Valuable courses for interaction Designers

20 Mar 2008 - 2:47pm
6 years ago
15 replies
1025 reads
Tom MacTavish
2008

A question for experienced Interaction Designers:

what academic courses have proven to be the most valuable in providing you with the conceptual and practical skills to succeed at your profession??

what academic courses were not valuable?

Your guidance may help the next generation of students tailor their degree programs more accurately.?

Comments

20 Mar 2008 - 8:47pm
karine Drumond
2008

In Brazil we have just one Interaction Design course (Belo Horizonte -
Brazil) . It's the first post graduation course here. And I have just
concluded it. :-)

The program included:
Interaction Design fundamentals
Human factors
Interaction Styles
User Centered Design
Prototyping
Usability methods
Evaluation methods I, II e III
Interaction Project Workshops
Usability Analysis Workshops
Accessibility
Trends in Interaction Design

I really believe that the course provide me both practical and
conceptual skills. But I am sure that the success depends mainly on
the amount of effort you really want spend.

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21 Mar 2008 - 8:04am
seele@obso1337.org
2005

On Thursday 20 March 2008 15:47:12 tmactavish at aol.com wrote:
> A question for experienced Interaction Designers:

A forewarning, I think I'm more academic than professional and I had a few
years experience before going through my program, so not everyone in my
program would have the same opinion as me. I got an M.S. in Interaction
Design and Information Architecture from the University of Baltimore
(iat.ubalt.edu)

> what academic courses have proven to be the most valuable in providing you
> with the conceptual and practical skills to succeed at your profession??

*Sequential Visualization and Analysis*

Teaches students to use sequential visual narratives -- story boards,
flowcharts, prototypes, and simulations -- as analysis tools for the
development of information systems. The course draws on theoretical
approaches to film as well as other forms of visual storytelling including
animation, illustration, and comics. Through a series of practical analytical
and creative projects, students learn to apply story boards and limited
multimedia prototypes both to interface design and to content development.

This was one of the more primary classes, but I feel like the creative
projects exercised critical thinking skills more so than other classes. We
were asked to solve problems outside the webpage world which I think is
valuable for those who have never worked on products outside the browser.

*Humans Computers and Cognition*

Introduces students to concepts, theories, and methods drawn from the fields
of cognitive psychology and human-computer interaction that support
user-centered system design. Issues relating to problem solving, knowledge
representation, structure of knowledge systems, and problems of interface
design are emphasized. This course prepares students to understand and
analyze research based on empirical study of human behavior and on models of
learning and understanding.

I particularly liked the assignments: after every reading (case study/research
paper) we had to write a position paper and include outside research to
support it. A good exercise in critical thinking and literature review. I
blame the inner geek for loving this class because I think it is the least
favorite in the program.

> what academic courses were not valuable?

*Information Architecture*
Teaches students to gather requirements data, model information structures,
and develop a variety of documents to communicate the information
architecture to other participants, including technical experts, usability
experts, clients, and users. Students learn to determine a target audience,
develop personas or user profiles, refine and validate requirements, create
site maps, functional specifications, wireframes, etc.

This class was a little disappointing to me. I think I was expecting a more
Library Science approach to the topic, while it was very applied and
practical. Since I had some experience already and was currently working,
the entire semester was just a drawn-out client project.

*Research Methods for Interaction Design*

Introduces user research methods such as contextual inquiry, ethnographic
field studies, card sorting, image collaging, and usability testing that
provide the foundation for user-centered interaction design.

Personally, I was expecting something to learn how to formulate research
questions and create a research plan, especially for difficult to test
products. Instead, it was very applied -- which was good practice for
students who had never done those activities before -- but not as useful for
those who had experience implementing a research design and wanted to learn
how to create the research design. I learned more about research methods in
my other classes (we did cognitive interviews, user testing and field
research in some of my other classes).

> Your guidance may help the next generation of students tailor their degree
> programs more accurately.?

My program had a mix of people who had previous experience and were new to
IxD/IA. As a result, I think it effected the class stress level by being too
hard for newbies and not challenging enough for experienced professionals.
The classes which had the biggest impression on me were ones who still
manages to challenge and exercise critical thinking skills outside of a skill
performance level.

