LIS590II: Interfaces to Information Systems
Tuesdays 1-3:50pm (Location: Room 52 LIS Building)
This course will provide an introduction to the following:
Issues in Human Computer Interaction
Analysis of interfaces and their use
Synthesis: the design process as an engineering activity
Designing usable interfaces under constraints of resources
The rapid prototyping and evaluation cycle
Metacognition: learning how to learn and to operate in this domain as a
reflective, continually improving professional
This course will consider how people use information systems such as on-line
public access catalogues, CD-Roms, bibliographic databases, digital libraries,
world wide web pages, web search engines, etc. For many users the computer
interface they see is the system that they are using. Thus the usability
of that interface has a profound effect on any usefulness they gain from
using the system. We will use the techniques from Human Computer Interaction
research to identify the problems that people have with poorly designed
interfaces, and indeed any interface to a complex information system. We
will see how non-specialists can be involved in the interface design process
and how an awareness of usability issues is an important skill for any
information professional who may be involved in the commission, specification,
design, selection or adaptation of an information system.
Furthermore we shall consider how an awareness of usability issues
can help in education, training and the giving of help to users encountering
difficulty with a system. This will include a consideration of both formal
learning activities and the more frequent and perhaps more important (but
often unconsidered, even by experts) informal learning from peers and colleagues
- the kind that can be typified as 'over the shoulder teaching and learning'.
In the context of the move to distributed and rapidly developing information
resources we shall consider how this help-giving can be provided in different
contexts of time and proximity.
A strong emphasis within the course will be the design of better interfaces.
You are not required to know a particular programming language (or indeed
any) in order to undertake this. However, you must be prepared to learn
and understand (by doing) the process and way of thinking embodied in the
engineering paradigm of design. This is a very creative process involving
juggling multiple contraints and trying to match different sets of needs
with available technologies and techniques. If you do know a programming
language, you will have the opportunity to build a system interface. In
any case you will explore the design of a novel interface to an information
system of your choice, using various tools including simple drawing software.
Experience of using a range of computing applications
Experience of receiving help from a range of sources including informal
help from colleagues and 'over the shoulder teaching and learning'
An interest in the difficulties that people have in using computer systems
Willingness to participate in collaborative learning activities
Willingness to learn about and practise the design process
A good memory for the feelings of bewilderment you experienced when encountering
new computer systems.
In order to illustrate some of the concepts we will consider the design
of web pages as a form of interface design, and so how to design sets of
web pages that are more usable. Thus you need to have some basic experience
of using the web and designing simple web pages using rudimentary HTML.
Ability to manage multiple files in multiple directories, including multiple
versions of files
Details | Readings