William Easley

Participant: PROMISE AGEP Research Symposium

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William Easley
: Information Systems
Institution: University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)



Understanding and Supporting Youth Collaboration in Technical Workplaces
William Easley
Department of Information Systems
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Digital technologies have had a significant impact on the modern workplace, influencing a trend towards jobs which require knowledge and coordination of complex work. As our work continues to evolve, so does our reliance on informal communication tools which support collaboration. In response to these changes, efforts have been made to re-train our existing workforce (adults) to have the technical and communication skills necessary to be successful. This shifting landscape also presents opportunities to focus on ways to support teenagers – who have grown up immersed with always-connected communication tools) – as they prepare to enter the workplace of the future.

The goal of my dissertation research is to understand the experiences and challenges encountered by teenagers communicating in technical workplaces. This work is situated at a 3D print shop in Baltimore, Maryland which employs high school students as shift-workers. This research utilizes a variety of methods including observations, interviews, and thematic analysis of online messages to develop a rich understanding of this work context and population. Findings provide insight into how youth adapt to using work-oriented communication tools and provide recommendations for how we can design more thoughtful tools for businesses that leverage the existing skills of our future workers.



Developing a Mobile Assistive Technology to Help Blind and Legally Blind People Improve their Quality of Life Through Regulating their Medication Management

Medication management can often times be a difficult or confusing task. According to an Institute of Medicine report from 1999, at least 7,000 people die per year due to medication errors. In order to alleviate these issues many different medication management systems have been developed to assist users with the adherence and consumption of medication. These systems, often times do not cater to the needs of the blind however. Many blind people address the difficulties with medication management with homemade solutions. Quick “hacks” that use everyday objects such as rubber bands (for tactile feedback) to assist with the identification and remembering to take medications. There is no universal “solution” for everyone and limited useful data that has been gathered regarding this problem. Because of this, the way that one blind person manages their medications may be vastly different than the way that the next person manages their medications. This makes the transference of knowledge between people much more difficult. Data on medication management has already been gathered on populations such as the elderly but is seems as though the blind community is often overlooked. This presentation will discuss some of the issues that blind people encounter when interacting with technology. It will also discuss some of the prevalent issues with medication management that people who are blind currently face. This presentation will then close by discussing some of the ways in which this issue has been addressed as well where I see future improvements.



William Easley is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Human-Centered Computing Program in the Department of Information Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). His broad research interests are in the area of computer-supported cooperative work. His dissertation research seeks to understand how youth collaborate in technical workplaces and investigate how technology can be better designed to address challenges that they may encounter. Prior to working on this topic, he has conducted research in other areas including assistive technology, accessibility, and engineering/maker education.During his graduate studies, William has received several awards including a LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate fellowship, HIMSS National Capital Area Chapter scholarship, and Generation Google scholarship. He holds a B.S. degree in Information Systems and a M.S. degree in Human-Centered Computing, both from UMBC.



My graduate research has been focused on assistive and mobile technology. So far, .I have been mainly focused on increasing my knowledge of this domain. In order to improve something, it is important to first understand what has already been done and where the issues currently lie. After completing my Institutional Review Board, I plan on conducting interviews in the Baltimore area in order to better address the needs of the people that will be using this system. After that phase is completed, I will then move onto the design and testing of my system.



  1. William Easley, Foad Hamidi, Wayne Lutters, and Amy Hurst. Shifting expectations: Understanding youth employees’ handoffs in a 3d print shop. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 2(CSCW), 2018.
  2. William Easley, Darius McCoy, Steph Grimes, Shawn Grimes, Wayne Lutters, and Amy Hurst. Understanding how youth employees use slack in a 3d print shop. In Companion of the 2018 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, CSCW ’18 Companion, Jersey City, NJ, USA, 2018. ACM.
  3. Foad Hamidi, William Easley, Shawn Grimes, Steph Grimes, and Amy Hurst. Youth attitudes towards assessment tools in an afterschool maker learning program (evaluation paper). In Proceedings of the 2018 American Society For Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, Pre-College Engineering Education Division, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 2018. ASEE.
  4. William Easley, Erin Buehler, Gabrielle Salib, and Amy Hurst. Fabricating engagement: Benefits and challenges of using 3d printing to engage underrepresented students in stem learning. In Proceedings of the 2017 American Society For Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, Minorities in Engineering Division, Columbus, Ohio, June 2017. ASEE.
  5. William Easley, Ravi Kuber, and A. Ant Ozok. An empirical study examining medication management among individuals with visual impairments. Universal Access in the Information Society, 16(2):483–495, 2017.


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