Special Topics: Designing for Conversation: Theories, Models, and Making

Course Number: 
Semester and Units: 
Intermittent: 9 units
Course Description: 
Want to make a better chatbot? 
Learn how conversation works? 
Design interactions that are more ethical?
This 6-week course comprises 3 modules: a swift review of theories of conversation; a focus on a practical theory whose formal models help in the design of Conversational UIs and Voice UIs; and a project of making a working chatbot (for example, uploading prototypes to Alexa).
Course activities comprise in-class lectures, critical readings, studio time, and online discussions. Students will learn how to characterize the limitations of today’s chatbots compared to the power of human conversation. Applying a formal model of conversation gives direction for designing interfaces in any modality (voice, txt, prose, gesture, movement) and in any technology (screens, VUIs, immersive environments, and gallery works).
The 3 modules of the course (theories, models, and making) are richly overlapping in time. The third module explores tools for building a voice agent early in the course in order to give ample practice.The final project pushes students to break new ground in human-machine interaction.