June 2 – 7 , 2019, Dagstuhl Seminar 19232

Ubiquitous Computing Education: Why, What, and How


Audrey Girouard (Carleton University – Ottawa, CA)
Andrew Kun (University of New Hampshire – Durham, US)
Anne Roudaut (University of Bristol, GB)
Orit Shaer (Wellesley College, US)

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Interactive systems are becoming increasingly complex and diversified, often comprising of multiple interconnected devices, with many different functionalities. They are slowly merging within our everyday objects. Such systems are becoming ubiquitous. Ubiquitous computing, or ubicomp, is a multidisciplinary field of study that explores the design and implementation of such embedded, networked computing systems. Due to the novel aspect of the technologies involved and the multidisciplinary nature of skills needed to design such systems, teaching and training new innovators in this field are not well addressed through traditional programs and instruction. Consequently, it is important to ask several questions about the training and education needed to help students become valuable members and leaders of ubicomp teams. Three central questions about ubiquitous computing education emerge: why, what and how, with the goal of enhancing ubicomp education through interdisciplinary perspectives:

  1. Why is training in ubicomp needed? Is it enough to train experts in narrow domains (e.g. those who can create low-power embedded circuits, or those who can make usable applications), and then bring them together in teams that will tackle ubicomp problems? Or do we need specialized training that targets ubicomp in addition to domain expertise? There is broad consensus that we do need specialized training, but often this argument is based on intuition and anecdotal evidence. We approach this question by first asking: what are the grand challenges that we expect our students to tackle in the world (e.g. privacy, sustainability) by inventing and developing ubicomp solutions? Next, we ask: who can better address the challenges: teams of domain experts, or teams where at least some team members have specialized ubicomp education? Answers to these questions will clearly identify problems that might exist with current ubicomp educational approaches.
  2. What should constitute training in ubicomp? Once we identify the grand challenges, we need to ask further questions. What are the values, knowledge, and skills we should train students in ubicomp? What are the topics that should be covered? How do these depend on the background of students or their degree program? Answers to these types of questions will allow us to set goals for ubicomp education.
  3. How should we teach and engage a diverse body of students? Once we identify specific goals for ubicomp education, we need to ask ourselves how those goals can be achieved. How does the unique nature of ubicomp challenge the current pedagogical approaches? How can we create new pedagogical approaches for teaching and training in ubiquitous computing? Answers to these types of questions will help create the appropriate tools to reach our ubicomp education goals.

Through this Dagstuhl Seminar, we aim at creating a community to support new forms of teaching, training, and learning in ubiquitous computing. Participants will discuss grand challenges, identify learning goals, as well as develop and experience active learning pedagogies on ubiquitous computing topics. We will discuss pedagogies for academic ubicomp programs as well as industry training. Provided participants are interested, we plan to present the outcomes in an online system, which can serve as a knowledge base for ubicomp educators in academia and industry and the community at large. The seminar might also be an opportunity for preparing materials towards co-authoring a new textbook.

Motivation text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 DE
  Audrey Girouard, Andrew Kun, Anne Roudaut, and Orit Shaer


  • Mobile Computing
  • Society / Human-computer Interaction


  • Ubiquitous Computing
  • Education
  • Active Learning
  • Computing education research
  • Human Computer Interaction


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