Kayla DesPortes is an Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction and the Learning Sciences at NYU Steinhardt in the Department of Administration Leadership and Technology. Prior to her appointment she gained a Bachelor's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Cornell University, and a PhD in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Kayla’s work transforms computing technology, learning opportunities, and the underlying exclusionary practices of computing to support self-empowerment of marginalized individuals and communities to create a more equitable society. She is a collaborative, community-centered researcher, designer, and engineer, focused on understanding how learning environments and computing technologies can be created to integrate the knowledge and assets of communities and individuals. She combines and contributes scholarship across the learning sciences and human-computer interaction fields. Her work focuses on how computing, engineering, and
data literacy can intertwine with artistic practices to engage learners in personally meaningful, creative expression as they explore their cultures and identities, and the social and political dimensions of society. She works within community and educational organizations grounded in social justice, literary arts, dance, visual arts, and computing. Applying participatory research methods, Kayla develops long-term collaborations with community leaders, community members, youth learners, artists, researchers, and educators.
Kayla is the PI on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant working with dance and computing educators to examine how the disciplines can be synergistic (STEM+C 1933961). The project investigates how to create culturally sustaining experiences and technology where learners integrate their knowledge and interests surrounding dance into performances where physical computing, machine learning, and data science become part of the artistic medium. Kayla also serves as the Co-PI on an NSF grant exploring the co-design of data literacy and art curricula with middle school art and math teachers (DRK12 1908557). The work has led to an understanding of how artistic media and practices offer affordances, such as the visual and textual components of comics and embodied metaphors within dance, to support learners in exploring the humanistic side of data. Last, Kayla is the PI on the NYU side of a collaboration with MIT on an NSF grant exploring teaching fabrication literacies through games (CHS 2008028). The work brings more nuance to how we conceptualize skills within makerspaces and fabrication, while exploring how technology can be positioned to facilitate learning through games.