Betsy DiSalvo
Associate Professor

Research Areas:
Learning Sciences and Technology; Design Research; Community Engagement; Human Centered Computing


Betsy DiSalvo is an Associate Professor in the School of Interactive and founder of the Culture and Technology Lab (CAT Lab). Her research engages in the study of informal learning and the impact of cultural values on technology use and production. DiSalvo’s work has included the development of games such as Beats Empire, Hemonauts, and Click! Urban Adventure. She has created business like structures within the Institute to promote entry level work in computer science and to scaffold those workers to pursue more advanced computer science skills. These projects include the Glitch Game Testers and DataWorks. DiSalvo is also the Director for the Human Centered Computing Ph.D. and the area lead for Cognition and Learn specializations. DiSalvo has taught courses on design of educational technology, ethical computing, and qualitative methods. Ph.D. and MS students in her lab typically major in Human Centered Computing, Human Computer Interaction, or Learning Sciences. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Health Institute, ACT, Intel, PwC and specific educational outreach efforts are supported by Georgia Tech College of Computing and the Constellations Center. Students in the CAT Lab have explored a wide range of learning experiences including exploring parents’ use of technology for informal learning. This work started with a broad set of interviews and a national survey of parents. Students have then focused these finding to work specifically with low-income Spanish speaking parents and the community organizations that assist them to produce a set of design guidelines for engaging these parents with technology to help their children. Students conducting research in Maker Spaces have explored how maker-oriented learning approaches can increase communities of learners, transfer and reflection. These research spaces have included universities, art centers, middle and high school and other after school programs. They are also have developed new hardware to work with microcontrollers that better scaffolds learning. Other students have looked closely at computer science education, particularly the language, gestures and metaphors that are used. This detailed analysis paves the way to discover better, and perhaps more equitable, ways to teach computing Most recent work in the CAT lab focuses on DataWorks. DataWorks is a unique data services provider, that recruits people from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and underrepresented groups in computing to train and employ them as Data Wranglers and Data Developers. DataWorks is incubated in Georgia Tech’s College of Computing.