1. Interaction Design Research
  2. Interface Design
  3. Business Practices
  4. Interaction Design: Practicum in Technology
  5. Graduate Studio
  6. Graduate Thesis

Interaction Design Research I
Human Behavior, Capabilities and Cognition

Insights into the human context of design can inspire great design work. Uncovering these insights in a rapidly changing world is an increasingly important challenge for all professional designers. This course will explore basic properties and principles of human psychology, human behavior, human performance and physical and cognitive abilities that are especially relevant to design research. Students will learn how dramatically people’s capabilities vary across a population, with experience, with aging, and with disabilities. Students will test and measure various physical and mental capabilities and think differently about the human end-user and the usability of their design solutions.

Interaction Design Research II
Business, Customer and User Research Methods

This course introduces the methods, tools, and techniques of research that are relevant to designing with people in mind for product, experience, space, or service. The methods and tools fall in the categories of “what people say,” “what people do,” and “what people need.” Business, Customer and User Research Methods will be primarily lecture-based, but will also include a variety of hands-on learning activities that are applicable at all points along the design process. Students will practice developing and conducting surveys, interviews, field observational research, and focus groups to identify unmet needs that are both articulated and unarticulated. 

Interaction Design Research III
Experimental Design and Analysis

This course introduces the experimental design methodology so that students will understand how to design and conduct testing without introducing bias and analyze results in a way that identifies significant results. Students will practice designing and conducting rigorous usability evaluations, conducting formal analysis and drawing statistically meaningful conclusions.

Interaction Design Research IV
Product (Service, Experience) Evaluation Methods

This course leverages learnings from the Interaction Design Research I-III courses to complete the cycle by ensuring products have been optimized for the intended users. In Research 4: Product (service, experience)  Evaluation Methods, students learn a range of usability evaluation methods. The methods fall in the categories of expert reviews and testing with users. It will cover the more popular methods used today, demonstrate the techniques, identify appropriate application, and drives home an understanding of the pros and cons of each approach. Students will be able to design tests and conduct evaluations on a range of relevant websites, mobile applications, and products. They will practice testing and measuring various physical and mental capabilities and will discuss how their findings should be applied to design. Students will also practice working with disabilities so they will gain an appreciation for the large number of people who possess common disabilities, how it impacts their ability to work, and how through design they may be made to be as productive as a person without that disability.

Interface Design I
The Creation of Experiences

This course will introduce the fundamental concepts, methods and practices of interaction design. Students will put into practice the processes of interface design development, the role of design leadership in that process and the technical aspects of creating an effective interaction experience. Students will work both individually and in teams to explore the User Interface (UI) development process and communicate their ideas through a narrative. Due to the complexity and length of the process, finished interfaces will not be produced. Instead, students will participate in a series of design exercises that will orient them to the process and the resources they will need to further purse UI design. Students will participate in group discussions, critiques and presentations.

Interface Design II
The Creation of Experiences

In this course, students will apply the fundamental principles, methods and process of interface design covered in Interface Design I, to interaction design projects. Students will work independently with group critique to develop their skill sets in critical thinking, information architecture, usability, and dynamic engagement. They will also learn to use the voice of the customer to meet consumer needs and to pursue business objectives. A single project or a series of short projects will be derived from real world scenarios and will require strategic and creative problem solving to accomplish goals within limited time frames. It is critical that interface solutions meet usability requirements and standards. Students will therefore practice the focus group research method to help them build and test User Interface (UI) solutions based on consumer needs.

Business Practices I
Marketing as a Strategy: “The Big Picture”

This course is designed around a framework that organizes and interrelates marketing topics into succinct modules. Using the textbook, Marketing: The Big Picture by Christie Nordheilm, students will apply the Big Picture framework to a live “mini” case that they choose and write themselves using a carefully designed template. Students will then take a leadership role in managing the discussion of these mini-cases. In this way, the class will maximize their relevance to current business practices and also acquaint the students with the ‘business case’ format. Students will also leverage a simulation tool, the Big Picture Simulation, to test their knowledge of the concepts learned in class.

