Fall 2013 courses

Applications (Nancy Hechinger)

This introductory class is designed to allow students to engage in a critical dialogue with leaders drawn from the artistic, non-profit and commercial sectors of the new media field, and to learn the value of collaborative projects by undertaking group presentations in response to issues raised by the guest speakers. Interactive media projects and approaches to the design of new media applications are presented weekly; students are thus exposed to both commercial as well as mission-driven applications by the actual designers and creators of these innovative and experimental projects. By way of this process, all first year students, for the first and only time in their ITP experience, are together in one room at one time, and as a community, encounter, and respond to, the challenges posed by the invited guests. The course at once provides an overview of current developments in this emerging field, and asks students to consider many questions about the state of the art. For example, with the new technologies and applications making their way into almost every phase of the economy and rooting themselves in our day to day lives, what can we learn from both the failures and successes? What are the impacts on our society? What is ubiquitous computing, embedded computing, physical computing? How is cyberspace merging with physical space? Class participation, group presentations, and a final paper are required.

Physical Computing (Tom Igoe)

This course expands the students' palette for physical interaction design with computational media. We look away from the limitations of the mouse, keyboard and monitor interface of today's computers, and start instead with the expressive capabilities of the human body. We consider uses of the computer for more than just information retrieval and processing, and at locations other than the home or the office. The platform for the class is a microcontroller, a single-chip computer that can fit in your hand. The core technical concepts include digital, analog and serial input and output. Core interaction design concepts include user observation, affordances, and converting physical action into digital information. Students have weekly lab exercises to build skills with the microcontroller and related tools, and longer assignments in which they apply the principles from weekly labs in creative applications. Both individual work and group work is required.

Materials and Building Strategies (Peter Menderson)

You’ve built a foam prototype. Your project idea is now out in the open sitting on a table where you and your teammates can look at it. It’s not quite what you thought it would be when you made your first rough sketch, there’s even something a little goofy about it, but then there’s also that interesting curve that you hadn’t envisioned. Your teammates have also noticed some things that you hadn’t thought of. You see where you can reshape the foam to make the prototype both look and work better. You’ve made your first step; you’ve moved your project forward. Removing barriers to creative problem solving and learning the steps for advancing a project are the dual purposes of this course. You’re asked to make things over and over during your time at ITP. This class helps you to break out of 2-d screen and keyboard thinking and take advantage of the discoveries that inevitably occur when you're thinking in 3-d by manipulating materials with your hands, observing the results, and refining successive iterations of your idea. From techniques for prototyping and making small objects to fabrication methods for kiosks, you’ll get hands-on experience with a variety of materials and methods. You have an idea for a wearable device? Mock it up with the sewing machine. You're thinking about a squeezable children’s toy with sensors? Make a mold and cast some sensors inside soft rubber. You want to build an installation? Make a foam core model of the space and get a valuable preview of your project installed. During the course you'll be introduced to building in a variety of materials. You’ll make objects of wood, foam, plastic, metal, clay, plaster, rubber, paper and fabric. You’ll move a project from sketch to prototype to presentation and learn to incorporate the lessons of the process into your final product. By taking notice of the unexpected your original concept will evolve, and amplified by those revelations it will surprise you and delight your audience.

Designing for Persuasion (Katherine Dillon)

In subtle and not-so-subtle ways technology is influencing our behavior – from buying more books on Amazon than we intended to, to helping us change bad personal habits to leveraging the voices of many– technology presents an opportunity to be an agent of change. This 2 pt course will explore how technology can be used to influence behavior. We will look at a number of behavioral theories including incentive–based design, gamification and social influence. We will review case studies on how these techniques have been used to effectively affect behavior. After researching theories on behavior motivation each student will identify a problem or issue that they hope to influence. Students will document the problem, develop a concept to influence the behavior associated with that problem and prototype (or build) their solution. They will test their solution and draw conclusions from the experiment. Projects can attempt to influence social change at a large, social scale or at a personal level. The unifying theme behind the projects will be that they intend to inspire positive change.

Visual Language (Katherine Dillon)

The goal of this course is to provide students who are new to the principles of visual design with the practical knowledge, critical skills and confidence to effectively express their ideas in a visually pleasing and effective way. Over the course of 7-weeks an overview of the many tools and techniques available to convey an idea, communicate a message and influence an experience will be presented, discussed and applied. Topics covered in the course include: typography, color, composition, branding, logo and information design. This class is intended for students who do not have formal graphic design or visual arts training but recognize the powerful impact of visual decisions in their work.