Weekly Participation (15%)

Class participation is required for everyone. This means you need to engage in the class discussion at least once, in class, each week. Please note that participation means making a meaningful contribution to an ongoing discussion; simply attending class or nodding along as another student talks does not count as participation.

You have two free passes for the semester -- no explanation needed -- and of course you won't be penalized for a legitimate, excused absence (just drop me an email explaining what is happening, before class if possible). Each week of non-participation (beyond the two free passes and excused absences) will subtract a point from your class participation grade.

Group Activity Presentations (5 @ 8% each)

Five times during the semester, we will engage in small group, in-class, rapid prototyping design activities, each lasting for one week (i.e., two class sessions). Groups will be assigned at random, and topics will be announced at the beginning of the week.

You and your group will spend Tuesday (and whatever additional time you feel necessary between Tuesday and Thursday) preparing your design ideas, which you will then present to the instructor and the rest of the class on Thursday.

Each group will be responsible for presenting their own design ideas, and answering questions about their design decisions from the instructor and the other students. Given time constraints, group presentations will be strictly limited to five minutes each, plus three minutes for questions.

Group presentations should be highly visual, engaging, and demonstrate the interactive components of your design in some way. Note that these presentations are in-class assignments only; you do not need to submit anything to Blackboard.

Also, while there will be one presentation per group, every group member should be involved with the presentation in some way. If you are going to miss either a Tuesday or a Thursday session during a week when we have a Group Activity scheduled, please let me know ASAP.

Individual Assignment 1: Establishing Requirements (15%)

Assignment due Sunday, March 5. Please submit your assignment to Blackboard.

This is an individual writing assignment that allows you to think about the user experience of a product, system, or interface that you would like to create. This can be something totally new you are just thinking about now, something you've been eager to develop for a while but not yet had the chance to design, or something you are already working on but not yet thought through in detail (just be sure your work for this class is original).

Spend some time thinking carefully about your proposed product, system, or interface, including who its hypothetical users might be, and what they might use it to accomplish.

Write a paper covering the following points, in this order, using headings and subheadings to separate each point:

  1. Describe the product, system, or interface you would like to design and its intended purpose. If your idea is similar to an existing product, system, or interface, please explain briefly how your idea differs from or improves upon what has already been developed.
  2. Describe in general the people who would use this product, system, or interface, and the sorts of things they would likely do with it.
  3. Identify THREE types of users -- ideally, these would be users who have differing needs and expectations about your proposed product, system, or interface -- and complete the following for EACH user type:
    1. Provide in detail either a) a user profile (e.g., Fortune 500 business executives who are frequent fliers and expect nothing but the best service while traveling, etc.) OR b) a user persona (e.g., "Steve" is a 52-year-old CEO from Chicago, IL, who regularly flies around the world (first class) with a cocker spaniel...); your goal here is to carefully consider the unique requirements of this user type with respect to your product, system, or interface.
    2. Provide in detail a scenario of use that describes what a typical user of this type might be trying to accomplish with your product, system, or interface (e.g., a primary school teacher is planning to take their students to a museum on a field trip, and is visiting the museum's website to look for ways of integrating the museum visit into her classroom activities, etc.); your goal here is to carefully consider the unique actions, tasks, or goals of this user type.

Submit your assignment to Blackboard under the "Establishing Requirements" assignment. Make sure your submission includes the name and number of the course, the instructor's name, YOUR NAME, the name of the assignment, and the date submitted. Length: minimum 1000 words.

Individual Assignment 2: Designing Alternatives (15%)

Assignment due Sunday, April 2. Please submit your assignment to Blackboard.

This is an individual writing assignment that allows you to brainstorm three different design ideas for your proposed product, system, or interface. This is your chance to carefully consider your design alternatives, and not get locked into one way of thinking about your design too early.

Spend some time thinking carefully about how your proposed product, system, or interface might support the types of users and scenarios of use you described in the previous assignment. What interface metaphors might you use? What types of interaction would be most useful?

