COMP_SCI 397: HCI Studio

Quarter Offered

Winter : 1-3 M ; Zhang


CS 211


Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) serves as the bridge between computing and humanity. The effective design of HCI systems requires a keen understanding of how interfaces and computer systems usefully support human endeavors (or not). Why would a particular set of characteristics of a system lead to reaching a desired outcome, while others encounter an obstacle? How might a good argument for a design be instantiated with effective interface and system models? Taking a step back, are our solutions actually addressing the underlying problem that humans face? What is actually the problem?

Through the studio method, we will, as a learning community, learn to ask and answer these questions for ourselves. One focus will be on developing our critical thinking and problem solving skills through team projects and studio critique, with special emphasis on learning more effective structures and representations for thinking about the design of HCI systems. Another focus will be on learning to soften into a deeper understanding of problems that people encounter than we might at first assume - that is, developing our capacities for humility, empathy, and curiosity. Last but not least, we focus on *doing* — agile sprints, rapid prototyping and testing, iterating — learning to face and embrace fears, imperfections, failures that may otherwise hold us back from moving forward. Through this we will learn to become more skillful in how we work on difficult problems.

While the course has no formal pre-requisites, learning via a studio method demands that students are open to constructive feedback and critique from the instructor, TAs, and/or peers. It also demands a willingness to learn together, as a community.

Given the course’s ambitious learning objectives—both in the subject area and more generally in how we approach difficult problems—students taking the course should have a strong willingness in learning and growing personally. The course will demand a significant amount of self-direction: students need to be able and willing to learn on their own and in groups through their own volition, and in doing so, still thoughtfully approach challenges new, unfamiliar, and (potentially) uncomfortable ways. In other words, the course is meant for students who are serious about learning how to design computing systems for human use, *and* of ways to work with themselves and teammates through challenges.

  • This course satisfies the project requirement or Technical Elective.