This is under mild review and revision as of 7/20/13. It is close to its final form, though .



Academic Year: 


Course ID and Name: 

Section Number: 

Course Syllabus

Course Prerequisites: 


Course Description: 

[This course is a convened course with the graduate course IRLS575. It is identical to that course except that grading in IRLS475 will make allowance for the fact that enrolled students are undergraduates.]

This online course is an introduction to User Interaction and Web Site Design, concerned primarily with the design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use. The course introduces theories of human psychology, principles of computer systems and user interface design. The course will have a considerable practical component. Students will learn the html5 suite of html, cascading style sheets (css) and javascript. Students will learn how to use these technologies in conjunction with content management systems(cms) to produce web sites, eBooks, and applications suitable for smart phones and tablets.

Three (3) credits will be given in award of the successful completion of this course.

General overview

To adapt Ranganathan: information is for use. But nowadays people interact with that information via many and various types of technologies such as computers, smart phones and tablets. Often these use online, 'cloud', or networked software of one kind or another, including web sites. At some point the User meets the information and that is at the interface between humans and computers. The academic discipline of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) studies exactly this interface.

This course offers instruction in a) the User Interface in Information Systems, b) Human Computer Interaction, and c) the design and evaluation of 'information' interfaces.

When looking at HCI, four considerations, and their interactions, are prominent

  • —Human capabilities. These include physical and cognitive issues: what folk can do with their hands, eyes, and brains. Humans are highly variable, and have cognitive strengths and weaknesses (for example, humans have poor memories yet good abilities to recognize patterns in a visual scene).
  • —The technical features of the computing machines. Principally what the computer presents, and receives by way of input and output; and the style of the interaction between the User and the computer. For example, an older computer might be able to take input only from a keyboard, and give output only to a printer—in which case, human-computer interaction would be similar to a dialog or conversation (these days the possibilities are far richer with, for example, mice, or touchscreens, for input and sophisticated visual displays for output).
  • —The tasks being undertaken. For example, there is a world of difference between typing in a document for word processing, and producing some architectural drawings using a CAD/CAM package. Additionally, a modern trend is that of moving from the single user—single interface to group working (think about Facebook and Twitter) and multitasking.
  • —The environment. What is the work, or task, setting? What are its physical and socio-cultural characteristics? (For example, it is unwise to use sound input or output in a noisy setting; another example, it is unwise to expect children to spell keywords perfectly for a Search in an Online Public Access Catalog in a library.) 

The academic backdrop to HCI

HCI is concerned with the design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computer systems and study of major phenomena surrounding their use. Many academic disciplines—including cognitive psychology, social psychology, organizational psychology, computer science, ergonomics, linguistics, artificial intelligence, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology—have a role to play in the theories behind HCI and interface design.

Web Site, and Information Access, design

Information interface design augments HCI—it applies and extends the principles of HCI in a special case. To make a rough and ready distinction. Plain stand alone computers tend to calculate what they offer, whereas web sites, or information access gates or portals, are part of a network or networks and tend to retrieve information that they, or others, already have and to offer that. So the design of infomation access artefacts can put an emphasis on the organization of information, on information architecture (IA), and the management of information. The design of infomation access artefacts brings into play traditional library science skills.

Course Objective: 

Successful completion of this course will help students achieve the A3 competency (outlined at More specifically, by the completion of this course, you will:

  • have knowledge on important human factors (e.g., human limitations) that affect human-computer interactions.
  • have knowledge on user-computer interaction styles.
  • know the typical input, output, and interaction-style features of computer systems
  • have knowledge on user interface evaluation methods.
  • be able to make informed and better design decisions.
  • be able to critique HCI designs of others.
  • have experienced the presentation of information by many common systems for the computer mediated communication of information.
  • be comfortable with the programming systems of html5, css, and elementary javascript.
  • have experienced the production of web pages, web sites, and eBooks.

Required Course Materials: 

Likely we will use several examples of open courseware or open source software, such as

  • Codecademy (learning html, css, and javascript)
  • BlueGriffon (WYSIWYG html editor)
  • NetBeans  (Integrated Development Environment, which we will use solely for website materials)
  • Drupal (Content Management System)
  • Sigil (eBook editor)
  • Calibre (eBook management)

No prior technical background is presupposed for this course. and any amount of instructional help will be provided. But we will be doing some 'programming' of websites and creation of eBooks.

There is no set text for the course. Online materials are available either directly on the Web or in D2L.

Notes and discussion topics will be available in D2L Tuesday and Friday every week.

Course Requirements: 

The course requirements include:

  • Individual projects
  • Groupwork (there will be some groupwork so that we can actively use and experiment with 'groupware', but this groupwork will not be assessed and will not count toward the final grade)
  • Open book exams
  • Participation

You will have two individual projects.

A group project will be set. These will a small project undertaken by you working in teams. So called 'groupware' ― for example wikis, chats, decision support systems, social network sites, etc ― are an increasing important area of computer software. The group project will require you to use groupware, and thus have direct experience of some examples of it.

You have a mid-term exam and a final exam, both take-home.

The participation requirement is that you contribute to the online discussion groups or forums. You can meet this requirement by posting at least 5 times during the semester. We do not want these forums to be cluttered up by folk posting when they have nothing to say. But you should have something to say from time to time, and we would like to hear it.

Course Grading: 

Students are judged on (1) the quality, originality, completion and progress that their work demonstrates; (2) participation in class and group/team discussions.

The final grade will be the aggregate of

  • Individual projects 60% (2 @ 30% each)
  • Group project 0%
  • Exams 30% (Mid-term and Final @ 15% each)
  • D2l discussions 10%
  • Total: 100%

Course Policies: 

1. Academic Code of Integrity. Students are expected to abide by The University of Arizona Code of Academic Integrity ( 'The guiding principle of academic integrity is that a student's submitted work must be the student's own.' If you have any questions regarding what is acceptable practice under this Code, please ask an Instructor.

2. Accommodating Disabilities. The University has a Disability Resource Center ( If you anticipate the need for reasonable accommodations to meet the requirements of this course, you must register with the Disability Resource Center and request that the DRC send me, the Instructor, official notification of your accommodation needs as soon as possible. Please plan to meet with me by appointment or during office hours to discuss accommodations and how my course requirements and activities may impact your ability to fully participate.

3. Incompletes. The 1997-8 University of Arizona General Academic Manual, p.23 reads.

The grade of I may be awarded only at the end of a semester, when all but a minor portion of the course work has been satisfactorily completed. The grade of I is not to be awarded when the student is expected to repeat the course; in such a case the grade of E must be assigned. Students should make arrangements with the instructor to receive an incomplete grade before the end of the semester ...

   If the incomplete is not removed by the instructor within one year the I grade will revert to a failing grade.

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences