Course Description

Download the Course Outline PDF here

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This design studio allows for varying degrees of concentration synthesizing 2D, 3D and 4D Design studies. Community – based and collaborative projects enable students to identify appropriate and preferred design practices, and synthesize these design approached within screen, video, product, digital media, interaction, and environmental 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. Some of the project work is
collaborative, including the possibility of working with non-Design majors, developing students’ multidisciplinary, team working and project management skills.

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: a digital fiction narrative; conceptualization and prototype of a smart object; and a mobile application for dissemination of nutritional information by the Ministry of Health.

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 play (experiment) 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.

Resource Materials

All supported course material and additional resources for the course will be posted and archived at
this site:

Evaluation Criteria

Participation 10%
Attendance 10%
Project 1: Digital Narrative 25%
Project 2: Meta Product 25%
Project 3: Health Application 30%
Total Grade 100%
Research 20%
Conceptual Development 20%
Visualization/Ideation 20%
Presentation & Documentation 30%
Project Management 10%
Total Grade 100%

Evaluation Criteria

Project Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria 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.
Achieving an expressive unity between meaning and form.
Designing solutions that arise from insight, experiment and imagination.
Visual form:
Achieving engaging, meaningful visual 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 principles:
Thoughtfully designing the interactivity of a piece. Does the work invite participation, reading, is it clear, can the
desired information be apprehended easily. Is the piece allow for intuitive navigation.

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

Process Documentation
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. The documentation of the project process should include:

  • Summary of research (250 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)
  • 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.

Grade Scale

Letter Grade Grade Points Percentage Description
A+ 4.33 95-100 Distinguished Achievement
A 4.00 90-94 Outstanding Achievement
A- 3.67 85-89 Excellent Achievement
B+ 3.33 80-84 Very Good Achievement
B 3.00 75-79 Commendable Achievement
B- 2.67 70-74 Good
C+ 2.33 65-69 Competent
C 2.00 60-64 Satisfactory
C- 1.67 55-59 Pass
D 1.00 50-54 Marginal Pass
F 0.00 0-49 Fail
P/F 0.00 Pass/Fail
I Incomplete Grade
W Withdrawal from a course

Additional Policies and Information

University Attendance Policy

You are required to attend all classes. Absence and lateness will affect your grade for the course. Therefore, you should be aware of the following criteria:
You will receive a 5% penalty for each absence and a 2.5% penalty for each time that you are late for class. You will be considered late if you arrive after attendance is taken, when the class has formally begun. Furthermore, you are subject to the same penalty if you leave the session before it has properly ended. Being more than one hour late is equivalent to being absent. More than three unexcused absences in a class will result in failure of the course. To formally excuse an absence due to illness or emergency, students must phone or send an email to the instructor by the end of the day. You may be required to give proof of a legitimate excuse, such as a doctor’s note. It is also your responsibility to determine what you missed and what you must do to complete any assigned work.

University Participation

100% attention is required during critiques and meetings. Thoughtful and serious engagement, critical thinking and sensitivity regarding other students and their work are crucial. You are expected to be present and engaged in every class, and well prepared for every meeting and critique.

Academic Accommodations

The Disability Service Office provides services to and prepares Accommodation Notices for students with speech, hearing, visual, physical, mental health and neurological disabilities (learning, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders), as well as chronic health conditions and acquired brain injury. Faculty will accommodate students who have established their eligibility by evaluation with Disability Service and who present an Accommodation Notice at the beginning of the semester, and no later than three weeks before the first scheduled test/exam or assignment requiring accommodation. Students cannot expect accommodation unless they establish their eligibility and register with Disability Service. If you have a disability and have not yet registered with Disability Service, please contact Heather Mitchell, Disability Service Coordinator, or 604.844.3081.

University General Policies

  • Students must maintain an appropriate standard of conduct. They must demonstrate respect for all persons on the campus, and display mature conduct. All students must abide by the university’s Student Conduct Policies and the university’s Harassment Policies (see Emily’s A to Z). Failure by students to maintain appropriate standards of conduct may result in the initiation of disciplinary action by the university. Instructors are responsible for managing the classroom. Students whose behaviour is disruptive, challenging or intimidating will be addressed and may be excused from class. If the behaviour continues, disciplinary measures (see Emily’s A to Z) will be employed.
  • The instructor may modify the material or schedule specified in this outline. Any changes will be announced in class.
  • Late assignments or projects may be penalized as specified in the course outline.
  • It is plagiarism to present someone else’s work or ideas as one’s own. Plagiarism may result in failure of an assignment, of the course, and, if repeated, expulsion from the university. Assistance with the ethical practices of attribution and documentation is available from the Writing Centre or online at
  • A student may be required to provide proof of a legitimate excuse, such as a doctor’s note, for illness or absence which causes any missed assignments, tests, projects, exams, etcetera, or for absences of more than two classes. At the discretion of the instructor, the student may complete the work for a prorated grade.
  • Students must demonstrate that they understand and practice the safe use of tools and other equipment, materials, and processes used in their course projects. They must conduct themselves in a responsible manner that does not endanger themselves or others, and must adhere to area procedures regarding authorized operation of equipment, handling of materials, and use of space.
  • Professional counselling and therapy is available at no charge to students who have concerns of a personal nature. Information shared is held in strict confidence. To make an appointment, call 604-630-4555 or email or come in to the Counselling Centre.
  • The Writing Centre is a service that Emily Carr provides to all students, staff, and faculty from every program area who would like to improve their reading, writing, critical thinking, and research skills. This is a free, voluntary, and confidential service. Writing Centre instructors can help you at every stage of your writing, from developing ideas to final revision. This applies to any kind of writing, from a three line artist’s statement to a twenty page academic paper. Please check out the Writing Centre blog site for more information and to sign up for an appointment Telephone: 604-629-4511; Coordinator: Heather Fitzgerald
  • Email is an official means of communication with Emily Carr students by faculty, administration and other service providers on campus. Email routing will be confined to the university’s internal communication network, and delivered to an officially assigned and verifiable University Email Address. All users are bound by the provisions of Emily Carr Policy 415: Code of Conduct for Appropriate Use of Information Technology Facilities and Services (outlined on the Emily Carr website and in Emily’s A to Z). Instructors will outline and detail the expected extent and parameters of email use in the course in the first class, and clarify the timeframe for checking and responding to emails.
  • Emails will be answered in a timely manner, usually within 48 hours after receiving the email. Emails will not, however, be answered on weekends or the day before an assignment is due if the email relates to the assignment.