Teaching “UI fundamentals” at SJSU!

I’ll be back at SJSU this fall teaching an evening course on the fundamentals of interaction design for undergrad ID majors, which should be quite fun! (and tiring too…who knew teaching was so much work! But very enjoyable) I learned a ton on my first go at it last fall and have thus been re-tooling the syllabus accordingly, front-loading the theoretical content and focusing the rest of the semester on hands-on projects, connecting back to the earlier concepts. One major change is that I will be not doing one central monolithic project for all the students… instead I will have a different approach that enables greater variety of solutions and more collaboration across teams. Plus I’ll be having a few guest lectures from folks like Andrei, Cordell, and some others in the valley to provide richer/diverse perspectives on design issues like digital craft, rapid prototyping, and strategic product development.

From the syllabus introductory paragraph:

The central theme of the course is that design is a human-centric problem solving activity,
based upon the ideas of conversation and rhetoric towards achieving simple, focused, elegant solutions. Each week we will delve deeper into what this means in terms of visual design, digital interaction/behaviors, and language/content.

By the end of the semester, students will understand the overall design process, address typical interaction design problems/issues, and be able to generate compelling solutions in a variety of forms: sketches, mock-ups, and prototypes (a movie, a click-through, or more advanced per student skills). Students will also develop a basis for how to critique designs and present themselves effectively.

As you can deduce, my approach to teaching this subject is heavily influenced by my education at CMU, particularly the humanist/rhetorical approach to design as argument, informed by Dick Buchanan’s ideas. This might be a bit heavy for undergrad students but I hope to at least seed the ideas, which may come to fruition later on in their careers. They may not truly get it right away, but surely they will notice the value of the approach soon enough with the projects and critiques I’ll be giving them ;-) Either way, I look forward to advancing such ideas and helping educate another group of young designers…

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