DTC 478 Syllabus

Download the syllabus

Dr. John Barber
TTH 2:30 p.m.-5:50 p.m., VMMC 111
Office: VMMC 28; 546-9645
Email: jfbarber@vancouver.wsu.edu
Web: www.nouspace.net/john
Office Hours:
Class Website: http://van-dtc356.vancouver.wsu.edu/appcamp/dtc-478/

NOTE: All matters associated with this course are subject to change at the instructor’s discretion. Any changes will be communicated to students.

Course Description

DTC 478 Usability and Interface Design concentrates on assessing the nature and extent of user-centered design and accessibility built into the interfaces of various media objects. This course is intended to meet the following CMDC Program Goals

  • Program Goal #1: Demonstrate competency with computers for designing, distributing, retrieving, and preserving digital works in various mediums for effective human-computer interactions.
  • Program Goal #2: Synthesize media forms for multimedia contexts

For more information about CMDC Goals and Objectives, see here:


At the end of the course, students should be able to analyze, evaluate, test, and report on the usability of media object interfaces.

Course Focus

Usability is the study of how we design and then actually use digital interfaces. The desired outcome of usability is the smooth and easy use of such interfaces, not a sense of hopeless frustration when they don’t work as designed or desired. Oftentimes, we think of usability as being focused more on the design of a thing. Well-designed things are supposed to work better. But usability is more about assuring that what we build works as intended. So, as we will argue in this course, usability should be a factor throughout the design and build process. This notion of Pervasive Usability will be the focus of this course.

Course Structure

This course is envisioned as a series of lectures and workshops focusing on the following overarching questions

  • (LEARN) How do users (ourselves included) respond to interfaces and their design?
  • (THINK) What does “usable” mean and how do we assess the usability of interfaces?
  • (BUILD) How do we assure usability throughout the design and building process?

Students will work through a number of usability problems and complete projects focusing on some aspect of usability.

Required Texts/Readings

  • Krug, Steve. Don’t Make Me Think! (New Riders Publishing, 2000. 2nd or 3rd edition fine)
  • Online or downloadable readings as assigned in course schedule below
  • Class handout readings as assigned

Course Web Resources

The instructor maintains a webpage for this course here: www.nouspace.net/john/dtc478-usability.html

See especially the “Resources” section

Mobile Tech Resource Initiative Summer 20011 website is available here: van-DTC356.vancouver.wsu.edu/appcamp

Server space is available for student work at the following URL: www.dtc-wsuv.org

To access your folder in order to upload files, you need to use an FTP client like Cyberduck, Filezilla, or Fetch. Use the following information:

Domain name:

Username: 1st initial of 1st name + last name (for example: jsmith)

Password: the last 4 digits of Student ID (for example: 2122)

Open Labs

VMMC 111 is available for students to work on course projects at these times Summer 2011

9:10-10:05 AM, M-TH

2:30-5:50 PM, M-TH

Course Projects

Reading Responses / Quizzes

Personal Interface Reports / Assessments / Analysis

Response Essays

Usability Study Project (collaborative, group project)

Assessment and Final Grades

In order to be successful in this class, students must demonstrate their learning through the satisfactory completion of all assignments and projects (as and when required) in a manner that demonstrates depth and engagement with the associated problems as well as through their satisfactory attendance and participation in all class activities.

Late work will not be accepted without substantial penalty. Email submissions of work or work submitted “under the door” or “in the mailbox” will not be accepted. Substitutions for work not submitted are not available.

Final grades are determined from the course professor’s evaluation of student work plus or minus any deductions or additions for attendance or participation. No curving, averaging, or other manipulations are utilized. No extra credit opportunities are planned. Incompletes are not available. + and – grades will be used at instructor’s discretion. Otherwise, all grades will be A-F based on the following scale:

A = Exemplary work; Goes beyond requirements and expectations; Shows a high level of engagement by student

B = Good work, but not exemplary

C = Acceptable work; Meets minimum expectations and requirements but does not go beyond them; Shows acceptable, but no more, engagement by student

D = Not offered, reverts to “F”

F = Don’t go here

The highest grades are earned by the best performance and participation.

Students are welcome and encouraged to discuss their progress, questions, and concerns with the course professor. The course professor will exercise caution and fairness in assessing student work and assigning final grades and is the final authority on all matters related to course assessment and grading.

Attendance and Participation

Both are required for successful completion of this course. Both will factor in determining final grades.

Attendance will be monitored regularly and points will be deducted for each absence. Failure to work collaboratively on class studio projects (“I’m going to do this in the library / my home.”) will be counted as an absence. Leaving class early or arriving late will count against “participation” evaluation.

Absent students remain responsible for all assignments, class work, group expectations/assignments, and/or changes in the course schedule. There is no guarantee of ability to make up missed work, etc.

Participation is seen as active engagement with the activities, expectations, and requirements (all often collaborative in nature) of THIS course. Lack of preparation, subject mastery, and/or commitment to participating in an engaging, thoughtful manner will result in deductions from final grades, as will working off task (checking your email, social media, playing games, etc.)

In summary: Regular attendance and engaged participation will help your final grade. Lack of either will hurt.

The course professor is the final authority in all matters related to attendance and participation.

Academic Dishonesty

Copying, borrowing, or incorrectly acknowledging the work of others, or worse, claiming it as your own, from any source, even if you “did not know,” is plagiarism and violates the University Academic Dishonesty policy. Any student involved with any form of academic dishonesty will earn an “F” for the course and will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct.

More information about Academic Dishonesty here: http://studentaffairs.vancouver.wsu.edu/student-affairs/academic-dishonesty
Disability Services

Student requiring special accommodations because of disability must contact the Disability Services Program. More information here: http://studentaffairs.vancouver.wsu.edu/student-resource-center/disability-services

Emergency Notification Systems

Indoor and outdoor emergency warning systems are provided on campus. In the event of an emergency, follow the instructions provided on these systems.

You can also receive personal emergency notifications. Register your contact information (cell, email, text, etc) at <my.wsu.edu> under “Emergency Notices.” In the event of a Building Evacuation, refer to the map at each classroom entrance shows the evacuation point for each building.


The WSUV Campus Alerts website (www.vancouver.wsu.edu/alerts/) provides information about emergencies.

Campus Safety Plan

The Campus Safety Plan website, http://www.vancouver.wsu.edu/safety-plan, provides a comprehensive listing of university policies, procedures, statistics, and information relating to campus safety, emergency management, and the health and welfare of the campus community.

Public Safety

WSUV public safety website, http://admin.vancouver.wsu.edu/finance-and-operations/public-safety/public-safety, provides campus safety and emergency information.

Class Cancellation Campus-Wide

Check local media, the WSUV web page and/or www.flashalert.net/. Individual class cancellations may be made at the discretion of the instructor. Each individual is expected to make the best decision for their personal circumstances, taking safety into account.

Important Dates and Deadlines

Consult the academic calendar, www.registrar.wsu.edu/Registrar/Apps/AcadCal.ASPX, for critical deadlines. Questions regarding the academic calendar can be directed to the Office of Student Affairs in VSSC 100 or by calling 360-546-9559.