Course Overview

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to human-computer interaction and the design process. Students will learn methods and skills involved in designing and prototyping interactive systems. The course covers the design process from the initial formulation of a design problem to creation of digital prototypes. The class structure is a mix of classroom design activities, lectures, and design critiques of student work by peers and instructor. The course is overwhelmingly organized around a group project, in which students:

Learning Objectives

Project Theme

We are not strictly requiring a theme in order to facilitate coordination with other courses. However, we are suggesting that those seeking guidance pursue projects exploring challenges and opportunities in self-tracking, also known as Personal Informatics:

Personal informatics systems are systems that help people collect personally relevant information for the purpose of self-reflection and gaining self-knowledge.

Li et al., 2010.

Personal informatics relates heavily to the Quantified Self movement, which emphasizes:

Self-knowledge through numbers.

Gary Wolf, 2009

People have long sought to better understand themselves, but recently technology advances are enabling fundamentally new approaches. Students will examine the problems people encounter, then explore how new technology can go beyond the data fetish to help people in reaching their goals.

Project Structure

Projects are organized around four assignments, each consistent of several milestones:

Example project from prior offerings include:

Note that details of assignments may have changed since prior offerings, so their reports may not map to the current project. However, these represent examples of strong work in this course.


A small set of readings are assigned throughout the quarter, with additional resources also made available.

Basic Information

Contact: Post all questions to Canvas (except for private matters)


Class Time & Location: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 3:40-5:00 WEB 2230

Office Hours:

Scheduled hours are held most weeks, but check the calendar:

Other meetings by appointment.

Course Staff:

Jason Wiese

Jason Wiese

Asmaa Aljuhani

Asmaa Aljuhani

Holly Cordner

Holly Cordner


You should do good work in this class because you care about your project and because you want to learn how to design interactive systems. That said, the university makes us use grades, so here is how grades will work in this class:

Each assignment will also provide a point breakdown intended to convey how it will be graded. Design is an inherently subjective practice, and so grading in this course is necessarily subjective. Wow us with your work.

Because the course is designed around feedback on project milestones, grades given to those milestones indicate that you have invested sufficient effort and insight at the time of the milestone. You will get feedback and are expected to continue acting upon that feedback in your design process. The bulk of project grades is therefore attached to the final deliverables, which are evaluated on their quality.

Academic Misconduct

You are bound by the School Of Computing’s Academic Misconduct Policy You should not use content or ideas from other people without directly citing your source, and your submitted assignments must be the work of yourself (and your group, in the case of group assignments). If you are in doubt about whether something is allowed, you should ask the course staff.


Many assignments are due “the night before class”. We will implement this in Canvas as 4:00am.

In order to be prepared to give you feedback, the course staff must have your submission in the morning. Submitting the day of class, just before class, or in class is therefore unacceptable, risking zero credit.

Submissions should be in PDF format (i.e., not plain text, not Word). The PDF should be ‘printable’, containing everything we need to review and grade the assignment (e.g., your name). The course staff has a large number of submissions to manage, so format and completeness issues are problematic.