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Matthew Curinga’s Mission to Make Educational Technology Accessible

By Taye Johnson

As the fall semester unfolds, associate professor Matthew Curinga, Ed.D., who is in Adelphi’s Ruth S. Ammon College of Education and Health Sciences, is working diligently alongside his fellow faculty members to study the emotional atmosphere of New York City school buildings. Curinga, along with his Adelphi colleague Elizabeth de Freitas, PhD, and a professor at Columbia University, in June was awarded a $246,051 grant from the Spencer Foundation to study students' emotional experiences as they attend school in person.

The project is called "Mapping School Buildings Using Sensory Ethnographic Methods: A District-wide Study of School Architecture and Spatial Justice." When students attend class in person, the environment can influence how they feel about their studies, receive information and socialize with their peers. The lighting, furniture, noise and space layout can determine students' emotional experiences.

Studies have shown that fluorescent lighting causes an unintended glare when the light shines off a surface. This process is called veiling reflection, which affects how words are seen on paper or a smart board.

The project will bring an interdisciplinary approach to studying architecture, education and design to create research maps of the sensory dimensions of students' experiences. Over three years, Curinga will develop tools to capture data to track participants' senses. Four to six schools have partnered with him and the rest of the team for this project. Participating students will be a part of six to 10 workshops each year.

“I envision that Adelphi University will continue to invest in computer science and other disciplines to create opportunities for students to visualize how to apply their field of study,” said Curinga, who received his doctoral degree in education in instructional technology and media from Columbia University and has been an educator and programmer for over 10 years.

For Curinga, there are other things besides the mapping school building project on his to-do list. He is also a core faculty member at the Manhattan Institute for STEM and Imagination (MIXI). MIXI brings together a diverse group of researchers, artists, scientists, educators and creative practitioners. MIXI was founded in 2020 and operates outside Adelphi University's Brooklyn location. Each academic year, MIXI hosts virtual and in-person meetup events, where attendees can learn about the NYC School Data Study Group, Rocket Switch Workshops and other events. These events are open to students and faculty.

The vision for MIXI was created from the idea that technology should enhance the public's interpretation of open-source tools and public software libraries. The motivation and vision behind the institute led to Columbia Center for Spatial Research partnering with MIXI to work on the grant-funded research project.

Curinga spends his time conducting research on the political and social implications of software development and design. The projects that he is working on have an overarching theme; to make software and education accessible.

In the upcoming semesters, Curinga said he would like to continue to work with other departments to offer different cross-collaborative coursework that can help bridge the gap between digital literacy, computer science and education.

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