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The HCI Educator's Open House: A CHI 97 Special Interest Group on Exchanging Resources, Delivery Formats, Learning Strategies, and Future Concerns

Laurie P. Dringus, Maxine S. Cohen

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At CHI 97 we organized a Special Interest Group (SIG) the "HCI Educator's Open House: Exchanging Resources, Delivery Formats, Learning Strategies, and Future Concerns." The goals of this SIG were for attendees to increase networking opportunities for HCI educators, and to promote the exchange of common and unique resources, delivery format structures and learning strategies, and future concerns.

In previous CHI pre-conference workshops, HCI educators and industrial professionals have met to address pertinent HCI education issues. Participants have benefited from sharing their experiences, pedagogical practices and issues, and have often exchanged course or class exercises, course structures, lab assignments, and other sample resources. As organizers and participants of many of these previous CHI pre-conference workshops, we perceived a need to expand the forum to the larger SIGCHI education community within the CHI conference proper to increase the opportunity for professional networking among HCI educators.

The SIG was held on Tuesday, March 25, 1997, from 2:30-4:00 p.m. The SIG organizers, Laurie Dringus and Maxine Cohen, approached the SIG in the spirit of an "open house" forum, by giving a brief introduction and overview of their background and interests in HCI education, sharing some important issues that they considered current to HCI educators, and opening up the forum for discussions among SIG participants. The discussions focused on three areas:

  • Resources: what is being used and where can we find the resources?
  • Delivery Format Structures and Learning Strategies: what are innovative learning strategies, what are interesting course activities, what obstacles are we facing at the moment?
  • Future concerns: what can the CHI education community do to make resources and experiences more visible to HCI educators at large?

Below is a summary of the information and/or resources that were shared during the discussion of each of the three issues.

Resources

The organizers began this discussion by sharing a starter suggested bibliography list. (This list can be obtained by contacting the SIG organizers.) This list was not meant to be all inclusive. It provided a starting point for the discussion. Some of the participants offered additions to the list:

  • Tom Magliozzi, "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Break It." Technology Review, 1992 Vol. 95, No. 7, pp. 72-73, MIT. This was reported to be like a mini version of Don Norman's Design of Everyday Things.
  • Tom Forrester, Editor. Computers in the Human Context. MIT Press. (This was reported as an older source, but useful.)
  • Terry Winograd, Editor. Bringing Design to Software. Addison- Wesley, 1996.
  • Ben Shneiderman's third edition, "Designing the User Interface," will be available July 1997. (This was reported to be a widely used text that provides the breadth of the HCI field.)
  • Dix, A. Finley, J., Abowd, G., and Beale, R. Human-Computer Interaction, Second Edition, Prentice Hall, available August 1997.
  • Linda MacCauley's book for software engineers.
  • Brenda Laurel's, Computers as Theatre.
  • Bonnie Nardi's, A Small Matter of Programming
  • John Carroll's Minimal Manual
  • For people in the industry, a quick-read bulletin is "Eye for Design" in User Interface Engineering, Jared Spool, author.
  • Tom Landauer's, The Trouble With Computers.
  • Fitts and Posner's Human Performance
  • William Cleveland's, Elements of Graphing Data.
  • The BBC's documentary, "Fatal Error", explains the role of human factors failings and major airplane crashes.
  • Chris Phillips' paper on HCI integrated throughout the CS curriculum, OZCHI '97.

Where to Find Resources

The organizers provided a list of major journals, professional organizations, and conference proceedings. Along with this list, some widely used WWW sites were noted, useful for both faculty and students to find HCI resources:

  • ACM SIGCHI: http://www.acm.org/sigchi
  • ACM SIGCHI Education: http://www.acm.org/sigchi/education/ Note: major documents are available from this web site, i.e., Gary Perlman's Resources for HCI Education, Gary Strong et al. Report on New Directions in HCI Education, Research, and Practice, ACM SIGCHI Curriculum Development Group, the "Green Book" -ACM SIGCHI Curricula for Human-Computer Interaction, and other documents.
See also, the link to ACM SIGCHI Educational Resource Development Group (Andrew Sears). This web page describes what is meant by "resource." Essentially, the list provided items of information that the HCI education community needs to make visible for use.

