The course covers skills and techniques necessary to design innovative interactive products that are useful, usable and that address important needs of people other than yourself. You will learn how to uncover needs that your customers cannot even articulate. You will also learn a range of design principles, effective creativity-related practices, and techniques for rapidly creating and evaluating product prototypes. You will also have several opportunities to formally communicate your design ideas to a variety of audiences. You will complete two large team-based design projects.
Who is this course for?
Undergraduates in any concentration, of any graduation year. Given that there are no programming assignments, no programming experience is required.
Syllabus: Course Objectives and Policies
By the end of the course, you will have the skills to design innovative interactive products that are useful, usable and address important needs of people other than yourself.
Diversity and inclusion
In an ideal world, science would be objective. However, much of what we know about design is subjective, reflects the behaviors and preferences of a non-representative sample of the world's population, and is historically built on a small subset of privileged voices. In this class, we will make an effort to learn from a diverse group of designers and researchers, but limits still exist on this diversity. We acknowledge that it is possible that there may be both overt and covert biases in the material due to the lens with which it was written or because of how the participants contributing to the research were chosen. Integrating a diverse set of values, abilities, cultures, etc. is important for building design knowledge that equitably benefits everyone. We would like to discuss issues of diversity in design as part of the course from time to time.
Please contact us if you have any suggestions to improve the quality and diversity of the course materials.
Furthermore, we would like to create a learning environment in our class that supports a diversity of thoughts, perspectives and experiences, and honors your identities (including race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic status, politics, religion, etc.). We (like many people) are still in the process of learning about diverse perspectives and identities. If something is said in class (by anyone) that made you feel uncomfortable, please talk to us about it.
As a concrete step toward creating a civil and supportive environment in our class, we ask everyone to follow the no-dogma rule: Because design directly impacts the world, it is inevitable that our discussions will touch on controversial issues. Everyone is welcome to share their positions, but you have to do it in a manner that is respectful toward people who disagree with you. No position is self-evidently correct. People who support a different position may have good reasons for doing so. You may not pass judgement on people who think differently from you. If you are baffled by what another person says, consider asking Why? Why? Why? until you understand the underlying reason for their stance before jumping to argue your point.
If you feel like your performance in the class is being impacted by your experiences outside of class, please don’t hesitate to come and talk with us.
What to do if some piece of course technology fails
It is unlikely, but possible, that some piece of technology we use in the course breaks or that the course staff make a mistake somewhere. For example, we may forget to upload the paper you are supposed to read, the Canvas site may go dead, etc. If you detect a problem, please follow these steps:
Your course grade will consist of a combination of your grades on your assignments (80%) and professionalism (20%). Professionalism includes class participation, teamwork, adherence to deadlines, collaboration acknowledgements, timely arrival to your studios, etc. Note that most of the assignments will built toward long-term team-based projects. You will have to do and submit work every week, but we will do major grading only three times during the semester: at the end of the Project 1, four weeks into the Final Projects (at the time you pitch your product concepts) and at the and of Final Projects. Each week, however, you will receive prompt comments on your progress from your TFs. There will also be a small amount of points given each week reflecting whether the team made "serious progress" that week (that's to keep you reasonably paced).
It is very important to us that all assignments are properly graded. If you believe there is an error in your assignment grading, please submit an explanation in writing to your studio leader (Cc-ing the instructor) within 7 days of receiving the grade. No regrade requests will be accepted orally, and no regrade requests will be accepted more than 7 days after receipt of the initial grade.
In general, many activities in the class will be collaborative and we will expect you to work with others. In all cases such collaboration has to be acknowledged. Each assignment and quiz will come with a detailed collaboration policy.
Accommodations for students with disabilities
If you have a health condition that affects your learning or classroom experience, please let the instructors know as soon as possible. We will, of course, provide all the accommodations listed in your AEO letter (if you have one), but we find that sometimes we can do even better if a student helps us understand what really matters to them.
If you experience significant stress or worry, changes in mood, or problems eating or sleeping this semester, please do not hesitate to reach out to the professor. There are also several free and confidential resources available to you:
We recognize that mental health challenges can be intermittent, that a person who is doing great in many aspects of their life may have difficulties with others. We recognize that mental health challenges can be invisible to outsiders making it hard to get the support and understanding you need. We will do everything we can to help.