Hola! / Hi! / Woof!

SSayago-Picture-November2021Welcome to my blog / online CV, wherein you will find up-to-date information about my research and lecturing activities, and about myself too. This blog is constantly under construction.

I am Sergio. My profile could be defined as an interdisciplinary Human-Computer Interaction scholar with a background in Computer Science and a strong interest in technology use in everyday settings. I believe that people are the key measure of success / failure of most digital technologies designed for human use.

As of April 2021, I am an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Computer Science and Industrial Engineering at University of Lleida (UdL, Spain). Overall, my research interests lie in the human side of digital technologies. My previous research includes web accessibility, usability, and eLearning. Since 2009, my research combines my technical background with a strong interest in everyday life to examine the socio-cultural relationship between older people and digital technologies (e.g. voice assistants, digital games, e-mail systems, and online social networks) from an interdisciplinary perspective. My long-term research goal is to improve the digital and social inclusion of older adults (and their communities) by examining their everyday technology use and providing designers with insights developed from this examination.

I was a post-doctoral researcher at University of Dundee (Scotland, Beatriu de Pinós Fellowship, 2010-12) and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain, Alliance 4 Universities Fellowship, 2012-14). I was also a visiting professor at University of Lleida (Spain, 2014-2016) and University of Barcelona (Spain, 2016-19). I hold a PhD Cum Laude in Computer Science / Human-Computer Interaction from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain, 2009). My research career spans from 2009 to now.

I have lectured – and currently lecture – in key areas in Computer Science (and related) degrees, i.e. Databases, Object-Oriented Programming, Data Structures, Software Engineering, and Human-Computer Interaction. I have played different roles, from teaching assistant to module coordinator. Putting my students first in the hallmark and objective of my teaching philosophy and approach. I see lecturing as engineering an inclusive and participatory learning environment, rather than drilling knowledge into students’ heads. I think knowledge is constructed, not received. For me, lecturing is a huge responsibility, since I feel I am contributing to shape future generations. My lecturing career spans the period from 2004 to now.

I have participated in several EU projects on emerging technologies, such as digital cinema and audiovisual entertainment. My main role in these projects was coordinating the WP of Evaluation and Self-Assessment. I have also secured funding (approx. 500K euros) for my universities in international projects (e.g. WorthPlay about digital games and older adults, Life 2.0, about independent living and older adults).

I have been the main organizer of the First Lego League Igualada 2022, the 1st Workhop on the research conducted at the Campus Universitari Igualada – UdL (2022), and several editions of the Teaching and Learning Workshop of the Escola Politècnica Superior at the Campus Universitari Igualada – UdL. I was member of the organizing committee of ACM Mobile HCI 2018.

I am Associate Editor of the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies and Senior PC Member of ACM Conversational User Interfaces. I served as Associate Chair in the Ageing & Accessibility Subcommittee at ACM CHI 2022 (and 2023).

I have co-supervised three PhDs on HCI to completion. If you want to work with me (e.g. PhD), just give me a shout! (sergio <dot> sayago <at> udl <dot> cat)

About me

Imagen031I was born in Barcelona (Spain) in 1981. I am a son, dog (and, in general, animal) lover, occasional runner, and team player. I like reading, writing, thinking, driving, and strolling along the beach and in parks (specially in autumn). I do not like either noisy environments or crowded places. I love cooking, buying food from local farmers, good wine and tea, and Scottish (single malt) whisky. My mother tongues are Spanish and Catalan. I have a Certificate in Proficiency in English, and I am very proud of having learned some Scottish – apologies if the following words are misspelled (dreich, wabbit, fit like? Nae bad the noo, peh, jings, crivens, help ma’ boab!, geeza break!). I lived in Dundee (Scotland) between 2010-2012; in Leganés (Madrid), between 2012-2014; in Lleida (Catalonia), between 2014-2016. I have a passion for what I do (research, and teach) and a strong appetite for learning.

Further information about my previous, current, and future research and teaching, and about myself, can be found in the sections (see menu at the top of this page) of this blog. I hope you find what you are looking for, or you come across something interesting or useful.

Should you want to keep in touch, you can reach me at the following e-mail address:

sergio <dot> sayago <at> udl <dot> cat

My profile in Google Scholar, ORCID, SCOPUS-ID, and Researcher-ID

Last update: Igualada, July 08, 2022


Book chapter – HCI & Ageism

Sayago, S (to appear – early 2023). Human-Computer Interaction Research on Ageism: Essential, Incipient, and Challenging. In A. Rosales, M. Fernández-Ardèvol & J. Svensson (Eds.), Ageism and Digital Technologies. Routledge.

