Course Outline

This design studio allows for varying degrees of concentration in the areas defined by the field of Interaction Design. Community-based and collaborative projects enable students to identify appropriate and preferred design practices, and synthesize these design approaches within digital media and interactive contexts. Core design skills from previous semesters are the basis for innovative and creative risk-taking that embraces the design process and expands terrain between disciplines including: design research, marketing, ethnographic considerations; conceptual and creative skills; participatory design, cognitive and usability factors; writing for proposals and reports; oral presentations and visualization. Students develop autonomous and individual design practices, with the aim to increase independent approaches to methodologies and design practice in the final semesters of study.

Course Content

This course is the venue where skills learned in other courses contribute in substantive ways to challenging interdisciplinary design projects. Through lectures, short in-class charrettes, co-creation workshops, project development cycles, tutorials, and group critiques, students will build their skill sets as designers. Students will practice a comprehensive design process including in-depth research and analysis, divergent and convergent thinking, conceptual and formal explorations, and multiple presentation techniques to create designs that are functional and expressive, and address the needs and interests of a specific audience. Projects this term will include: an interactive poster; designing to 3D prototype of an interactive sculpture; and exploring new design opportunities in ubiquitous computing.

By the end of the course students should have furthered their understanding of opportunities inherent in the practice of communication & interaction design, especially in the areas of emerging media and design as an agent of social change. The course should help students appreciate that:

  • The discipline of interaction design is versatile and can be applied to diverse areas
  • Professionalism and a rigorous design process are mandatory in the practice of design
  • Curiosity, thoughtfulness and a willingness to experiment (play!) are the basis of creativity and innovation.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Solve interaction design problems by practicing a comprehensive design process that includes research, analysis, concept development, formal explorations and synthesis of concepts in visual form;
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the issues involved in designing for a variety of media;
  • Show competence in digital literacy, understanding specific issues and challenges in shaping communication models for emerging technologies.
  • Respond to audiences, contexts and content requirements in shaping design decisions;
  • Move flexibly between different modes of thought (convergent/divergent, concrete/abstract, logical/intuitive) in responding to design problems and opportunities;
  • Research and write design proposals, and document projects so as to reflect a personalized creative process;
  • Develop complex projects iteratively, from conception to completion;
  • Correctly cite references and acknowledge the work of others;
  • Use skills, tools and technologies appropriate to each project, and present work effectively in visual and verbal form;
  • Manage time efficiently and work effectively in teams or individually, as required;
  • Assess their own and others work realistically, contribute to discussions and respond constructively to feedback;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the ethical issues involved in research, particularly as they apply to human subjects;
  • Work with honesty and integrity.

Evaluation Criteria

Research 25
Conceptual Development 25
Visualization/Ideation 25
Presentation 15
Project Management 10
Total Grade 100

Evaluation Definitions:

Research questions are appropriate, carefully framed and insightful. Sources are varied and reliable; scope and depth of research suits the project and time available. Research findings are selected and evaluated according to relevant criteria.
Design shows evidence (through the process books) of being informed and improved through research and testing.

Conceptual Development:
Playfulness, experimentation, and intelligent development result in a wide range of possible solutions; the design process is both convergent and divergent, analytical and synthetic, as the project phase requires.
Many iterations are considered and evidence of this is documented in the process books. More importantly, reflective notes show how ideas connect and why certain directions were chosen over others. Make connections.

Communication: Ensuring that the form of the message resonates with the intended audience.

Eloquence: Achieving an expressive unity between meaning and form.

Originality: Risk-taking; designing solutions that arise from insight, experiment and imagination.

Visual form: Achieving engaging, meaningful solutions. Typography demonstrates a good understanding
of normative and expressive principles; images and other visuals illuminate ideas clearly and elegantly.

Technical accomplishment: Using technology competently and in a way that is appropriate to concept,
audience, objectives and visual form.

Effective interaction: Considering the designed experience in interacting with the piece. Does it invite reading, is it clear, can the desired information be apprehended easily.

Note: Research and Conceptual Development and Visualization are assessed by evaluating your Design Process Book, which must be submitted with each project for grading. See description below.

Giving a convincing explanation and defense of work; effective, professional presentation.

Project management:
Meeting deadlines; developing projects iteratively rather than at the last moment; organization of tasks using such tools as a Gantt Diagram.

Design Process Book
Students demonstrate the course learning competencies by recording their design process and methods
in a process book which forms an integral component of the course grade. It consists of:

Documentation of the project process including:
Summary of research (2500 word written document summarizing literature and providing the context 
for your proposed solution. Must include a bibliography. Include any primary research such as interviews or testing, in the biblio. APA format)
Visual research (the visual context for your work, context, moodboards, etc)
Exploration (sketches/drafts/layouts/ideation);
Refinement and conceptual development (show the evolution of the idea)
Final proposed solution (images of work with textual rationale)
Self-assessment: reflections on processes, methods, ideas, solutions and management strategies.
(what worked, what didn’t, what you might do differently next time)
Important: the purpose of the process book is to show a reader the evolution of the idea/design. It is not enough to simply show images, you need to use words to draw parallels, to show how research influenced design, to point out strengths and weaknesses of various directions. Essentially you are telling the story of your project.