I think I tended to favor the theoretical classes while the student body as a
whole liked the more practical and applied classes. In the end, I think that
is the goal decision of the department on how they want to approach the
subject: churn out researchers or churn out professionals.

~ Celeste

--
Celeste 'seele' Paul
www.obso1337.org

21 Mar 2008 - 8:27am
Mark Schraad
2006

In order if importance:
1 A cog psych course - sensation, perception cognition - leave the eye
tracking machine alone
2 A behavioral psych course

3 A basic Anthropology/ethnographic course

Note the emphasis on people, not technology. Of course if your undergrad is
in any one of these feels you should explore other directions.

On Thu, Mar 20, 2008 at 3:47 PM, <tmactavish at aol.com> wrote:

>
> A question for experienced Interaction Designers:
>
> what academic courses have proven to be the most valuable in providing you
> with the conceptual and practical skills to succeed at your profession??
>
> what academic courses were not valuable?
>
> Your guidance may help the next generation of students tailor their degree
> programs more accurately.?
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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>

21 Mar 2008 - 8:37am
Dan Saffer
2003

Typography
Sketching and Modeling
Design Theory
Mapping and Diagramming
Conceptual Modeling
Design Research

These are the ones I find myself referring to/thinking about/putting
into practice repeatedly.

Dan

21 Mar 2008 - 5:06pm
Uday Gajendar
2007

> what academic courses have proven to be the most valuable in
> providing you with the conceptual and practical skills to succeed at
> your profession??

What helped me so far:

Graduate design seminar: theory/philosophy/strategy of design thinking

Integrated Product Development (IPD): design + biz + tech "real
project" stuff

Intro to interface design: UI, flows, wireframes, mockups, etc.

Figure drawing (I also took a class on Scientific Illustration, which
I highly recommend!)

and... Shakespeare, Economics, Art History, Intro to Ethics (liberal
arts thinking/writing and broad cultural exposure for problem solving/
ideation, dealing with human drama and politics, which are the center
of any workplace conflict, esp. design!)

Hope that helps :-)

Uday Gajendar
Sr. Interaction Designer
Voice Technology Group
Cisco | San Jose
------------------------------
ugajenda at cisco.com
+1 408 902 2137

21 Mar 2008 - 6:38pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Maybe it is just that titles aren't saying it and it is in the
coursework, but I haven't seen any studio classes.

My two were Drawing/Sketching for Product Design Studio & Product
Design Studio.

Studio courses in general to me are key to ANY design education just
not IxD. They are the cornerstone that all theory and practice should
be built on top of.

BTW, the figure drawing class Uday recommended was a recommendation
made to me as well, as I still struggle with sketching and drawing as
a form of communication. Having this skill to me is something I really
notice I miss a lot in my day-to-day practice.

To that point, one technical class on a prototyping format in 2D
software programming. (I recommend Flash or a high level XHTML,
JavaScript, CSS course.) If you can't prototype your work at the
right level of fidelity (which is sometimes hi-fidelity) you are at a
disadvantage.

-- dave

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22 Mar 2008 - 9:32am
Jeremy Yuille
2007

> what academic courses have proven to be the most valuable in providing you with the conceptual and practical skills to succeed at your profession??

courses I sat
architectural design studio - particularly the 2nd year project:
design a house for gaston bachelard - intro'd me to phenomenology, its
application to design, and the movement between theory and practice
that an idea can take.
design history & theory - 'cause it burst my bubble and made me
realise a *lot* of stuff had already been done
graduate research methods (with a design focus) - got me looking at
research *through* design & reflective practice

courses I taught
design for new environments - teaching graphic designers about users
and ixd - taught me a lot about all three
design for community - the next iteration of the above course, with
focused context - ditto, but in different ways

> what academic courses were not valuable?

the usual skills based "how to use
photoshop/illustrator/software/hardware blah blah" courses (both sat
and taught)
They're pretty useless except that they taught me what was stupid
about this approach.
...and how to use it as camouflage to get ixd in under the radar.

