Sophomore Year

Students learn the foundational tools, theory and craft of interaction design


Fall Courses

IxD1 Foundations

This course describes and examines the fundamental principles, materials,and processes that undergird interactions between people, as mediated by technology, artifacts, and systems. Students are introduced to a variety of tools, theories, and techniques that facilitate the crafting of designed interactions that take place across a wide spectrum of screen-based and non-screen-based stages, including mobile applications, websites, kiosks, retail stores, call centers, and other points where interactions are instantiated. Through exposure to current theory and practice, students gain an appreciation for the application of interaction design principles and tools, the craft of interaction design, and how the role of an interaction designer might fit within the broader arc of a design project. By examining existing interactions, students begin to develop their own interaction design sensibilities and vocabularies and apply these to their own project work, learning how to express solutions that address contemporary interaction design issues. Finally, we contextualize the practice of interaction design in relation to adjacent fields such as industrial and graphic design, film, and other narrative-based forms of art and architecture.


Visual Interaction Design
In Visual Interaction Design, students focus on the conceptual and practical fundamentals of the visual aesthetics of interaction design. Exploring five key principles—expectation and intent, dynamics, visual systems, empathy, and emotion—students develop skills in visual hierarchy, narrative, visual systems thinking, spatial relationships, information visualization, visual design fundamentals (color, grid, typography, signs), and communication. Through project activities and discussions of foundational ideas, they examine multiple platforms and diverse contexts of use.

History of IxD

History of Interaction Design
This course examines the history of technology, exploring how from the first instances of tool use by early humans to contemporary inventions, each development has transformed the ways in which we interact with one another and the world around us. Specific attention is given to the Industrial Age, dominated by the invention of the mass media, and our contemporary age, dominated by the invention of the computer, and how each of the various new developments transformed society over time. We’ll look at the different roots of interaction design, including technology, ergonomics, design, narrative, and politics; explore the growth of interactive media; and look ahead to the possible futures we may create.


Spring Courses

Ixd2 Systems

In Interaction Design Studio 2, students explore the design of systems, information, and interfaces for human use. The design of systems is about mapping the flow of interactions and context, exploring possible inputs and outputs, and crafting a design response that is useful, appropriate, and robust. Through the design of user scenarios, information flows, schematics, wireframes, and functional specifications, students learn the importance of information architecture and thorough systemic thinking for effective navigation, searching, and exploration of information. They also gain an understanding of the differences and synergies between design and the organization of information, and the ability to evaluate and analyze the success of a system in achieving its intended goals. Standard formats and tools such as universal modeling language, flows, wireframes, information architecture, and graphical mapping will also be addressed.


Students in Time Studio 1 become well-versed in narrative and its fundamental role in temporal design and communication. This studio explores storytelling and sense-making through visual and narrative presentation and communication, improv and performance, storyboarding and personae. Close examinations of traditional, crafted story experiences such as novels, cinema, comics, TV shows and plays become the foundation for investigations into new forms of interactivity such as web, hypertext, tangibility, interactive film, and video games. In addition to storytelling skills, students also cultivate the drawing skills required for storyboarding and wireframing. They will have the opportunity to create their own communication pieces and interactive prototypes with the goal of designing communications and systems that move toward the development of collaborative and participatory story experiences. This course is taught concurrently with Design Research, which is also a co-requisite.


Design Research
This studio course introduces students to the theory and practice of various types of design research, including human-centered qualitative and ethnographic methods as well as formal and analytical techniques geared toward pragmatic design applications. Students design imaginative tools to expand their understanding of individuals, groups of people, and/or situated context.
Representational methods such as mental models, scenario building, and analysis help students identify and articulate patterns in qualitative data to inform design. Students design and build imaginative tools for use in ethnographic research in order to expand their understanding of a group of people and/or situated context. Concept mockups and prototypes will be created based on insights developed in the course. This course is taught in concert with its co-requisite, Time Studio 1, and projects will be shared across courses.


This course encourages an exploratory and discursive approach to learning the mathematical foundations of geometry, trigonometry, and Boolean logic through an engagement with computer programming. Students learn the basics of programming as they write software, actively engaging with these mathematical concepts using the open-source language Processing. Students discover how mathematics is used in contemporary digital media practices as they create their own visual and interactive software projects. By the end of the course, they are able to author software projects that meaningfully utilize these mathematical concepts. No previous programming experience is required.
(Taught by Humanities and Sciences)