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: www.madelinebalaam.co.uk