Abstract: This chapter examines an important body of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research into ageism. This chapter draws on a non-systematic literature review. It also draws on the author’s research on everyday technology use by older adults. This research was conducted over a decade in several European cities (Barcelona and Madrid, Spain; Dundee, Scotland, UK). This chapter argues that HCI research on ageism is essential, incipient, and challenging. It is essential because ageism affects almost everything that HCI is concerned with, and HCI research can contribute to reducing or minimizing stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination toward people based on their age. HCI research on ageism is incipient because most studies have been published in the last 5 years. Also, most of them have been carried out with, or considered, older adults in the West. Doing HCI research on ageism is challenging because ageism is hardwired. This chapter argues that ageism fits in with the human-centred turn in HCI, and calls for further research on ageism in this field. This chapter also outlines future interdisciplinary research opportunities.

New publication! 3D Modeling and Printing with vulnerable adults and older people

I am very happy to share with you that part of the research carried out in the project AGORA 4.0 has been accepted for publication in Interacción 2021 (the Spanish HCI conference).

Check out the accepted version of the paper “3D Modeling and Printing with Vulnerable Adults. A participant observational study with immigrants and low-literature older people” (Sergio Sayago, Pau Blanco, Josep Blat)

1st Summer School for PhD Students in HCI in Spain!

I am very pleased to share with you that I am in the organization committee of the 1st summer school for PhD students in HCI in Spain! Dates: July, 5-9, 2021.


Proceedings / Actas

Sayago, S., Moreno, L., Granollers, T. (2021)(Ed). Actas de la 1a Escuela Escuela de Verano AIPO para Estudiantes de Doctorado en Interacción Persona-Ordenador. ISBN: 978-84-09-32498-9

My course –

Sayago, S. (2021). Qualitative Research in HCI: a guided introduction and case studies. En Sayago, S., Moreno, L., Granollers, T. (2021) (Ed). Actas de la 1a Escuela Escuela de Verano AIPO para Estudiantes de Doctorado en Interacción Persona-Ordenador. ISBN: 978-84-09-32498-9, p. 178-251

COVID-19, face-to-face education, and learning: some personal reflections and actions

There is no denying that we are in the midst of a crisis in education. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned upside down face-to-face education and learning. A key element has (almost) disappeared: face-to-face interaction. We want to get back to normal. I desperately want to get back to normal. Yet, over the past few months I have been reflecting on whether we could (and perhaps, should) make the most of this unpleasant situation to create the type of normal we want to get back to post COVID-19. “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity(1).

In this post, I share some of the lessons I have learned from teaching at university in the ‘new normal’. I draw on them to outline my vision of the ‘normal’ I plan to create in my lecturing activities after this nightmare.

1) Before the coronavirus pandemic, I did not record videos of my face-to-face plenary or laboratory sessions. I thought this was not needed at all. However, these videos have turned out to be one of the best aspects of learning in times of COVID-19 for my students. The videos complement the course notes. They can watch the videos to prepare their exams, to work on their lab assignments, or to understand better something they did not understand at class. Recording videos of my face-to-face plenary and laboratories sessions – noted.  

2) How do my students learn? Students are somehow expected to make appointments with their teachers during their office hours. During the pandemic, I have done otherwise. I set up meetings with each and every one of my students to check on their progress and know how they are coping in this difficult situation. These meetings helped me identify their learning strategies. Some of them did not practice at home. Others read the course notes just once before the exams. Others did not do well in exams because they need a lot of time to think… I was not aware of all of this! These comments reveal learning strategies that, in light of their marks, are not effective enough, and encouraged me to share with them those who work for me. Having regular meetings with my students to check on their learning strategies and ‘how they are getting on’ – noted.

3) During the pandemic, I have learned a lot from the functionalities of the virtual campus(2) we use at my current university. I have used tools I had never used before or I did not know they even existed. I am grateful to those people who have made the transition to online teaching at my university possible. I owe them a lot. However, I would have also liked to learn more about pedagogy. A strong focus on technology without good pedagogy is futile. COVID-19 has shown me that I do not know enough about how to effectively provide my students with an effective, motivating and welcoming learning environment in online and blended scenarios. Another task to be added to my ‘to-do’ list.

(1) https://www.azquotes.com/quote/894807

(2) https://cv.udl.cat/portal

Accepted paper in IJHCS! Older people and computer programming

Sayago, S., Bergantiños, A. (2021). Exploring the first experiences of computer programming of older people with low levels of formal education: a participant observational case study. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (Authors’ Accepted Version) (Institutional Access)

Abstract: Computer programming is widely regarded as a key skill in the 21st century. Yet, and despite a growing ageing population and interest in promoting computer programming for all, research on this topic with older people (60+) is scant in the Human-Computer Interaction literature. This paper presents a qualitative case study aimed to explore the first experiences of computer programming of a group of older active computer users with low levels of educational attainment (i.e., primary school / K-12). Over a 6-month period, we provided a hands-on introduction to several textual and visual programming languages and environments to (N=29) older and adult people in three courses in an adult educational center. We reveal and explain relevant factors that shape, and help us understand, the participants’ computer programming learning experiences, including their motivations, difficulties, and identity, along with strategies that hindered and fostered empowerment. Implications for research and design are discussed.


