Thursday, November 5, 2009

catch me if you can

Okay, so it was just over two weeks ago that I blogged about my new Pixelbending class. You'll have to forgive me, that was something of a FlashForward. So it's not that the post is wrong, per se, it's just that it was a few months too early.

My real spring 2010 class just went online today. It will be a departure for me in many ways, but a return to my roots in others. Here are the details:
Improving TheHub (CS 214)

TheHub is a critical online tool supporting the academic program at Hampshire. Not only is it the primary mechanism by which our Divisional contracts and narrative evaluations are created, edited, and shared, but it is also where important aspects of registration and advising take place. Despite its ubiquity and importance, however, TheHub can be frustrating for many to use.

This course seeks to improve TheHub through a unique collaboration between students, faculty, and staff. In addition to learning how TheHub is currently implemented, students will be tasked to identify areas of TheHub most in need of improvement and to propose, design, implement, and test new interfaces for these areas.

Ideal candidates for this one-of-a-kind course will have a background in design (color theory, graphic design, HTML, studio arts, etc.) or programming (PHP, Perl, AJAX, Javascript, etc.) or both. For programmers, concurrent enrollment in CS 272 (Advanced Web Design) will satisfy the programming pre-requisites for this course. Prospective students should bring a current resume and a portfolio of their relevant work to Professor Perry no later than the first class meeting.
Those following my teaching history should recognize that this is another collaborative class, akin to the animation courses that produced Displacement and Tower 37 in the past. Fairly new to me is the domain: although I've worked on large-scale software projects in the past, and of course have a hand in the ongoing development of Helga, interface design for a heavily-trafficked and mission-critical web tool like TheHub is going to demand some stretching. And some smart partnering: I will be co-teaching the class with the original engineer of TheHub, and I'm hoping to fold experienced guests in as we work to meet the challenge of the class.

This class offers a rare opportunity for students to be a part of a team whose work can actually change how Hampshire functions day-to-day. We are not going to be changing policies, of course, but we are going to investigate how our current tool does--and does not--support students and faculty working together.

How you can help now, dear reader, is to tell the most talented designers and programmers you know about this course and encourage them to discuss their participation with me.

And please start thinking about how you would like to see TheHub change, particularly in the areas directly related to the academic program (advising, evaluations, course registration, course listings, etc). Feel free to start sharing them here as comments, or wait for the site we'll be launching in the spring to collect these ideas.

Pixelbenders: apologies for now. I am working to fold that course in to next year's curriculum.

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