Undergraduate Curriculum in HCI

19 May 2009 - 9:47am
5 years ago
11 replies
755 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

I'll bite.

I run the *MINOR* in interaction design here at Savannah College of
Art & Design.

Bill Moggridge recently came out and said that a major as an
undergrad in IxD is not valuable at this time. That the requirements
of the form giving design programs should include IxD in it. And I
can't agree more!

To this point, if you aren't at a design school you will not be
learning to design. You'll be learning how to research, how to
evaluate and how to engineer, but not design. You won't learn about
aesthetics and you won't learn about design thinking and other core
methods and practices towards applied creative thinking.

That being said, if you want to be a designer, I would not (you asked
for an opinion and I'm giving it to you; and people will disagree) go
into an HCI program. I would go to a design school and join a program
in graphic design, interactive design or industrial design to learn
design and then add the concentration of HCI & IxD specific stuff to
that course load through electives.

If you can't go to a out of state or private schools due to cost
(totally reasonable) try to get into a design program like that at
Virginia Tech.

if you can go private or out of state and the technical side is as
important to you as the aesthetic side, then be sure to go to a
school that offers both sides like CMU, UCLA, Stanford, Berkeley, the
list goes on and on. OR! come down here to Savannah!!!! & SCAD. I've
only been here a short time, but I can say confidently you will never
work harder in your life, nor be more ready for the real world. You
get out of it what you put into it.

Anyway, as to specific curriculum I'd put it this way:
Series of studios in Interactive Media and Production (2D)
Series of studios in interactive PRODUCT design (3D)
Research methods (generative/contextual & evaluative)
General HF (erogonomics, cognitive/perception)
Art History & Critique
Design History & Critique
Anthropology/Sociology
Cultural Criticism
Business/Economics/Management
Computer Science & Math
Lit & Composition
Speaking & Presentation

That should do you well right there!

Have fun! and Good Luck!

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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Comments

19 May 2009 - 12:40pm
Bonnie E. John
2008

To echo Dave's point, and Bill's via Dave, an undergraduate degree in
HCI _only_ is probably not a good idea.

To clarify CMU's program. It is not a first major -- you can't just
major in HCI. It is a *second* major. A student has to have a first
major in something else (Design, CS, Psychology, Business, English, Art,
Engineering, etc) and then apply for the second major in HCI, fulfilling
all the requirements for both. This is a reflection of the fact that you
have to be disciplinary in something before you can be inter-disciplinary!

I absolutely agree that you should go to a school that has stand-alone
programs in each of the areas you are interested in. But we believe
there are three sides (not two): Design, Technical (e.g., CS) and
Psychology (both cognitive to understand perception, problem-solving,
learning, etc., and social, to understand the behavior of groups now
that the technology is up to social networking).

Best of luck.
Bonnie

dave malouf wrote:
> I'll bite.
>
> I run the *MINOR* in interaction design here at Savannah College of
> Art & Design.
>
> Bill Moggridge recently came out and said that a major as an
> undergrad in IxD is not valuable at this time. That the requirements
> of the form giving design programs should include IxD in it. And I
> can't agree more!
>
> To this point, if you aren't at a design school you will not be
> learning to design. You'll be learning how to research, how to
> evaluate and how to engineer, but not design. You won't learn about
> aesthetics and you won't learn about design thinking and other core
> methods and practices towards applied creative thinking.
>
> That being said, if you want to be a designer, I would not (you asked
> for an opinion and I'm giving it to you; and people will disagree) go
> into an HCI program. I would go to a design school and join a program
> in graphic design, interactive design or industrial design to learn
> design and then add the concentration of HCI & IxD specific stuff to
> that course load through electives.
>
> If you can't go to a out of state or private schools due to cost
> (totally reasonable) try to get into a design program like that at
> Virginia Tech.
>
> if you can go private or out of state and the technical side is as
> important to you as the aesthetic side, then be sure to go to a
> school that offers both sides like CMU, UCLA, Stanford, Berkeley, the
> list goes on and on. OR! come down here to Savannah!!!! & SCAD. I've
> only been here a short time, but I can say confidently you will never
> work harder in your life, nor be more ready for the real world. You
> get out of it what you put into it.
>
> Anyway, as to specific curriculum I'd put it this way:
> Series of studios in Interactive Media and Production (2D)
> Series of studios in interactive PRODUCT design (3D)
> Research methods (generative/contextual & evaluative)
> General HF (erogonomics, cognitive/perception)
> Art History & Critique
> Design History & Critique
> Anthropology/Sociology
> Cultural Criticism
> Business/Economics/Management
> Computer Science & Math
> Lit & Composition
> Speaking & Presentation
>
> That should do you well right there!
>
> Have fun! and Good Luck!
>
> -- dave
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42102
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

19 May 2009 - 3:15pm
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

*Thank You* so much for including Psychology in your triad!

