Student Outreach: Ashesi University College announce a semester of Open Design projects

Ashesi logo

Students at Ashesi University College (Accra, Ghana) have embarked on semester long Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) projects – in collaboration with Mozilla Labs as part of the Concept Series, Student Outreach channel.

All picture credits: Ebenezer Gwumah Buckman

The Ashesi HCI Class

Ashesi HCI Class / Picture credit: Ebenezer Gwumah Buckman

About the course

The HCI course, which is taught by Dr Astrid Twenebowa Larssen, is a requirement for all third year Computer Science students.

The semester project is one of three main assessments for the students. This semester a class of 27 students will be introduced to the basics of HCI, usability and user-centered methods for developing usable and useful technology.

The HCI and Interaction Design (IxD) community in Ghana is in its infancy, so the Mozilla Labs collaboration provide the students with an opportunity to practice their developing skills on real-world applications and products as well as increase their interaction with and exposure to the UX industry.

Overall, the aim of the course is to develop the students’ skills and abilities in critiquing, analyzing, evaluating and designing technology.

The project topics

A variety of project topics have been proposed to the students by various Mozilla product owners and engineers.

The chosen topics for 2011 were introduced to the students via brief video intros, a slide presentations as well as relevant links of resources living online.

Below is a brief description of each chosen topic, or check out the full set of detailed 2011 topics:

  • Mobile – Intersection between new user needs and innovative technologies for our online lives
  • Tablet– Multi-touch interaction, gestural interface design for controlling web activities
  • Web Apps – Apps for mobile is a well-known way to interact with the Web; anything bigger than that?
  • HomeDash – Are people buried among all tabs, pages, histories and notifications? How can a browser help people manage that?

How will the topic briefs be realised?

Students will work in groups of 4-5. They then have some time to discuss the topics with their lecturer and fellow group members.

Part of the required outputs are:

  • Conduct background research to identify and understand needs and establish requirements
  • [Deliverables] Personas and scenarios

  • Generate ideas for alternate design (1st iteration)
  • [Deliverables] concepts, storyboards, wire-frames, prototypes

  • Evaluate to improve concept and design (2nd and 3rd iteration)
  • [Deliverables] Documentation and semi functioning prototypes demonstrated/ acted out/ filmed

  • Final Presentations of Projects and Prototype
  • [Deliverables] Submission of Design Documentation and Peer Assessment

Ashesi students in class

Ashesi students in class / Picture credit: Ebenezer Gwumah Buckman

Project outputs

To facilitate the free exchange of ideas, all outputs, visualizations and other contributions made during the projects will be contributed and shared under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. These outputs will be documented in the open on the dedicated wiki space for Ashesi.

Ashesi University College operate with an Honor Code system, so the public sharing of the student work in the HCI course in is an interesting input into the ongoing discussion about the code on campus.


We have an amazing lineup of professional expertise – to help guide, mentor and support the students. These include:

Ashesi student presenting

Ashesi student presenting / Picture credit: Ebenezer Gwumah Buckman

Going forward

We will provide regular updates as the students progress throughout the semester.
Keep up-to-date with ideas and concepts on Ashesi’s wiki space or follow @MozConcept on Twitter.