IxD/ Human Centered Design Curricula and Philosophy

17 May 2011 - 12:50pm
5 years ago
6 replies
2389 reads
Jan Dittrich

I am currently dealing with the question what students should be taught in in Interaction Design/ Human Centered Design and how the teaching should be done. For that reason I am in search for curricula and the philosophy behind them. Do you know of any resources?

For HCI there is e.g. the suggestion by the SIGCHI, which provides an extensive overview, but I could not find something like this for a design course.


17 May 2011 - 1:20pm
Dave Malouf

Hi Jan,

I don't think you will find one, though work has been started and stalled from the H/IxD Sig in IDSA.

I know that IxDA has toyed with this idea but has always led to not doing it and I don't disagree. My reasoning behind it is that I don't think there is concensus on how to teach IxD. There are so many different programs and the fuzziness of the language and methods of practice has been transferred into the fuzziness of education.

For my own part, I go by the following philosphy (after that content):

  • Heavily leaning toward studio work but definitely requiring seminar material. We need basic grounding in the material that came before us, but design is learned through doing and through doing with our peers.
  • Balance of both group and individual studio work. I know many of my peers disagree and will only do group work. I disagree with this approach for many reasons, not the least of which s that it makes for really bad portfolios, but also b/c in the real world while we work with others we more often design alone.
  • Interaction is evaluated on aesthetic qualities not through measurement
  • Context is everything
  • Story as a means for both synthesis and final communication
  • "Build it & you will learn" - You have to build it yourself.
  • Visual Communications is everywhere in design, not just the GUI, but you better be able to do that too.


In terms of course content I look at these core elements:

  • Art/Design History - We need to know our past and we need to understand how criticism is constructed
  • Visual Design (see above) - Info Viz & GUI
  • Seminars - HCI, IA, Design, Semiotics & Phenomology
  • Studios: Virtual (GUI), Informational, Product, Space, and Systemic
  • Research Methods: Generational & Evaluative
  • Tools/Skills: SW Prototyping, Phys Comp, Graphic Tools inc. Video, Idea Viz


YMMV, enjoy!

-- dave

17 May 2011 - 3:54pm
Jan Dittrich

I would be interested in how you give studio work assignments. I looked at different methods – some  approaches focus on problems and other focus on the project work itself etc. (see e.g. here

19 May 2011 - 2:55pm
Dave Malouf

Hi Jan,

I have a couple of different studio classes. The easiest to describe is the single project class which is usually sponsored from an outside organization. It is structed as a 10wk professional practice engagement. The other type of studio is also a single project, but where the pieces are much more concretely broken down. In these classes not only are students engaged in the flow of the project work (mostly done outside the studio itself), but are tasked with in studio exercises around specific elements as practice before they go out and try it on the their own work.

My favorite part of teaching the studio is how much I learn from the students and how much they learn from each other.

-- dave

17 May 2011 - 1:21pm
Dave Malouf

BTW, I answered assuming graduate education ... was that a correct assumption?

17 May 2011 - 3:46pm
Jan Dittrich

not only – I search for principles/ideas that can be applied to undergrad education too.

25 May 2011 - 9:50am

Here is a link to Dr. Saul Greenberg's wiki at University of Calgary. Check out his course selection.  Course 681 and higher are graduate, the other two are undergraduate.


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