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INFSCI 2470 - Interactive System Design

(Spring 2021, CRN 25926)

[ Formal Data | Course Tools | Syllabus | Course Books | Course Plan ]



The goal of this course is to acquaint you with principles and techniques of interactive system design and to help you develop a number of critical scills that will enable you to be employed in the area of user interface design and evaluaton. In particular, we expect every student

  1. to build a connection between student knolwedge on human information processing and interactive system design practice
  2. to understand the goals, problems and structure of interactive system design process
  3. to analyse major interface paradigms
  4. to learn and apply techniques for task analysis and user analysis
  5. to learn principles and gain practical skills of user interface evaluation
  6. to develop an aquaintance with modern GUI and Internet programming techniques
  7. to gain experience in the design and evaluation of practical user interfaces

Learning Outcomes

Upon satisfactory completion of this course, students will:

Motivation and Content

Interactive System Design (ISD) is an integral part of Human-Centered Computing (HCC) curriculum. Human-Centered Computing is an important part of Informatics (this is the world often used to cover all science fields related with computers and information processing). HCC is taught at many Computer Science, Information Science and similar schools and departments.

ISD is one of the few core HCC courses that stand on the crossroads of cognitive science courses, computer-programming courses, and advanced system courses. Cognitive science courses such as human information processing or human factors teach you about humans and human side of information systems. System courses teach you about advanced information systems and their technical side. Programming courses give you skills to develop programming artifacts. Core HCCcourses bring all that together by teaching you about human-computer interfaces - interactive side of information systems, the side that connects humans with technology.

A course on interactive system design is probably the most important of all core HCC courses. It is supposed to teach how to professionally design and evaluate usable interactive systems. This course has its roots in cognitive science courses and connects to other core HCI courses such as Introduction to HCC or interface development tools.

A graduate degree on human-computer interaction may feature mant core HCC courses. In this context an ISD course usually concentrates solely on theories, principles, and methodologies of interface design and evaluation. In the context of a broader Information Science degree, ISD is the only core HCC course. In this context, your instructor feels it necessary to extend the traditional content of an ISD course with knowledge that are typically presented in an introductory HCI course (a review of major kinds of interfaces, an introduction to the future generation of HCC). In addition, the instructor will allocate some lecture time to build a bridge between this course, your knowledge of human information processing, and you programming skills.

As the picture below shows, the core part of IS2470 course is devoted to the process of design and evaluation of interactive systems, This part will combine teaching fundamental knowledge with teaching some applied skills that will help you in a variety of different careers - from software developer to usability engineer. A smaller part of the course will present a concise overview of human-computer interfaces. The goal of this part is to make you aware about a range of interfaces that can be a target of your design efforts right now and to prepare you to face the new generation of interfaces. The course also provides a brief overview of human information processing issues in the context of interactive system design and a small practical section on developing several kinds of interfaces with Java programming language.

Course Prerequsites

All students taking this course should have working knowledge of an object-oriented structured programming language (C++, C#, Java, Python). The final project will require knowledge of Java or other programming language suitable for designing interactive systems. Students in HCC specialization of MSIS program should have IS2300 taken either before or in parallel with IS2470. This rule is not enforced for students outside of HCC. Neither a Database course nor a working knowledge of SQL is required for taking this version of IS2470.

Course Work and Grading

Components of the Final Grade

Course assessment includes attendance, reading score, assignments and projects. Each lecture bears 1 attendance point. Each assignment and project bears certain number of points. The instructor also reserves the right to administer unannounced quizzes for up to 5 points each if he feels that the students are not pursuing a resonable amount of assigned reading. Your final grade depends on the percentage of points you have earned. Score < 50% corresponds to F, 50-62.5 is D range, 65.5-75 is C range, 75-87.5 is B range, and 87.5-100 is A range.

Attendance (12pts)

Class attendance, while not mandatory, is required if you want to succeed in this course. While about 1/2 of the material covered by the lectures could be found in the Course Books, some material is not sufficiently covered by the books. Finally, many lectures include demonstrations, videos, and labs. If you have missed the lecture, make sure that you have a copy of the slides and watch the video of the lecture. The links to the lecture recordings are provided on Canvas. The attendance credit is engineered to encourage your attendance. Each lecture bears 1 attendance point. The maximum number of attendance poits is 12. If you have not attended a lecture or if you are taking the course over the distance, you can still get up to 1 point for the missed lecture by sending a 1-page lecture summary to the intructor within 5 working days after the lecture.

Research Webinars (6pts)

Learn how to find and analyze research seminars on the topics of human-centered computing. Discover and attend two seminars over the course duration. Post a summary to the course discussion group (watch and comment for summaries posted by others)

Reading and Resource Finding (24pts)

After each lecture, you are expected to complete assigned reading from the corresponding sections of the course books. The chapters assigned for each lecture are shown in the course plan. Along with your reading or after it is completed, you should answer reading assessment questions in the online reading system available on Knowledge Tree. The fraction of correctly answered question determines your reading score for a week (1pt max). Your course reading score is the sum of your weekly reading scores.

Following the lecture and the readings, you are also requested to find and examine one relevant educational resource (a video, a tutorial, a case, etc), which you believe could be used to acquire more knowledge on the topic. Post the resource on the lecture topic of the course reading forum. Add a few lines to summaruze the resource, and explain to which section of the book (or part of the lecture) it is related and why it is relevant. Depending on the resource relevance, you will receive up to 1 point for each post for the max of 12 points. This activiy assesses your understanding of the lecture and readings and your ability to find relevant content.


The main way to practice knowledge you gained in the course is through the two group projects. The firest (midterm) project is focused on interface analysis skills and the second (final) project is focused on interface design and implementation skills. Groups should be formed in advance for each project and could differ between projects. Every group should have a group leader. At the end of the project the leader is expected to evaluate the contribution of each group members. Project grade will be scaled according to individual contributions.

  1. Group Interface Evaluation Project (25pt)
  2. Group Final Project (50pt)
    1. Task Analysis and Design report
    2. Final project report

Group projects should be submitted by the group leader once for the whole group through Canvas.

Extra Credit Points

You can earn extra credit points for several things such as asking a good question in class or in a discussion forum, providing a helpful answer in a discussion forum, helping during the lecture, finding errors in slides and examples, attending research studies as a subject, and answering extra-credit questionnaire at the end of the class.

Course Policies

Academic Integrity

You are expected to be fully aware of your responsibility to maintain a high quality of integrity in all of your work. All work must be your own, unless collaboration is specifically and explicitly permitted as in the course group project. Any unauthorized collaboration or copying will at minimum result in no credit for the affected assignment and may be subject to further action under the University Guidelines for Academic Integrity. You are expected to have read and understood these Guidelines. A document discussing these guidelines was included in your orientation materials.

Taking the Course Online

All course lectures are presented online using Zoom and recorded. All course materials, homeworks, discussions, etc are provided online using Canvas system.

Late Submissions

Projects submitted after due date will be accepted, but your objective grade will be scaled so that you lose 10% of the grade for every late working day. I.e., if you will submit your work one week late, you will lose 50% of the grade. Note that most homework and projects require submission in both electronic and printed form. The submission date (used in calculating late days) is the date when the last of these forms is submitted. In addition, projects have a portion of the grade for presentation of the project. If you will fail to present your project on due date, you will lose these points.

Special Considerations

Disability Policy: If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and Disability Resources and Services, 216 William Pitt Union, (412) 648-7890/(412) 383-7355 (TTY), as early as possible in the term. DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

Copyright © 2021 Peter Brusilovsky