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Academic Year: 


Course ID and Name: 

Section Number: 

Course Syllabus

Course Prerequisites: 


Course Description: 

This online course is an introduction to User Interaction and Web Site Design. It is 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 (js). Students will learn how to use these technologies in conjunction with integrated development environments (ide), content management systems (cms), and drag-and-drop website builders 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 information access artefacts brings into play traditional library science skills.

How this course will be taught

This is an online course taught virtually at a distance using the Web. The course is conceived of as discussions on 15 (or so) topics. A lecture course in the University of Arizona amounts to 37 1/2 hours of instruction spread through a semester. Our 'discussions' will be the virtual counterpart of 15 (or so) two and a half hour lectures, delivered at a rate of one topic a week. There will be notes, readings, videos, discussion groups, chat, video conferencing, and (of course) assignments.

The course has a start date and an end date, and the class as a whole will move through the course as a cohort together. The primary means of introducing the scholarly material will be Notes. These are going to be posted one at a time steadily through the session, keeping the whole class moving forward through the material. There are 15 plus sets of Notes, and these normally will be delivered at a rate of one set a week (usually with one part put up on a Tuesday and another part on a Friday). There will be assignments, with due dates, and formal discussions, and these will serve to check progress. There also will be readings or references to be followed up on the Web.

Most of the interactions will be asynchronous. That is, students can log on whenever they wish, and read material and post replies on timetables that suits their individual needs. A student will typically need to log on about 5 times a week. (An analog here is email—most folk check their email at least five times a week.)

d2l (desire to learn) is used as the instructional and course management environment. Students who enrol in the course will be given an account. They will be able to log in to their account via the d2l Portal.

d2l is going to be supplemented with Google Hangouts (students should establish a Google+  account) and also NoteBowl. NoteBowl is an initiative/startup created by former University of Arizona students, and it is being trialed in this class and elsewhere in the University. Students will be given a Notebowl account through Notebowl will be used in conjunction with Hangouts

Students are expected to log on reasonably regularly, to read and study the Notes and references, to participate in the online discussions, to interact by email (and other means) with their fellow students, to write (or otherwise answer) the assignments, to download and upload files (this will be taught), and to carry out various other activities. It is hard to anticipate accurately how much time all these course related activities will take in total (and such a figure would vary from student to student and from week to week), but, seven hours a week is a rough order of magnitude estimate.

The course will start in earnest a few days after the start of the semester. The d2l software can detect when students log on, and when most of the students have shown that the are present by logging on, the Instructor will get the course underway.

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.
  • have good skills with html5
  • be able to do most website production and editing, using html5, css, and introductory javascript. 
  • have experienced the production of web pages, web sites, digital magazines, ePubs, and eBooks.
  • know how to work with version control and teams
  • know how to work with the LAMP, MAMP etc. stack
  • know how to install, work with, and perform basic administration on, a Content Management System

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)
  • Bootstrap (responsive framework)
  • MAMP (Apache personal webserver, MySQL database, and PHP server side language glue)
  • Drupal (Content Management System)
  • Web Inspectors
  • Calibre (eBook management)
  • SourceTree (version control and GIT)
  • some of Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, etc. (these are commercial drag-and-drop website builders, but we may explore some of their free trial products)

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, web sites, etc..

There is a set text for the course. It is free. It is a textbook in the Open Textbook Library: Michael Mendez [2014], The Missing Link: An Introduction to Web Development and Programming Other 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. This will be for extra credit.

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 DisabilityResourceCenter( If you anticipate the need for reasonable accommodations to meet the requirements of this course, you must register with the DisabilityResourceCenter 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