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XII.5 September + October 2005
Page: 54
Digital Citation

What would an ideal CHI education look like?

Aaron Marcus

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What would you select if someone asked you to develop an ideal professional education in CHI's essential subject matter? If someone were to ask me, first I would check the core CHI curriculum for computer science departments that an ACM SIGCHI committee (including professor Ron Baecker, University of Toronto, and others) put together about a decade ago when they were trying to get such curricula accepted within universities. However, the times, technology, and users have changed considerably since then. Another way to quickly assemble a set of essential topics would be to merge and purge the tables of contents for two leading handbooks of human-computer interaction published by Elsevier and by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. With apologies to the editors and authors (including myself), I have tried to do just that, somewhat quickly and informally. I contemplated simply listing the approximately 120 topics in alphabetical order, but I have tried instead to reduce seeming repetitions, use more consistent terminology, and maintain some of the original overall organization and sequencing, which suggests the sequence of topics in a curriculum. See below for the results.

Noticeable in the original tables of contents was an absence of reference to financial and travel systems, branding, marketing, semiotics, user experience, design patterns, legal issues, and professional licensing/standards (currently minimal or nonexistent in the industry). Also missing is the notion that a professional might actually have to sell her/his services: Thus, "storyselling," portfolio preparation, and other marketing of services principles/techniques are omitted. In fact, the last of these topics often populate many Internet-based discussions and email threads, because every year there is a new crop of novice professionals who seek advice from elder mentors on everything from acquiring disability insurance to how to deal with clients who won't pay for services rendered. If I had to disaggregate further the above topics into undergraduate and graduate subjects, well, that is a major task that many institutions have already attempted with varying degrees of success.

If I were asked where might I place special emphasis, I would suggest the following: I believe different regions of the Earth, different countries, different socio-economic-political conditions may give rise to different needs and orientations to courses of study. For example, I was impressed recently by professor Gary Marsden's graduate-student projects at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, which focused on somewhat unique, indigenous circumstances. Graduate student projects took on objectives of assisting nutritional training for young mothers suffering from HIV/AIDS, encouraging involvement of schoolchildren with aboriginal storytelling of Khoi-San bush people, and establishing mobile telemedicine capabilities in an east South African village where one of the first questions is: From where will a reliable source of electricity come? While these projects also may involve UI development tasks involving high-technology virtual reality or mobile devices, they clearly and fundamentally relate to contexts that are quite different from those encountered in North America, Europe, Korea, or Japan, and are more like those appropriate for some parts of India, China, and similar contexts.

One other special area of emphasis is in cross-disciplinary group exercises or student projects. One of my most valuable learning experiences in graduate school arose when I was required to work with students from other disciplines. Coming to understand differences and similarities in our objectives, principles, and techniques was part of the benefits of the project, as well as learning how to work with others who had much different perspectives.

I would emphasize the importance of visual communication in scenarios, reports, portfolios, and other work products. One cannot underestimate the importance of good storytelling in explaining initial, interim, and final solutions to others. Often the skills of this aspect of professional practice is not talked about or left as an informal, last-minute, ad-hoc component. However, learning the skills of visual rhetoric and how to make a strong case for what one believes to be important is sometimes half the challenge facing the professional. One attempt to change things is a course on this subject at the University of Toronto taught by Ron Baecker and Lil Blume.

As CHI concerns enter more and more into entertainment, including games, it seems likely that some curricula traditionally focused on productivity tools may have their objectives and/or sequencing stood on their heads. Already curricula in games-oriented CHI/HCI/UI topics have sprung up at places like Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and the Danube University in Krems, Austria. These innovative approaches may provide perspectives that will influence new sequences of courses and new subject matter entirely.

The discipline of CHI/HCI/UI is continuing to evolve and dramatically change its focus, from the solely productivity-oriented perspective of the past, to a much richer set of educational objectives that take account of the desire to produce useful, appealing products and services as well.

Watch for the new curricula to emerge and show the way ahead to fundamental shifts in the paradigms of CHI/HCI/UI.

Aaron Marcus

About the Author:

Aaron Marcus is the founder and president of Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc. (AM+A). He has degrees from both Princeton University and Yale University, in physics and graphic design, respectively. Mr. Marcus has published, lectured, tutored, and consulted internationally for more than 30 years.

back to top  Sidebar: CHI Curriculum

Issues, Theories, Models, and Methods in HCI

  • The Evolution of Human-Computer Interaction: From Memex to Bluetooth and Beyond
  • Human-Computer Interaction: Background and Issues
  • Mental Models and User Models
  • Information Visualization
  • Model-Based Optimization of Display Systems
  • Task Analysis, Task Allocation and Supervisory Control
  • Models of Graphical Perception
  • Using Natural Language Interfaces
  • Virtual Environments as Human Computer Interfaces
  • Behavioral Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction
  • Perceptual-Motor Interaction: Some Implications for HCI
  • Human Information Processing: An Overview for Human-Computer Interaction
  • Emotion in UI Development
  • Cognitive Architecture
  • Modeling Humans in HCI

