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2005 HCI at Stanford

2005 HCI at Stanford

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Published by: Idyawati Hussein on May 21, 2012
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HCI at Stanford University
Terry Winograd
Computer Science DepartmentStanford UniversityStanford, CA 94305-9035 USA+1 650 723 2780winograd@cs.stanford.edu
Bill Verplank 
CCRMA, Music DepartmentStanford UniversityStanford, CA 94305-9035 USAverplank@ccrma.stanford.edu
We have been working to teach HCI as a design disciplinewithin a conventional university departmental structure.Our experience over the last 15 years has led us to anumber of questions and we are entering into a newcollaboration to create a multi-disciplinary program inDesign.
HCI Education, Interaction Design
Stanford is about to create a new multidisciplinaryeducational program in design, informally known as the“d.school” [1], which will incorporate human-computer interaction design as one of its core elements. It does notyet have formal university status but has obtained initialfunding and we have begun plans to renovate a main-campus building as its home. We are in the process of developing the structures. In its initial stages, the focus will be on professional Masters degree students.The basic premise of the d.school is that students need twocomplementary kinds of training. The disciplinary training provided by conventional departments provides them withdepth in the concepts and experience of a specific field.This gives them intellectual tools, but often misses thelarger context of relevance and integration with other kindsof knowledge, which are required to innovate effectively inthe “real world.” The d.school will complement traditionaleducation with intensive interdisciplinary team projectexperiences to foster the learning of “design thinking.”The model for a d.school course is that a substantive project serves as a focus for students from multipledepartments to work together in a dedicated project space.These project courses provide a context for students tolearn the process issues of user-centered iterativeintegrative design and to apply and refine the skills brought by the various members of a team. A key component of the teaching method is active “coaching” in whichindividuals and teams get ongoing detailed reviews of their work from someone with relevant experience. This is likethe “crit” of traditional design education and although it isrelatively high labor compared to conventional coursemethods, we are able to enlist coaches (or “mentors”) fromlocal industry, to complement the faculty teachingresources.
We began with a strong focus on design, initiating the HCI program with an NSF curriculum development grant thatsponsored a workshop leading to the book 
 Bringing Designto Software
.[2] The majority of courses at all levels are built around team projects in user-oriented design, iterative prototyping, and evaluation of interactive systems. Thereare relatively few courses on specific technologies andtools, and a strong emphasis on the processes of design andinnovation.From the beginning, the program was strongly shaped byour fortunate location, close to a wealth of product firms,research labs, and consultants doing HCI work in SiliconValley. Until this year, there was only one regular facultymember (Winograd) and the teaching was primarily done by lecturers recruited from industry (including Verplank, asa consistent contributor over the history of the program).With the addition of a second CS faculty member this year (Scott Klemmer), we can offer more courses, but stilldepend heavily on the availability of outside resources.In a way we have been bending the conventional educationof our department towards the kind of learning that goes ondesign-oriented schools, such as art, architecture, and someof the recent schools of interaction design, such as theInteraction Design Institute Ivrea (Verplank has served ontheir Steering Committee and as a visiting professor), theRoyal College of Art in London, the ITP program at NYU,and TU/Eindhoven. Those programs position themselvesin the design tradition, centering the education on critiquesof design project work, and guiding students in the production of “portfolios” rather than publications. Theyare structured to lead students to develop the tacitknowledge that goes into doing their profession, muchmore than to give them the explicit articulation of knowledge of the kind in textbooks.We believe there is a role in the mainstream university for an HCI program that is inspired by the ideals of design, butis also grounded in the technical competence of computing,operating within the structures and constraints of acomputer science department. We attempt to combine thedesign approach with other perspectives on HCI, includingthe technical and experimental.For a number of years we have collaborated with DavidKelley of the Mechanical Engineering Design Division in a1
course “Interdisciplinary Interaction Design.” Studentsfrom CS, ME, Communications, Business and other departments have joined for team projects that combined physical and interaction design for a variety of producttypes. Some years we have had sponsorship and participation of experienced designers from industry(Motorola and Electronic Arts) to set directions for the project and gave ongoing feedback to provide students the benefit of their experience. This, along with other similar one-to-one collaborations across departments and schools,inspired us to develop a unified program in the d.school.
