Difference Between a Master's Course in Interaction Design & HCI

6 Sep 2010 - 2:18pm
5 years ago
2 replies
3206 reads

Can anyone please explain to me what are the basic differences between a Master's Course in "Interaction Design" and HCI?? What would be the course difference between the two??



6 Sep 2010 - 6:19pm
Dave Malouf
This answer will evoke as many exceptions as there are examples proving the rule, and other examples that are hybrids, but here is my take at the spirit of it. HCI programs are grounded primarily as a combination of cognitive psychology & computer science. They are usually at home in either of those departments. The professors in these departments are highly academic in nature & all that goes with that. The work that students do is primarily focused on research techniques & practice in regards to human beings & digital technologies. There is a strong focus on inventing new paradigms of interaction & evaluating them. Invention is often done using generative research techniques. Work is primarily done as individual & group work, but not in the studio environment as the departments themselves don't have the proper facilities for studio (e.g. Pin up spaces) & their professors were themselves not reared in studio environments. Further the programs do not generally connect to other design disciplined or art history/criticism. IxD programs are in design/architecture schools or design/architecture departments. They are studio based & while generative & evaluative research are taught, the primary goals are not around innovation or invention, but providing designed solutions ithin prescribed (or research determined) contexts. How you create is probably one of the biggest differences, w/ a focus on thinking through making/tinkering. Many IxD programs today also don't focus on digital solutions any longer or even technology, but by looking at where humans behave in reaction yo any stimuli & the behaviors that being design success to any problem space design the appropriate solutions using any & all appropriate media. Also programs that are MFAs vs MAs will also require course work in art history & usually require both a portfolio demonstrating visual comma ication skills & further vizcom skills & methods as part of the final degree. I'm sure a slew of people are now going to say, "but my HCI program did X!" yhiry will be right as like I introduced my answer I'm expressing the ends of a co tinuum & not absolute differentiation. That is to say "your mileage may vary". - Dave Ps. If you are asking for advice, I sit in the pues of the church of design, so I will always favor a design degree if you want to be a designer. If you want to be a design researcher (true specialist) then in suggest an HCi degree. There are exceptions & I know solid designers from HCi programs, but they had design degrees b4 they went the HCi route.
6 Sep 2010 - 11:45pm

Thank you Dave. It seems like "design degree" is what I want. Just was confused with the two. Thanks a lot.

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