Delivery Format Structures and Learning Strategies

What are innovative learning strategies, what are interesting course activities, what obstacles are we facing at the moment?

This portion of the SIG was a brainstorming session and some of the following ideas were shared and suggested:

  • students keep a HCI journal and make weekly notations to record observations on HCI aspects of their research and working with systems, etc.
  • guest speakers that are experts in HCI and computing in general provide professional and personal insight to HCI in the real world.
  • students enjoy being subjects in HCI experiments.
  • students evaluate HCI aspects of software design from their own perspective (with support from HCI literature). Then, students conduct formal usability evaluations with a minimum of three participants, that the students can observe and collect data from. The usability evaluation is presented in a comprehensive report detailing conceptualization of the usability evaluation through results, with discussions throughout the report supported by the HCI literature. Students generally discover that good design and effective usability are not "common sense" concepts.
  • examples of HCI exercises: http://www.spsu.edu/cs/classes/cs635
  • example student design projects and example usability evaluation reports: http://scis.nova.edu/nova/hci/connect.html
  • in class exercise: show an industry usability test tape. Have students work in small groups to evaluate the test process and report their observations in the large class discussion.
  • most people are using the Web as a source of information. It presents examples of good and poor interfaces.
  • HCI educators (or those who teach HCI in some capacity) may lack knowledge and time to adequately teach HCI. This could be because of other items that need to get squeezed into the curriculum and because they may not have adequate background or preparation time.
  • HCI educators (or those who teach HCI in some capacity) may only have the resource of their textbook and not sufficient additional knowledge of the field.
  • HCI educators need a comprehensive list of tools for class project development.
  • HCI educators need resources on HCI as it is practiced
  • Resources for HCI educators and resources for students are two different goals.
  • There was a concern noted about increased difficulty of those teaching HCI to remain knowledgeable about the HCI field, both in terms of depth and breadth.
  • HCI needs more promotion as an important area of study for students planning careers in software engineering.
  • HCI is still an afterthought or an elective in many computer science departments at universities and colleges.
  • HCI educators need more input from industry for examples of effective application (e.g. aerospace, military, telephone, machine tools (ergonomics and safety).

Future Concerns: Making Resources more Visible to the HCI Education Community

The group discussed that resources are not readily visible and organized for HCI educators and students to find and utilize. Strategies for making HCI resources visible should be planned and implemented in the near future. The group noted that not everyone who teaches HCI (or is planning a first course in HCI) is aware of the SIGCHI community and the categories of resources discussed in this SIG. Where does one start to find resources for a first course in HCI?

In addition, there is a growing community of HCI educators. What can we do to increase networking opportunities, promote the exchange of common and unique resources, delivery format structures and learning strategies, and share concerns about HCI education?

Our goals were intended to spark discussion and to promote a sense of community for HCI educators. The issues were diverse and somewhat ambitious to cover for a one and a half hour session. Yet, participants expressed appreciation for the SIG and an interest to keep the "conversations" going in-between and during CHI conferences. We feel that the SIG was a success and a new beginning to provide an opportunity for HCI educators to meet new people and share their experiences and concerns. It would be valuable to continue to offer HCI educators networking opportunities during the CHI conference.

Contacts

SIG Organizers

Laurie P. Dringus Nova Southeastern University School of Computer and Information Sciences 3100 SW 9th Avenue Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33315 954-262-2073, USA; fax: +1-954-262-3915 email: laurie@scis.nova.edu http://scis.nova.edu/nova/hci/top.html

Laurie Dringus is an Associate Professor in the SCIS at NSU. She teaches graduate courses in human-computer interaction. Several of her courses are accessible via the URL provided above. She has participated in the CHI 94 workshop on teaching HCI education and co-organized the CHI '95 and CHI 96 workshops on HCI education.

Maxine S. Cohen Nova Southeastern University School of Computer and Information Sciences 3100 SW 9th Avenue Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33315 954-262-2072; fax:954-262-3915 email: cohenm@scis.nova.edu http://www.scis.nova.edu/~cohenm

Maxine Cohen is an Assistant Professor in the SCIS at NSU. Prior to joining NSU, she worked for IBM Corporation in Boca Raton, FL and Endicott, NY doing usability and human factors work. She also taught for 11 years at the State University of New York at Binghamton, Computer Science Department. She was a participant in the SIGCHI education workshop in 1994 and a workshop organizer in 1995.

