Informatics 131: Human Computer Interaction

Winter 2014 // UCI Department of Informatics // Ellie Harmon

Admin // Schedule // Sketching // Reading // Design

Instructor & TA

Instructor: Ellie Harmon
Office Hours: Tue, Wed, Thu 4:00-5:00 or by appointment.
Office: LUCI Lab, DBH 5069

It is fine to stop by my office outside of office hours. I may or may not be around. However, note that I work in the LUCI lab, a shared work environment. Please be respectful of others when coming by.

TA: Ben Koehne
Office Hours: 3:45 to 5:00 on Thursdays
Office: DBH 5231

Reader: Matias Giorgio

Course Information


Tues & Thurs 2:00-3:20pm ICS 174

Attendance at lecture is mandatory.

Discussion Sections

Section 1: Friday, 2:00-2:50 Social Science Lab 248
Section 2: Friday, 5:00-5:50 ET 202

Attendance at your scheduled discussion section is mandatory.

Course Description

This course will introduce you to the basic principles of human-computer interaction (HCI). This course will cover a brief history of HCI, and introduce you to some open questions and challenges in HCI. The class will expose you to a variety of user research and HCI design techniques through hands-on engagement with a creative interaction design process. Informatics 132, the follow-on course in HCI evaluation, focuses on the improvement of existing systems in the world.

Course Overview

For more details, please see the schedule.


45% - Design Assignments
20% - Sketching Journal
25% - Reading Responses
10% - Attendance & Participation

There will be two opportunities for extra credit, with a maximum of 5 points extra credit total. See the Reading Responses page for more information.

Course Policies & Expectations

The instructor reserves the right to change this syllabus as necessary as the course progresses.


Course materials, including links to readings, will be available at:

You are responsible for checking this site regularly to ensure that you are up
to date with any changes in the course. Pertinent changes will normally be announced to your UCINET email address.

Readings will generally be available at least one week prior to the class session
in which they will be discussed.

Class Mailing List

You may post to the class mailing list at:

Readings & Materials


There will be no required textbook to purchase for this course. Because this is an introductory course to a broad field, readings will be selected from several HCI textbooks, UX handbooks, and published articles. This strategy will expose you to the variety of resources available to you for future work in this area.

Individual readings will be linked to in the schedule


Sketching is a common practice used by designers that fosters the ability to think critically about existing objects and interactions, and generating ways of improving them.

As part of this class, you will keep a sketchbook, in which you will think about objects or interactions in your daily life and sketch ideas for how they could be improved.

You will need a blank sketchbook for this assignment that you can turn in at the end of the quarter. This book should be:

The UCI Bookstore sells many sizes and types of unlined books that would be appropriate for this. This does not need to be expensive. You could also make your own book if you are feeling DIY.


I would prefer that you visit office hours over emailing whenever possible. If you do need to email us, please make sure to include INF131 in the subject line. Emails will be responded to within 48 hours. Do not expect an immediate response.

I recommend also cc’ing the EEE class mailing list on non-personal issues so that the entire class benefits from the discussion.

Please note that Ellie’s office is in the LUCI lab, a shared work environment. Please be respectful of others when coming to office hours.


Since this is a hands-on course, students are expected to attend all lectures and discussion sessions unless otherwise noted in the [schedule][2]. A student may miss one class session, for whatever reason, without affecting their grade. Each additional absence will automatically lower the student’s participation grade by 10%. Exceptions to this policy will only be made in the case of medical or family emergencies (i.e., you’re in the emergency room, a death in the family).


By actively participating in class you can develop your professional skills for design. All students are expected to come to class having finished the assigned readings, participate fully in-group discussions, and come to class with questions about the reading material and viewpoints from their own experiences and other relevant literature and coursework.

Here are some examples of how you can participate:

If you would like, you may submit an optional 2-3 paragraph personal statement on how you contributed to the class. If you submit a statement, it is due at the same time as your final Design Project reflection, Thursday, March 20, 3:30pm.

Electronics & Digital Devices

Before class begins, please turn off all phones, pagers, or other devices that may cause disruption. Please don’t use laptop computers for anything other than taking notes, reading class materials, or otherwise working on class topics (i.e., no IM, Facebook, or random surfing, please.)

Academic Honesty

Please familiarize yourself with the latest UCI academic honesty policy: academic. The consequences of academic dishonesty are not worth the risks.

In short, you may never use anyone else’s work without clearly acknowledging the source. This includes code you find on the web, text from books, and answers from friends. If an assignment requires you to do the work yourself, then acknowledging the source of an answer does not fulfill the requirements of the assignment. I reserve the right to fail students who do not display complete academic integrity.

Students with Disabilities or Special Needs

Any student who feels he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, religious observance (or anything else) should contact me privately to discuss his or her specific needs. If appropriate, contact the Disability Services Center at (949) 824-7494 as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.

Syllabus & Course Design Credit

Syllabus and course materials are adapted from those of instructors from similar courses, including Jed Brubaker, Gillian Hayes, Melissa Mazmanian, Paul Dourish, Julie Kientz, and Lilly Irani.

Acknowledgments also go to Lynn Dombrowski for much helpful advice about good readings on Design as well as Chris Patton and Arvind Venkataramani for helpful suggestions from the UX practitioner point of view.