Santa Cruz Tech Beat


How Can Technology Enhance Social Connection during a Pandemic?

By Sarah Vickers-Webb
Director of Production
Santa Cruz Tech Beat

July 30, 2020 — Santa Cruz, CA

Join faculty and graduate students from UCSC’s Center for Computational Experience to discuss the wide range of ways technology can enhance social connection

  • How Can Technology Enhance Social Connection during a Pandemic?
  • Fri, August 7, 2020, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM PDT
  • Register NOW

At the beginning of the pandemic, we scrambled for ways to stay connected to each other. Online happy hours, remote preschool circle time seemed, group classes seemed the key to remaining sane. But a few months and endless Zoom meetings later, many of us have burned out on traditional video conferencing communication.

Lucky for us, researchers at UCSC’s Center for Computational Experience (CCE) are developing new ways to connect and enhance social connection using technology.

Join Professor Elizabeth Swensen, and graduate students Jared Duval and Ferran Altarriba Bertran on Friday August 7, 2020 to learn how they and their colleagues are working to create new ways to connect using tech. Panelists will discuss a variety of projects, ranging from therapeutic apps, to virtual escape rooms, to using tech to create the experience of shared mealtimes.

  • Jared Duval: “Social Games and a Healthier Tomorrow”
  • Elizabeth Swensen: “Physical and Dynamic Simulation in Distanced Tabletop and Embodied Play (How Board Games Are Surviving the Pandemic)”
  • Ferran Altarriba Bertran: “Designing Playful Technology that Connects us During Mealtime”

The event will begin in a traditional Zoom format, followed by interactive discussion and exploration in Mozilla Hubs, an online digital space where participants can explore and mingle with the panelists and other members of the audience. Audience members can continue to use their computers to access the space, or transition to VR headsets.

“It has a feel like being in a space on campus,” said CCE Director Professor Katherine Ibister. “It feels really good. There is something to being in a shared space. There is also spatialized audio, so you can cluster and chatter in groups. The event is a bit meta in that the audience will get to use tech to explore social connection.”

For more information, panelist bios and registration, click here.


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