June 16, 2002
June 16, 2002
June 19, 2002
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Main Menu Session 1526
A Laboratory Experience for Teaching Participatory Design in a Human-Computer Interaction Course Jerry B. Weinberg, Mary L. Stephen Southern Illinois University Edwardsville / Saint Louis University
The ability of computer technology to improve productivity and enhance quality of life rests squarely on how well the technology application fits our conceptual understanding of how things work1. While it is important for a software product to provide the necessary functionality to perform its intended use, it is also important that this functionality be presented in a manner consistent with the user’s understanding. While the software programmer/engineer is concerned with developing reliable, robust, and maintainable software, the software designer is concerned with creating products that fit within the user’s overall activities, enhance productivity, and produce a satisfying experience2, 3. Left to their own devices, computer programmers are apt to take a “systems-centered point of view,” concerned with “how the software works and what parts of it do what” 1, p. 217-218. While it is important for a software product to provide the necessary functionality to perform its intended use, it is also important that this functionality be presented in a manner consistent with the user’s understanding. For example, the DOS operating system provided all the necessary functionality for managing file and folders from a command line. But the desktop metaphor of Apple’s Macintosh and Microsoft’s Windows transformed the personal computer operating system into a product that could be easily used by the most non-technical users because its presentation fits their conceptual understanding of managing files and folders.
In the area of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research, a number of approaches have evolved to meet this challenge. These include User-Centered Design, Participatory Design, and Customer-Center Design. Though they differ in techniques, the common factor is interacting and collecting data from users as a basis for design. Each finds ways to interject the designer in the user’s world and the user in the designer’s world in order to develop a shared conceptual model of the task and the context in which it is being done4. This paper focuses on the development of a curriculum for a HCI course that uses a practical, experiential learning environment for this important aspect of design. In particular, this paper describes the inclusion of a long-term design project with volunteer users and the creation of a low cost lab to support team design activities and user interaction in the HCI course∗.
II. Overview of HCI Course
In the Computer Science curriculum at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), the HCI course is a required course. Course enrollment is usually between 15 and 30 students. The prerequisite to the HCI course is “Interaction Programming,” a course that provides the students with an understanding of event driven programming, graphical user interfaces (GUI), and one
∗ For course materials and additional information please visit www.cs.siue.edu/hci
Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2002, American Society for Engineering Education
Stephen, M., & Weinberg, J. (2002, June), Laboratory Experience For Teaching Participatory Design In A Human Computer Interaction Course Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. https://peer.asee.org/10782
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