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Lisa Herrmann
School of Informatics

Last modified: Monday, August 4, 2008

Pair of School of Informatics faculty receive grant from Computing Research Association

Aug. 4, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two Indiana University School of Informatics faculty members have received a grant to investigate whether integrating a social networking component into the Wii gaming platform increases its user acceptance and social connectedness among the elderly.

Assistant Professors Kay Connelly and Kalpana Shankar, along with two undergraduate students, have received a $15,500 Multidisciplinary Research Opportunity for Women (MROW) grant from the Computing Research Association Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research. Their proposal, "Using the Wii and Social Networking to promote Cognitive, Physical and Social Engagement among Seniors," was selected from a wide variety of potential projects to receive the grant that the National Science Foundation has helped to fund.

Over the next year, the four will investigate whether integrating a social networking component into the Wii gaming platform increases its user acceptance and social connectedness among the elderly. They will develop a Wii-based game, implement it and conduct the user study in which they collect and analyze their data set. The students will use facilities developed as part of the NSF-funded ETHOS project ( which is examining privacy and home-based computing for senior citizens.

"This project integrates human-computer interaction, design research, technical implementation and information ethics," said co-principal investigator Kalpana Shankar, assistant professor of informatics. "We have one undergraduate working on this who is a computer science major, Claire Alvis, and one who is an informatics major, Katie O'Donnell. They will be working very closely to make sure all aspects of the project gel. It will be valuable experience for both young women."

Kalpana Shankar

Kalpana Shankar

Dennis Groth, associate dean of undergraduate studies, added, "We're excited for Kay and Kalpana to receive a grant like this. Not only is it an ambitious project for them to undertake, but it underscores the school's commitment to both undergraduate research and advancing opportunities for women in computing."

About the IU School of Informatics

Founded in 2000 as the first school of its kind in the United States, the Indiana University School of Informatics is dedicated to research and teaching across a broad range of computing and information technology, with emphases on science, applications, and societal implications. The school includes the Departments of Computer Science and Informatics on the Bloomington campus and Informatics on the IUPUI campus. The school administers a variety of bachelor and masters degree programs in computer science and informatics, as well as PhD programs in computer science and the first-ever PhD in informatics. The school is dedicated to excellence in education and research, to partnerships that bolster economic development and entrepreneurship, and to increasing opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in computing and technology. For more information, visit