Please review the following SOP. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE.
Human and Computer Learning
It is said that the first steps of education begin at home. Mine certainly did. Growing up, I had access to a family library filled with books on education and psychology. Studying in a very traditional classroom setting, I did not completely understand alternative educational methodologies but it piqued my interest nevertheless; a curiosity that was to stay with me through my school years and college. I had a strong desire to understand alternative approaches for learning using Information and communication technology.
Since there were no colleges in my state that offered an outright HCI undergraduate program, I opted for an engineering degree in Computer Science. Being one of the biggest universities in Asia, Annamalai University offered me the freedom to explore and work on projects outside my required coursework, along with interdepartmental collaborative projects. Along with gaining expertise in computer languages such as C, C++, Java, VB, and UNIX. LISP, COBOL, Pascal and C#, I dabbled in multimedia applications such as PhotoShop, Flash and SwishMax; the resultant amalgamation of computing languages with multimedia making the academic projects interactive and vibrant.
During my second year of my course I worked on development of online leave management system, intra based application system. This system can be used to automate work flow of leave application and their approvals. This has features such as email notification, cancellation of leave, and automatic approval of leave. I also undertook a project viz., recreating Paint brush style programme using Java Applettes. This enhanced my understanding of Java Graphic library.
I continued to seek out projects that I could conceptually design with HCI principles and go on to build with my proficiency in various technologies/languages. With my strong background in DBMS technologies, I offered to build a patient management system for my family doctor. Remembering the lessons learned from my previous project, I placed enough emphasis on the importance of gathering input from real time users before the design of the system. Similarly, in developing a Computer Based Testing System for a class project, I encouraged my team members to invest the time and effort into interviewing users to get their input for interface design along with the technical requirements gathering. This prototype was ultimately developed in ASP.Net, C# and SQL.
One of the most extensive projects that I did using HCI principles was to create a slam book for graduating students. Taking on this project in my third year, it was a huge undertaking involving the needs of students of all departments in the university. With their unique needs, creating a concise design proved a challenging project. I am currently working on a similar website for the National Institute for Technical Teachers Training and Research, Chennai.
I did my internship at the VC Technologies, Chennai, a leading solution providing company. While there, I worked on a project on Image Recognition using artificial neural network. This application solves the complicate problems which are unsolvable from artificial intelligence. This helped to find clustered pasterns giving information for highly matched pattern and low matched patters. My Department seconded me to Focus Tech media for another spell of internship to enable to get hands on experiences in PL/SQL coding for transport tracking systems.
As a part of interdisciplinary program, I participated in a workshop conducted by for Department of Business Management on Visual Basic and Data Base for Financial Market. The workshop focused on tools such as XML, SQL in solving financial computational problems.
I was a student volunteer in the National Conference on Computational Science and Engineering at Kochi organized in Association with the Computer Society of India and IEEE. This enabled me to witness first hand the latest trends in areas of computational science and engineering. Inspired by the presentations, I worked on a project on pattern recognition of market trends, completed in C#, which helps analyze market trends on pre-fed data. One of the highlights of this project was testing this with real-time users among the finance students of the management department at the University. Another important take-away from this project was understanding the importance of testing a system with real-time users. In fact, this was when I realized that there was more to a project development than just building a system. Many of the pitfalls the real-time users observed with the system made me realize that I should have gotten input from them before even starting out the build. Unknown to me, I had stumbled on the foundations of user center design.
Many of these projects have been submitted for presentations in the form of papers and posters to various conferences, including those organized by professional bodies like Indian Society of Technical Education and the Computer Society of India.
With my interest in education and familiarity with social aspects to education design, I explored HCI related subjects. I worked on a project on Integrating the physically challenged into the main stream of life. I designed multimedia learning materials incorporating pedagogical and psychological principles for skill development through non formal training programmes. Nearly 300 physically challenged school dropout youths were facilitated by NGOs using these materials to acquire competencies and earn their own living. Not only did they become self dependent it also made them more confident to lead their life.
I also took on myself to attempt the creation of a software that could be used for learning languages. My interest for this was stemmed from India's diverse population and the ever-growing demarcation of language and social boundaries because of the Internet. I tried to exploit the similarities between languages, in its script and phonetics.
E learning and the related learning management system to track learners and create their learning profile has fascinated me. In this pursuit I have taken keen interest in working with the professionals at NITTTR, Chennai who are designing and offering e programmes for expanding educational facilities for the college going population.
I have always strived to be more than just a bookworm. I am an expert in Bharathnatyam, a classical form of dance from South India, and continue to give performances in front of varied audiences. I have also been actively volunteering for various social causes. Along with red-cross blood donation drives, I organized annual fundraisers for an assisted living community for the under-privileged at Chidambaram, India through the years 2004-06.
I am attracted to Iova State University's HCI program by its strong Learning Sciences and Technology researchers. I wish to explore the changing scenario of education from traditional classrooms to using online tools and understand the influence of social networking. Graduate studies in HCI will enable me to develop the skills to create software designs that I can subsequently apply in an academic environment to promote e-learning techniques. The interdisciplinary nature of the Courses offered would make me competent to design and facilitate e learning programmes integrating communication and culture, Computing, and Psychology to reach out to the large learner population in my country