CS 6451: Introduction to Human-Centered Computing

Instructor: Amy Bruckman
Email: asb at cc.gatech.edu
Office: Technology Square Research Building (TSRB) 338
(On 5th Street; the building with Moe's in it.)
Office Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.


Location: TSRB 223, except where otherwise noted on the schedule

Wednesdays 12:05-2:55

Wiki: On T-Square

Class Schedule

Learning Objectives

This class provides an introduction to the field of Human-Centered Computing. It is designed for incoming, first semester HCC PhD students. Students from other degree programs are warmly welcome, if they are willing to do significant reading. Email the instructor, Amy Bruckman asb@cc.gatech.edu, for a permit.

This class introduces students to theoretical readings and their successful application to human-centered computing. Much of the reading is challenging. The class is recommended for students with a theoretical bent. Master's students considering a PhD in the future may enjoy this class. If you are an interdisciplinary student mainly seeking out a general introduction to how computing systems for humans are designed, then the class you are looking for is most likely CS 6750, Human-Computer Interaction.

Topics covered include an introduction to a wide range of theories, and their application to the design of interactive computing systems, including:

Whereever possible, we try to pair a theoretical reading with an application of that theory to human-centered computing. The applications papers are not necessarily foundational to the field, but are good examples of the use of theories and illustrate theory's relevance.

This class tries to cover as much as possible of the HCC Core qualifier exam reading list for PhD students in Human-Centered Computing. The other half of the list is covered in HCC 3. A copy of the list is here: HCC Core Reading List


Required Texts:

Assignments and Grading

Class attendance is required. This is a small class, so please email the instructor in advance if you can't attend for some reason. Legitimate reasons for missing class include illness (please keep your germs to yourself--we'll give you good notes--we promise!), a job interview, or attending a conference. Excuses that will not be accepted include for example picking someone up at the airport, having something due in another class, or having furniture delivered.

Use of Laptops in Class
Some people like to use laptops in class to take notes. I personally prefer to take notes on paper, because I find if my laptop is open I end up getting too distracted. Please think carefully about whether using a laptop in class is the right choice for you. Whatever you decide, please do not do anything that distracts your fellow students. In particular, please do not play video games during class.

Homeworks will be graded on a list of criteria (specified on the assignment) such as quality of writing, completeness, insight into technical issues, insight into social issues, etc. For each criterion, you will receive either a check plus, check, or check minus. Most criterion will receive a check. A plus means "you impressed me." A minus means the assignment is incomplete, incorrect, or sloppy in some fashion with respect to that criterion. Pluses and minuses are combined to give your grade for the assignment. For most assignments, you start out half way between a B+ and A-. One plus makes it an A-; one minus makes it a B+. These are general guidelines to let you know what to expect. Grading on specific assignments may differ.

Please hand all assignments in on paper unless explicitly instructed otherwise.

Late Policy

Assignments are due at the start of class on the day they are due. Over the course of the term, you have three "late days" where work may be late with no explanation needed. Once you have used up your late days, late assignments will be penalized at a rate of 3 pts (one grade step: A becomes A-) per day. Assignments more than one week late will not be accepted.

Reading reflections may not be late.

Honor Code

This class abides by the Georgia Tech Honor Code. All assigned work is expected to be individual, except where explicitly written otherwise. You are encouraged to discuss the assignments with your classmates; however, what you hand in should be your own work.

Course Evaluation

Course evaluations are an important part of how we improve the educational experience at Georgia Tech. We take your feedback very seriously, and use it to improve classes for future years. In a small class like this one, the Dean expects 100% participation on the course evaluation. If you take this class, you agree to complete your course evaluation at the end of the term. Thanks in advance--your input is really helpful!


Assignments and ideas on this syllabus build on those from everyone who has taught it before, especially Colin Potts and Beki Grinter.