An international group of 4 students at University of Southern Denmark’s Mads Clausen Institute (MCI) are currently working on a semester project in cooperation with Mozilla Labs. The project is central to the HCI / Design Studies course within the two-year, studio-based IT Product Design graduate program.
The course HCI / Design Studies, under the guidance of Ben Matthews and Trine Heinemann, researchers at MCI, aims to teach skills in pinpointing interaction problems with technologies in the widest sense. Students are asked to demonstrate their understanding of the theories and tools covered in class through undertaking a critical analysis of any machine interaction, and proposing a redesign of the technology in question.
Through a series of lectures and practical exercises attendees are supported in developing these skills. Part of these exercises is a semester project running in parallel to the weekly lectures. For the project students form groups of 3-4 and decide autonomously on a topic to work on.
Initial video recordings of users in interaction with a given technology are transcribed and analyzed. Evaluation is done with regard to shortcomings in the design that eventually cause frustration due to confusion, misunderstanding, and false operation.
Remote User Test on Mozilla Labs’ HomeDash
Grounded on their observations students suggest alternative design solutions that comprise deliverables like use stories, sketches, low- and/or high-fidelity prototypes, and such. In multiple iterations proposals are opposed to in-class discussions against the background of general design principles taught throughout the course.
Reading about Mozilla Labs initiative to expose students to relevant industry experience through the Student Outreach channel, one group of students decided to approach Mozilla Labs for a potential collaboration on their semester project.
Mozilla Labs proposed a list of possible topics and discussed their suitability for the given context of interaction analysis. Students eventually chose to focus on Edward Lee’s experimental Home Dash add-on for Firefox 4.
Regular updates by the students as they progress throughout the semester will be available on the Student Outreach wiki or by following @MozConcept on Twitter.
What is Student Outreach?
It’s a Mozilla Labs Concept Series channel to give industry related experience exposure to students at global institutions – via co-created and collaborative Design (UX, UCD, HCI, IxD) courses.
We aim to directly work together to propose and structure a engaging course module that’s relevant to the institutions own goals, interests and timing schedules.
A number of globally located institutions are already collaborating with us on a number of interesting & challenging topics for 2011.
If you or your institution would like to get involved please contact Desigan Chinniah by emailing cyberdees[at]mozilla[dot]com.