Project Development Studio: Physical Interaction
Instructor: Tom Igoe
This course is an environment for students to work on project ideas that may fall outside the topic areas of existing classes. This particular studio is focused on projects involving extended physical interaction. Students are expected to present a project description on the first day of class. They work together with the class and the instructor to develop a production plan for their project. Weekly class meetings consist of critique and feedback sessions on individual and group projects, and breakout sessions with students working individually or in groups with people working on similar projects. As technical topics of general interest emerge, the instructor takes class time to cover them. Students are expected to show their projects multiple times during the semester, test the projects in stages, and get feedback from both class members in class and from the audience for whom their projects are intended, outside of class.
The focus of the studio is on physical interaction: namely, what does the person experiencing your work do, and what does the work do in response? If the answer is "Nothing, they just watch", or "the work doesn't respond," then there is no interaction. Much of the discussion about projects will focus on this.
If you are working on your project for this class as part of another class as well, you will still be expected to meet the schedule and the goals and focus of this class in your work.
Class 1: Jan 26
Introductions, speed dating style. Everyone will explain their project to everyone else in 2-3 minute chunks. Then we'll introduce each other's projects to the class, also in 2-3 minute chunks.
Class 2: Feb 2
Brainstorming and questions. If there are specific techniques you need to know about for your project, or unresolved questions you'd like to bring up with the class, this is the time to do it. Bring in what you have done so far, so we have something to begin the discussion. Use this week as a chance to fully formulate your project description, because next week you'll re-introduce it to the class formally.
Class 3: Feb. 9
Re-introductions. Describe your project to the class:
If you are not presenting, take notes on the presentations in the class wiki, including any questions you have or notes that may be useful to the presenter. Question time for each project will be short, so your notes will be necessary for feedback.
Class 4: Feb 16
Project review in the wake of introductions. This week we'll arrange working groups for the next three weeks based on project needs and people's skills.
Class 5: Feb 23
Group work. For the next three weeks, each of you will be given a team of people from the class. We'll focus on five projects per week. You'll have 90 minutes to get the team to work for you on your project. Plan out what you need them to do for you. You can have them do research on how to realize the project. You can have them program, or build with you. You can have them try prototypes you've built, and respond in depth with comments. Whatever you need them to do now is fair game, as long as you summarize the team's work and how it's advanced your project at the end of the 90 minutes.
At the end of the 90 minutes, we-ll re-assemble and you'll summarize what your team achieved, and what's to be done next. 10 minutes per team report.
Your team will rotate roles through the next three weeks, so keep in mind that whoever you're assisting in one week will be assisting you the next week.
Class 6: Mar 2
Group Work week 2
Class 7: Mar 9
Group Work week 3
Spring Break: Mar 16
Class 8: Mar 23
Outsider project review. This is a chance to present your project, which should be fully described at this stage, to guests knowledgeable in this area, but unfamiliar with your work. Use it as a chance to explain your work thoroughly and clearly. Have your partner note all of the guest's questions, so you can review later what was not clear, and what assumptions you may have been making that are not clear to those outside the class.
Class 9: Mar 30
Status reports; critique and assistance.
Class 10: Apr 6
By this week you should have a working project for users to experience.
In-class Testing. For these two weeks, you'll present your project for your classmates to experience. We'll focus on half of the projects each week. Your role in these tests is not to tell the testers how to do anything, but to give them basic instructions and observe what they do. You and your partner should take notes on what happens. Prepare a list of questions or a comment sheet you want people to fill out after the experience. If your work is not interactive, then use the testing time to get feedback on people's reactions to your work in whatever form it takes.
Testers, your role is to participate. Don't comment until and unless you've participated. Don't comment on what could have been done, comment on what actually happened. Note when there was a clear relationship between what you did and what the system did, and when it was unclear. Talk about what you interpreted the system's behaviors to mean, what you were prompted to do, and what it did in response to your actions.
Class 11: Apr 13
Class Testing week 2.
Class 12: Apr 20
Final project workshop session. This is a chance to deal with any last minute issues with the whole class before final presentations.
Class 13: Apr 27
Final Presentations week 1. Order of final presentations will be assigned in advance.
Class 14: May 4
Final Presentations week 2
Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design Bill Buxton. Morgan Kaufmann, ©2007. ISBN: 0-1237-4037-1.
In this book, Bill Buxton talks about the role that sketching plays in the design process. He gives a number of good examples from hand sketches to digital sketches. Then he launches into a discussion of what a sketch of an interactive experience is, and gives a number of good examples of interactive sketches and sketching methods. Itís an excellent read for anyone who makes interactive things. Though there is no specific assignment for this book (other than reading it), ideas from it will come up in class, so please get a copy and read it. It will make your life better if you're interested in making interactive systems.
Grading in this class is based on the consistency of your progress, the presentation of your work and ideas, and on the quality of your assistance to your fellow students. This class works best when you are as engaged with your fellow students' work in class as you are with your own. Conversely, you get the most help and the best quality feedback when you give it the best.
A studio class is a place for practice and critique. in this class, that means you'll be practicing physical interaction design,and getting feedback on that practice. In other words, don't expect to present on any given week if you don't have anything to show. Once we're past the initial couple of weeks, your ideas should always be backed up with examples of progress on your work.
Please be in class and ready to begin on time. Please turn your mobile phone off or on vibrate before class. If you need to leave early, come late, or be absent, please let me know in advance if at all possible. Lateness and unexcused absences will affect your grade.
In class discussions, speak up. For this class to work well, everyone has to be a part of the discussion.
Laptop use is permitted if you're taking notes for your partner or yourself, or if you're doing something related to the discussion. However, if you disappear from the discussion behind your screen, I will ask you to close it and expect you to re-join the class.
You are most likely already documenting your work in this class online for another class. If not, you'll be expected to keep a documentation site (blog, wiki, basic HTML) and post the URL on the class page. No flash-only or other non-text-searchable forms, please.