Madeline Balaam | Faculty

Madeline Balaam

I'm a Lecturer in Interaction Design within the School of Computing Science here at Newcastle University. My work focuses on designing for digital health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on digital public health and digital women's health.

I co-lead the Digital Public Health strand of the Digital Economy Research Centre (DERC) launched in Open Lab in 2015 with Prof. Ashley Adamson in the Institute of Health and Society. My focus in this 5 year long project is understanding how social computing can radically change the ways by which public health is delivered. In particular, I'm interested in how these technologies can enable bottom-up approaches to public health, where communities can commission, co-design and create their own public health content. FeedFinder, a mobile application which supports women in finding, reviewing and sharing places to publicly breastfeed is one exemplar of this approach. From a public health perspective, FeedFinder enables women to create good quality content for another to support one another in a positive health behaviour. More than this, FeedFinder allows women, businesses and other institutions to collect data about women's breastfeeding experience, and where necessary use this data to lobby for better breastfeeding support. The core questions that I will be working over the next few years is how we can evaluate public health interventions such as FeedFinder that make use of social capital and how do we make these kind of interventions sustainable over the long-term (i.e. when DERC comes to an end).

Over the last few years I have become increasingly interested in how digital technologies intersect with women's health - and I guess I can track this back to a ACM CHI workshop I led in 2013 on Motherhood and HCI. Since then, along with FeedFinder, I have been involved in the design and evaluation of Labella, a embodied, mobile application for allowing women to better understand their intimate anatomy. The work for me is fascinating, from the innovation in design methods to enable design work around such intimate concepts, through to the application of digital technologies within this domain. From here, I have became fascinated in how platforms like Twitter have been used in relation to women's rights, and the extent to which such acts of activism can actually lead to social, cultural, or political change - I watch the #repealthe8th with great interest.

I have a keen interest in how digital technologies can and should revolutionise teaching practices within HE, and actively experiment with new routes to offering productive teaching and learning experiences for computing science students at Newcastle University. I've experimented with and continue to experiment with 'flipped classrooms' and ideas around self-flipping and the use of bootlegger as a learning and teaching tool.

I have the great pleasure of supervising some wonderful PhD students, including Gavin Wood, Kevin Marshall, Teresa Almeida, Haneen Qarabash, Matt Wood, Emma Simpson, Zeinab Shams Ailee, and Anna Vasilchenko. I am always of course looking for talented new students, so if you're interested in digital health, digital public health, digital women's health please get in touch!

I started my academic career with a PhD at the University of Sussex, where I explored the role that a tangible technology could play in supporting emotional communication in the classroom.

I'm looking for a mobile interaction designer to join my team - see details about the 3 year post here

If you want to know more please see:
[myimpact author=65]

Associated Projects

  • React!
    React! is a web app designed and developed to support teenagers who are at risk of anaphylaxis (severe food allergies) and their friends in learning about the signs of different types of reactions and what to do in such circumstances. The app itsel...
    August 30, 2011
  • FeedFinder
    We have been working with local women and community breastfeeding groups to create a breastfeeding mapping mobile application called FeedFinder. In our initial design work we found that women had felt trapped in their house in the early days of h...
    August 30, 2011
  • LanCook
    Following the success of the “Language Learning in the Wild” project, which used the Ambient Kitchen as a platform for Task-Based Learning of French, we began working with the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences on a broader Eu...
    August 30, 2011
  • TRUMP: A TRUsted Mobile Platform for the Self - Management of Chronic Illness
    Chronic illnesses are now the leading cause of death in both developing and developed countries. While the UK and India have very different practices and structures for healthcare delivery, the effective management of chronic illness is a priority for ...
    August 30, 2011
  • PATINA: Personal Architectonics of Interfaces to Artefacts
    Through the course of their research, scholars are faced with competing relational networks and “ontologies of space”—this being the structural limitations of, and other factors that affect the way users experience, their virtual, physical and im...
    August 30, 2011
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