Well, I had no idea about what this course was about. My friend Rishi Bansal introduced me to the Coursera and Udacity websites to me after my 3rd year exams. As I had about 2 month holidays after the exams, I thought why not take up the courses offered and check out how good they are and what they have to offer.
(It began innocently like this but soon became an addiction that I couldn't shake off. At one point of time I had enrolled myself in 10 courses - 5 of Udacity, 4 of Coursera and 1 of CalTech).
Let me give you a brief intro of what HCI actually is. HCI is Human Computer Interaction and mainly focuses on the designing aspect of the product design. Professor Klemmer of Stanford was a very good teacher and made it too easy for the students to learn the course. Although he stressed on all the topics equally and spent lots of time on it, an average intelligent student can actually skim through these lectures and get the gist of what he intends to tell.
The lectures were basically divided into 5 parts –
1) Needfinding which dealt with the participant observation and basic do’s and don’ts of interviews with basic introduction to what leading questions are and how they can be avoided.
2) Prototyping was the main topic dealt with in the second week. We were basically taught two types – paper prototyping and video prototyping. Slips and mistakes were explained in detail and how can we take precautions so that these can be prevented in our design.
3) This according to me was the most important week because of the teaching of the 9 Heuristic Rules. Different representations of the same matter was also introduced and these were beautifully taught by citing various examples telling about their advantages and disadvantages on the way.
4) The topic for week 4 was Design which was subcategorized into Visual and Information. The subtopics included were typography, grids and alignment and navigation tools which would make it more appealing to the customers.
5) The last week was about conducting tests and experiments in different settings and then further evaluating them for the betterment of your product.
What I liked best about this course is the "Peer Grading System" and "Project" part of the course. I didn't think that the Peer Grading System would be so functional and effective, the course was announced very suddenly and this was the first time it was being conducted so initial hiccups were generally expected. But what an implementation !! Even the students were so charged up by this modification that they spent 2-3 hrs evaluating their companions' work.
Prof Klemmer was quite intelligent to make two different tracks of the course (for the ones only dependent on the quizzes and the ones taking the quizzes and doing the project) as many people actually couldn't devote so much time for doing the project which required at least 7-8 hrs extra, aside from watching the videos and attempting the quiz.
Overall learning about the different design perspectives was fun - which fonts are official, which errors users usually make, what are leading questions and why they give more biased answers - these were made very clear and taught to us comprehensively . We learnt using new tools like BalsamIq, Paper Prototypes and Webs(or any other WYSIWYG editors).
A wonderful experience and I would recommend everyone to actually try it out. Find out the next offering of the course by going to the HCI homepage on the coursera website.