syllabus
CS3724
Spring 2000 Syllabus
Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction
Dr. Hartson

Course Goals
This course presents basic components of human-computer interaction concepts, theory, and practice.  It takes a user-centered perspective, rather than a system-centered one.  We look at bridging the gulf between needs and requirements of human users and capabilities and limitations of technology.  We discuss how to forge communication between users and system developers.  We base the course on a dichotomy between user interaction design and user interface software design.  The course covers iterative development of user interaction design, including user requirements gathering, with emphasis on usability goals; user analysis; user task analysis; design, rapid prototyping, and user-centered formative evaluation.  Iterative development activities are practiced in the context of several team projects. 

Professor
Dr. H. Rex Hartson, Computer Science, McBryde 634, hartson@vt.edu

Office Hours
Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:00-10:45AM
Monday and Wednesday at 2:00-3:00PM
and by appointment

Please observe these office hours. 
Please leave me a note if you need to see me and cannot meet at these times.

Class meeting times
M, W, F 1:00PM in McBryde 126

GTA

Rick Neil, rlneil@cs.vt.edu
Your GTA will be wearing a nametag with our course number on it.Office Hours: T,H : 9:00 - 10:45AM McBryde 128

Prerequisites
Any course in Computer Science or equivalent and junior-level standing, as evidenced by at least a "3.0" in your academic standing.  This prerequisite is strictly enforced.  An attempt to get in this course without the prerequisite constitutes an Honor Code violation.

Text
No required textbook is used.  Class materials will be drawn from multiple sources, with heavy reliance on class notes. Class notes will be available from a local copy center and will also be posted on the course web site (see the calendar).

Class Notes
Class notes will be put on the Web in advance of the class in which they will be covered by way of quizzes, discussions, and activities.  You can access each set of class notes via the calendar. It is mandatory that you bring these notes with you to every class.

Grading

Homework 10%
Quizzes 15%
In-class activities 10%
Team project  55%
          Project 0 (5%)  
          Project 1 (5%)  
          Project 2 (13%)  
          Project 3 (12%)  
          Project 4 (15%)  
          Project 5 (5%)  
Final exam  10%
  100%

Homework
There will be several written homework assignments.  Each assignment will both be posted on the Web and announced in class well in advance of its due date.  Assignments will not be "handed out" (as in a paper version). 

Quizzes
You control your own reading pace. Therefore you must decide how far ahead to read in order to prepare for what we will reasonably be able to cover in one class. Frequent quizzes, often unannounced, will be used to evaluate the reading assignments. See "Class Policies" section below regarding missed quizzes. There is no midterm in this course so you should treat the quizzes as a cumulative midterm.

In-class activities
This course is undergoing a paradigm shift from lecture-based delivery to an active learing approach. This means eliminating the usual classroom lectures using overheads which, in the past, students have found boring and monotonous.

Instead, you will read the material in the class notes on your own and class time will be used to supplement the reading. The objectives:

  • it will be more interesting
  • you will learn more
This new approach means that you, the student, will have more responsibility for your learning in two ways. In particular, you will have to:
  • read enough of the class notes to be prepared for what we cover in each class
  • understand the material and be ready to discuss and put it into practice.
We will use in-class dicussion and group or individual activities in class to apply the material to problem situations. Since your performance in these in-class activities will be graded, you have to always be ready to be called on in class. 

See "Class Policies" section below regarding missed in-class activities. You must bring your class notes to each class; we will use them to coordinate these activities.

Team project
The class is divided into teams of three members each, on a arbitrary basis.  No swapping of team members is allowed.  The team is given a grade for each part of the project.  Each individual team member's grade for each project assignment is a weighting of the team grade, where the weighting is based on an evaluation of individual contributions, collected from each team member at the end of the semester.

Final Exam
The final exam is in-class, closed book, closed notes, and cumulative (See Calendar for date and time).