  • Non-English speaking older adults with basic education learning computer programming
  • Older people in HCI: from consumers of digital content to programmers
  • Learning to read and write programs but not to think in abstract terms
  • Empowered by programming when connecting coding with their lives and their identity

New publication! Apple Siri (input) + Voice Over (output) = a de facto marriage

Abstract: People who are blind or have severe low vision (BLVP) often rely on synthesized voice (output) to interact with computers. Thanks to Voice Assistants (VAs), BLVP can now use voice commands to interact (input) with a range of devices. Yet, very little is known about how they use VAs. This exploratory paper reports on semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with (N=10) legally blind adults, including typhlotechnicians, who teach other BLVP to use digital technologies and may themselves be blind people. Whilst the current impact of VAs on our everyday lives focuses on aiding in the completion of simple day-to-day activities, the results show that the ‘couple’ Apple Siri and Voice Over has a strong, positive impact on the everyday lives of our participants. They reported using VAs mostly as a tool, not as a social actor, and that productivity was more important for them than privacy in their everyday use of Siri. Implications for design and research are outlined

Reference: Sergio Sayago, Mireia Ribera. 2020. Apple Siri (input) + Voice Over (output) = a de facto marriage: an exploratory case study with blind people. In DSAI’20: 9th International Conference on Software Development and Technologies for Enhancing Accessibility and Fighting Info-exclusion, December 02-04, 2020, virtual, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 8 pages

Authors’ Accepted Version (PDF)

Interacció amb la intel·ligència artificial centrada en l’ésser humà

Seminari TIDIC 25.11.2020

Human-Centered Artificial Interaction 3.0 (Interacció amb la Intel·ligència Artificial (IA) centrada en l’ésser humà) serà el tema d’aquest SEMINARI-TIDIC. Desenvolupaments i tendències tecnològiques, com els assistents de veu, els robots socials, recommenders, i els cotxes intel·ligents, entre altres, indiquen que ens estem movent cap a una d’interacció entre Persones i Intel·ligència Artificial (IA). Aquesta interacció planteja un canvi de paradigma en el disseny de les TIC i de la #UX: Com es dissenya una tecnologia que evoluciona, que és imprevisible? El nou ordinador, i material de disseny, és la IA. Com es prototipa aquesta interacció? Són les eines actuals suficient? Necessitem noves? També s’estan desenvolupament directrius o principis de disseny que ajudin als professionals a dissenyar tecnologies intel·ligents centrades en l’ésser humà, perquè l’actual coneixement de disseny (web, mòbil…) no resulta suficient. En aquest SEMINARI TIDIC presentarem investigacions que s’estan realitzant en aquest camp a nivell internacional i també discutirem sobre la seva relació amb un col·lectiu cada cop més nombrós, però majoritàriament oblidat, i molt estereotipat, al món de les TIC: les persones grans (60/65+).

Link to the presentation [PDF]

Special issue!

Special Issue “Design for Older Adults: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Human-AI Interaction”

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue addresses technology design for older people (65+) in two timely and important design scenarios: the COVID-19 pandemic and Human–Artificial Intelligence (AI) interaction.

The COVID-19 pandemic has focused increased attention on social isolation and loneliness for all ages, particularly older people as the most vulnerable, at-risk segment of the population. Many of the traditional strategies for engaging older adults have become obsolete in the new normal. Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen evidence of openly ageist discourses (e.g., #BoomerRemover), which complicates the experiences of living through COVID-19 for older people. How can digital technologies be designed to improve connectivity in a time of recommended and required physical distancing for older people (and all of us)? What lessons can we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic to design better technologies for a growing ageing population?

We are moving toward an era of Human–AI interaction, as autonomous and intelligent systems, from voice assistants and product recommenders to smart-home devices, smart cars, and social robots, are becoming increasingly common in our lives. This has led to claims for examining AI as the new design material, exploring ways of prototyping Human–AI, and putting forward new design guidelines, as the best user experience no longer comes only from usability but from trustworthy, personalized, and ethical machine intelligence. At the same time, population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society. How do we design Human–AI interaction for, and with, older people?

This interdisciplinary Special Issue aims to bring together a selection of high-quality papers (e.g., case studies, insightful reviews, theoretical and critical perspectives, and viewpoint articles) that contribute to technology design for older people by addressing topics including, but not limited to:  

  • Older people, COVID-19, social isolation, loneliness, and ICTs;
  • Designing digital technologies for a growing ageing population post-COVID 19;
  • COVID-19 and digital ageism;
  • Artificial Intelligence as a design material and older people;
  • Ways of prototyping Human–AI interaction and older people;
  • Guidelines for Human–AI interaction and older people;
  • Ethically designed Human–AI interactions and older people.

Dr. Sergio Sayago
Dr. Paula Forbes
Guest Editors