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.

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.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Solve design problems by practicing a comprehensive interaction design process that includes research, analysis, concept development, formal explorations and synthesis of concepts into prototypes of various fidelities;
  • Show a working understanding of common design tools like Personas, Scenarios, SiteMaps, User-flows, Wireframes, Design Mockups and prototyping;
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the issues involved in designing for a variety of media;
  • Show competence in understanding challenges in shaping interactive systems for emerging technologies;
  • 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;
  • Correctly cite references and acknowledge the work of others;
    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.

Course Assignments

During this course, students will complete three assignments: Two individually and one as a group. The assignments provide practical experience in three central aspects of Interaction Design: Critical application design, practical prototyping, and service design. The assignments run parallel to the in-classroom teaching and are closely tied to the theory, processes, methods, and resources discussed in class. Through the assignments, students will become familiar with principles and practices like human-centered design, iterative process, user research and testing, rapid prototyping, and service design. There will also be time dedicated to in-class assignment work and collaboration throughout the course.

Assignment 1: Application Redesign

Individual: Analyse, re-architect, and redesign an existing mobile application with a specific user and user scenario in mind using design tools and strategies (user testing, personas and persona spectrums, user flows, etc).

Students are expected to perform and document real-life user testing of the existing app, find areas of improvement, and design and test an interactive prototype for a redesign of the app or a specific part of the app.

Assignment 2: Exploring Interaction

Individual: Envision, explore, design, and prototype a new Interactive Discovery that melds a common interaction with a common object to produce an new, unexpected, and sometimes delightful experience. The interaction will be detected by sensors, processed through a computing platform, and turned into an experience based on the computed result.

Students are expected to propose several possible interactive experiences before selecting one, provide a rationale for the experience (what does it do to the end-user) and deliver a rough prototype demonstrating core functionality using a microcomputer platform, a video prototype showcasing how the final product would work in the real world, and a workbook documenting the creative process including an ethical analysis.

Assignment 3: Service Design

Groups of 2-3 students: We’ve all been there, early in the morning, waiting awkwardly for your first cup of coffee while a barista fumbles to try to satisfy 10 customized latte orders. In this assignment we’ll pan out from our usual one point of interaction and use a Service Design approach to envision a new morning beverage experience. Consider more than just optimizing the process but adding delightful moments into this daily ritual. How would a mobile app, artificial intelligence or an other emerging technologies improve a coffee drinker’s experience. Considering the whole experience including the physical, psychological, personal and social interactions.

Complete the assignment with the following process:
Choose your context – a cafe, at home, as you enter a university?

  1. Research: Analyse existing services – What works well? What does not? Where are their opportunities to improve the experience. Perform a comparative analysis, interview possible target audience.
  2. Create: A Journey Map to identify design opportunities, A user flow, Wireframes, a number of prototypes to best convey your concept
    Test: Document your testing process with your prototypes.
  3. Present: Exhibit your concept with a presentation.

Homework and assignment delivery

The course will use a website as the primary delivery system for course homework and assignments. Each student will get a login to the site and is expected to provide each deliverable as a new entry. There is a file size limit of 5mb for each upload. Instructions on how to create entries and upload content will be provided in the first class Tuesday January 9th, 2018. Students and faculty will provide critique on deliverables in the comments section of each entry.

Late assignments

In the event an assignment is not handed in on time without prior approval, a grade demerit of 5% per day will be imposed with a maximum demerit of 20%. That means if an assignment is handed in 3 days late, the student will receive a 15% demerit on the grade for that assignment. If an assignment is more than 14 days late, the student will receive an incomplete.

Class structure and format

This is a classroom based course combining various learning experiences including but not limited to:

  • Lectures
  • Student presentations
  • Discussions, reviews, and critiques
  • Individual, group, and class-wide exercises
  • In-class work on assignments
  • Guest lectures
  • Combined lectures between the two INTD 210 cohorts
  • Field trips

The course load is 6 hours of studio classes per week divided into 3 hours on Tuesday and 3 hours on Friday. For every one hour of class students are expected to spend two hours on homework including study materials, research, and assignment work.

Homework, readings, links to relevant videos, and other materials will be provided on a weekly basis on the class website at Students will be enrolled in a Slack channel where day-to-day asynchronous communication between students, faculty, and classes will take place. All students must install Slack on their computer and mobile devices and familiarize themselves with how these applications work. Slack will be used for in-class critiques and active participation will be monitored. Slack will also be the primary contact point between students and faculty outside of class.

When readings and/or course videos are assigned as homework, students are expected to finish these in advance of class. Students are expected to manage their time and complete all homework and assignments on time. If a deadline cannot be met for any reason, students must provide immediate notification and explanation to faculty.

Attendance and participation in all studio classes is mandatory. Failure to attend a class without proper approval or a reasonable explanation will directly impact grades (see section below for further information). Arriving to class late or leaving early negatively impacts all students and is only acceptable with prior approval or under special circumstances.

The classroom is a work space and students and faculty share the responsibility of creating a productive and respectful environment for everyone present. This includes referring to faculty and students by their preferred pronouns and behaving in a respectful and professional manner at all times.

Resource Materials

Materials needed

  • Updated and fully functional laptop running the latest version of its operating system.
  • Adobe Creative Suite and a productivity suite such as iWork, Microsoft Office or OpenOffice.
  • Digital camera or smartphone with functioning camera.
  • Physical Computing Kit (Arduino, Raspberry Pi and accessories) to be determined.
  • External digital storage such as a flash drive or external hard drive.
  • Sketchbook dedicated to this course.
  • Markers and other tools for sketching.
  • Post-its and cue cards.
  • Emily Carr print and photocopy card.

Prototyping tools

For assignment 2, each student will create a prototype using a microcomputer platform. Depending on previous skill, students will either need an Arduino Uno or a Raspberry Pi, a prototyping kit including a breadboard, various patch cables, sensors, and other tools (screwdriver, pliers, etc). A full list of requirements will be provided before the introduction to assignment 2.

Selected Recommended References

All references can be found on the course website:

Evaluation Criteria

Participation: 10%
Assignment 1: Application Redesign 30%
Assignment 2: Interactive Discovery 30%
Assignment 3: Service Design 30%
Total 100%

Each assignment will be evaluated based on the following formula:

Research: 25%
Conceptual Development: 25%
Visualization/Ideation: 25%
Presentation: 15%
Project management: 10%
Total: 100% for each assignment.

Evaluation Criteria Definitions


Students are expected to actively participate in all aspects of class. This includes asking and answering questions, taking active part in vocal and silent critiques, doing presentations and exercises, and assisting other students when required.


Evaluation criteria for each assignment is provided in the individual extended assignment briefs.


Students are subject to the University Attendance policy. Attendance penalties will be applied to the final grade. For further information see the section on University Attendance below. [generated by the system I think. Otherwise I have a copy.]


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.