CMSC434 Fall 2016 Overview

This is the only course in the undergrad computer science catalog with the word human in its title. This is not insignificant. In this course we will reposition ourselves to think about computer science not just in terms of algorithmic performance and technical sophistication but in terms of how technology can be perceived, used, and adopted by people. By placing humans at the center of our design focus rather than technology, our concerns shift in interesting and, hopefully, illuminating ways. For example, there are many ways to design and build a user-facing application—how do we know which path is the right one? What methods and guidelines can we apply to maximize our chances that our design is the most useful, usable, and enjoyable? In this class, you will learn to ideate, critique, prototype, evaluate, design and refine interactions, interfaces and applications for people.


Dr. Jon Froehlich
Assistant Professor
Computer Science
Twitter: @jonfroehlich
CS Office: 3173 AV Williams
HCIL Office: 2117F Hornbake (primary)
Office Hours: By appointment
Matthew Mauriello
Teaching Assistant / PhD Student
Computer Science
Twitter: @mattm401
CS Office: 4122 AV Williams
HCIL Office: 2118D Hornbake (primary)
Office Hours: Wednesdays 1PM - 2PM (HCIL)
and by appointment (HCIL)

Course Logistics

Lecture time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00AM-12:15PM (75 minutes)
Class location: Computer Science Instructional Center (CSIC) 2107
Credit Hours: 3
Class website: http://cmsc434-f16.wikispaces.com/
Midterm: Tues, Nov 29 (Normal class hours)
Final Exam: Wed, Dec 14, 8:00-10:00AM CSIC 2107 (link)
Offices: Matt and I spend most of our time in the HCIL rather than AVW. Directions to HCIL.

Required Materials

There are two required materials for this course:
  • A UI sketchbook (at least 7" x 10"). I like soft, staple-bound sketchbooks because they are lightweight, skinny, and lay flat when you open the book to sketch (one recommendation is the Fabriano EcoQua). The UMD bookstore sells sketchbooks (link). There is also a great new art store in Hyattsville (~2.5 miles south of UMD) called Artist & Craftsman that should have sketchbooks (link).

  • A Mac or Windows laptop capable of running and using Android Studio and Android emulators.

  • (Optional). An Android device (tablet or phone) would also be useful.


There are no required textbooks for this course. As necessary, I will supply scans of relevant chapters/texts. I will also do my best to include source links on my slides so that you can follow-up on topics that strike you as interesting. I have started a Mendeley bibliography to track HCI books/resources that have helped me prepare for and think about the curriculum for this course: http://www.mendeley.com/groups/3624331/hci-books/. This is a "live" list that will be updated intermittently.

Directions to HCIL

My primary office and Matt's office are in the HCIL. Click on the map below to expand.

Course Sources

This course is primarily based on four sources:
  1. Lectures/course curricula from other "Intro to HCI" (and related) classes
  2. HCI & IxD Books
  3. Online media (websites, videos)
  4. My own thoughts and experiences as an HCI researcher/professor including professional stints at Intel, Intel Research, Microsoft Research, and Telefonica Research.

Course Curricula Acknowledgment

I am grateful to the following professors who have all kindly allowed me to access and use their course materials: James Fogarty, Julie Kientz, and Jeff Heer at the University of Washington, Björn Hartmann at the University of California, Berkeley, Scott Klemmer at the University of California, San Diego, Eytan Adar at the University of Michigan, and Ben Bederson, Ben Schneiderman, and Leah Findlater at the University of Maryland. I do my very best to acknowledge my sources in my lectures. In general, I pull and remix most from Professors Björn Hartmann, Scott Klemmer, and Leah Findlater.

Previous Versions of this Course

I attempt to improve the course each semester. You are welcome to browse previous versions that I've taught: CMSC434 Spring2012, Spring2013, Fall2013, Fall2014, and Spring2016