Kari Noe is a PhD research assistant at Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications (LAVA) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and co-leads the emerging media lab, Create(x), at the Academy of Creative Media at the University of Hawaiʻi at West Oʻahu.
Her research includes: Human Computer Interaction, Extended Reality Technologies, and video game development for both serious and entertainment games. More specifically, she is interested in the ways emerging media can support learning. As a mixed Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) scholar, she focuses on projects that involve Hawaiian cultural heritage.
Her research has been published in numerous conferences such as ACM CHI and ACM SIGGRAPH, and her work has been featured in both local and international venues such as the Bishop Museum on Oʻahu or the Global Asia/Pacific Art Exchange (GAX) in Montreal.
Statement of Purpose
I was born and raised on Kaua’i, where there were not many classes that involved technology, and Computer Science was not a subject that could be learned in school (yet). In middle school I was put into robotics as an elective. That robotics class had just gotten assigned its own room. So, at the start of the semester, we spent time setting up the newly purchased computers. Now that I look back at that time, I am unsure why they let us set up our own equipment; but through the experience of the teacher freely letting us open the computers, change parts, and program whatever we wanted, my interest in technology was piqued. Although my family had a computer at home, I was not allowed to touch it. So, this was the first time I was able to start to develop an understanding of what computers were, how they worked, and what they were capable of. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had taught myself the basics of HTML and JavaScript to create very simple video games. I was fascinated by programming as it felt like I could build anything. So, although I was heavily encouraged to study subjects like Travel-Industry Management or Medicine in university, I decided to study Computer Science.
Because of my interest in art and storytelling, I wanted to learn about the design focused aspects of Computer Science like Human Computer Interaction, Visualization, and video games. The challenge of building software or games that take advantage of what technology affords us, but still be accessible and useful to the general person is fun to me. Technology advances rapidly, so I enjoy the new opportunities to think through new ways we can utilize and interact with emerging technologies.
Along with programming, I studied animation, 3D modeling, and graphic design to better my skills in designing user interfaces and the creation of virtual environments. Software can be capable of performing complex and seemingly impossible tasks, but if the average person does not like to look at it, or can’t understand how to interface it, then not many people will use it.
I was eventually hired at the Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications (LAVA) during my undergraduate studies where I was exposed to Virtual and Augmented reality technologies. I soon understood the potential for immersive environments to be educational spaces. This understanding led me down a path where I started to develop many projects that used immersive technologies to teach about Hawaiian cultural heritage. I am Kanaka ‘Ōiwi (Native Hawaiian), Japanese, Portuguese, German, and Mexican. My family has an interesting history, and I was taught by my grandmother to memorize and record this history. Technology allows us to archive and retell these stories through multi-media experiences that are much more expressive and accessible. Although my own family history is not necessarily interesting enough to appear in a museum, I understand the importance for the wellbeing on an individual and of a community to learn about one’s own culture and history. This led me to develop projects such as Kilo Hōkū or Digitizing Detours.
Overall, this is the main idea of my research. I am interested in investigating the ways technology allows us to create learning environments (particularly in informal settings such as GLAM institutions). My particular interest is in cultural heritage, but I am also interested in different types of topics such as STEM education. My intention as a researcher is to figure out how we may better design learning experiences that take advantage of the affordances of emerging technology.
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