foundation classes/topics for IxD education

13 Dec 2004 - 10:27am
9 years ago
5 replies
534 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

Whether formal or informal education is an important part of anyone
pursuing a career, especially one like interaction design that has so many
elements to it. In pursuing my own formal education I came across a book
called "The Elements of Design" by Gail Greet Hannah. The book is part
chronicle and part instructional text for anyone interested in abstract
3-D design, which is a primary component of Industrial Design. The book
outlines 6 core attributes of any 3-D design solution and calls these the
foundation courses. I don't have the book w/ me right now, but they are
something like, line, volume, space, color, value, and ??? Oy! some
reading retention, eh?

As I was coming in on the subway this morning to work, I was wondering
what would be the foundation classes for IxD like these. do any of the
cirriculums out there have such a process as foundation? I know there are
people on teh list from CMU and Ivrea and I would be interested to hear
it. The foundation I'm talking about is for both Grad and Undergrad in
IndDes @ Pratt.

What I find so interesting about the foundation classes is that the first
year where these classes take place, nothing "useful" is created. The
functional is removed from the classes and all that is done is for the
purpose of exploration, experience, collaboration, and learning to control
these properties so that when you do add use and functionality to the
equation, there is a level of mastery in these properties so they can move
to the background of the process instead of being more conscious and
central in focus.

When attempting to apply this to IxD I get a little stuck. I'm not sure if
these are analogous to the IndDes version, but these are the areas worthy
of exploration in interaction design (or the design of behavior).

1. time - how to master time
2. selection - the organization and presentation of objects to be selected
3. I/O - input/output into digital systems
4. digital systems (duh!) - what is a digital dystem
5. research methods

When I look at this list though, they don't all seem analagous.

Anyway, these are some thoughts.

-- dave

Comments

16 Dec 2004 - 9:38pm
Chad Jennings
2004

David,
The Institute of Design ( http://www.id.iit.edu/grad/welcome.html ) has
what they call their "Fundamental Core sequence"... basically the
required courses. These apply across degree tracks of communication
design, product design, and design planning. There is not a specific
"interaction design" track, but a good number of graduates go to IxD
or UX jobs. This is on a graduate level only.

A few are applicable in more of a traditional HCI sense, such as
Cognitive Human Factors. Others, such as Design Planning are more
business or product planning-centric, but considering a good portion of
our work comes down to organizational management as well as product
definition these have proven beneficial.

The pragmatic side of actually "making an interface" is missing from
this list. However, the studio classes (at the time one was called
"Multimedia" although I suppose that sounds dated now)... Anyway, the
multimedia class format was based on the traditional "foundational"
approach of the Bauhaus and I suppose many programs since then. Where
the projects were broken in foundational components such as Image,
Vector, Audio, Motion, Text. Students would work on projects devoted to
a single foundation and then bring it all together with a final project
that uses all foundations at the end.

I think creating an analogous curriculum for IxD is quite interesting.
I'll have to ponder it a bit. Maybe these can help serve as a starting
point for the discussion.

514 Design Planning
Introduces students to the context of design planning. It includes a
discussion of the general forces acting upon an organization --
competition, technological developments, channels of distributing
information and products, and how to understand the people who use
design. Particular attention is paid to how, within the context of all
of these forces, design can benefit an organization.

516 Observing Users
Introduces the rationales, strategies, and methods of user research:
ways of putting ethnography and participant-observation to systematic
use in developing design solutions that make sense to users because
they are based on a deep understanding of the contexts where users live
and work. Topics include the development of user research and related
disciplines (anthropology, sociology, psychology); semiotics, cultural
analysis, and "context research"; workplace studies and participatory
design; research planning, recruitment, and sampling methods; video
ethnography; interviewing and discourse analysis; performing research
on tight time schedules, and communicating results effectively.

517 Design Languages
Covers the rhetoric of design case making using verbal, quantitative,
visual, and spatial modes of persuasion. Includes a survey of document
and presentation types useful in the product development process

533 Design Analysis
A survey of design methods from many fields concentrating on problem
definition, description, and analysis. Among the topics covered are
diagrammatic techniques for process and organizational description,
semantic differential techniques, means/ends analysis, and
morphological analysis.

51 Cognitive Human Factors
Presents the advanced ideas and methods that can be used to design
information and products that fit the cognitive abilities of people.
Important topics include the design of information that corresponds to
mental models of users, control systems that help users develop
appropriate mental models, and the analysis of different methods of
representing information.

552 Social Human Factors
Presents advanced ideas and methods used to design information,
products, and environments that fit the social patterns of groups.
Particular attention is paid to understanding and designing systems
that support group work.

553 Cultural Human Factors
Presents ideas and principles used to understand the relationship
between design and cultural values and behavior. Emphasis is placed on
designing information and products for people who are from
significantly different cultures.

554 Visual Language
Discusses pictures, abstract symbols, text, numbers, diagrams,
three-dimensional form, and other sign systems. Particular attention
is paid to the relative advantages of each representation system for
conveying different types of information.

