My Courses – IV: An Outline of a Proposed Final Year Elective Course on Human Computer Interaction for Computing Students

Posted on May 14, 2012

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Author:   Sanjay Goel

Here, I give a brief outline of an elective on HCI  that I shall teach to final year engineering students majoring in computer science or information technology at JIIT.  

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1. Preemble: HCI is a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them. Hence, in this course, ICT will primarily be treated as Interaction and Cognition Technology and HCI will be treated as making of substrates for human activities. During the course, we shall consider HCI as acronym for two phrases – Human Computer Interaction (the goal) and also Humour, Creativity, and Innovation (the approach).  

2. Prerequistes: The students are expected to have the following competencies: 

    2A.   A sufficient background and passion for integrating and applying at least any two of the following:

                                 I.            C/C++/Java/Python/Processing programming

                                II.            Microcontroller programming

                              III.            Web services

                              IV.            Mobile/ubiquitous computing 

                               V.            Location-based services and/or advanced sensing systems

                              VI.            Image processing/Computer Graphics etc.

                            VII.            Intelligent systems

     2B.  A genuine interest to engage in service/system/experience design work that requires good understanding of human behaviour and discover unmet needs in the context of formal/informal work and/or entertainment.

3. The students will be required to take up project work to apply some of above technologies to create technology enabled interactive environments/prototypes for any application domain, e.g.,   writing, argumentation, documentation, engineering, education, research, decision making, disaster management, ICT4D, sustainability, healthcare, visual  and performing arts, design, visualization, entertainment,  museum, public spaces,  social computing.

4.   Syllabus:   The course content will broadly cover but not be limited to the following topics:

    4a. Theories and models. Selected theories from the disciplines of communication, design, cognitive ergonomics, consumer behaviour, motivation, aesthetics, usability, creativity, and systems thinking with clear relevance to the design or study of user experiences and user centric interactive systems/services.

    4b.  System, service, and experience design. Methodologies, tools, techniques, for building systems, services, and/or environments to support Human-Human and/or Human-Artifact interaction of various forms using various technologies, e.g., web, mobile and ubiquitous computing,  location-based services, advanced sensing systems, agent systems,  augmented reality,  virtual worlds, etc.

    4c.   Domain-specific applications. Studies, theories, models, designs, mechanisms, and systems addressing diversified application domains.

    4d.   Empirical investigations. Research methods and tools to study human activities and discover unmet needs and also to study user experiences, technologies, practices, or use of interaction technologies.

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My interest in this area is primarily grounded in the personal experiences  in designing the HCI for many interactive multimedia projects at IGNCA during 1995-2002.  At Cultural Informatics Lab (CIL) of IGNCA, we committed ourselves to enhacing access to cultural resources through digital media.  Through this UNDP funded project, we  nearly pioneered (especially in India) to apply information technology to the creative world of art and culture. We dreamt  to liberate the book from the constraints of the paper.    This experience gave me the opportunity to explore this area through reading, brainstorming, experimenting, and reflecting.  In 1995, Breda Laurel’s ‘Computer as theatre,’  Walter Ong’s ‘Orality and Literacy,’  Newman and Laming’s ‘Interactive Systems Design’,  many papers in MIT’s journal – Leonardo,  became some of my initial references in area.  Opportunity to lead the design of many projects   helped me to  develop a generic  three layered  interaction model of cognition supoport systems (http://ignca.nic.in/clcnf120.htm).  It also included an interactive  multi-dimensional cognitive map.   Unfortunately, this model could not be completely realised in terms of fully finished products.    Of course we made many mistakes and ended up exploring and learning  more than completing the projects. 

Further, my interest in computer graphics, computer vision,   learning, and human behaviour will naturally influence  my choice of the  content of this course. 

I dedicate this course to the great memories of   highly interdisciplinary work at CIL, IGNCA  that involved many learned cultural  experts (Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Prof. Filliozat, Prof. Maxwell, Prof. Nagaswamy, Prof. Saskia Kersenboom, etc.),   my team of creative graphic designers and  computer programmers, and many learned  UNDP consultants like Prof. Alistatir Sutcliffe, Prof. Gary Marchionini etc.   

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Earlier work:

1.  Sanjay Goel,  A Model Design for Computer based cognition Support Systems, International Confrence on Multimedia for Humanities, IGNCA, 1999 (http://ignca.nic.in/clcnf120.htm).   

2.    Sanjay Goel,  Multimedia For Cultural Documentation and Learning, http://slidesha.re/fTwVxf, (Presentation made at Indo-US S&T Forum Workshop on Computer Applications in Archaelogy, 2002).

3.  Sanjay Goel, Mukul K. Sinha, Virtual Archaeo-heritage Exploratorium, http://slidesha.re/fcbtWl, Presentation made at Indo-US S&T Forum Workshop on Digital Archaelogy, 2005.

4.   Sanjay Goel, Designing Interactive Systems – Looking beyond Cognitive domain, http://slidesha.re/fqBYmh, (presentation made at INCITE, 2007, Indo-European workshop)

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