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CS-E4002: Special Course in Computer Science: Human-Centred Research and Design in Crisis

June 2 – Sept 1, 2020 (2-week break in July)

Instructor: Prof. Nitin Sawhney
Department of Computer Science, Aalto University
Teaching Assistant: Magdalena Mihalache  

Credits: 3-6 cr, Online Course
Level of Course: Advanced Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral

Please fill out this Google Form to share your interests in the course: https://tinyurl.com/ybo8c3qc

Learning Outcomes: After completing this course students are expected to have a deeper understanding of how human-centred research, design and technological innovations can productively engage the complex challenges emerging in crisis contexts, including natural and man-made disasters, socio-political crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Students should develop critical skills to recognize the limitations and ethical implications of conducting research, participatory design, and deployment of technologies including security, privacy and any unintended consequences of such work, while applying rigorous human-centred design principles and practices to have a meaningful impact in such crisis situations. 

Content: The course introduces students to understanding and engaging in crisis contexts, using human-centred design principles and participatory research methodologies in conjunction with domain experts, partner organizations and everyday citizens. The course will build on extensive research findings from inter-related disciplines of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Participatory Design (PD), Participatory Action Research (PAR), A.I. and Crisis Informatics, among others to develop a range of conceptual, rigorous, creative, and pragmatic approaches towards inquiry and engagement in complex crisis contexts. 

This online course will consist of weekly seminars on a series of topics with invited guest speakers and workshops/discussion sessions to review case-studies, methodologies and working design research projects. The weekly sessions will be held using Zoom and other online platforms will be used throughout the course. Students will have an opportunity to prepare critical responses to readings and monthly assignments, maintain a learning diary and optionally conduct team-based projects with industry or public organizations in the Helsinki area. The collaborative project outcomes can be conceptual designs, working prototypes or proposals for extended research into technology or policy implications of engaging critically with crisis contexts.

Assessment Methods and Criteria: All students must actively participate in weekly seminars and workshops, complete selected readings, an online learning diary, and 3 brief assignments as working papers or mixed-media works (blog/website/wiki/video). To receive additional credits, students must complete a group project with a proof-of-concept idea or working prototype and a short paper of their findings for presentation at the end of the course.

Workload: Class sessions and workshops (36 hours), weekly readings (18 hours), 3 brief assignments (15 hours), learning diary (12 hours). To receive an additional 3 credits students must conduct a group project with collaborative design research, a final presentation and jointly-written short paper.

Study Material: Selected readings in Human-Computer Interaction and Crisis Informatics as online materials distributed via MyCourses.

Prerequisites: CS-C3120 Human-Computer Interaction (or similar coursework/experience)

Grading Scale: 0-5, may be graded with pass/fail.

Registration for Courses: Enrollment in WebOodi. The maximum number of students will be limited.
https://oodi.aalto.fi/a/opintjakstied.jsp?OpinKohd=1125526330

Language of instruction and studies: English

Schedule: 02.06.20 – 01.09.20; No classes 13.07.20 – 24.07.20 (2-week summer break)