oa Alternation - Harnessing GIS to extend HCI teaching

Volume 12, Issue 1a
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



Visualization of information is an important human computer interaction (HCI) research topic but it is not generally included in university courses. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are excellent examples of applications where visualization is used to represent information. In addition, GIS require sophisticated interfaces so that the users can manipulate and query the underlying data. Hence, in practical exercises using GIS students interpret information and use interfaces that differ somewhat from standard Windows objects and text. As this context and form of interaction is unfamiliar to typical Information Systems students, this experience can be exploited further to emphasize the fact that end users frequently operate outside their comfort zones when they use information systems. This paper descriptionbes a strategy to enhance the teaching of HCI. The learning experience takes the form of an HCI evaluation of GIS software in a usability laboratory. Students play the roles of end-users and researchers / evaluators. The exercise allows the lecturer to demonstrate exactly how usability data, including satisfaction questionnaires, can be collected and analyzed. As a result four separate objectives are met at one time, an important issue when lecture time is scarce.

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