Director of Learning and Research
Barbara Barry is a designer of new technologies and social programs to transform education and health care. Barbara joined One Laptop per Child Foundation in 2009 as the Director of Learning focusing on the Middle East, establishing a new research and development effort concentrating on the education and well being of children affected by war, poverty, and natural disasters.
Her current work in the field is an evolving collaboration with UNRWA to create a new learning community with the first distribution of XO laptops in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The goal is to build a partnership driven by the educational needs, aspirations, and ideas of the Palestinian people and move toward the goal of a connected learning tool and community for every child in the OPT.
Barbara has a background in Learning Sciences, the interdisciplinary field of applied research in cognitive science, education, and computer science. Specifically, she develops technologies and programs to scaffold learning and help people reflect on their own learning strategies and skills. Her contribution to the field is the development of cognitive tutoring systems imbued with large databases of community knowledge. She is an expert in story understanding and story generation by computers.
She pursued her graduate work at M.I.T. (Post-doc, PhD, MS) where she helped co-found the Commonsense Computing initiative; developed a modular wearable computer for children; invented a video camera that could generate story suggestions by harnessing 1.5 million commonsense facts submitted by people on the web. In the health care arena she created adaptive talk therapy software, designed in collaboration with a neuroscientist and surgeon, to help patients suffering from pain and anxiety.
Barbara also co-founded Energy Inside, a web-based mental health care company that is commercializing a public health driven approach to her work on personalized therapy systems. After academia she worked in the field with anthropologists from Intel who studied the cultural differences in technology perception and use around the globe. She is an avid supporter of programs that help girls learn about technology and science. Her designs and inventions have been featured in I.D. Magazine and Technology Review, and published in academic conferences and journals.
She is a member of the MIT Council for the Arts; an advisor to the design firm Big New Ideas, and advising contributor to the publication Monthly Design Review.