Human Computer Interaction  

BTMM 589   
Introductory Topics in BTMM   
Zizi Papacharissi, PhD  

Course Syllabus  


Course Description

In this course, we examine how humans respond and adapt machines to their everyday routines. Our discussions are guided by narratives on the interaction between human and intelligent machine consciousness, stemming from scholarly and fictional perspectives. We address how machines seek to emulate human uniqueness, what their role is presently and what it should be in the future. Our orientation is interdisciplinary, combining elements of communication theory, history, architecture, interface design and culture.

Course Objectives

Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair motto
People Propose, Science Studies, Technology Conforms Don Norman

Our objective is to understand how machines influence human consciousness and how human needs and dreams shape the function of machines. Our focus is on the need for machines to be compatible with human nature. Students completing this course should gain a better understanding of how machines both upset and support our routines, the factors that mitigate that process, and future collaborations of machine and human intelligence.

Course Readings

These have been ordered through the Temple bookstore, but that does not necessarily mean that they will arrive in time. I have been let down and frustrated with the Temple bookstore several times in the past. Nevertheless, I have requested that the books arrive by Dec. 15. If they are not in by that time, I recommend obtaining the books from a local bookstore or an online retailer. They are regularly stocked and available within 24 hours.

Course Requirements

This course is a seminar, so reading course materials and participation in class discussions is essential. It is a 3-credit course and you should all be registered for that number of credits. We will use this web site, a listserv, and e-mail to communicate, so reliable access to a computer and the Internet is required. Excuses involving the failure of computers are viewed sympathetically but not accepted. Students will submit weekly reactions to the readings, respond to discussion questions posted weekly  and produce a 15-20 page research paper, on a topic of their choice (due March 3). Details follow.

Weekly Reaction Paper

As reaction papers, these should summarize and reflect your thoughts on the readings completed for the assigned date. I will provide a general topic, which should help you focus your discussion. However, how you address that topic is entirely up to you and depends on your own synthesis and analysis of the readings. Since  the class meets for three weeks, three of these should be submitted, via e-mail. Please cut and paste your papers to the text of an e-mail message and send them to the listserv, not me. I will read them, through the listserv, and return them to you with specific comments and a letter grade. Even though extensive writing corrections will not be made, please make sure that you write carefully, proofread, spell-check, and write these like formal essays (and not in the conversational style of informal e-mails). These should be approximately 400-500 words. Paper topics here.

Participation to the listserv discussions

You will be required to participate to listserv discussion on a daily basis, excluding weekends (those are off, and should be used to help you catch up with readings - except for the very first weekend, consult the course schedule). I will post a different discussion question each weekday - these questions will actually be available through our web site well in advance. You should check your e-mail or the listserv site and contribute to class discussion at least 3 times a day (ok, or two, if your contributions are especially long). In participating to these discussions, you should not only respond to the initial question, but also to subsequent comments made by your classmates and instructor. Your responses should be informed, thoughtful, and combine the readings with your individual insights. There will be no chatroom or similar synchronous communication tools used, so as to accommodate conflicting and diverse schedules, lifestyles, and time zones. All communication and discussion in this class will take place via this listserv.

Research Paper

The longer paper is a research paper, approximately 15-20 pages in length, on a subject of your choice. It can be a study, a study proposal or a critical analysis (and not  a simple literature review). I can help you select a suitable topic and find relevant research materials. Any writing turned in for assignments must be original to this course. Sources and references need to be quoted properly plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the assignment and the course. Use either APA or MLA citation style. This paper will actually be due March 3, so as to provide additional time for research and writing.

Grading/Grading Scale

Your final grade will be based on class participation to listserv discussion (25%), the three short papers (10% each), and the final paper (45%). Grades will be assigned as follows:

A = 100-93 A- = 92-90
B+ = 89-87 B = 86-83 B- = 82-80
C+ = 79-77 C = 76-73 C- = 72-70
D+ = 69-67 D = 66-63 D- = 62-60 59 and below = F