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Fundamentals of interaction design

From websites and phones to video games, ATM machines and drinks dispensers, interactive products are very much part of everyday life. But how many are easy, satisfying and enjoyable to use? Fundamentals of interaction design studies the factors, techniques, tools and theories that affect the design of such products. It will teach you a variety of topics, from computing, psychology and graphic design to entertainment, informatics and usability. You’ll learn about the theory underlying interaction design, and acquire practical skills that will equip you to analyse, design, and evaluate the interactive products you use every day.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code
M364
Credits
30
Study level
OU SCQF FHEQ
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

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What you will study

This module will help you to answer the following kinds of question:

  • Why are some websites easier to use than others?
  • Why do people have difficulty using some software packages and not others?
  • How can paper prototypes help improve the design of mobile phones?
  • How can I assess the usability of a video game?
  • As a user, how can I get involved in the re-design of a new information system at work?
  • How and why should I find out more about the users of a software system I’m building?
  • What problems might people with disabilities face when using a software application and how can designs be improved to avoid these problems?
  • What issues should you consider if you wish to design a website to appeal to people from a different country?

The module is based on the book Interaction Design. To help you explore, understand and deepen your understanding of the topics in this set book, the module includes additional materials such as further activities and extra teaching text, for example on accessibility and internationalisation. It is structured into four blocks.

The first block provides a broad overview of interaction design, introducing the key issues and activities of the subject, for example, the terminology and fundamental concepts of the area; the main activities involved in interaction design; and the importance of user involvement in the design process. The issues and activities introduced in Block 1 are developed in the remainder of the module. In particular, the three main activities of interaction design are covered in Blocks 2, 3 and 4.

Block 2 addresses a key activity in interaction design: that of establishing requirements for an interactive product, i.e. what it should do, who will use it, how it will be used, where it will be used and so on. Some of this material may be familiar to you if you have studied any software development modules in the past, but we approach the subject with a different perspective: focusing on making the product usable for the intended population.

The next block covers the techniques and knowledge necessary to design an interactive product that is accessible and useful to the people who are expected to use it. This includes an understanding of interaction types and interface types, metaphors, conceptual models, cognitive processes (involving memory, attention, learning, etc.), and the use of design approaches for a variety of interactive products such as mobile phones and websites.

Block 4 presents the techniques and knowledge necessary to evaluate an interactive product. This includes an ethical framework for evaluating with users, techniques and tips for observing users, asking experts and users, and testing with users.

If you are considering progressing to The computing and IT project (TM470), this is one of the OU level 3 modules on which you could base your project topic. Normally, you should have completed one of these OU level 3 modules (or be currently studying one) before registering for the project module.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day-schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module. Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


Entry

This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills acquired from previous modules at levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject. 

To study this module you will ideally be a competent user of computer technology with an interest in people and good design. My digital life (TU100) or Designing applications with Visual Basic (MT264) would be ideal preparation, as this level 3 module will extend the coverage of HCI (human-computer interaction) and GUI (graphical user interface) development offered by these modules. However, note that the module does not assume any previous knowledge specific to these modules.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

You may find it useful to visit the website that supports Interaction Design, as preparation for the module, and to give you a good idea of the kind of topics covered in M364 (but remember that we provide additional materials too). You will find a variety of resources such as articles, links to other websites and interactive games that you might find interesting. Please note, however, that no preparation is required to study M364.

Register

Start End England fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015 £1316.00

Registration closes 11/09/14 (places subject to availability)

Register

You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.
Sorry, there is a problem with this page at the moment, while we are fixing it please review the information on our main Fees and Funding Page

What's included

The text book Interaction Design (2nd Edition) by Preece, Rogers and Sharp; module books containing the extension materials; other assessment and support materials; DVD; online forums and a website.

You will need

DVD player, colour TV.

You require internet access at least once a week during the module to download module resources and assignments, submit assignments and keep up to date with module news. In addition, the module assessment will require you to develop paper-based prototypes. You will be required to submit these in an electronic form, so you will need access to a local facility for digitising documents, e.g. a digital camera, a scanner, or a local outlet that will transfer ordinary photographs to a disk.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2008 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.7 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

If you have a disability

This module requires students to undertake a range of practical activities including observation, interviewing, critique of design elements and sketching. If you are unable to perform any of these activities without assistance, it may still be possible for you to complete and pass the module. We will provide descriptions of visual module elements where possible which might assist you, but nevertheless you may find it difficult to complete some activities.

Although we are able to provide a PDF of the bought-in book, Interaction Design, for students who need it, we do not have accessible files to offer to students. The book is heavily diagrammatic and uses boxes of text which create problems when using the PDF with a screen reader. You are strongly advised to discuss this with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service before applying for the module.  

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.