I don't feel Cognitive, Social (and Neuroscience) don't get the
recognition they deserve when it comes to full HCI perspectives.

On May 19, 2009, at 10:40 AM, Bonnie John wrote:

> To echo Dave's point, and Bill's via Dave, an undergraduate degree
> in HCI _only_ is probably not a good idea.
>
> To clarify CMU's program. It is not a first major -- you can't just
> major in HCI. It is a *second* major. A student has to have a first
> major in something else (Design, CS, Psychology, Business, English,
> Art, Engineering, etc) and then apply for the second major in HCI,
> fulfilling all the requirements for both. This is a reflection of
> the fact that you have to be disciplinary in something before you
> can be inter-disciplinary!
>
> I absolutely agree that you should go to a school that has stand-
> alone programs in each of the areas you are interested in. But we
> believe there are three sides (not two): Design, Technical (e.g.,
> CS) and Psychology (both cognitive to understand perception, problem-
> solving, learning, etc., and social, to understand the behavior of
> groups now that the technology is up to social networking).
>
> Best of luck.
> Bonnie
>
>
>
> dave malouf wrote:
>> I'll bite.
>>
>> I run the *MINOR* in interaction design here at Savannah College of
>> Art & Design.
>>
>> Bill Moggridge recently came out and said that a major as an
>> undergrad in IxD is not valuable at this time. That the requirements
>> of the form giving design programs should include IxD in it. And I
>> can't agree more!
>>
>> To this point, if you aren't at a design school you will not be
>> learning to design. You'll be learning how to research, how to
>> evaluate and how to engineer, but not design. You won't learn about
>> aesthetics and you won't learn about design thinking and other core
>> methods and practices towards applied creative thinking.
>>
>> That being said, if you want to be a designer, I would not (you asked
>> for an opinion and I'm giving it to you; and people will disagree) go
>> into an HCI program. I would go to a design school and join a program
>> in graphic design, interactive design or industrial design to learn
>> design and then add the concentration of HCI & IxD specific stuff to
>> that course load through electives.
>>
>> If you can't go to a out of state or private schools due to cost
>> (totally reasonable) try to get into a design program like that at
>> Virginia Tech.
>> if you can go private or out of state and the technical side is as
>> important to you as the aesthetic side, then be sure to go to a
>> school that offers both sides like CMU, UCLA, Stanford, Berkeley, the
>> list goes on and on. OR! come down here to Savannah!!!! & SCAD. I've
>> only been here a short time, but I can say confidently you will never
>> work harder in your life, nor be more ready for the real world. You
>> get out of it what you put into it.
>>
>> Anyway, as to specific curriculum I'd put it this way:
>> Series of studios in Interactive Media and Production (2D)
>> Series of studios in interactive PRODUCT design (3D)
>> Research methods (generative/contextual & evaluative)
>> General HF (erogonomics, cognitive/perception)
>> Art History & Critique
>> Design History & Critique
>> Anthropology/Sociology
>> Cultural Criticism
>> Business/Economics/Management
>> Computer Science & Math
>> Lit & Composition
>> Speaking & Presentation
>>
>> That should do you well right there!
>>
>> Have fun! and Good Luck!
>>
>> -- dave
>>
>>
>> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
>> Posted from the new ixda.org
>> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42102
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

24 May 2009 - 5:53am
mtumi
2004

Hey Chris -

As someone working in the field and as a Virginia graduate, I would
say I think you can relax for two reasons.

1. Virginia is an excellent school
2. Very few people are assured jobs based on their undergraduate
course of study

There was no undergrad program available for most people working in
the field now, including the people who are writing the books that you
would be reading if there WAS a decent undergrad program. :-)

I majored in Asian Studies (Chinese) and English, and minored in
Oriental Languages (Japanese). I took one computer science class
(Pascal, I think) and dropped it because I had too many credits and
because I thought it was boring. I didn't really get interested in
design at all until after I graduated. I'm not holding myself up as
any sort of exemplar in the field, but I do get paid to do this.

Writing is a critical skill, so you could do worse than to be an
English major, if you end up not liking the HCI dept.