Write a paper covering the following points, in this order, using headings and subheadings to separate each point:

  1. Briefly describe the product, system, or interface you are designing, and detail any changes in your thinking since the last individual assignment. This is essentially a recap of the last assignment, and should be short!
  2. Select one of the three user types you detailed in your previous assignment, and briefly describe this type of user here, detailing any changes in your thinking since the last individual assignment. This is essentially a recap of the last assignment, and should also be short!
  3. Identify THREE different scenarios of use that describe what your user might try to accomplish with your product, system, or interface -- it is fine if one of these turns out to be the same scenario of use you described in the previous assignment, but they should be three distinct / different scenarios from each other -- and complete the following for EACH scenario of use:
    1. Provide a detailed description of this scenario of use that explains both a) what your user would be trying to accomplish with your product, system, or interface, AND b) why you believe this is a helpful scenario to consider when designing your proposed product, system, or interface.
    2. Provide a detailed description of how your user could hypothetically use your proposed product, system, or interface to complete this scenario. Include a sketch (or some kind of visual example) along with your description, and be sure that each design alternative provided in this section differs substantially from the others (i.e., your goal here is to end up with three DIFFERENT ways of thinking through how you might design this product, system, or interface; NOT three different examples of the same design idea).

Submit your assignment to Blackboard under the "Designing Alternatives" assignment. Make sure your submission includes the name and number of the course, the instructor's name, YOUR NAME, the name of the assignment, and the date submitted. Length: minimum 1000 words.

Individual Assignment 3: Prototyping Design (15%)

Assignment due Sunday, April 30. Please submit your assignment to Blackboard.

This is an individual writing assignment that allows you to take one of the scenarios of use / design alternatives you created for the previous assignment and turn it into a full-fledged (albeit not necessarily functional) prototype of the product, system, or interface you are designing.

Please note that this does NOT have to be a WORKING prototype; a non-working, prototype design is fine. You can create your prototype using any development tool at your disposal -- from sketching designs on paper to using online prototyping tools like Balsamiq or Mockingbird -- just be certain you have something visual to illustrate your ideas. If you want to include some interactive features, that's fine, but all you really need is a series of static pages or illustrations showing your prototype design.

Write a paper covering the following points, in this order, using headings and subheadings to separate each point:

  1. Briefly describe the product, system, or interface you are designing, and detail any changes in your thinking since the last individual assignment. This should be short!
  2. Briefly describe the user of your product, system, or interface that you have in mind, and detail any changes in your thinking since the last individual assignment. This should be short!
  3. Briefly describe the scenario of use you have selected to guide the design of your prototype product, system, or interface, and detail any changes in your thinking since the last individual assignment. This should be short!
  4. Present your prototype product, system, or interface, and provide a detailed walkthrough that carefully explains HOW your prototype allows your user to complete your scenario of use. You are required to include sketches, screenshots, or some kind of visual media to accompany your written description of your prototype. N.B. This is HOW it works. This is important and should NOT be short!
  5. Present a detailed design rationale explaining the choices you made when developing your prototype product, system, or interface. Be sure to explain WHY you believe the user described above will be able to use your prototype to complete your scenario of use. N.B. This is WHY (you believe) it works. This is even more important and should NOT be short!
  6. Finally, briefly describe what you might do next (i.e., what changes would you make to your prototype design) if you were to continue to develop this prototype product, system, or interface in the future. What did you learn from making this prototype that would help you improve it in the future? This can be kinda medium length. :-)

Submit your assignment to Blackboard under the "Prototyping Design" assignment. Make sure your submission includes the name and number of the course, the instructor's name, YOUR NAME, the name of the assignment, and the date submitted. Length: minimum 1000 words.

Notes on Written Assignments

Submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (EDT or EST, as appropriate) on the dates indicated above. Late assignments will not receive full credit. If you have extenuating circumstances, please contact me ASAP before the due date.

When the papers are marked, points will be assigned based on the assumption that you have carefully followed, read, and understood the assignment descriptions. Please do not hesitate to ask for clarifications!

Assignments should be submitted to Blackboard as either 1) a link to a website; or 2) an individual file (PDF preferred, and please make sure your surname is part of the filename).

All submissions must include a title page (or section) listing the name and number of the course, the name of the instructor, YOUR NAME, the name of the assignment, and the date you submitted the assignment.

You are required to use headings and subheadings to make the organization of your paper clear to the reader. The main headings in your paper must correspond to the main sections of the assignment descriptions, listed above. Subdivide each section to reflect its content as necessary.

Papers must be demonstrably spell-checked, grammar-checked, and proofread for nonsense; failure to do so will result in a lower grade.