22 Mar 2008 - 7:04pm
Jim Leftwich
2004

This .pdf of a paper:

Lessons from Bauhaus, Ulm and NID: Role of Basic Design in PG
Education
M P Ranjan
Faculty of Design
National Institute of Design
Paper submitted for the DETM Conference at the National Institute of
Design,
Ahmedabad in March 2005.

http://homepage.mac.com/ranjanmp/.Public/Bauhaus_Ulm_NID_2005.pdf

...contains a lot of good information on how design education was
seen in these influential schools. It includes an encapsulation of
the aims of the Bauhaus education and how that evolved as Max Bill
became director at Ulm. I strongly recommend downloading it and
reading it, for all those interested in deeper study of design
education and its history.

The last paragraph in the excerpt below really drives home my
long-standing points regarding "getting the rubber on the road" and
what Dave has pointed out - coached learning to put knowledge into
practice (the studio) being key to crucial higher stage of design
education - synthesis (which was also an educational concept
described by Mortimer Adler). And where we hear endlessly of the
importance of "Design Research," we seldom see the same, if not
greater emphasis placed on individual creativity and vision, and
studio/experienced-honed synthesizing skills.

EXCERPT FROM SECTION ON ULM :

"This took the Ulm contributions well beyond the areas of
explorations conducted at the Bauhaus since these were restricted to
the application in small objects of low
complexity and the Ulm designers were venturing out into the world of
complex products and looking for means to deal with this complexity at
the structural and formal
levels. The Ulm teachers raised the understanding of design to a new
level through their practical demonstrations in the fields of
household products, electrical and
electronic products, automobile and transportation systems and in
industrialized building while establishing unchallenged leadership in
the field of Graphic Design.
Taken together, the live demonstrations of design success across
disciplines and a systematic documentation of their design pedagogy
helped create the Ulm influence across the globe and spread it to
many centers of design education Otl Aichers' models for design
education explorations at Ulm that are beautifully
modeled and represented in Rene Spitz's book "hfg Ulm: The view
behind the Foreground", (page 86) where he compares conventional
education models of the
situated lectures (model 1) with the teacher in a dominant position
holding the students in an array in front and holding forth with his
lecture from a position of authority as compared to an alternate
model where the student group is divided into sub-groups in a
networked structure (model 2) with the teacher playing a facilitating
role and the text caption accompanying both these image
representations is quoted below:

Model 1: Pedagogical principles

Organisation
Lecture
Authority of teacher and of the material
Mass processing
Examinations
Supervisions
Certificates of class attendance
Rigid syllabus and scheduling
From theory to practiced
Knowledge

Model 2: Pedagogical principles

Free community
Free form of instruction
Discussion
Teachers only in auxiliary capacity
From practice to theory
Working independently
Personal interest Incentive
Enjoying the work
Going deeper
Unfolding of personal talents
Experimental learning instead of dead facts
Teaching framework in lieu of syllabus
Independent critical judgment

So this does throw some light on the difference in lecture based
conventional education and the hands on experiential education seen
in the basic design courses at
Ulm and now in many design schools. I also see that while "Design
Research" may be about the creation of "design knowledge" the use
of this knowledge in "Design Action" would be in the form of an
exercise of contextual judgment in design synthesis when numerous
threads of factors from multiple knowledge streams get embedded into
a particular solution. Design education needs such critical-ability
forming processes and not just knowledge gathering skills and
processes."

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24 Mar 2008 - 12:35pm
achong
2006

Narrative and New Media

# Analyze traditional linear narrative multi-media construction
(primarily film and animation)
# Analyze multi-linear multi-media narrative aesthetics and
construction (graphic novels, comic strip, video-game, hypertext,
website, interactive video, interactive installation)
# Plan and produce linear and multi-linear narrative projects.
# Develop a sound understanding of the principles of linear and
multi-linear narrative
# Develop a sound understanding of the emergent aesthetics of new
media environments

Kinesthetic Space

# have enhanced their physical and perceptual awareness of social and
cultural space
# identify how perception and embodiment affect the design of
performances, installations, experience design, or web design.
# possess a broader range of concepts from cultural theory and apply
them to their artistic process
# design and produce a media enhanced performance, installation or
interface with a kinesthetic focus
# write a production document integrating theory and practice

Interaction and Reception

Audience-driven interaction design issues are introduced through
applied projects integrating sub-cultural theory, Marketing and
demographic research as well as Information design modeling within the
context of the knowledge economy. Students expand their communication
design knowledge, skills and abilities with increasingly complex and
ill-defined design problems. A capstone project integrates diverse
theory into an interaction design proposal that begins from a specific
audience and is tested within it to propose meaningful interactions
for the individual user and the cultural groups to which they belong.

