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Microsoft researcher adds industry wisdom to Stanford HCI course

June 9, 2014 | Posted by Microsoft Research Blog

On June 4, students, teaching staff, and guests gathered at Stanford University for the final presentations for CS247—Interaction Design Studio. While this core class in the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) track is offered every year, this year it was taught by two industrial researchers—I was invited to teach the class along with Jofish Kaye from Yahoo! Labs. Combining the creativity and energy of Stanford students with the experience and practical wisdom of industry provided a unique opportunity for the class. The final projects focused on rich, everyday communication tools, an area fueled by the popularity of apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Vine. Students went through an intense design process that involved iteratively building prototypes and observing how users interacted with them. 

Collage with Friends
The Collage with Friends project designed by team JJD was presented at the Stanford University presentation showcase.

The projects and creativity shown by the students never ceases to amaze me. Projects included tools that encouraged more creative communication spurred by recent social events or creative photo, video, or artistic collections; better communication with parents; and improving musical technique through a live critique session. The final presentation session was a frenzy of grading activity, providing demos for industry-celebrity judges, and networking with guests and visitors.

Merrie Morris, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research judges Project Duzaro at the Stanford University Interaction Design Studio student showcase.
A student listens as Merrie Morris, senior researcher at Microsoft Research judges Project Duzaro at the Stanford University Interaction Design Studio student showcase.

By teaching this design-project class at Stanford, we were able to offer the students a real-world, hands-on experience and I found it particularly rewarding to pass on knowledge to the next generation of computer scientists—a rare opportunity for those of us in industry. This experience developed stronger relationships with the university as well as with students, who could one day become employees at Microsoft. In addition, it brought together industry team coaches and judges in the field of HCI, allowing us to take advantage of Microsoft Research’s strategic location in Silicon Valley to connect with the local research community. I hope to have more opportunities for this kind of teaching experience in the future.

John Tang, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research

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