Class Policies

 
Attendance and making up graded activities
Occasionally you might need to be absent from class for a good reason, and it might cause you to miss a quiz and/or an in-class activity. Attendance is not required for the course, nor does it play a direct part in the course grade. However, if you are absent for a quiz, or if your turn comes up for an in-class activity when you are absent, you will get a grade of zero for that quiz or activity.
One might normally expect to be able to make up a quiz or activity missed due to an excused absence (i.e., an absence for a legitimate reason such as illness). However, the large number of quizzes and in-class activities would entail a unreasonably large amount of time and effort spent on negotiating excuses and administering and grading make-up assignments. Therefore, the policy for this class must be:  No make-ups for missed quizzes or in-class activities. As an alternative, when final grades are computed for the course, I will drop the lowest quiz grade and the lowest in-class activity grade. If more compensation is appropriate, I will consider dropping more grades. Also, the course grades will be curved, so your missed classes will probably average out with those of the other students. Thus, if your absences are infrequent, it shouldn't have a significant effect on your course grade.
If you have to miss class for an extended period due to a protracted illness or similar reason, we will treat your needs as a special case and I will do everything I can to help you recover lost ground
Reading assignments
You are responsible for keeping up with the reading of class notes per the schedule given in the course calendar.

You are also responsible for knowing where our class discussion are, with respect to the class notes, and setting your own reading pace to keep ahead enough to be prepared for class discussions and activities. There will be numerous quizzes, often unannounced, to assess how well you are keeping up.

Homework and project assignments
All homework and project assignments must be turned in at the beginning of class on the due date.  All due dates for assignments are firm.  Any assignment that you do not hand in on time will be given a grade of zero. If you are not able to complete an assignment by the due date, you should hand in as much of it as you have done.  You must prepare your assignments electronically and hand in a hardcopy by the due date/time.  Assignments may not be submitted via email to either the professor or a GTA.
Weather delays
If the university is closed on an assignment due date, it will be due (in a box or pile outside Dr. Hartson's door) by 2 p.m. on the first day the university reopens.
Questions about grading
While the professors establish grading standards and work with the GTA in grading, the GTA has the responsibility to grade homework and project assignments. Therefore, when you have questions about grading of these, you should first see the GTA who graded the work.  All questions regarding grading must be resolved within one week of return of the graded work.  Keep all graded work until the end of the semester.  In case your grade is incorrectly recorded, you will need to bring in the graded original in order for the recorded grade to be changed. 
Responding to e-mail
The professor and GTA will make every effort to answer your email to them in a timely fashion.  However, due to the volume of email with classes of this size, you should not expect to get a reply in less than 24 hours.  Many times you may get a reply in less than 24 hours, but you should not count on it (e.g., to answer questions about a homework or project assignment within the last few hours before that assignment is due).  Please put "CS3724" as the subject line of your email; that will help us identify your emails more quickly. 
No "extra credit" work
Students sometimes ask for some extra credit work near the end of the semester in an attempt to bring up poor grades.  No extra credit work will be given to any student on an individual basis. However, occasionally an extra-credit opportunity might be offered to the whole class. 
Leaving class early
You are expected to remain through the entire class period, as leaving early is disruptive and disturbs everyone else in the classroom.  If you know in advance that you must leave early, you are to clear it with the professor before class begins, and then to sit as near the door as possible and leave quietly. "I'm sleepy" is not a valid excuse for leaving early :>) 
Grades via e-mail
Because of the large number of students in each class, professors and GTAs will not be able to reply to individual email requests for final exam and/or class grades at the end of the semester, but grades will be posted (on the Web and otherwise). 
Honor System
The current Honor System policies of the University are to be observed in this course.  All individual work (e.g., homework, exams) must be completed by you, working alone.  The group project should be carried out without assistance from people outside the group, except as explicitly noted in an assignment.

Special Needs
If you have any special needs because of disabilities, please contact your professor during the first week of classes.