SIG Attendees and Other Contacts

Alan Apt, Prentice Hall Colorado Division, Academic and Professional Publishing, 2629 Redwing Road, Suite 260 Ft. Collins, CO 80526 USA, email: alan_apt@prenhall.com

Barbara Bernal, Thomas Southern Polytechnic State University Computer Science 1100 South Marietta Parkway Marietta, GA 30060, USA email: bthomas@spsu.edu

Elizabeth Berry, IBM Corp 6300 Diagonal Highway, F5-3/02 Boulder, CO 80301, USA email: lizzie@indra.com

Jennifer Borhegyi, Cambridge Technology Partners 304 Vassar Street Cambridge, MA 02139 USA email: jborhe@ctp.com

Judy Brown, Victoria University of Wellington Dept. of Computer Science P.O. Box 600 Wellington, New Zealand email: Judy.Brown@comp.vuw.ac.nz

Daryle Gardner-Bonneau, Office of Research Michigan State University Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies 1000 Oakland Drive Kalamazoo, MI 49008-1282 USA email: bonneau@kcms.msu.edu

Frank Durso, Department of Psychology University of Oklahoma Norman, OK 73019 USA email: fdurso@ou.edu

Peter Gorny, University of Oldenburg D-26111 Oldenburg, Germany email: Gorny@Informatik.Uni-Oldenburg.DE

Richard Halstead-Nussloch, Southern Polytechnic State University Computer Science 1100 South Marietta Parkway Marietta, GA 30060-2896 USA email: rhalstea@spsu.edu

Julie Jacko, Florida International University Dept of Industrial and Systems Engineering Miami, Florida USA email: jackoj@fiu.edu

Susan Keenan, Columbus State University, USA email: skeenan@colstate.edu

Sarah Kuhn, University of Massachusetts at Lowell College of Management One University Avenue Lowell, MA 01854-2881 USA, kuhns@woods.uml.edu

Laura Leventhal, Bowling Green State University Computer Science Bowling Green, OH 43403 USA email: leventhal@cs.bgsu.edu

Blaise Liffick, Millersville University Department of Computer Science Millersville, PA 17551-0302 USA, email: liffick@millersv.edu

Charlotta Medin, Cambridge Technology Partners Arstaangusvagen 17 Stockholm, 100 74 Sweden email: cmedi@ctp.com

Lisa Neal, EDS Technical Consulting Program Three Valley Road Lexington, MA 02173 USA, lisaneal@media.mit.edu

Alexander Nikov, Technical University of Sofia Human-Computer Interaction Lab P.O. Box 41, BG-1612 Sofia, Bulgaria email: nikov@vmei.acad.bg http://www.vmei.acad.bg/fm/hsd/people/nikov.htm

Kevin O'Brien, Pacific Bell 2600 Camino Ramon, 3E05OM San Ramon, CA 94583 USA, kmobri1@pacbell.com

Fredy Schwyter, Advanced Telematic Research Grossmannstr. 45, CH-8049 Zurich, Germany, schwyter@acm.org

Andrew Sears, DePaul University School of Computer Science 243 S. Wabash Avenue Chicago, IL 60604 USA, email: sears@cs.depaul.edu

Ron Sedlak, AT&T C101, 19 Schoolhouse Road Somerset, NJ 08875 USA, email: sedlak@att.com

Steve Soulier, Department of Instructional Technology Utah State University Cogan, UT 84322-2800 USA, email:soulier@cc.usu.edu

Linda Tetzlaff, IBM, Watson Research Center P.O. Box 704 Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 USA lst@watson.ibm.com

Jean Vanderdonckt, FUNDP, University of Namur Rue Grandgagnaji, 21 B-5000 Namur Belgium email: vanderdoncktj@acm.org URL: http://www.info.fundp.ac.be/~jvd

Elmi van der Dussen, University of Pretoria Department of Information Science Pretoria South Africa 0002 email: vddussen@libarts.up.ac.za

Marla Weston, Camosun College Computer Science Department Interurban Campus 4461 Interurban Rd, RR. #3 Victoria, B.C. Canada V8X3X1 email: weston@camosun.bc.ca

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