Within the Big Picture framework we conceive of marketing broadly. Rather than being a subset of corporate strategy, marketing can be elevated to include business strategy itself. What distinguishes marketing can be summarized in a single word: CUSTOMERS. Students will learn the answers to the following questions:

  • How can marketing best accomplish the business objective? Will it acquire new customers or make the existing ones more valuable to the firm? (i.e., what is the marketing objective?) Will it attract new customers to its category or steal customers from its competitors (i.e., what is its primary source of volume?) And, while we're at it, what is the product category?
  • Which customers should we be talking to?  Why? (i.e., segmentation and targeting)
  • What should we be saying to them?  What will convince them that our firm, products or services offers them a dynamic advantage over the alternatives? (i.e., positioning)
  • How should we convey this message?  What features of our offer will be compelling?  How shall we price our offer? Where and how should the offering be distributed?  How and where will we inform our customer of these features? (i.e., the “4 Ps” of product, price, placement, and promotion)? And finally, what additional information do we need to make better decisions about creating customer value in order to meet our business objective? (i.e., market research)

Students will learn that the primary task of marketing is to achieve the company’s overall business objective by creating and communicating value to the customer.  

 

Business Practices II
Entrepreneurial Essentials

The course is designed to offer students a hands-on understanding of Entrepreneurship, experience developing the business case for an important project, and writing and presenting key documents for the business case including an elevator pitch, a 2-3 page executive summary and a 5 to 7 page mini-business plan.  Using a combination of e-learning materials, books, in-class presentations and discussions, students will develop a pragmatic understanding of what is required to develop a concept through to commercialization.   Students will develop their own ideas initially and then choose one concept to work with in a small team to develop fully and present as a semester final presentation.  Throughout the semester students will work on their own thesis business case and prepare a final 5 to 7 page mini-plan and supporting financials.

Using a 10 module e-learning course, Cantillon, as a supplement, the class will explore each of the major topics for entrepreneurship and new business case development.  The first units will explain the entrepreneurial road and how a business case is developed.   The student will use the lectures and case examples to take their business idea and develop a short two minute elevator pitch presentation to articulate the ‘Wow’ in the idea and establish a reason for people to want to know more.  Using additional course units as a guide and accompanying examples, the students will prepare a 2-3 page executive summary for this business case.

With the assistance of guest lecturers and field research, students will prepare a marketing and finance plan for their business case.  The exploration will include developing ‘use case’ scenarios and customer personas. Leveraging their market research skills from Business Practices I, the students will develop and size the market segments for this product or service and provide narrative on the path into the target beachhead market. The teams will identify the risks for market entry and the key differentiation for their product and the development of a product family as well as partners and allies to take the product to market.   Rounding out the plan, the students will define the product roadmap and the rough budget and finance plan to meet the business goals and test the plan for feasibility.

 

Interaction Design: Practicum in Technology
Specification, Documentation and Project Management

This is a practical course developed to instruct students on how to communicate their interaction design solutions throughout the design and technology development process. Students will learn how to articulate clear design specifications and usability requirements. They will also learn the tools, documentation requirements, and communication process involved in managing complex multi-functional projects. 

An interaction design project is a multi-phase process, involving active participation from various functional teams. It is not atypical to have engineers, information technology specialists and programmers, usability researchers and testers, operational and systems personnel – not to mention, other designers involved throughout the project’s life cycle. It is critical for designers to communicate, plan and stay actively engaged through to the project’s conclusion. In this course, students will learn how to do this through a series of documentation that clearly communicates the requirements and specifications at each stage of development. Students will learn what the nature and purpose of these documents are, study samples that are ‘best practices’ and how to write them.

Graduate Studio I
The Creation of Website Experiences

In this course, students will apply the fundamental principles, methods and process of interaction design in the context of achieving business solutions. Students will work independently with group critique to develop their skill sets at critical thinking, information architecture, usability, brand, dynamic engagement and will learn to use and integrate social media to solve business objectives. Projects will cover a variety of real world scenarios that will require strategic and creative problem solving to accomplish goals within limited time frames. Students will practice a variety of important techniques and methodologies to help them build successful solutions. Interaction Students will participate in group discussions, critiques and presentations.

Graduate Studio II
Intelligent Transportation Systems: The Next Generation of the Automobile Experience

Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) is the use of information and communication technology, including sensors, in transportation infrastructure and vehicles, to improve transportation with goals such as safety and efficiency (in use of time, energy, money). The focus here is on the role of the automobile within the ground transportation network.

The market opportunity for ITS technology is growing rapidly. This rate will only accelerate as ‘converged technology’ – such as smartphones and other portable devices (PDAs) – becomes an enabler for higher consumer expectations. Already, the race is on to design systems that will offer an integrated consumer experience combining navigation and entertainment needs with security requirements through advancements in sensors, camera technology, product-to-product interaction etc. For Fall 2014, students will not only conduct research to assess what the next generation of ITS technology must offer but design high-level scenarios to appeal to the unmet needs of future consumers.

