Structuring, Preparing & Preaching UCD

Teaching Interaction Design

The challenge | Restructuring and teaching an Interaction Design class for an industrial designers bachelor course

The team | Professor Dominik Schumacher (co-lecturer), Danny Schott ( tutor) and Jeremias Volker ( tutor)

When & Where | 2016 at the HS Magdeburg-Stendal

Opportunities And Plot Lines

At the beginning of 2016 I was asked whether I would be available to teach an interaction design course called Intro Interaction at the HS Magdeburg-Stendal. I got very excited about it because I believe that it is a crucial expertise for designers to be able to transform raw information into a narrative that is well consumable.

I have had the opportunity to give talks and seminars but teaching a whole semester seemed to be on a totally different level. It felt a bit like jumping from directing one single episode of a series straight into working on a whole season. You have to create an underlying plot line that not only connects all of the lessons but also keeps the students thrilled. My plan was it to make Human Centred Design this underlying plot line.

Challenges And Structures

The Intro Interaction course was mainly established to give undergraduate industrial design students a fundamental understanding of interaction design. So, it was my challenge to pack everything the students need to know from visual design up to prototyping into five chapters. There was already a structure for the lesson starting with animations going through visual design and information architecture and then finally to documenting their work. I decided to change that order to give it a better design process feeling. Besides that there was another challenge: In the years before, the course was built around the tool Flash and it was definitely time to change that.

Chapter One — Research & Information Architecture

What is interaction design?

The first chapter was all about understanding what interaction design can be and about starting to dig into digital part of it. Main topics were analysing and researching websites, thinking about UX & Usability and creating site maps and data visualisation.

Chapter Two — Gestalt & Interfaces

The students learned about the main gestalt principles and how to apply them. Therefore they created a small icon set for a predefined topic that they had to randomly to choose from. This icon set was then used to create a small icon game with InVision that helped them to get a better understanding of how tightly visuals and site structure are connected.

My example for the icon game

Chapter Three — Animations

This chapter was all about storytelling and the importance of animations. The students had to tell a complex story using only simple shapes. That helped them to learn how to express emotions trough animations and to create a coherent animation language.

Chapter Four — Prototyping

In chapter four we talked about the importance of prototyping and the students learned how to use Keynote as a reliable prototyping tool.

Chapter Five — Documenting

The students learned the basics of HTML and CSS and created an basic on page website to show their work.

Final Thoughts … And What I Learned

The students were extraordinary. Even tough the class was a lot of work and there were many new things to learn, they gave their very best until the end.

Now I know in which direction my course of studies should go :) — A students quote
Your positive motivation helped me to get trough this packed semester. Thank you for your helpful advices and the inspiration. — A students quote

The team I worked with was amazing. Jeremias Volker who did the website seminar did a great job with teaching HTML and CSS basics in a short amount of time. Danny Schott was a great tutor for the students and helped them to gain a basic knowledge of all the tools they used. Professor Dominik Schumacher who I taught with gave me great guidance and helped me to manage people better and to give better feedback.

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