-E5531: Designing Voice & Auditory Interaction
January 18 – April 5, 2022 (12 weeks)

Advances in voice recognition and digital technologies offer novel forms of speech and auditory interaction for engaging user services and immersive experiences in the home, school, workplace, museums and everyday public spaces. This course introduces methods, practices and challenges of incorporating speech, audio and multimodal interaction for designing voice and auditory services, products and user experiences. Designing Voice and Auditory Interaction provides a basic understanding of speech, conversational design, NLP and interactive speech/audio methods, along with cases studies and tutorials for applied project-based learning, participatory design, and user experience evaluation. The course will also explore novel research applications for immersive audio environments, physical interaction, and computational creativity.

Course website: https://mycourses.aalto.fi/course/view.php?id=34205

CS-E4002: Critical AI and Data Justice in Society
February 4 – April 8, 2021 (10 weeks)

The course critically examines the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous systems, and data-centric technologies in society. We interrogate these concerns using cross-disciplinary theories and practices embedded in the ethics of AI, intersectional feminist perspectives, Global South and indigenous experiences, as well as civic debates and human rights discourses. The goal is to reveal the socio-political implications for protest, surveillance, democratic participation, misinformation, gender and racial equity, civic engagement and social justice.

Course website: aaltoaidatajustice.wordpress.com

CS-E4002: Human-Centred Research and Design in Crisis
June 2 – Sept 1, 2020 (2-week break in July)

The course introduces students to understanding and engaging in crisis contexts, using human-centred design principles and participatory research methodologies in conjunction with domain experts, partner organizations and everyday citizens. The course will build on extensive research findings from inter-related disciplines of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Participatory Design (PD), Participatory Action Research (PAR), A.I. and Crisis Informatics, among others to develop a range of conceptual, rigorous, creative, and pragmatic approaches towards inquiry and engagement in complex crisis contexts. 

Course Website: hcrdcrisis2020.wordpress.com

CS-A1153: Databases for Data Science

Department of Computer Science (Taught every spring from 2020 – 2023)
Co-taught with Barbara Keller and Sami El-Mahgary in Spring 2021.

Learning Goals: Basic concepts and methods in relational database systems. These include relational algebra, UML-design, normalization, functional dependencies, integrity constraints, indexes, transactions, triggers and using SQL to create and query databases. As a project-driven course it prepares students to apply the principles of relational databases to data science-oriented projects.

Ethics and Politics of AI in Society

Digital Business Master Class Lectures, July 6-7, 2020.
The intensive course consists of two sessions on inter-related topics:

1. Ethics and Politics of AI in Society: Understanding the role and influence of ethics and politics in AI, recognizing Bias, Fairness, Accountability and Transparency in AI, and examining ethical implications in real-world AI scenarios in society.

2. AI Ethics in Practice: Designing for Ecosystems: Understanding Ethics of Smart Cities and Data-Driven Urbanism in Crises, recognizing Rights and Values of human, AI and non-human stakeholders, and applying Ethics in Practice for Designing Cooperative Urban AI Ecosystems. 

Teaching Philosophy
My teaching philosophy is grounded in peer-based learning, real-world engagement and critical reflection conducted through ongoing dialogues with my students and the participants involved. It resonates with and supports my own research, creative practice and forms of civic engagement. Some key facets include:

  1. Devising and conducting critical inquiry based on the ethos and methodologies embodied in participatory action research and human-centred design.
  2. Engaging communities of interest with co-investigation, co-learning and co-design whereby trusting relationships are created and joint problem-solving is undertaken, ensuring both students and participants have agency in the emerging outcomes.
  3. Designing hands-on projects and playful experiences that promote experiential learning and rich forms of critical engagement among participants and students.
  4. Critically examining the role of media technologies, performance and creative practices in civic action and socially engaged projects in real-world contexts.
  5. Devising and implementing genuine partnerships with local and community-based organizations and collectives for sustained engagement and critical reflection.
  6. Interrogating the emerging ethical dilemmas, issues of social inclusion, privilege and reflexivity in the research process and creative practices undertaken by students with participants.

Co-Lab: Designing Engaged Learning through Making and Play, Spring 2016.

