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Masters in Human Factors in Information Design 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 Masters of Human Factors in Information Design 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.

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.

HF715 Innovation Boot Camp

This five-day program offers on-line program students an opportunity to explore and develop the skill component of many of the program's classes including user requirements gathering, field methods, prototyping and usability testing. This experience has been created as a complement to the online experience in each of these classes. The program is held primarily in the Design and Usability Center while select experiences will take students into the field. Immersion in the user-centered design experience during a full-week of interactive discussions, an expert panel presentation, site tours, and hands-on workshops is the focus of the week. Over the course of the five days, students will experience the entire user-centered design life-cycle. Interaction/networking with program faculty and current students and alumni from the on-campus program is included in the week's activities.

HF750 Testing and Assessment Programs

This course 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, websites 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.

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.

HF725 User Experience Leadership and Management

In a business world where change is continuous and innovation essential, leadership and management are critical competencies that every User Experience (UX) professional must command. In this course students will learn how to lead and to manage user-centered strategies, tactics, organizations, and teams. Through case studies, visits with Silicon Valley-based UX leaders, lectures, team exercises, short papers, and hands-on assignments, students will learn how User Experience participates at a strategic level, how to communicate the value of user experience to executives, as well as how to recognize business challenges that can be turned into user experience successes. As part of this course, students will create their own personal strategic plan for use in managing their career as a user experience professional and leader.

HF730 Visualizing Information

This course 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)

This course builds expertise for the HCI professional in a wide range of subspecialties related to human behavior and user-centered design. Three five-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

This course 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.

HF761 Mobile Design

HF 761 embraces an "informed problem solving" approach to mobile design. In particular, the approach is directly informed by customers -- what they do, what they need and how they interact. With the massive growth in smart phone and tablet usage, it is important to think about how UX designers adapt their approach to design for these devices. Smart phones and tablets offer new capabilities, but also new design challenges. The way humans interact with them is different in their ability to use touch, gestures, other forms of input such as images and voice. This course will examine how the traditional research and design process is altered to enable us to create the best mobile products for our customers.

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 Human Factors in Information Design

This course provides students the opportunity to integrate the classroom experience in a diverse range of field experiences in leading high-tech and web development groups. The course 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. The course also 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 gain a solid understanding of programming fundamentals, including control and data structures and the use of built-in classes. This is followed by the study of object-oriented programming concepts and practices, from defining classes and methods to the more advanced object-oriented concepts of inheritance, encapsulation, polymorphism and abstract classes. Students' understanding is reinforced throughout the course through the development of stand-alone applications. No prior knowledge of Java or other programming languages is required.

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 courses that last from 10 day to 2 weeks and 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:

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 covecs 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

The class will provide a managerial perspective on information management in organizations, with emphasis on the relationship between the business and its information systems at strategic, tactical, and operational levels, information impacts on business processes within and between organizations, business intelligence, business analytics and reporting, performance management, quality of data, ethical use of information, data standards, data sharing for business process support, and other current managerially-focused topics. The students will obtain hands-on experience with real-world data and advanced information management and analytics technologies such as SAP BusinessObjects, Lumira, Digital Boardroom, and others.

MG632 Leading Effective Work Teams

Organizations use a variety of complex work teams to accomplish their objectives. Unfortunately, many organizational teams are not particularly effective. This course is designed to help students lead, participate and work effectively in a variety of team environments -including virtual teams and groups. You will develop a greater understanding of group dynamics, of your own behavior in teams, and team leadership skills. The course is highly experiential and involves working in teams on graded and non-graded assignments. These assignments include team presentations and written and oral analysis.

MG635 Negotiating

This course explores the theory and practice of negotiating, with an emphasis on bargaining within an organizational context. It develops the knowledge of bargaining concepts and models, as well as skills to apply this knowledge in real-life negotiating situations. The courcse uses multiple negotiating case role plays to increase involvement and to deepen understanding of negotiating principles in face-to-face and virtual online negotiating environments.

MG645 Leading Change

This course seeks to improve participant awareness of change dynamics, including: the changing nature of change; understanding the enhanced change complexities in a global, virtual environment, readiness for a change versus continuous change; and the challenge of building change capacity (skills and capabilities). The course focus includes key individual, group and organization-level factors essential for informing leaders and followers as they navigate change efforts in organizations.

MG646 Leading Technology-Based Organizations

This course prepares students for leadership positions in technology-based organizations. The course introduces principles of technology growth and diffusion and how they impact business strategy and planning, markets, the performance of cross-functional teams, product design and project management. Through this course, students gain an understanding of theories, tools and best-in-class practices required to commercialize new technologies or to adapt existing practices in response to either sustaining or disruptive technological innovation. Through lectures, group discussions, case studies and research projects, students explore how leading businesses are creating value from emerging technologies and may continue to do so in the future.

MG651 Project Management

This course presents the specific concepts, systems and techniques for managing projects effectively. It leads students through a complete project life cycle, from requirements analysis and project definition to startup, 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 Strategic Innovation

In the increasingly complex and global marketplace, innovation is becoming a necessity for competitive strength and survival. Creativity and good ideas alone are not enough for success; they must be transformed into viable goods and services and offered to customers through innovative business models. This course focuses on strategies that leaders use for stimulating and implementing innovation in the workplace. It looks at innovation strategically at the level of the firm and industry. The innovation strategies of successful and unsuccessful firms are highlighted. The course covers topics such as sources of innovation, design thinking, disruptive innovation, business model innovation, first mover advantage/disadvantage, value innovation, and dominant design and standards battles. During the semester, the students will tour innovative companies, and hear from experts in the financing and valuation of small innovative firms.

ST625 Quantitative Analysis for Business

This course 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. The course makes use of statistical packages such as SAS, JMP, R or SPSS.

ST635 Intermediate Statistical Modeling for Business

This course 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. This course makes use of statistical packages such as SAS, JMP, R or SPSS, along with more specialized software.

GR602 Business Process Management

This course provides a conceptual framework for understanding the fundamentals and characteristics of business processes. To set a solid foundation for accomplishing this aim, it 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, the course 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.

GR603 Leading Responsibly

This course examines the multiple roles of ethical and responsible leadership and the challenges associated with leading organizations and teams in a rapidly changing environment. Through discussion, case analysis, and team-based experiential exercises; students explore the complex issues of responsibly leading and guiding organizations and teams in contemporary society. Focus is placed on the development of the student as evolving leader. Students assess individual strengths and weaknesses as a leader, identify and develop a range of leadership competencies, and then apply these leadership skills to a variety of situations.