Science & Fiction: Better Together

SCIENCE: Dr. Jason M. Harley is a tenure-track assistant professor of educational technology and psychology at the University of Alberta and Director of the Computer-Human Interaction: Technology, Education, and Affect (CHI-TEA) Laboratory (2016-present). They completed their Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at McGill University in the summer of 2014 and held concurrent postdoctoral fellow positions in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Montréal and in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology at McGill from 2014-2015. Dr. Harley has been awarded doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC), and a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canadian Graduate Scholarship (CGS) from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). They are a member of the Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED) Society and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Dr. Harley serves on the editorial board of the journal, Educational Technology Research and Development, as well as on program committees for the following conferences: Intelligent User Interfaces, Intelligent Tutoring Systems, and Artificial Intelligence in Education

Jason's research focuses on advancing knowledge on dynamic cognitive, affective and metacognitive (CAM) processes related to users’ interaction with technology. Their research has examined these processes in intelligent tutoring systems, serious and commercial games, mobile augmented reality applications, and medical simulations. They are particularly interested in continuing to explore temporal patterns in learners’ psychological processes through the use of diverse and cutting-edge methodologies including automatic facial expression recognition software, electrodermal activation (EDA) and heart rate (HR) bracelets, eye-tracking monitors and headsets, and log files. Their current research examines: (1) the design and evaluation of a mobile AR app able to foster historical reasoning, empathy, and hope for and toward sexual and gender minorities [SSHRC Insight Development Grant: Principle Investigator]; (2) the relationship between different instructional prompts and users' historical reasoning and positive emotions [sub-award from SSHRC Development Grant: Co-P.I.]; and (3) how the environment one takes an exam in influences one’s test-taking emotions [SAS Grant: P.I.]. Check out Jason's scientific publications and presentations. Jason's research and teaching have also lead to appearances on Global News, CTV News, CBC Radio, Radio-Canada, The Edmonton Journal, and other media outlets.

FICTION: Jason is a life-long enthusiast of speculative fiction. Translation: when they are not in their office, lab, or a lecture hall they can probably be found reading or writing science fiction, paranormal horror, or fantasy. Nothing makes them happier than when their research and fiction writing cross over. Whether helping them exploit the underpinnings of fear from their interdisciplinary research on emotion or re-imagining innovative ways of extending current human-computer interactions, science can be a wonderful muse. Check out their fiction publications; many feature LGBTQ+ characters because it's engaging and uplifting to see oneself represented in fiction. 

What's up with the plural pronoun? Over the last few years the gender identity "non-binary" has started to gain recognition in the public sphere. It refers to an identity that falls outside of the gender binary of "male" or "female". I identify with a more fluid or androgynous conception of gender; one where I'm not limited or bound to the expectations of one or the other. While my "gender expression" is predominantly male, identity and expression are different things. Long story short: "non-binary" resonates with me. It's a label I would have loved to have and been able to apply to myself growing up because gender is, frankly, made confusing by rigid social and cultural expectations, and my lack of adherence to them created unnecessary challenges at times. HereI'm experimenting with how I feel about using gender-neutral pronouns. I'm not entirely sure how reliably or regularly pronouns like "they" can be used just yet nor how necessary I feel their use is for me, personally (after all, is "he/his" referring to biological sex or a cisgender male gender identity? I don't think there is a consensus here). But that's what experiments are for (not counting demographic surveys like AERA's recent membership revision that I definitely took advantage of and appreciated). In any case, a lot of wonderful science fiction has explored the blurring of gender, including some of my own. I'm excited to see the modern day catching-up with more nuanced (and accurate) conceptions of self. Want to learn more about these kinds of terms? Check out the American Psychological Association's guide.