CS 4634 – Design of Information


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Homework assignments





There are 100 possible points used to calculate grades for this class. A student may earn 105 points maximum, including extra credit. This class is intended to expand your thinking, so we will be evaluating how you think "outside the box", how well you learn to see what others may have missed, how you exceed expectations, and how well you get others to do so.

are here. Note group grades are not displayed for each student but do show in the total points in order to provide additional anonymity.

Your grade ID consists of adding the middle three digits of your Hokie Passport to the last three. So if your student ID is 123456789, then your grade ID is 1245 (e.g. 456 + 789)

HOMEWORK: Individual

(5 x 3.5) + (1 x 7)= 17.5 POINTS TOTAL

To gently introduce you to various methods of approaching design and information, the homework is meant to be fun and easy.

Assignments 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 are worth 3.5 points; assignment 3 is worth 7 points. You will get 3.0 points for completing the assignment on time and meeting the specifications (6 points for assignment 3). To get the full 3.5 points (7 points for assignment 3), you must go beyond the requirements. You must explain in what way you have gone beyond the assignment. Each assignment will have an example of how much effort is required to earn full points.

The homework assignments will be used in the weekly practicum sessions; being clever and thinking about how to get full points will help you win the extra credit point available at each practicum.

Late homework will be assessed one point for each day late.


7 x 0.5 = 3.5 POINTS TOTAL

Each there will probably be at least one practicum session where we will do new things together. Attendance at the practicum is worth 0.5 points and will be recorded.  We do this since the practicums need full participation. For the most part, practicums are not lectures, but attempts to work through ideas in various exercises. In most cases, the exercises should help you complete assignments that are due in the future.

Just because they are not lectures, you are expected to make notes about what you learn in them. (See Notebook, below.)


12 x 0.25 = 3 POINTS TOTAL

There will be assigned reading each week. There will be a short on-line quiz that will be graded pass/fail to assess whether you have done the reading. Grades are here.

I have found that it makes a huge difference whether you have done the reading or not. Since there will be reading from 3 different texts and some other assigned readings -- all of which should contribute to your project as well as your understanding of the design of information -- this is one way to get you to pay attention.



Most of the mid term exam will be based on the book. There will be a few questions about HTML, design methods and heuristics, as well. Grades are here.



You are required to keep a journal, but it will not be graded. However, you will need it to do the final and some of the practicums, so at least 18 points are riding on the notebook.  Design notebooks will be discussed at lecture 1.B.

More importantly, the notebook is a primary memory aid and the place your ideas first come to life. Therefore, it should become your companion during the semester and therefore will be returned to you after the final exam.



The final will be based on you journal. It will be written and the quality of writing and presentations counts. It is divided into four parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.



Because there are so many elements to the team project, it is easier to break it up into 450 project points (10 project points = 1 class point). 



(4 x 30)



(3 x 40)

Final Report


Final Presentation


Written feedback to other group


Project brand


Project content


Project function


You will organize into teams of 3 or 4 people each. The default is that each team member gets the same credit. If that becomes grossly unfair, please see or me.

Team reports

4 x 30 = 120 PROJECT POINTS

Four written reports will chronicle the development of your team’s research, ideas, and project implementation.  Since these are status reports of work done, meeting the specification will earn the full 30 project points.


3 x 40 = 120 PROJECT POINTS

In order to learn from each other, each team will give three presentations over the course of the semester. A 40 point presentation is smooth, well-rehearsed, convincing, and utilizes the strengths of each team member.  

Final Report


The final report must pull together all elements of the  team project. Meeting the specifications for the final report will result in 30 points; to get the full 40 points, the report must go beyond the requirements – and explicitly call out how the report exceeds the requirements.  It is possible to get the full 40 points for the report and still have a created a lousy team project!



The team’s project will be graded on content, architecture, visual design, interaction, performance, robustness and public display.     As with the individual homework, completing the requirements will earn a “B”; to earn an “A”, you must go beyond the requirements set forth – and tell us how you have exceeded those requirements.



There are various ways to earn (or win) up to 5 points of extra credit. You can not get more than 5 extra credit points total!

Practicum Winners

1 POINT / ACTIVITY (competitive)

The practicums and the homework assignments are meant to sharpen your skills and to get you to think in new ways. To reward thinking differently, going the extra mile, or exhibiting great teamwork, 1 extra credit point will be awarded competitively as part of the weekly practicum.  Usually there will be 3 chances to win the extra credit point at each practicum. For example, the class might select one “winner”, a guest critic another, and I would select yet a third. Each would get a point. No more than one point would be awarded in case of the class, the guest critic or I select the same winner. Each practicum will use a different selection criteria and/or method.

Book Review and Project Interpretation


We don't read and reflect enough. Lots of people have ideas that can help us be better designers. Therefore, you can earn up to 5 points by (1) reading one of the following books, (2) writing a short summary of it, and (3) using it to critique your team's project design, developing serious revisions of it.

  • Albers, Joseph Interaction of Colors
  • any book by Ed Tufte
  • Bolter, J. & Gromala, (2000) Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency

To make the work most useful, you CAN NOT use the same book as someone else on your team and you must share it with members of your team BEFORE the final presentation in early December.

Research Assistance


We award 5 points for assisting my graduate students with transcription of audio and video data, coding of utterances and behaviors, etc. Arrange with Professor Harrison before October 15.

Research Subjects


We award 5 points for being a subject in a research project. These occur throughout the semester, so watch for announcements.

XML Certification from XMLMaster.com

3 POINTS Getting"certified" as knowledgeable in XML (the XML Master Basic Certification), an XL admin (XML Master Professional Administrator), and developer (XML Master Professional Developer) will be useful skills and doing it on your own demonstrates your initiative and recognition of the value of lifelong learning. (This is a goal of program that has been difficult to teach and demonstrate for our accreditation process.) The certification study process is free, but the tests cost $125 each. The test is administered by Prometrics; there is a testing center in Roanoke. 3 points for XML certification.3 points for XML Master Professional Administrator certification3 points for XML Master Professional Developer certification

HTML, Javascript, and ASP Certification from w3schools.com

2 POINTS Getting "certified" as a developer of HTML 5, XHTML, and CSS (the HTML certification), Javascript, and ASP (Active Server Pages, SQL, and ADO) will be useful skills and doing it on your own demonstrates your initiative and recognition of the value of lifelong learning. (This is a goal of program that has been difficult to teach and demonstrate for our accreditation process.) The certification study process is free, but the test costs $59 and you must have someone proctor your exam -- that is, sit in the room with you and verify that you did not cheat. To get the extra credit for our course, you need to have someone NOT IN THE CLASS who I can contact proctor your certification exam. 2 points for HTML certification.2 points for Javascript certification 2 points for ASP certification


Copyright © 2015 Steve Harrison