One of the three critical components of the Usability Research Lab's (URL) mission, along with research and client services, is teaching. The URL supports the instruction of three different usability-related courses offered routinely at Texas Tech University. In addition, its staff teaches special corporate short courses on user experience (UX) and user-centered design that lead to certification, licensed by Texas Tech University.
Below is a summary of each of the URL's educational offerings. Should you have questions about a particular course, contact Dr. Abigail Selzer King.
English 3367: Usability Testing
This is an undergraduate, semester-long course taught on-site now but eventually it also will be taught online. Students are exposed to the history of usability, the key concepts and methods of it, and throughout the semester are given a number of assignments that require them to experiment with usability evaluation, including a team project in which they work with a real client to develop a test plan for that client's product, recruit users, test and collect data, and eventually analyze and then report on the findings of that testing.
English 4369: Interaction Design
Interaction Design is the art of effectively creating interesting and compelling experiences for others. It applies to all forms of interaction, all products, and all media. In this class we focus primarily on the online or computing environment. Students will be provided with a conceptual framework for designing generally web-based interactive experiences. The course touches on a wide range of design disciplines (graphic design, information design, product design), and uses a variety of tools and methods (i.e. Macromedia Flash, XML, PHP, SQL, DHTML, UML) as they relate to the creation of compelling interactive user experiences. Students will be required to complete a series of unit tasks to test comprehension of material and the ability to apply it; they will also work on an extended group project as well as at least one individual portfolio project meant to demonstrate ability to develop interactive materials. Assignments typically include the design of a live real space/real time interactive event as well as design of a storybook game or an interactive storytelling product that could be used for training purposes.
English 5388: Usability Testing
5388 is the graduate equivalent of 3367. As a graduate course in usability testing students are required to concentrate more intensely on the theoretical underpinnings of usability. In addition, they must carry out more self-directed projects implementing usability methods, such as paper prototyping and eye tracking analysis. At the conclusion of the semester students must submit a final paper for publication in a journal or conference proceeding.
English 5377: User-Centered Design
This course is practical in nature, although fundamental user-centered design concepts
will be discussed and analyzed. User-centered design represents an alternative framework
to the waterfall approach that for so many years has dominated hardware and software
development, if not also other types of design projects. It does not make the user
a designer, but rather makes the designer attentive to the user's needs, wants, and
limitations throughout the design process.
UCD 5377 requires students to experiment within a UCD environment. Specifically, students will be required to develop a user-centered design product of at least medium (wireframe) fidelity, and in doing so create User profiles for the intended product
- A project budget
- Methods, tools for gathering user feedback during design
- Case studies of other UCD projects to critique/emulate
- Slide deck for attracting potential investors, other funding resources
Any design of any product can be considered, ranging from hardware device, software, web application, pedagogical materials, etc. Students are encouraged to develop a project from scratch. Projects should be individual in nature but students will collaborate with each other to help with feedback and other core tasks.