Design and Development of Software Systems

  • How to Design Usable Systems
  • Participatory Practices in the Software Lifecycle
  • Design for Quality-in-use: Human-Computer Interaction Meets Information
  • Systems Development
  • Ecological Information Systems and Support of Learning: Coupling Work Domain Information to User Characteristics
  • Task Analysis's Role in the Design of Software
  • Ethnographic Methods: Use in Design and Evaluation
  • What do Prototypes Prototype
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Scenario-Based Design

HCI Fundamentals

  • Multimedia User Interface Design
  • Visual Design Principles for Usable Interfaces
  • Multimodal Interfaces
  • Adaptive Interfaces and Agents
  • Network-Based Interaction
  • Motivating, Influencing, and Persuading Users
  • Human Error Identification in Human Computer Interaction
  • Design of Computer Workstations

Designing User Interfaces for Diverse Users

  • Genderizing HCI
  • Designing Computer Systems for Older Adults
  • HCI for Kids
  • Global / Intercultural UI Design
  • Information Technology for Cognitive Support
  • Physical Disabilities and Computing Technologies: An Analysis of Impairments
  • Perceptual Impairments and Computing Technologies

UI Issues for Special Applications

  • Documentation: Not yet implemented but coming soon!
  • Information Visualization
  • Groupware and Computer Supported Cooperative Work
  • Online Communities: Sociability and Usability
  • Virtual Environments
  • User-Centered Interdisciplinary Design of Wearable Computers
  • Cognitive Systems Engineering Approach to the Design of Decision Support Systems
  • Computer-Based Tutoring Systems: A Behavioral Approach
  • Conversational Speech Interfaces
  • The World-Wide Web
  • Information Appliances

User-Interface and Screen Design

  • Graphical User Interfaces
  • Metaphors: Their Role in User Interface Design
  • Direct Manipulation and Other Lessons
  • Human Error and Use Interface Design
  • Screen Design
  • Menus
  • Color and Human-Computer Interaction
  • How Not to Have to Navigate Through Too Many Displays

Multimedia, Video, and Voice

  • Hypertext/Hypermedia
  • Multimedia Interaction
  • A Practical Guide to Working with Edited Video
  • Desktop Video Conferencing
  • Design Issues for Interfaces Using Voice Input
  • Designing Voice Menu Applications for Telephone
  • Auditory Interfaces
  • Applying Speech Synthesis to User Interfaces

Programming, Intelligent UI Design, and Knowledge-Based Systems

  • Expertise and Instruction in Software Development
  • End-Use Programming
  • Interactive Software Architecture
  • User Aspects of Knowledge-based Systems
  • Paradigms for Intelligent Interface Design
  • Knowledge Elicitation for the Design of Software Agents
  • Decision Support Systems: Integrating Decision Aiding and Decision Training
  • Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems

Input/Output Devices, Human Factors/Ergonomics, and Design of Work

  • Input Technologies and Techniques
  • Keys and Keyboards
  • Pointing Devices
  • Conversational UIs Technologies
  • Visual Displays
  • Haptic UIs
  • Non-speech Auditory Output
  • Ergonomics of CAD Systems
  • Design of the Computer Workstation
  • Work Injuries on the Operation of VDTs
  • International Ergonomics HCI Standards

Application Domains

  • E-Commerce UIs Design
  • The Evolution of HCI during the Telecommunications Revolution
  • Government Roles in HCI
  • UI Development in Health CareA Framework for Understanding the Development of Educational Software
  • Understanding Entertainment: Narrative and Gameplay
  • Motor Vehicle Driver Interfaces
  • Human Computer Interaction in Aerospace
  • User-centered Design in Game

CSCW and Organizational UI Issues

  • Research on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work
  • Organizational Issues in Development and Implementation of Interactive Systems
  • The Organizational Context of Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychological Aspects of Computerized Office Work

Development Process: Requirements Specification

  • Requirements Specification within the Usability Engineering Lifecycle
  • Task Analysis
  • Contextual Design
  • Ethnographic Approach to Design

Design in Development

  • Guidelines, Standards, and Style Guides
  • Prototyping tools and techniques
  • Scenario-based Design
  • Participatory Design
  • Unified UI Development

Evaluation, including Testing

  • Usability Engineering Framework for Product Design and Evaluation
  • User-Centered Software Evaluation Methodology
  • Usability Inspection Methods
  • Cognitive Walkthroughs
  • Guide to GOMS Model Usability Evaluation Using NGOMS
  • ROI: Cost Justifying Usability Engineering in the Software Life Cycle
  • User-based Evaluations
  • Inspection-based Evaluations
  • Model-based Evaluation
  • Beyond Task Completion: Evaluation of Affective Components of Use

Managing UI Development and Emerging Issues

  • Technology Transfer
  • Human Values, Ethics, and Design
  • Cost Justification
  • The Evolving Role of Security, Privacy and Trust in a Digitized World
  • Achieving compatibility in HCI design and evaluation

Individual Differences and Training

  • From Novice to Expert
  • Computer Technology and the Older Adult
  • Universal Design: UIs for People with Disabilities
  • Computer-Based Instruction
  • Intelligent Tutoring Systems

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©2005 ACM  1072-5220/05/0900  $5.00

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