Graduate Studio III
The Differentiated Shopping Experience

This course will begin to investigate the intersection of content, the multi-channel retail touch points and the user experience in the context of business solutions. Students will work in teams to identify an interactive shopping experience and define consumer or user behavior patterns that can be translated into a successful design framework. Students will participate in group discussions, critiques and presentations.

Technology continues to play a critical role in shaping the consumer shopping experience. In particular, with broadband access growing and the gap between technology developments and adoption rapidly narrowing, interaction design continues to shape the dominant ‘contact points’ for many retailers. Although the underpinnings are rooted in technology, interaction design is ultimately shaped by consumer behavior, habits and preferences. Today’s consumers have a high degree of comfort with technology and rely heavily on the internet as well as other interactive experiences to facilitate their product/service research and purchase decisions. In this class, the students will select a high-end household appliance, study how it is currently positioned and sold in the market, investigate the successes and challenges of the consumer shopping experience in context, and develop a differentiated shopping experience, utilizing interactive technology.

Graduate Studio IV
The Edutainment Experience

This course will explore the power of interaction design in the field of ‘edutainment’ on ‘tweeners’, children between 9-12 years of age. Wikipedia defines edutainment as “…any entertainment content that is designed to educate as well as to entertain. Content with a high degree of both educational and entertainment value is known as edutainment…it can be argued that educational entertainment has existed for millennia in the form of parables and fables that promoted social change. Modern forms include television productions, film, museum exhibits, and computer software which use entertainment to attract and maintain an audience, while incorporating deliberate educational content or messages…The term edutainment was used as early as 1948 by The Walt Disney Company…” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_entertainment)

Students will research examples of successful edutainment experiences geared towards the tweener-audience. It will be critical to conduct a thorough assessment of the edutainment experience and study what is interactively effective about each of the experiential components (the narrative, the technology, the physicality and interactive aspects of the ‘games’, the sensory engagements etc.) – the total immersion with which the overall experience is designed to engage its audience both from an educational and entertainment perspective. Students will develop personas based on the behavior, preferences and values of the tweeners.

Students will then select a subject from a short list of topics to create an immersive experience that is both educational, entertaining and engagingly interactive. They will execute a high-level’ prototype’ or ‘proof of concept’ to communicate their solution.  Along with the instructor, subject matter experts will be engaged at specific milestones of the course schedule to share their expertise, review students’ work and participate in group discussions and critiques.

Graduate Thesis I

This course is designed to help students articulate and execute a body of work that is the culmination of his/her graduate study experience. Students should be able to synthesize external factors – such as technological, global, environmental issues and trends, including social change – translate them into a form that is meaningful in a business setting, and create relevant design solutions. “Relevant” in this context requires that students’ design solutions resonate with an identified market segment, from all design and functional standpoints.

Graduate Thesis I is a self-driven, studio course where each student will follow a design development path that commences with a rigorous research phase. A business case and/or a creative brief will grow out of the research findings and will serve as the plan of work for the completion of the Thesis. Students will be expected to work through the subsequent phases, each phase resulting in a high-quality set of deliverables, culminating in a final presentation that will be either digitally created or hand-built as appropriate.

Graduate Thesis II

This course is designed to help students articulate and execute a body of work that is the culmination of his/her graduate study experience. Students should be able to synthesize external factors – such as technological, global, environmental issues and trends, including social change – translate them into a form that is meaningful in a business setting, and create relevant design solutions. “Relevant” in this context requires that students’ design solutions resonate with an identified market segment, from all design and functional standpoints.

Graduate Thesis II is a self-driven, studio course where each student will follow a design development path that commences with a rigorous research phase. A business case and/or a creative brief will grow out of the research findings and will serve as the plan of work for the completion of the Thesis. Students will be expected to work through the subsequent phases, each phase resulting in a high-quality set of deliverables, culminating in a final presentation that will be either digitally created or hand-built as appropriate.

The Thesis deliverables will consist of:

  1. A written and bound document that articulates the business context and the supportive research relating to a specific topic and/or studio project
  2. A studio-based, design artifact (singular or multiple) in a 2D, 3D and/or digital form
  3. A final oral and visual thesis presentation to the Graduate Thesis Review Committee
  4. A Thesis exhibit at the Graduate Thesis Exhibition

 

 

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