Overview of University Teaching

Aalto University

The New School

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Critical Pedagogy at The New School
September 7, 2012

Teaching and Social Engagement in the Public Domain

Engage Media Lab: facilitated training workshops, seminars and public programs supporting students at The New School in co-designing, conducting and assessing participatory media-based learning with marginalized youth and communities in New York City and internationally in Brazil and Jerusalem. In 2013, EML partnered with the Eyebeam Art+Technology Center in Chelsea and the Washington Irving High School. From 2014-2016, EML partnered with the Arab American Family Support Center (AAFSC) in Brooklyn to engage newly immigrated youth from Yemen, with participatory media workshops.

Engage Media Lab: Participatory Media Workshops with Youth, 2013-2018.

Guatemala Después: Workshops conducted with artists, curators, and indigenous media practitioners at the Ciudad de la Imaginación in Quetzaltenango and Centro Cultural de España in Guatemala City, to develop thematic concerns and an open call soliciting artistic works for exhibitions on historic memory, conflict and genocide in Guatemala, June-July 2014.

Participatory Research and Contested Identities among Palestinian Youth: a research-training workshop conducted with graduate psychology students at The Center for the Child, Al Quds University, leading to pilot research and a participatory-media program engaging 12-15 Palestinian youth at the Burj Al Laq Laq community center in East Jerusalem, January 2014.

Invisible Bordersworkshop with urban design and architecture students at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow, Russia, July 2013.

Zona Intervenida: workshops using film and performance-based research with local and international artists, dancers, writers, archivists and filmmakers at Centro Intercultural, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, June 2013.

Urban Tactics and Media Ecologiesworkshop hosted by Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow, Russia, July 2012.

OccupyDataNYC: Hackathons on visualizing socio-political data and tactics of urban protest, conducted with students, community activists, and researchers at The New School, NYU, and the CUNY Graduate Center, New York City, 2011-2012.

Teaching workshops during Occupy Data Hackathons, The New School, 2011 – 2012

Many students have expanded their inquiry by undertaking thesis or independent study research (using film) with me, based on experiences and pilot projects developed in these courses. In some cases, I have integrated my course offerings during the full academic year to offer a common thread of critical inquiry and engagement along thematic areas of interest, for example examining artistic practices, media archives, and curatorial design in relation to contexts of conflict in Central America (in 2014-2015) or site-specific performance and media interventions dealing with migration and borders (in 2017-2018).

Thesis Supervision and Academic Advising
I have served as a thesis advisor and supervised independent study for many students in the School of Media Studies, most of whom have developed film/media-based projects or conducted sensory ethnography as part of their research and creative inquiry. Many of their subjects deal with issues of inclusion, diversity and social justice particularly among marginalized or vulnerable communities in the U.S. or the Global South.

M.S. Thesis Advising (School of Media Studies, The New School)

Independent Study (School of Media Studies, The New School)

Critical Reflection and Self-Assessment
Ongoing reflection and assessment are one of the most crucial aspects I emphasize in my courses. All courses begin with students reflecting on their own interests, motivations and what they aspire to learn or develop during the term, while sharing with others, through participatory activities in class and in more in-depth responses using the online course blog. These responses serve as a baseline measure for students to assess their own learning goals, performance and outcomes regularly throughout the course. For the mid-term or final project presentations, in addition to peer review, I ask external reviewers (stakeholders or domain experts) to offer critical assessment and constructive feedback to the students.

In creative studio-based courses, I have sometimes experimented with project de-briefings using storytelling and self-reflections drawn as mental maps for shared discussion. In some courses focusing on participatory media and learning, I often ask students themselves to devise new forms of individual reflection (as “self-learning probes”) or peer-based assessment that better suit their learning goals and outcomes. Hence, I continue to explore engaging ways of having students become critical and reflexive in my courses, while seeking to develop a pedagogical style that emphasizes personal and shared accountability for learning goals and outcomes, particularly in design for community-based contexts.

Student course evaluations, while limited, have generally offered a positive assessment for most of my core coursework and regular electives; in some cases where these evaluations are less consistent they reflect pedagogical experimentation and risk-taking, particularly in research-driven and collaborative studios requiring external partnerships and cross-disciplinary focus. I have often re-calibrated my teaching and curricula based on student feedback, while continuing to offer experimental studio electives engaging my ongoing research interests. I believe my teaching remains well regarded among students; I have twice been nominated for the distinguished university teaching award in 2014 and 2017.

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