If you maintain your interest in the field and do well in school, I
don't think any doors will be closed to you in IxD as a result of
attending U.Va. You'd be surprised just how many products are out
there in need of better design. They can't all get CM (or SCAD)
grads. :-)

Best of luck -

Michael

On May 18, 2009, at 6:18 PM, Chris wrote:

> Thanks for your time.
>
> I've recently been accepted to the University of Virginia for
> undergraduate work. I like this university a great deal, but I'm
> concerned that because they seem to be lacking in a design department
> (except arts), it may be suboptimal for preparation toward a career in
> Human-Computer Interaction Design.
>
> I have read the obligatory two pages of Google results, as well as
> contacted Mr. Dan Saffer and several others in the past about how to
> go about planning an undergraduate curriculum. Specifically I read
> Dan's Article * on this very topic, but he has since then posted
> more ideas which I am unable to recover in a Google search with the
> time I've allotted for this project today.
>
> In any case, I have taken to the idea of designing an
> interdisciplinary curriculum based on the best programs in practice
> at this time. I've read over Carnegie Mellon's bachelor's in
> HCI**, and I believe many (if not all) of the courses will be
> available at UVA. I will continue updating here as I gather more
> information, but the primary reason for my posting is that I would
> like to gather this community's opinions on the following:
>
> 1) Is HCI or any related discipline a reasonable undergraduate
> degree? Why or why not?
>
> 2) How can this (or a similar) first undergraduate program be
> approached in such a way that it will both provide a strong
> understanding of the work involved in Interaction Design, and grant
> proof of competence (and thus fulfill the requirement of HCI
> undergraduate education on job applications)? What would the
> degree-specific courses look like?
>
> 3) Speaking in terms of UVA specifically, can a degree be conferred
> from a listing of courses that are not tailored specifically to
> design itself? Their courses range from cognitive science to
> computer science to art to human factors and interactivity. I plan
> to provide a list of applicable coursework from their course
> catalog*** as I learn more.
>
> 4) What other thoughts do you have in regard to this subject?
>
> I'm keen on designing for interactivity and I would like my
> curriculum to mirror these interests. Thank you very much for any
> consideration or advice toward a creative solution to these issues.
>
> --Chris
>
>
>
>
>
> * "So you want to be an Interaction Designer"
> http://adaptivepath.com/ideas/essays/archives/000656.php
>
> ** Carnegie Mellon's Secondary Undergraduate Curriculum
> http://www.hcii.cmu.edu/undergraduate-major-curriculum
>
> *** University of Virginia Course Catalog (I will be pulling courses
> primarily from the College of Arts and Sciences).
> http://etg08.itc.virginia.edu/cod.pages/20092/cod.html
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

1 Jun 2009 - 6:59pm
Anonymous

Thank you all for the replies, I'd welcome any other advice. Since
it seems that the field may not currently respect the idea of IxD as
an undergraduate program, I may pursue something in Graphic Design.
I suppose it's good that I'm getting this information now, though
it is somewhat disconcerting.

Other comments or criticisms are welcome. Thanks again.

PS: Does anyone have any experience with any combination of
architecture (in education or practice) and hci?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Jun 2009 - 9:25pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Chris,

I love graphic design, so there is no intended diss in what I'm
about to say and I know it REALLY depends on the specific program,
but out of the common undergraduate degrees out there, the one that
will prepare you the most as an IxD is NOT GD. Hands down industrial
design is better.

1) 80% of what UX practitioners do has been done within some context
of ID for few decades longer.
2) Its relationship to ergo/HF practice is very well established
3) the great programs out there get context of use, and
practice/teach some form of design research (i.e. anthro design).

I don't know if UVA has an ID dept. I know tht VTech's is very
highly regarded. But SCAD (plug time) is just a short 8hr. drive down
I-95 AND!!! it is the only undergraduate program in the country that
offers a minor in Interaction design specifically. AND you can take
the minor from any major: GD, Interactive Design & Game Development
and obviously (and most popularly) Industrial Design.

Of course SCAD isn't for everyone, but I think you should map your
career path 1st and then choose a school instead of choosing a school
1st., IMHO.

BTW, there are other great design or even state schools with design
colleges that I would consider (and many private schools as well).
Take a look at http://iact.in/ to see a little tidbit of some recent
work.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Jun 2009 - 9:34pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Dave is quite bias regarding schools (and he should be). He is absolutely
right on this point.
Mark

On Mon, Jun 1, 2009 at 2:25 PM, dave malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:

> but out of the common undergraduate degrees out there, the one that
> will prepare you the most as an IxD is NOT GD. Hands down industrial
> design is better.
>

1 Jun 2009 - 10:04pm
Stephen Holmes
2009

I'd agree wholeheartedly with Dave - my original Industrial Design
major (back in 1980!) was a natural fit for me when I started UX in
the mid 1990s (starting with embedded control systems before moving
on to web design and web applications).

