Assignment P1 (Summer 2017)

Due: Sunday, May 21st, 2017, by 11:59PM UTC-12 (Anywhere on Earth). This assignment is based on lessons 2.1 (Introduction to Principles), 2.2 (Feedback Cycles), and 2.3 (Direct Manipulation & Invisible Interfaces).

Assignment Instructions

Answer the following four questions in a maximum of 400 words each (on average), with a recommended length of 350 words each. Including more than 1600 words in your assignment as a whole may incur a grade penalty. Clearly delineate where each answer starts and ends.

You are encouraged to complement your response with diagrams, drawings, pictures, etc.; these do not count against the word limit. If you would like to include additional information beyond the word limit, you may include it in clearly-marked appendices. These materials will not be used in grading your assignment, but they may help you get better feedback from your classmates and grader.

Question 1 (from Lesson 2.2): ~400 words

Describe the process of submitting an assignment to T-Square in terms of our discussion of feedback cycles. Specifically, discuss how the six specific stages of bridging the gulfs of execution and evaluation apply to submitting an assignment via T-Square.

An ideal answer to this question will name the stages explicitly, and provide a concise explanation for either (a) how the interface successfully brings the user across that part of the gulf (e.g. how the interface helps user identify their goal in the context of the interface), or (b) why the interface fails to bring the user across that part of the gulf (e.g. how the interface fails to show evidence of how the model has changed).

Question 2 (from Lesson 2.2): ~400 words

Select an activity from your regular life that struggles with a large gulf of execution or gulf of evaluation, especially due to a weakness of the interface involved in the activity. First, describe what makes that gulf wide. What are the failures of the current interface to bridge the gulf?

Then, select a similar activity from your regular life that does a better job bridging its gulf of execution or gulf of evaluation. Briefly describe that activity and what gives it a narrower gulf, then describe what lessons could be borrowed from the second activity to resolve the wide gulf in the first activity.

In selecting the activities, we recommend specifically selecting activities in similar domains. For example, you might select two appliances in your kitchen, or two media interfaces, or two mobile apps from different airlines.

Question 3 (from Lesson 2.3): ~400 words

The current process that Georgia Tech uses for enrolling in classes is not very direct. First, briefly describe one of the processes by which people look up and enroll in classes at Georgia Tech. Describe the steps they walk through in order.

Then, describe a redesign of the system that more significantly leverages direct manipulation. How is this new way more “direct” than the current way? Specifically comment on the new way using the vocabulary of direct manipulation covered in the lesson.

Finally, describe two specific benefits of this redesign. These should go beyond it simply being “better”; in what ways is it better? Are fewer keystrokes or page navigations required? Is the user better able to cross the gulfs of execution and evaluation? Does the interface demonstrate a better understanding of the user’s knowledge and needs?

Question 4 (from Lesson 2.3): ~400 words

Select an task (besides driving) that you do on a regular basis that has become invisible by learning; that is, an interface that you used to spend a lot of time thinking about, but now ignore in favor of focusing on the task.

First, describe the components of the interface you used to think about a lot. Then, describe your thought process now, and especially explain why you no longer have to spend as much time focusing on the interface. Finally, briefly describe how you might redesign the original interface to get you to the point of invisibility more quickly.

This question is best-suited for an interface with which you are now an expert despite some early difficult. Many video games demonstrate this type of learning curve, as do many pieces of software for complex tasks. You may also think outside the box: perhaps you used to struggle with cooking or budgeting, but have since gotten better. Feel free to choose a task that does not currently have a computational interface, and evaluate how such an interface may be more invisible than existing interfaces (such as a cookbook and thermometer or hand-written spreadsheet).

Submission Instructions

Assignments should be submitted to the corresponding assignment on T-Square in accordance with the Assignment Submission Instructions. Most importantly, you should submit a single PDF for each assignment. This PDF will be ported over to Peer Feedback for peer review by your classmates. If your assignment involves things (like videos, working software prototypes, etc.) that cannot be provided in PDF, you should provide them separately (either through the class Resources folder or your own upload destination) and submit a PDF that describes how to access the assignment.

This is an individual assignment. Every student should submit an assignment individually.

Late work is not accepted without advanced agreement except in cases of medical or family emergencies. In the case of an emergency, please contact the Dean of Students.

Grading Information

As with all assignments and projects in this class, this assignment will be graded on a traditional A-F scale based on the extent to which your assignment meets expectations. Due to T-Square restrictions, your grade will be provided on a 5-point scale: a ‘5’ is an A, a ‘4’ is a B, a ‘3’ is a C, a ‘2’ is a D, a ‘1’ is an F, and a ‘0’ is a failure-to-submit.

Peer Review

After submission, your assignment will be ported to Peer Feedback for review by your classmates. Grading is not the primary function of this peer review process; the primary function is simply to give you the opportunity to read and comment on your classmates’ ideas, and receive additional feedback on your own. All grades will come from the graders alone.

You will typically be assigned three classmates to review. You receive 1.5 participation points for completing a peer review by the end of the day Thursday; 1.0 for completing a peer review by the end of the day Sunday; and 0.5 for completing it after Sunday but before the end of the semester. For more details, see the participation policy.