Visualizing Interaction

Visualizing Interaction explores the theory and development of visual
thinking and communication skills that students will require to
investigate and communicate the dynamics of interaction. Students will
be introduced to a range of rapid visualization techniques including
2-d and perspective sketching, schematic representation, information
graphics, visual explanations and storyboarding through a progressive
series of visualization projects.

25 Mar 2008 - 12:06pm
Dave Jasper
2008

Thanks for the great information above. I live in NYC and I am
interested in interaction design. I know there are some great full
time programs here (NYU, Parsons) but I cannot commit to full-time
studies. I was thinking of the online interaction design program at
SCAD. Does anyone have an opinion about this program or school?

Thanks for your help.
Dave Jasper

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25 Mar 2008 - 12:29pm
Dave Jasper
2008

Does anyone have an opinion about SCAD and/or the online interactive
design MA there?

Thanks,
Dave

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25 Mar 2008 - 1:49pm
SemanticWill
2007

List member Jon Kolko was a professor there and probably has some good
insight.

On Tue, 25 Mar 2008 10:29:27, Dave Jasper <davejasper at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Does anyone have an opinion about SCAD and/or the online interactive
> design MA there?
>
> Thanks,
> Dave
>
>
>

25 Mar 2008 - 3:58pm
Chris Bernard
2007

I think the school itself is outstanding from a faculty and student body perspective. I have no experience or opinions with their online education programs. Self-paced study in online learning environments can be effective but your brain has to be wired for it correctly. As someone that did a part time program in Chicago at the Institute of Design I can only say that studying design is challenging when you do it part-time. I would imagine online and part-time might be harder unless you're exceptionally disciplined.

Alternatively you can just do what folks like David Armano did and start a blog, I think he got a better education than me by doing that. :)

Chris Bernard
Microsoft
User Experience Evangelist
chris.bernard at microsoft.com
630.530.4208 Office
312.925.4095 Mobile

Blog: www.designthinkingdigest.com
Design: www.microsoft.com/design
Tools: www.microsoft.com/expression
Community: http://www.visitmix.com

"The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed." William Gibson

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Dave Jasper
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 5:06 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Valuable courses for interaction Designers

Thanks for the great information above. I live in NYC and I am
interested in interaction design. I know there are some great full
time programs here (NYU, Parsons) but I cannot commit to full-time
studies. I was thinking of the online interaction design program at
SCAD. Does anyone have an opinion about this program or school?

Thanks for your help.
Dave Jasper

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=27429

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25 Mar 2008 - 6:52pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I would just add that it is the Interactive Design and Game Design
program that does the online courses right now. the Interaction
design program at SCAD is a minor for a bachelor's degree in
industrial design.

Interactive != Interaction ... The former is a craft program about
learning tools for the most part, while the latter is about theory
and design thinking.

SCAD as a school is excellent though. (and a wonderful host to our
previous conference).

I think RPI and Bentley have remote courses you can take.

In NYC, I'm gearing up to be teaching a SmartExperience.org
multi-week course/studio on interaction design. I'm sure Victor will
get the word out as soon as he can. The course is probably going to
happen in May & June if current plans come to pass.

Some of my previous students are on this list, which I'm sure means
they will be honest and forth coming about their thoughts of the
course (which is going to change slightly due to previous feedback).

If there are other courses you think should be taught, go to
SmartExperience.org and let us know what you want the community to
educate you about.

-- dave

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25 Mar 2008 - 2:54pm
Victor Lombardi
2003

On Tue, 25 Mar 2008 10:06:06, Dave Jasper <davejasper at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Thanks for the great information above. I live in NYC and I am
> interested in interaction design....

fyi, Smart Experience in New York City will again host Dave Malouf's
6-week 'Interaction Design for Web Applications' course this May and
June. When it's ready we'll post an announcement on this list and on
our newsletter, which you can sign up for on the site:
http://smartexperience.org/

Victor

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