Cheers,
Chad

Smart Design
www.smartdesignusa.com

On Dec 16, 2004, at 2:37 PM, David Heller wrote:

> As I was coming in on the subway this morning to work, I was wondering
> what
> would be the foundation classes for IxD like these. do any of the
> cirriculums out there have such a process as foundation? I know there
> are
> people on teh list from CMU and Ivrea and I would be interested to
> hear it.
> The foundation I'm talking about is for both Grad and Undergrad in
> IndDes @
> Pratt.
>

.

17 Dec 2004 - 12:43pm
Dan Saffer
2003

CMU's IxD program has a suite of required classes, but only two of them
I would really call foundational. Communication Design Fundamentals
teaches basic typography, composition, and modeling skills for those
who enter the program without a formal Design degree. The second class
is called something like Programming for Designers, which teaches the
basics of programming, using ActionScript (and previously Java) as the
platform for learning about basic (not BASIC) programming.

I should note that the introductory course for interaction design that
John Zimmerman teaches starts with what he calls the basic building
block of interaction design: the widget. He defines a widget as any
module of a system that does two things: takes user input (directly or
indirectly) and provides a system response to that input. It's a good
place to begin.

Dan

Dan Saffer
M. Design Candidate, Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.odannyboy.com

20 Dec 2004 - 6:27pm
Dan Saffer
2003

Here's something interesting I found on this nearly-dead topic. Chris
Pacione, CCO of BodyMedia taught an interaction design fundamentals
course from 1997-2000 at CMU and wrote a paper about it:

http://loop1.aiga.org/documents/edition001/teachinginteraction/
01_tchg_meaning.pdf

What's interesting is the two exercises he has the students do.
Probably the purest interaction design fundamentals I've ever seen:

#1 (Physical): Starting with a cube, design an interactive object that
you think best communicates the following uses. Each cube should look
as though you can:
-rub it
-turn it
-squeeze it

The cube can be no bigger than six inches in any dimension. You may add
or subtract from the cube, but it has to remain cube-like. Other shapes
may be used as long as they play a secondary role. You may also use
color, texture, material as well as a relative context. For example,
the final solution might be a green fuzzy cube with little circular
nibs placed on the floor.

#2 (Digital): Starting with a square, design an interactive, on-screen
image that best communicates all of the following uses. The square
should look as if one should/can:
-turn it
-move or drag it
-rub on it

The square can be no larger than 80x80 pixels. Like the cube, you can
add or subtract from it, but the final solution has to be based on the
image of a square (and should look squareish and not roundish).
However, circular or triangular shapes may be used in support of the
design. You should also consider how animation, sound, color, and
texture can be used as cues.

20 Dec 2004 - 8:55pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I didn't read the article yet, but the exercises are EXACTLY what I'm
talking about! Thank you so much! Too bad he doesn't teach that class
anymore.

Dan, I was thinking a lot about what you or Chris said about widgets as an
element of foundation. I think more interaction designers should design
their very own widgets. I think exploring selection, motion, data capture,
data display, response, potential action vs. acted upon, history vs. future,
etc. would be great ideas to explore in an IxD studio.

-- dave

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dan Saffer [mailto:dan at odannyboy.com]
> Sent: Monday, December 20, 2004 6:28 PM
> To: 'Interaction Designers'; David Heller
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] foundation classes/topics for IxD education
>
> Here's something interesting I found on this nearly-dead
> topic. Chris
> Pacione, CCO of BodyMedia taught an interaction design fundamentals
> course from 1997-2000 at CMU and wrote a paper about it:
>
> http://loop1.aiga.org/documents/edition001/teachinginteraction/
> 01_tchg_meaning.pdf
>
> What's interesting is the two exercises he has the students do.
> Probably the purest interaction design fundamentals I've ever seen:
>
> #1 (Physical): Starting with a cube, design an interactive
> object that
> you think best communicates the following uses. Each cube
> should look
> as though you can:
> -rub it
> -turn it
> -squeeze it
>
> The cube can be no bigger than six inches in any dimension.
> You may add
> or subtract from the cube, but it has to remain cube-like.
> Other shapes
> may be used as long as they play a secondary role. You may also use
> color, texture, material as well as a relative context. For example,
> the final solution might be a green fuzzy cube with little circular
> nibs placed on the floor.
>
> #2 (Digital): Starting with a square, design an interactive,
> on-screen
> image that best communicates all of the following uses. The square
> should look as if one should/can:
> -turn it
> -move or drag it
> -rub on it
>
> The square can be no larger than 80x80 pixels. Like the cube,
> you can
> add or subtract from it, but the final solution has to be
> based on the
> image of a square (and should look squareish and not roundish).
> However, circular or triangular shapes may be used in support of the
> design. You should also consider how animation, sound, color, and
> texture can be used as cues.
>
>

20 Dec 2004 - 9:37pm
Listera
2004

David Heller:

> would be great ideas to explore in an IxD studio

Or any DESIGN studio.
This is Design 101.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

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