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I'll be teaching an undergrad course in HCI to graphic design students. I'm looking for assignment ideas. The assignment should lend itself to research by the students, and be inspiring enough to keep them going.

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Are you looking at it in terms of user experience or graphic design? –  Mervin Johnsingh Aug 7 '12 at 18:05
    
user experience. I want to introduce them to the process of user centered design. this is why the 1st part of the assignment should involve user research. –  Yalia Aug 7 '12 at 18:57
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As is this is a bit broad for our site; think we could refocus this to something that could more narrowly be answered like "how can I teach user centered design to students with a background in graphic design?" –  Ben Brocka Aug 7 '12 at 19:43

3 Answers 3

Design a dashboard of data. Allow users to drill down and edit the content.

That sounds like a very specific task, but it's actually one that would expose students to many facets of UX:

  • The visual display of quantitative information
  • Discoverability of content and information scenting
  • Relationships between views and drilldowns; when to use modal windows
  • Interaction design and the art of form design

Sounds too dry? How about...

Design a patient breathing rate monitor for use in hospitals

Some great physical challenges there, plus possibly exposure to non-visual communication for the graphic designers (especially aural interfaces), as well as mission-critical display and interaction design. Adding ergonomics and materials to the mix could introduce some interesting constraints, too.

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  1. Design an android/iphone/windows class schedule phone app for a specific user group as students . The user research part would involve studying about the best design practices for such an app and interviewing students to find out how they would want such an app to be. Other research aspects could be an contextual enquiry into situations where users might use an app like that and determination of potential use cases
  2. Ask them to design a site for older people with special emphasis on accessibility

I'll update this later when I can think of some of the stuff I did in grad school

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An app could work well - apps that have to be used on the move have both tight constraints and urgent use-cases. Plus, designing an app is a good way to get users to read a vendor's HCI guidelines! –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Aug 7 '12 at 19:51

Maybe it would be a good idea if you let your students use their own creativity and choose their own assignment/subject/project that they would like to develop throughout your whole course. If it is their own project and it involves creativity, they may be more likely to keep going.

I had a professional course about user centered analysis and conceptual design. As students, we were split in groups and each group was to invent its own business project: for example, a social website to allow people to sell things online, a website to allow people to meet and travel together, a website that allow people pick up requests made by other people in other countries (for example, when living abroad but missing some food products from their originating country: the person picking up the request would just go buy and send the product to the requester after agreement on the price, etc.)...

These are just simple examples but each group was really enthusiastic in developing their idea and using its business case during all the activities the course was introducing (gathering data, making interviews, creating personas, card sorting, etc.).

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