The thinking and task solving design processes you go through in ID
are very similar to what I now do in UX, and the long term discipline
and project management needed for ID also suits UX projects (which
tend to last a lot longer than most graphic design projects).

I learnt my visual/graphic design skills by taking on some graphic
design electives such as typography and life drawing, but the ID
major stream gave me a great foundation on which to build my career
in web and application design. Loving it ever since!

Good luck!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Jun 2009 - 10:05pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Hi Chris,

I just thought I'd point you to some previous threads from this list
that may be of use in sorting this out:

// jeff

IxD Curriculum
http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=30537

Undergraduate Interaction Degree
http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=26558

Associates Degree in Interface Design
http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=30615

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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2 Jun 2009 - 12:43am
Gaurav Mathur
2008

Hi Chris,

IMHO architecture like Industrial Design provides a great background for
interaction design.

An undergraduate education in architecture provides a firm and broad base to
diversify and specialize into many other fields of design such as
Interaction, Industrial Design, Urban Design, Landscape etc.
Basic education in architecture develops fine spatial articulation and
understanding of users' and anthroprometrics.

I cannot recollect meeting anybody yet, who studied architecture to become
an interaction designer though I know many Interaction Designers who studied
architecture.

I would suggest, getting into a course which you would really enjoy and love
doing.

gaurav

2 Jun 2009 - 2:52pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 1, 2009, at 7:25 PM, dave malouf wrote:

> 1) 80% of what UX practitioners do has been done within some context
> of ID for few decades longer.

I'm going to take exception to this. I think Dave is using his rose
colored glasses filter here. 8^)

Or at least the lack of context is missing. That context is: what kind
of products are you designing?

If we are talking about software related products (web apps, RIAs,
desktop clients, even heavy interactive, Ajax type web sites) where
the screen display is a large part of the work involved, I'd have to
say neither ID nor GD has the general advantage here. Both are fairly
relevant in the design thinking that helps one get into designing
those kinds of products effectively.

The reason I think is this: With software, there's a heavy dose of GD
fundamentals that can get someone very far into the product before the
wall of interaction is hit simply because the very nature of software
is that its rendered on a screen display of some kind. The thing is
that interaction for software is an order of magnitude "less" (for
lack of a good term right now) or at least "contained" than what one
does when building physical products, digital components or not. So I
tend to find ID types generally do adequate when presented with
software design problems, but lacking core GD fundamentals like grid
and composition general relegates their work to be average overall.
The reverse becomes true of GD types. The display is gorgeous, but the
lack of effective interaction design brings the whole thing down to
the average level.

There are obviously exceptions to all of this.

Will this change as software becomes even more dynamic and advanced,
like with the blocks examples of mini-computers talking to each other
as shown at TED? Sure. How far is that out? Anyone's guess at this
stage. But at this point in time, I don't take the position that ID is
a better training ground for software related products. I feel it's
incredibly valuable, but you're going to be better suited by picking
major courses in either ID or GD as a primary focus, then
supplementing those course with at least the fundamentals of the
other, if not full on deep course work across the board if you want to
design software related products.

> 2) Its relationship to ergo/HF practice is very well established

This is certainly true.

> 3) the great programs out there get context of use, and
> practice/teach some form of design research (i.e. anthro design).

This is wash in my opinion. So do great GD programs. In fact, GD is
all about communication and context, which for software related
products translates fairly well

Now, having said all of that, if you are trying to design a product
like Photoshop, I'm not sure which kind of person I'd prefer to have
to design that if building a team at this point in time. I would
expect ID trained designers would fair better with some of the core
fundamentals of it since Photoshop is really *all* interaction and
very little visual, but that has not been my experience. I've found
very people who truly understand what it means to design traditional
tool based software anymore, for whatever reason.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

2 Jun 2009 - 12:52pm
Dennis J Schlei...
2009

Hi Chris,

As regard your 4th "question." I find Jon Kolko (who used to be at
SCAD) resources on design education very helpful. You might want to
check them out to get an idea of the content and topics and how much
they hold your interest.

Design Education
http://www.jonkolko.com/education.php

Good luck

--Dennis

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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