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IAT 888 :: Domestic and Social Computing

Course Description: This course explores domestic routines and practices and the design and evaluation of technology to support them. This includes domestic practice that occurs both within and outside the context of the home. The course will be taught from a social computing perspective, drawing from sociology, anthropology, ethnography, and design practice, to understand the social context of design for domestic life. This will involve exploring the people who use domestic technologies, their social relationships, and their social and cultural practices.

Course Objectives: The goal of this course is to develop skills necessary for understanding, interpreting, and thinking about technology design for domestic life. Students will study the theoretical perspectives of domestic computing, methods for studying domestic practice, and techniques for evaluating domestic technology design. Students will also gain knowledge in specific areas of domestic computing by studying several case study topics and exploring their own domestic computing project in detail.

Learning Outcomes: Learning outcomes expected for students include:

  • Developing an understanding of the unique challenges that exist for studying and designing in the domestic realm
  • Acquiring knowledge on specific methodological tools used to study domestic life and evaluate technology use
  • Experience in analyzing, evaluating, and critically reflecting on the design of domestic practice and technology design
  • Experience in studying domestic practice and designing technology for domestic life
  • Understanding how to conduct informed and engaging presentations of domestic practice and technology design
  • Understanding how to document studies of domestic practice and technology design for conference or journal publication

Prerequisites: None

Course Time: 3 hours combined lecture/seminar

Delivery Methods: The course will primarily be taught through weekly lectures that will present methods for studying domestic life and technology design and case studies of domestic practice and design. Lectures will be augmented with class discussions and critiques of domestic and social computing research. Students will be required to read and critically reflect on a large volume of readings in the area of domestic and social computing, present their thoughts on such readings, and complete an in-depth project in the area.

Evaluation: Students will perform work on several specific deliverables during the term.

1. Project Proposal (10%): Students will propose two to three potential research topics that they are interested in studying as part of the course and document these in a short project proposal. Project ideas will be evaluated and discussed with the instructor and must be approved.

2. Literature Review (20%): Students will conduct and prepare a short literature review of work in their selected course project area.

3. Case Study Presentation (10%): Students will present a case study of domestic practice or technology design to the class based on their literature review.

4. Class Participation (10%): Students will actively contribute to classroom and online discussions about course material.

5. Course Project (50%): Students will complete a major project that studies a particular instance of domestic practice or involves the design and evaluation of a domestic technology. Students will document this project by writing a conference-style publication and presenting the work through a conference-style presentation in front of the class.

Grading Schema: I use the following grade schema by default. This is subject to change though during the semester depending on overall student performance.

  • A+, 95 - 100
  • A, 90 - 94.5
  • A-, 87 - 89.5
  • B+, 82 - 86.5
  • B, 78 - 81.5
  • B-, 75 - 77.5
  • C+, 72 - 74.5
  • C, 68 - 71.5
  • C-, 65 - 67.5
  • D, 55 - 64.5
  • F, 0 - 54.5