We will primarily describe the program in HCI in theComputer Science Department. There is also a variety of HCI-related research and teaching in a number of other departments, including Communications, Education,Management Science and Engineering, and MechanicalEngineering.The HCI program in Computer Science was initiated with asingle course in 1990, and has grown to include programsat all levels. There is no distinct HCI degree, but there areHCI concentrations for the MS and PhD in computer science, and for the undergraduate degree in theinterdisciplinary Symbolic Systems program. Thecurriculum is oriented primarily to the CS Masters program, which is a practice-oriented rather than aresearch-oriented degree.In addition to course work, a number of students areengaged in research. PhD students fulfill the general breadth requirement for the Systems area, and then dodissertation research in HCI, often working with facultyfrom other departments along with those in CS. Noresearch is required for the Masters degree, but a smallnumber of masters students choose to obtain a “distinctionin research” by working on a research project along withtheir courses. We have a small number of PhD students,graduating one a year or so, with approximately 10 MSstudents a year (more during the Internet boom!) and about30 undergraduate Symbolic Systems majors with an HCIconcentration.
COURSESCore Courses
CS 147. Introduction to Human-Computer InteractionDesign
 — Usability and affordances, direct manipulation,systematic design methods, user conceptual models andinterface metaphors, design languages and genres, humancognitive and physical ergonomics, information andinteractivity structures, design tools and environments.Structured around a set of case examples and a teaminteraction design project.
CS 247A. Human-Computer Interaction: InteractionDesign Studio
 —Systematic presentation and experiencewith methods used in interaction design including needsanalysis, user observation, idea sketching, conceptgeneration, scenario building, storyboards, user character stereotypes, usability analysis, and market strategies. Usesa series of design projects, some individual and some team.
CS 247B. Contextual and Organizational Issues inHuman-Computer Interaction
 —(taught by PamelaHinds, in the Dept. of Management Science andEngineering) Focus is on the contextual issues associatedwith designing and using computer interfaces andtechnology, providing insights into, experience with, andways of understanding issues in work and consumer settings that influence the design of computer interfaces.Student team projects develop skills in: observingindividuals and groups of people in context, using modelsof work and other activity to extend their designcapabilities, identifying constraints and tradeoffs ondesigns within the context of use, and observing andworking with people in interdisciplinary design groups.Students do an extended group observation and analysis project.
Advanced Courses
CS376 Research Topics in HCI
--- This course is a broadgraduate-level introduction to HCI research. Topics includecomputer-supported cooperative work; audio, speech, andmultimodal interfaces; user interface toolkits; designmethods; evaluation methods; ubiquitous and context-aware computing; tangible interfaces; haptic interaction;and mobile interfaces
CS378 Phenomenological Foundations of Cognition,Language, and Computation
--- Critical analysis of theoretical foundations of the cognitive approach tolanguage, thought, and computation. Contrasts therationalistic assumptions of current linguistics and artificialintelligence with alternatives from phenomenology,theoretical biology, critical literary theory, and socially-oriented speech act theory. Emphasis is on the relevance of theoretical orientation to the design, implementation, andimpact of computer systems as it affects human-computer interaction.
CS 447. Interdisciplinary Interaction Design
 —(taught jointly with David Kelley in Mechanical Engineering.)Small interdisciplinary teams develop technology prototypes combining product and interaction design.Focus is on software and hardware interfaces, interaction,design aesthetics, and underpinnings of successful designincluding a reflective, interactive design process, groupdynamics of interdisciplinary teamwork, and working withusers.
