Assignments - ISU570 Human Computer Interaction

Professor Futrelle, CCIS, Northeastern University - Spring 2009

Version of March 9th, 2009

Your reading assignments are on the course schedule page.


Your "audience": It is always important whenever you write anything or make a presentation, to have a particular audience in mind. For the assignments in this course, you should never assume that audience is Professor Futrelle or the grader. This may seem odd, but it is important. Instead, you should imagine that your reader is some other upperclassman, probably not someone who has taken or is taking and HCI course. Your task is to keep this reader in mind and strive to explain,instruct, and inform him or her clearly and in an interesting and substantive way.

Figures/graphics in your assignments: As our texbook and Norman emphasize, a crucial part of virtually all interaction is its visual aspects. So in your various assignments, it will typically be useful to include figures in what you hand in. These can come from a variety of sources including images from the web, from documents, your screenshots, digital pics you take with a camera or your phone.

All figures you turn in must have captions that explain what they're about and where you got them from.

Here are suggestions garnered from past classes

You MUST pay careful attention to these problems and not let them occur in your later assignments or in your project. You have now been warned, so you will lose points in the future if you ignore the points laid out below.

General instructions that you must follow for handing in your work

Most of the assignments are due Fridays in class, in hardcopy form. If you have trouble getting them printed just before class, don't come to class late; just print them right after the class and leave them in my mailbox in 202WVH. We need the hardcopies so we can write comments on them as part of the grading. You should do the printing and not leave it to us to do your printing.

Your written documents, such as an MS Word or PDF file, must include, up front, your name, the date, the class name and year, the assignment number, assignment title, and any title of your own that you want to add to it. Don't assume we'll follow URLs and read what's there, unless it is the location of your actual assignment handin.

In addition to your hardcopy handins, you might want to email us electronic copies. For example, they might include color figures that don't show up properly when printed in black and white.

The format and labeling of any emailed assignments must be in a standard form: The Subject line should begin in the standard required way, with "isu570sp09", or else it will be returned, unread. For assignments, this must be followed on the subject line with "Assignment n" where n is the appropriate assignment number. You may put additional information on subject line after that, as you like.

When you do use email: You must attach only one single file in your email, either a single stand-alone file such as PDF (preferred) or MS Word (LaTeX and Open Office can be problems, so please don't use them), or a link to a Google Doc that has the proper permissions for Prof. Futrelle and the grader,. If you do have more than one file to send they must be zipped, tar-d, or jar-d into a single file. Never attach multiple files. Finally, your file or zip file must be given a meaningful name, which would be the course name, your name, and the the assignment, e.g., "AllanJonesISU570Sp09Assign2.pdf" - all of these three. The worst name you could choose, and some students have done this (!) would be "assignment" or "assignment 2". Futrelle has over one million files on his MacBook, including thousands of student files handed in over the last ten or more years. He can't try to keep track of files with incomplete, nonspecific names. If your subject line or file name is deficient, your mail will simply be returned, replied to with a note pasted into it.

Where to send your email: Send your mail to Professor Futrelle at If you are sharing Google Docs that you would like me to have edit access to, you would need to use one of my Gmail addresses, specifically, In the spirit of social networking, we could write our comments into your Google, doc, e.g., in red. You may also put your assignment together as a web page(s), though I would prefer that you hand us hardcopies of your site too, something we can write grading comments on.

Assignment #1 - Analyzing and critiquing some artifact - Due as hardcopy, beginning of class, Friday, January 23rd.

The assignment is described in more detail on this page. It is not a trivial assignment. It demands some research and writing. It is not an assignment that can succeed if you put it off until the last day or two. So get started right away.

January 25th: Now that Assignment 1 has been handed in and graded, I have added some comments on the assignment. The comments should help you with your future assignments.

Assignment #2 - Finding and critiquing two recent papers - Due as hardcopy, beginning of class, Tuesday, February 17th. (This is a change from the original due date of Friday the 13th.)

The assignment is described in more detail on this page. This requires you to track down and discuss two recent high-quality papers on Interaction Design. As with Assignment #1, it is not an assignment that can succeed for you if you put it off until the last day or two. So get started right away.

Assignment #3 - Designing and conducting an on-line survey - Due as hardcopy, beginning of class, Friday, March 13th.

You should start this assignment early enough to get enough responses and to analyze them. Start no later than February 17th. The assignment is described in more detail on this page. You will choose the topic and design the survey questions and forms. You can use one of the free online survey systems. For example, Survey Monkey allows you up to 10 questions and 100 responses, free.

Assignment #4 - Experimenting with simple GUI code - Due emailed, Tuesday, March 24th, by 11:59pm

The assignment is described in more detail on this page. This requires that you take some existing Java code for a simple GUI and make minor modifications to it to substitute your own text and images.

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