- Course instructor is Edward Lank. Link to his webpage from here. The course TA is Matthew Kay. You can find his email on the School's website under people/grad students.
CS 489 is a generic course number, used in Computer Science to describe new courses or infrequent courses. These courses are offered either to test-run new courses that might be a worthwhile addition to our school, or to allow visitors to teach courses that align with their interests.
This section of CS 489 is a human-computer interaction course, and is a new course that is being piloted to determine eventual demand. The course is project-focused, and lecture material, group assignments, individual assignments, and exams are all designed to complement your project. The purpose of the course is to encourage you to think about the design of computer programs in a new way, and to engage in a design process that allows you to internalize a set of practices that have been shown effective in software design. Some novel aspects of the course include:
- For the course project, each small group of 3 - 4 students will be designing completely different computer systems. This adds to your enjoyment of the course, as you have the opportunity to examine and learn from the work of others.
- Each group selects a target user group for whom they will perform system design. They then interview and observe the target group to learn something about how their target user group works now, and then design specficially for that user group. This user group is a set of real people, not some abstract specification written by a professor.
- In the course, the primary goal is not to build something. The goal is, instead, to use an established process, called Contextual Design, to describe an artefact that should be built, and then to prototype that artefact. As a result, the first 9 weeks of the semester are done on paper.
A word of caution. While this course is enjoyable, and has been well-received by students, it's also a course that has a significant workload. The workload is not a result of implementation of software; instead, the challenge you will face is to make time to meet users, talk to them, observe them, collect data, and discuss designs with users. As one student said, "Just leaving campus to talk to these people can kill a whole day, or a whole weekend."
To get a basic feel for the design process, you can check out InContext's website