Further Education in HCI (was: JOB: Opsware)

20 May 2004 - 7:58pm
451 reads
Kevin Cheng
2004

I think that brings up some really interesting discussion points.

1) Should a person be doing a Masters or PhD in HCI or related field without
experience in industry?

I think it's always valuable to have experience to give you real world
perspective and think about how to apply things as you're going through a
program. Moreso Masters than PhD.

2) Should a PhD have more "right" to be Director of Product (or let's say
Director of Design even)?

Obviously, that questions has gross generalizations and individuals differ
but to take the generalization further, I think PhDs have some level of
minimum research experience and awareness of what's out there in terms of
other research being done or previously done. This is important when you're
in a company and position that's innovating. So if, say, you are headlining
the effort to create a new dashboard like iDrive, I think those attributes
are valuable. If, however, your job is more of a bread and butter
established product where you're simply directing feature releases, maybe a
business sense is more important.

That at least is the basis with which I chose to go back to doing a Masters.
I feel confident in my abilities as a professional but I felt the "next
level" required some more grounding in theory. Which brings me to the next
question:

3) Does a Director of UX/Product/Design level need a PhD or Masters for the
credibility? If so, in what field?

We can all say we don't care about that piece of paper but when it comes
down to it, companies do care. The other half of my reasoning for returning
to school - I don't learn as much as other students because I've done a lot
of the stuff first hand but in the end, there's a piece of paper to give me
credibility in a more established role. Silly and unfortunate but I think
that's the state we're in. Really, it's the same as an MBA - what does that
degree really mean these days?

Lastly, a question on Andrei's assertion:

4) Is this statement true: " Most Directors of Product, or director level
people, that I know have a Masters or less in education, not a PhD, and it
seems about 2/3 have formal business school training."?

I ask not because I don't believe Andrei (I know he's guessing, that's what
"seems" means) but because I want to know if anyone on the list might have
insight into this.

Kevin Cheng (KC)
OK/Cancel: Interface Your Fears
kc at ok-cancel.com
www.ok-cancel.com

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Andrei Herasimchuk
Sent: Friday, May 21, 2004 1:22 AM
To: 'Interaction Discussion'
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] JOB: Opsware

On May 20, 2004, at 4:22 PM, Kevin Cheng wrote:

>> Anyone who has a masters or PhD here should have the Director of
>> Product reporting to them.
>
> I'm curious why you think this? CMU, Stanford and numerous other
> programs
> are churning out HCI masters graduates every year, many of whom go
> into the
> program straight from undergrad and thus have no experience.

I was being a bit cynical, and reacting more to the PhD part than the
masters part. I'm not sure if I'm amused or saddened by the notion that
people who spend the amount of time in school for a Masters or PhD in
HCI or whatnot come out the other end reporting to people who spent
either the same amount or less amount of time in school but who have
control over what those HCI PhDs are expected to do. (Most Directors of
Product, or director level people, that I know have a Masters or less
in education, not a PhD, and it seems about 2/3 have formal business
school training.)

Just seems kind of backwards. If you have that level of training,
especially a PhD level, you should be in charge of the product's
design/creation. And if you don't have the experience, then what's the
point of the masters or PhD degree in the first place? That what it
seems like to me. Maybe the whole thing speaks more to the business
climate we work in more than anything else.

Andrei

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