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CS 798H: Human-Computer Interaction


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What is the course about?

Daily we come across several computing devices and tools (from smartwatch trackers to search engines). Some of them are a delight to use, and some are crappy and frustrating to learn, understand and use – ever wondered what makes them so? Ever wondered why using a smartphone or learning to code so easy and natural for some people, and so hard for others? Is digital transformation in India going to take off, or no, and why? All these, and more, are the concerns of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) as a field.

In this course, we will cover the basic ground for HCI, considering how we can study how people interact with computers (if any) in a given context, how to identify opportunities for improvements to their work, and how to systematically design systems that are a delight.

The field itself is interdisciplinary and borrows theories and methods from various fields including psychology, computer science, design, sociology and anthropology. This course will give a flavor of this interdisciplinary nature, as well as introduce you to these methods and theories that will come in handy in a lot of contexts. We will also consider some common contexts in which Human-Computer interaction is tricky, what we can do about it, and where the open problems lie! 

Who should take it?
What is the course going to be like? 

HCI is an “applied” discipline, much like software engineering or design. So expect to do a bunch of hands-on work—in class, and as part of projects and assignments. There is also theory to learn! 

Chapter-1: Introduction to HCI. What is HCI – Interdisciplinary nature of HCI – History of HCI – Importance of design and HCI – The design process -- The double diamond of design.

Chapter-2: Need finding. Data collection (interviews, surveys, observational studies, contextual inquiry). Sampling. Qualitative data analysis (coding, thematic analysis/card sorting, focus group, inter-rater reliability, threads to validity, triangulation). Quantitative data analysis in need finding. Ethical considerations in human studies.

Chapter-3: Models, theories and frameworks in HCI. What are they and why are they useful? Perception and memory. Model human processor. Information foraging. Activity theory. Distributed cognition. Mental models.

Chapter-4: Prototyping (low-fi and hi-fi prototypes, use of metaphors). Evaluation (quantitative – controlled experiments, measures, statistical comparisons; qualitative – heuristics, cognitive walkthroughs, desirability and reaction toolkits, hallway usability study).

Chapter-5: Recurring problems in HCI and ideas on how to approach them: