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Core Curriculum

User experience requires the study of design, sciences and business.

The design component requires the careful resolution of the often conflicting demands inherent in interaction and the interface design. The sciences asks us to gain a deep understanding of human behavior, values, perception and emotion. The business component recognizes that a good user experience leads to a greater probability for a successful product that enriches users' lives and delivers value to the organization.

There are ten courses in the program. Full-time students take three to four per semester and complete the program in one year. Part-time students finish in two to three years.

We deliberately consider diverse technologies in the program and adopt a balanced strategy that satisfies today's needs, while allowing you to adapt to tomorrow's emerging technologies.

Many of our classes are project-based, requiring students to manage products for a corporate partner.

 

Core Courses (9 Credits Required)

HF700 Foundations in Human Factors

Designing intuitive, self-revealing products requires understanding the human factors that underlie the user's interaction with the product. This course introduces the applied theories relevant to the design of information products, training programs, or user interface designs. Particularly relevant to those working with critical applications, diverse user populations, and new technologies, the course helps students to create applications compatible with the strengths and weaknesses of the user's information processing systems. Students learn to anticipate user requirements before product development, to explain the user's performance during usability and prototype testing, and to foster a smooth transition for users facing new technologies or information.

HF750 Testing and Assessment Programs

Presents the principles, methods and tools for addressing usability issues. Topics covered include processes for assessing the usability of the communicative aspects of the human-computer interface in software applications, web sites and other forms of interactive media. Students will plan and administer tests and other means of product assessment through simulated usability problems and case studies. Human-computer interfaces and various forms of documentation (print and electronic) used in assignments and exercises will range from prototype to released products.

HF710 Managing a User-Centered Design Team

Addresses methods and tools that information designers can use to integrate user-centered design approaches and human-factors principles to enhance the usability of information products. Through readings, short papers and team projects, students examine common project-management problems that can adversely affect usability, define the implications of those problems for the user interface, and apply selected project-management techniques for anticipating and managing usability issues. Lectures, discussions and assignments focus on various user-centered design methodologies and human-factors techniques, and examine implementing these approaches in the project environment. Course materials and activities focus on processes such as creating user-centered project environments that support a human-factors approach to user-interface design, setting and evaluating project performance standards. Students examine and define metrics (ROI) for evaluating the effectiveness of the usability effort.

Elective Courses (15 credits required)

Select five courses from the following:

HF720 Localization and the Global Market

In today's global marketplace, long-term success requires a strategy for tailoring products to the requirements of the international community. This course introduces participants to the theory and practice of internationalizing all aspects of a technology business, including documentation, training, user interface, and marketing. Moving beyond the simple translation of language, this course addresses internationalization from the more comprehensive perspective of cultural theory. The course begins by recognizing the ethnocentric biases that affect all aspects of information design, then proposes a strategy for creating a globalized core design for all aspects of the product line. Working from this globalized core, developers can more easily and economically tailor product design to serve the needs of a local community. The course will focus on the major markets for technology, medical and scientific products, including Japan, China, France, Germany and England.

HF730 Visualizing Information

Examines the theory and practice of designing dynamic visualizations that clarify thinking, facilitate problem solving, and foster creativity. This course helps students to harness their visual and creative potential and to display this potential in the visual medium. In practice, students will learn to make large collections of verbal and numerical data accessible through carefully crafted visual displays. The unique strengths and weaknesses of both words and visuals are analyzed. Advancing from this analysis, the course helps students design a visual-verbal system where the strengths of one medium support the weaknesses of the other. This complementary system more fully integrates visual and verbal information, thereby dramatically improving the reader's understanding and retention of the communication design.

HF740 Information Architecture: User-Centered Design for the World Wide Web

Applies human factors design principles, strategies, and best practices in creating various types of web sites. Incorporates the information and knowledge needs of users, clients, product design teams, management and other constituencies involved in creating, implementing, maintaining and using information on the World Wide Web. Topics include the user-centered design process, form and function, technology and usability issues, site types and organization, information categorization and labeling systems, global and local navigation systems, searching and browsing systems, accessibility, interactivity, page layout, template design, prototyping, modularity, scalability, maintenance and management. Students learn to identify for different audiences the value of using information architecture principles and best practices to design highly functional web sites and web applications. Includes individual and group projects.

HF751 Measuring the User Experience

Covers more advanced assessment techniques than studied in HF750, such as usability benchmarking, competitive testing, and special studies that require advanced measurement skills. The content goes beyond usability to focus on two new overlapping areas: hedonomics and the user experience. These new areas focus less on productivity and more on the broader emotional experience with products and services. The course examines metrics suitable for assessing the contribution of the user experience to the business bottom line. The core learning activity is a field-based experience where student teams conduct research, prepare a detailed report and deliver a presentation to the sponsoring organization. In addition, influential thought leaders from the user experience community contribute to the class.

HF755 Special Topics in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

Builds expertise for the HCI professional in a wide range of subspecialties related to human behavior and user-centered design. Three 5-week modules on selected topics in HCI are taught by faculty with specialties in requirements gathering, web accessibility, interface design, inspection methods, intelligent agents, and remote usability testing. Students are graded for each module, with the three grades combined for the final class grade. Modules change each semester.

HF760 Intelligent User Interfaces

Introduces students to the theory and practice of engineering expert knowledge into system designs. To overcome the limitations of human processing capabilities, the technology industry must increasingly move from a model of providing support, training and documentation in forms external to the system, to a model where this information is seamlessly integrated in the larger system design. Early examples of knowledge-based subsystems include wizards, agents and expert system support. The very nature of expert knowledge, its value to the expert, and the way in which the expert constructs this knowledge are key elements of the course. Students learn to develop strategies for collecting and organizing knowledge from experts, and study ways to integrate expert knowledge in system designs. The course relies heavily on experts from local research and development labs.

HF765 Emerging Interfaces

This course introduces students to the process of iterative, user-centered design and to the state-of-the-art in user interface design and technology. This course allows the students to experience the benefits of iterative design by requiring them to present several iterations for feedback to the class. Furthermore, by having the students design a non-traditional interface in groups, the impact of iterative design and the importance of carefully analyzing the users in the use context are magnified. The students are also introduced to the latest user interfaces and user-interface research by reading many journal and conference articles, identify and present some issues from these papers, and write a research paper on an interface topic.

HF770 Prototyping and Interaction Design

This course will cover the fundamental principles and methods of interaction design and prototyping. The goals of this course are to provide students with an understanding of interaction design principles and how those principles are embodied in prototypes. The first half of the course will cover the history of interaction design, universal design principles, patterns, design constraints, metaphor, affordances, aesthetics that affect interaction, visual design considerations, human-computer dialog, and time-based design.

HF780 Field Methods

Places the concept of field research within the user-centered design lifecycle. Methods examined in the class include contextual inquiry, ethnographic survey, card sorts, and cognitive task analysis; how the methods are used, and how collected data fits with business and technical requirements. The course covers the design, planning and delivery of a field study, including preparation, sample definition, administration, and data analysis. Students will examine how the data analysis informs the design process. Special emphasis will be placed on different types of user populations and how they affect the way the field research is implemented. Guest speakers and intensive workshop exercises will be interspersed with lecture. Articles will be discussed during class.

HF785 Ethnography of Work for Design

Ethnographic research involves naturalistic inquiry aimed at capturing social phenomenon as they occur in a particular setting. Ethnographers can employ multiple data collection strategies to do this, but typically focus on participant/observation methodologies as a primary approach. While primarily found in social science disciplines such as anthropology and sociology, ethnographic approaches increasing are being applied in IT/IS fields for the purposes of achieving better technological designs, improving the user experience, and facilitating collaborative work. This course will introduce the student to the origins of the ethnographic method, discuss the theoretical bases of its use, identify strategies for successful ethnographic inquiry, develop initial skills for data analysis and reporting, and provide examples of how ethnographic studies of work and technological use have been used in a variety of business and organizational contexts.

HF790 Internship in HFID

Provides students the opportunity to integrate the classroom experience in a diverse range of field experiences in leading high-tech and web development groups. HF 790 requires the development of an educational plan to identify the student's career goals and how those goals can be enhanced through the internship experience. Requires close coordination with the internship coordinator and regular meetings with the coordinator throughout the semester.

HF795 Research Methods for Human Factors

This class prepares students to engage in professional and scholarly research in human factors with an emphasis on user-experience design. By critiquing research methodologies and methods from journal and practitioner publications, students will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of particular research designs. Through lectures, readings, and interactive classroom discussions of research studies, students will learn how to apply the most appropriate research methodology(s) and method(s) to a particular research problem. The course covers the full spectrum of research from basic to applied.

HF800 User Experience Thesis

This course is by invitation to students having shown superior knowledge, ability, and skill in their course work. Students need to take HF 700 and HF 795 in the first semester to prepare for their research project. Application for thesis option is open to full and part-time students. Students need to apply for the thesis option when they enter the MSHFID program. The candidate would be evaluated at that time to determine if they possess appropriate academic experience to pursue the thesis option. The decision regarding their admittance will be made in mid-October. Working with a Thesis Advisor, candidates will develop a research prospectus based their research interest. The prospectus will be reviewed and approved by the department research committee.

Non-HF Elective Courses (six credits required)

Select two courses from the following or any other graduate-level course (600-level or higher) with the approval of the program director.

CS603 Object-Oriented Application Development

This course teaches object-oriented programming and development using the Java programming language. Students first learn the fundamentals of programming, including control and data structures, file input/output, and the use of built-in classes. This is followed by object-oriented concepts, including inheritance, encapsulation, polymorphism, and abstract classes. Throughout the course, the students' understanding is reinforced through development projects ranging from stand-alone applications to event-driven Web applets with graphical user interfaces.

CS607 Technology Infrastructure of Information Systems

This course focuses on computer system hardware, operating system software, and network technology, which collectively form the system platform for assimilating and delivering information products and services to the organization and its external stakeholders. It introduces basic system infrastructure as a complex organization of these various components, including widely accepted infrastructure standard models, and offers a solid conceptual foundation for work and further learning in system architecture and information system design.

GBE790 Global Business Experience

Global Business Experiences are faculty-led, 10 day to two week courses that offer an intensive look at business or cultural practices in a country abroad. These courses are usually offered in January during semester break, in March during Spring Break or in May at the start of the summer semester. Students visit companies daily and meet with business leaders and government officials to further their global mindset and cultural awareness. Through immersion in the business practices of another region, students gain valuable professional skills and develop a stronger bond with their classmates that will benefit them throughout the remainder of their graduate study. Visit the following page for a listing of sites: http://www.bentley.edu/offices/international-education/global-business-experiences.

IDCC711 Argumentation Strategies for Business

This course is designed to develop in-depth oral presentation and critical skills in persuasion for a variety of business situations. The course will cover strategies for effectively advocating new proposals and defending current policies; addressing audience attitudes and concerns in formulating positions (discovering hidden agendas); establishing arguments through analysis and evidence; creating conditions for mutual persuasion; handling question and answer sessions; enhancing well-reasoned arguments and establishing tone through effective language usage; establishing personal credibility (reputation); and recognizing logical and psychological fallacies in arguments. Students will gain experience in thinking on their feet, as well as preparing a coordinated set of strategies for a team position defense and creating effective individual persuasive presentations.

IPM652 Information Management

Designed for the general business student who wants to gain knowledge about organizing data to obtain required information. This course focuses on the collection, analysis, and management of the enterprise's information resources. The emphasis will be on managerial and organizational issues with sufficient technical concepts to fully understand the issues. The interrelationship between the technical, managerial, organizational and inter-organizational aspects will be explored.

MG632 Managing Effective Work Teams

An increasing number of organizations use work teams to accomplish their objectives. Unfortunately, many organizational teams are not particularly effective. This course is designed to help students manage and work effectively in teams and groups. You will develop a greater understanding of task group dynamics, of your own behavior in teams, and of team management skills. The course is highly experiential and involves working in class teams on graded and non-graded assignments. These assignments include team presentations and written and oral analysis.

MG635 Negotiating

Explores the theory and practice of negotiating, with an emphasis on bargaining within an organizational context. Develops both a knowledge of bargaining concepts and models and the skill to apply this knowledge in real-life negotiating situations. Uses simulations to increase involvement and to deepen understanding of negotiating principles.

MG645 Managing Organizational Change

Views change as an adaptive process that can affect organizational structure, design and technology, as well as group and interpersonal processes. Devotes attention to such consulting skills as assessing the need for change, developing intervention strategies, understanding and managing resistance, and assessing the impact of various changes on the organization.

MG646 Management of Technology

Discusses the concepts, tools and best-in-class practices for managing effectively in technology-based businesses. Examines contemporary organizational systems and processes. Suggests techniques for dealing with: fuzzy deliverables, risk, uncertainty and change; managing technology transfer; gaining cross-functional commitment; and leading self-directed teams. Lectures, case studies and group discussions are combined to prepare students for leadership positions in today's technology-based organizations.

MG651 Project Management

Presents the specific concepts, systems and techniques for managing projects effectively. Leads the student through a complete project life cycle, from requirements analysis and project definition to start-up, reviews and phase-out. The role of the project manager as team leader is examined together with important techniques for controlling project costs, schedules and performance. Lectures, case studies and group discussions are combined to develop skills needed by project managers in today's environment.

MG652 Management of Innovation

Considers common characteristics of all forms of the innovation process: both generating and adopting new technologies, products and services, and organizational forms. Managerial techniques for stimulating and control scriptive and prescriptive readings and cases. Emphasizing the systems aspects of innovation, its organizational and social implications are also explored.

ST625 Quantitative Analysis for Business

Provides students with an in depth coverage of simple and multiple linear regression methods and, as time permits, an introduction to the analysis of time series data. Simple and multiple linear regression techniques are covered including the use of transformations such as squares and logarithms, the modeling of interactions, and how to handle problems resulting from heteroscedasticy and multicollinearity . Issues surrounding outlying and influential observations are also covered. The art and science of model building are demonstrated with the help of cases. Autocorrelation is then considered, and an introduction to the ARIMA modeling of times series is provided. Makes use of statistical packages such as SAS, JMP, R or SPSS.

ST635 Intermediate Statistical Modeling for Business

Focuses on statistical modeling situations dependent on multiple variables, as commonly found in many business applications. Typical topics covered are logistic regression, cluster analysis, factor analysis, decision trees, and other multivariate topics as time permits. Applications of these methodologies range from market analytics (e.g. direct mail response and customer segmentation) to finance and health informatics. A central objective of the course is for participants to be able to determine the appropriate multivariate methodology based on the research objectives and available data, carry out the analysis and interpret the results. Makes use of statistical packages such as SAS, JMP, R or SPSS, along with more specialized software.

GR602 Business Process Management

Provides a conceptual framework for understanding the fundamentals and characteristics of business processes. To set a solid foundation for accomplishing this aim, reviews the basics of process analysis and introduces process modeling. Included here are various methods of analyzing, measuring and evaluating processes. With these fundamentals in place, explores the concept of the value chain to offer a backdrop for understanding both intra- and interorganizational relationships and the associated dependencies that exist. The last part of the course focuses on how information technology can be used effectively in redesigning processes to improve their overall performance. Students are introduced to the enterprise resource planning system SAP. The course includes assignments, exercises and projects focused on different aspects of business processes