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CS449/649 Human-Computer Interaction


Dr. Jian Zhao, Assistant Professor, School of Computer Science

Teaching Assistants

Nikhita Joshi, Matthew Lakier, Sangho Suh

When and Where

Online, anytime, anywhere

Course communication

Slack: for announcements, most questions, access to lecture videos, private team chat, etc. link

Zoom: for weekly team meetings, office hours, and student presentations. link

Course Email:, for specific course-related questions for the instructors and TAs (if you do not want to ask on Slack). Please write the TA’s name in the subject if you want a specific TA to respond.

Office hours

By appointment only, if other communication channels cannot satisfy your needs.


Human-Computer Interaction teaches the fundamental issues that underlie the creation and evaluation of usable and useful computational artifacts. Through lectures, assigned readings and design activities, students will work in teams of 4-5 to design a solution for a real-world problem. The end result of the project is a high fidelity interactive prototype of a mobile application, targeted at solving a particular real-world problem. Here is a list of this year’s project topics.

Specifically, you will learn to:

  • Identify the primary luminaries relevant to Interactive Design and HCI
  • Identify your target users, design studies to understand your users and their needs within a sociocultural context
  • Create user data driven designs and prototypes of different levels of fidelity
  • Design studies to evaluate design during different stages of development
  • Properly gather and analyze qualitative and quantitative data from exploratory user studies including data from: in-situ observations, semi-structured interviews, paper prototype evaluation, heuristic evaluations and cognitive walkthrough.
  • Discover the range of HCI research methodologies
  • Add a high quality design of an interesting product to your portfolio

There is no midterm or final exam for this course. There is also no programming involved. This is a highly-interactive course, and thus your active involvement is important. For more details, please see the course information (for marking schemes and graded components) and course schedule (for readings, activities, assignments, and project deadlines).

Course Policies

Late Penalties

All deliverables need to be submitted by 08:59 pm ET on the due date. Late work will be deducted 5% of the total marks per calendar day late (9:00 pm to 8:59 pm ET). The instructor reserves the right to accept late work or not. Students must inform the instructor if they have to miss a deadline for special situations such as academic travels, illness, and emergencies.

If a deliverable was not submitted before the next deliverable due date, you will get 0% for this deliverable. Furthermore, you are not allowed to submit the next deliverable if the previous deliverable was not submitted. Failing to submit all the deliverables by the end of the term may result in failing the course.

Academic Integrity

In order to maintain a culture of academic integrity, members of the University of Waterloo community are expected to promote honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. [Check the Office of Academic Integrity for more information.]


A student who believes that a decision affecting some aspect of his/her university life has been unfair or unreasonable may have grounds for initiating a grievance. Read Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4. When in doubt, please be certain to contact the department’s administrative assistant who will provide further assistance.


A student is expected to know what constitutes academic integrity to avoid committing an academic offence, and to take responsibility for his/her actions. [Check the Office of Academic Integrity for more information.] A student who is unsure whether an action constitutes an offence, or who needs help in learning how to avoid offences (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about “rules” for group work/collaboration should seek guidance from the course instructor, academic advisor, or the undergraduate associate dean. For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy 71, Student Discipline. For typical penalties, check Guidelines for the Assessment of Penalties.


A decision made or penalty imposed under Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances (other than a petition) or Policy 71, Student Discipline may be appealed if there is a ground. A student who believes he/she has a ground for an appeal should refer to Policy 72, Student Appeals.

Note for Students with Disabilities

AccessAbility Services, located in Needles Hall, Room 1401, collaborates with all academic departments to arrange appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities without compromising the academic integrity of the curriculum. If you require academic accommodations to lessen the impact of your disability, please register with AccessAbility Services at the beginning of each academic term.

Copyright © 2020 Jian Zhao.