Searching for Sven: Challenges and opportunities to facilitate information discovery for children

Staff - Faculty of Informatics

Date: 18 July 2019 / 14:30 - 15:30

USI Lugano Campus, room SI-003, Informatics building (Via G. Buffi 13)

Sole Pera, Boise State University, USA

Children live in a world that relies heavily on the Web to access information, thus developing Web search literacy—the ability to effectively locate, appraise, and use information on the Web—is critical to their education and development. Users seeking information instinctively reach the most popular information retrieval (IR) tools of our time: search engines (SEs). This practice is even more prominent among the Google generation, young users born into the digital age who have only ever needed to query a SE to get some kind of answer, even if it is not the right one. SEs are part of our daily lives and perform a social role, which is why there should be no barriers to access resources through them.
During this talk, I will point out some of the obstacles children face when interacting with SE for information discovery. I will also present new strategies—from query suggestions to result ranking—meant to provide scaffolding so that children can better interact with and be supported by SEs. Lastly, I will discuss open problems in the area of IR for children and projects my research team is involved with, which aim at addressing these issues from different perspectives. All these projects are a part of our broad vision to ensure IR systems are responsive to the needs and expectations of all users, starting with children. 

After completing her Ph.D. in Computer Science at Brigham Young University in 2014, Dr. Sole Pera, a native of Argentina, joined Boise State University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, where she currently co-leads the People and Information Research Team (PIReT). Sole's main area of expertise is in information retrieval (IR) and her current research focus is on enhancing search and recommendation systems so that they can better serve non-traditional users. Sole’s work related to IR applications tailored towards children has been funded by the National Science Foundation. She has served as PC and reviewer for conferences and journals related to IR and was General Chair of ACM RecSys 2018. She was also one of the co-organizers of the 1st/2nd/3rd editions of the Workshop on International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Children & Information Retrieval Systems (KidRec) held in conjunction with the 2017 ACM RecSys and the 2018/2019 ACM IDC Conferences, respectively.

Host: Dr. Monica Landoni