Diverse Courses
Much of the variety in the program comes from a series of courses offered under a general topic listing2
CS 377. Topics in Human-Computer Interaction
 — Contents change each quarter. May be repeated for credit.Many of the offerings are by people in other departments(cross-listed) or from outside Stanford (as lecturers). Morethan 40 different topics have been covered, some for asingle year, and some on an ongoing basis [3]. This year’stopics were:Introduction to Cybernetics and The Design of Systems;Design for Autism; Human-Computer InterfaceTechnology for Music Control; The Evolution of Ideas andProducts: Pen computing as a case study; ExperimentalResearch on Advanced User Interfaces; Collaborativedesign and research of technology-integrated; MobileInteraction; Interactive Media Design for Kids (grades 4-12) Learning Health and Biology; and Cognition inInteraction Design.A weekly speaker series,
CS 547. Human-ComputerInteraction Seminar
is available freely on line, and iswatched by a large number of people outside of Stanford.Over the past 15 years more than 400 speakers have participated, across a broad spectrum of HCI topics. [4]
With the advent of the d.school and the addition of asecond faculty member we are at a stage where we want toredesign the curriculum. Since we have been influenced bythe design approach throughout the history of the HCI program, our courses have often tended to blend theteaching of broader design methods and paradigms with thetechnical depth more specific to HCI. This, combined withthe loosely controlled content of courses taught byvolunteer outside teachers, has often led to lack of clarity inthe educational goals and in repetition of material. Bycollaborating in the d.school program, we will be able to better structure our HCI-specific courses to develop deeper knowledge of HCI concepts and tools, while takingadvantage of the broader design-oriented courses for learning about general issues and methods in user-centereddesign.
1. How can the long history of teaching in designdisciplines be adapted to the specifics of HCI in auniversity setting (in our case, a School of Engineering).
Much of the approach of the HCI program (and moreso thed.school) has been developed in analogy with traditionaldesign programs. Some interaction design programs, suchas the one at TU/Eindhoven have carefully articulated atheory of design learning [5] and have developed effectivelearning methods for a school oriented as a whole to adesign philosophy. For us to fit this in with the existingdepartmental requirement and curriculum structuresrequires solutions to new problems. What has beensuccessful in other places along those lines and how can it be adapted?
2. How can we appropriately integrate teachers withrelevant design knowledge and experience, who are not ina standard academic career path.
Our program has made extensive use of industry-basedresearchers and designers, both as course lecturers and ascoaches and reviewers in design courses. They have oftendone this with no pay and little formal status in theuniversity. This makes it hard for them to give it a high priority in their own lives and careers. To make designteaching by this group more stable and credible, it isimportant to be able to create full-time or substantial part-time positions that have appropriate status and resources,even though they do not fit the publications-orientedtenure-line professoriate. In the teaching of the arts and professions there are faculty tracks with modifiers such as“studio,” “performance”, and “clinical.” What would acorresponding track be in interaction design and HCI?
3. How do we appropriately integrate knowledge about thelarger context that inspires and constrains interactiondesign?
One of our Topics courses this year (taught jointly withDon Norman) studied the history of pen computing,focusing on the issues that surround the basic technology:user acceptance, markets and channels, developmentmodels, product categories and positioning, etc. Althoughthese are not part of a conventional HCI curriculum, we believe it is important for HCI students to have afundamental understanding and awareness of them, toavoid a naïve view that classical usability is the dominatingissue in design. This experience can’t be taught in student projects, since they aren’t embedded in the real world. Howcan we use case studies (perhaps in the style of businesseducation) to make this knowledge accessible?
4. How are students to be evaluated in design-oriented HCI activities?
A key problem in putting design-oriented classes into theengineering environment is that students find it frustratingto be assessed without clear rubrics of right and wronganswers. How do we create a culture of critiquing in whichrigorous evaluation and guidance can be provided in areaswhere the objective measures are few and far removedfrom the most important qualities of the work?
5. What kinds of materials can be shared acrossinstitutions to enhance the overall level of project-based learning?
With conventional teaching, there are obvious materials toexchange: Writings, references, topic outlines, lectures, etc.In project-based teaching much is learned by the teachersthrough experience, but it is often tacit knowledge that isnot shared in an explicit way: What kind of knowledge banks can we develop in this dimension? They mightinclude ways of using infrastructural tools (e.g., one of our classes this year used Greenberg’s Phidgets to exploretangible interaction); critiquing and evaluation methods;3

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