Human Development Lab

@ Carnegie Mellon University


Our research applies the concepts and skills from the demanding graduate- and undergraduate-level courses that we teach in Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute.* In turn, we enrich our classrooms by sharing our experiences from research in highly challenging "developing world" settings with our students.

The Role of Technology in Learning in the 21st Century (aka Intro to the Learning Sciences and Educational Technology)

Spring 2012, Spring 2011, Spring 2010: 05-438 (undergrad) and 05-838 (graduate)
Tue & Thur 12pm to 1:20pm, GHC 5222

This course examines contemporary debates for and against technology in education by presenting what the scientific research on human learning has to say about these issues. Instead of treating educational technology as a black box, we show how technologies are malleable artifacts whose designs can in fact be shaped and informed by cognitive theories and research about how people learn. The concepts taught in this course are framed around authentic problems in education in the developing world, so that students can better appreciate their real-world relevance. Students will work in multidisciplinary teams to review and redesign existing curricula materials and learning environments.

User-Centered Research and Evaluation (formerly called Human-Computer Interaction Methods)

Fall 2011, Fall 2010: 05-410 (undergrad) and 05-610 (graduate)
Lectures on Mondays from 12 noon to 1:20pm (WEH 7500), and
practicum sections on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (NSH 2609)

In summer 2011, I helped to revamp this course. Following that, in fall 2011, I coordinated with multiple adjunct instructors and core faculty members to co-teach the revamped version for the first time. The revamped course covers HCI methods for user requirement gathering (semi-structured interviews, contextual inquiry and contextual design models), design brainstorming, user evaluation (competitive analysis/testing, heuristic evaluation, A/B testing, think-aloud protocols) and writing professional reports for business clients. In short, this course covers the tools and techniques that are widely viewed as the "gold standard" for uncovering the hidden needs of technology users in their natural work environments, and for identifying usability obstacles in computer systems that mean the difference between successful designs and those that frustrate the users from achieving their goals.

Research in the Learning Sciences

Winter 2009 (2-week program with 130 undergraduates from universities across India, hosted by the International Institute of Information Technology at Hyderabad)

This program aims to develop local capacity by providing talented local undergraduates with exposure to the emerging discipline of human-computer interaction, a relatively new area of study and research in most of the world. The strongest undergrads from this winter school program are invited to apply for summer research internships at Carnegie Mellon University's main campus in Pittsburgh. The program thereby facilitates collaborations that build on the strengths in traditional engineering disciplines that students receive in their home universities. The Human Development Lab runs the Educational Games track in this program.

Human-Computer Interaction in the Developing World

Spring 2009: 05-899C (graduate)
Tue & Thur 12pm to 1:20pm, CFA 213

This seminar is arguably the first course in the world to cover the growing research literature that focuses on human-computer interaction in combating global poverty. We examine the applications of HCI methods to education, agriculture, healthcare and microfinance in various underdeveloped regions. We explore a broad range of appropriate computing technologies beyond the desktop computer: paper, videos, mobile devices, remote networking, speech/voice and tangible user interfaces. By the end of the course, students will be exposed to HCI methods, technologies and paradigms that enable them to adopt a human-centered perspective when implementing technology projects in the trenches.


* The Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University is the first department to offer degree-granting degree programs in HCI at the Master's and PhD level in the United States. Our M.S. and PhD programs turned 16 and 11 years old respectively as of 2010.