Teaching Statement

14. 05. 16
Created: 16 May 2014

Teaching Statement

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) concerns the design and assessment of interactive products with the user in mind. Hence, researchers, engineers, and designers working in HCI need an understanding of both technology and people. In more detail, professionals should develop technical skills as well as design competencies to create and analyze interactive artifacts situated in use. Moreover, they have to build up a repertoire of research methods to study how people appropriate these designs and to elaborate their insights scientifically. Apparently, the acquisition of such broad skills needs an ambitious training. To face this challenge, I chose to implement numerous hands-on and tangible design exercises in my courses in HCI and complement them with corresponding theory (see below for a course overview). In my experience, HCI is a highly suitable subject of study for combining practical exercises with theoretical considerations in order to create a deep, lasting, and also fun learning experience. Overall, my primary teaching objectives are three-fold:

  • Students learn to conceive well-founded design concepts and to systematically implement them in soft- and hardware.
  • Students learn to take the users’ perspective, and they realize the importance and multifaceted nature of social factors in interaction design.
  • Students learn to justify and choose appropriate means for their work (e.g., selecting an appropriate prototyping technique or evaluation method) and can relate it to the scientific literature.

To accomplish these learning objectives, I motivate the students by incorporating cutting-edge and illustrative (and often fascinating) research, for example, on tangible or ubiquitous computing, and I draw on aforementioned practical hands-on activities. These can be “conventional” brainstorming sessions but also additional user-centered design methods or ideation techniques like paper prototyping or design/future workshops. For ensuring to engage students in relevant topics facilitated by hands-on experiences, I also created a number of optimized toolkits for my teaching. UbiKit [1], for example, enables students to quickly create tangible user interfaces by assigning capacitive touch-buttons to interactive functions. By means of UbiKit, the students were able to obtain quick feedback on their design proposals and interactive prototypes. This was both important for motivational reasons as well as to learn appropriate approaches to designing interactive products. Moreover, I developed a mobile phone application for gathering user requirements in an innovative fashion. Here, the motivation was to provide the students with a new perspective on the context of use and thus provoke interesting insights. This idea led to a publication at the OzCHI conference and finally won the best paper award [2]. I also regularly encourage students to conduct additional scientific research about their prototypes. So, one group of students developed a prototype ("LightSight") for children with vision impairment in one of my courses lately. This effort resulted in a publication [3] at the Designing Interactive Systems conference, and this also highlights the special eligibility of the domain of HCI for combining teaching with state-of-the-art research.




Demo Videos from Building Interaction Interfaces and Beyond the Desktop


Following videos were created during the courses “Building Interaction Interfaces” and “Beyond the Desktop” of the master programme Media Informatics. The ideas and videos are property of the students. They work in groups, and each group is supposed to create about five prototypes of interactive systems and a corresponding video documentation, as part of these two courses.

The quality of the 'filmmaking' is not part of the grading; all that officially matters are the ideas, and how they implemented them. However, students often enjoy creating quite polished videos.


1. Video Prototype using "UbiKit"

This is a video prototype showing a concept of a smart rehabilitation set to be taken home by the patients. The students used the "UbiKit" (see also above) for creating the mock-up in the video.


2. Computer Game with an unconventional Controller

Here, students demonstrate a video game that they made using the Processing environment. They control the game with their own experimental input device. The objective of this exercise was to combine a custom-made piece of hardware with own software.


3. "LightSight"

This is the prototype already mentioned above, which was created as a therapeutic toy for young children with problems in vision and motor skills.


4. Body-Tracking/Natural User Interfaces

This video is a screen-recording in which we can see students play their own Kinect-based video game. Hence, the objective of this exercise was to create a game incoporating body-tracking.


5. "Mindbubble"

This is an "arty" project where the user can attach virtual notes and thoughts to locations in a museum. This information can be found and accessed by other visitors.



  • [1] Güldenpfennig, F., Nunes, F., Subasi, Ö., & Urbanek, M. (2017). UbiKit: Learning to Prototype for Tangible and Ubiquitous Computing. In Proc British HCI’17.

  • [2] Güldenpfennig, F., Reitberger, W., & Fitzpatrick, G. (2012c). Through two different Lenses: A Tool for new Perspectives into Context. In Proc OzCHI’12, 170-179. 

  • [3] Salihodzic, H., Zilberburg, K., Chakhmaghi, N., Güldenpfennig, F., Fikar, P., & Ganhör, R. (2018). LightSight: A Dice to Meet the Eyes. In Proc Designing Interactive Systems (DIS’18).