Assignments‎ > ‎

Final Project

Students will work in teams of 4-5 people, ideally with a range of skills and expertise. Each team will invent, prototype, and evaluate a novel social computing experience that is functional and can be "played" by multiple people at once within a specific setting. Using language from lecture, teams will be creating a co-locatedsynchronous interaction for a group.   

In contrast with the midterm project, there is no requirement this time for your project to have an educational component or to measure virality. It’s much more open-ended so that you have the freedom/flexibility to work on what you want within the constraints outlined below. However, your team should strive to create a final project that relates to the course readings and discussion.

Learning Goals 
  • To understand how iterative design methods can be adapted to prototype and evaluate social technologies
  • To define and measure impact on an open-ended design prompt
  • To prototype interactions that involve multiple people
  • To learn how to create a "mash-up" with existing technology or to develop using a Web framework
  • To connect project work with insights from the readings and discussions
  • To make a unique contribution to social computing 
Potential Topic Briefs
Teams will develop a novel social computing experience around a social setting where people gather in the same physical location (e.g., in a classroom, at a concert, at a protest rally, etc.). Your team will observe a social setting, taking note of cultural norms, visible behaviors, power hierarchies, information sharing, and other social interactions. Based on these observations, generate ideas for a new social computing experience that either addresses a problem or explores a new opportunity.  Your project may seek to augment or challenge an existing interaction, or provoke entirely new forms of social engagement.  Your concept must be something designed for co-located synchronous interaction by a group of at least 3 simultaneous users. 

The settings and topics below provide an initial set of social contexts (location, demographic, practices, etc.) from which to imagine new social interactions: 
  • Educational contexts:  how might we engage student in collaborative learning activities through technology?  How can groups work together to synthesize and explain learning materials in new ways?
  • Sporting events:  how might we create social connections between fans?  How might we create interactions that revolve around actions in the sporting event (i.e., a touchdown or strikeout)?
  • Concerts/plays:  how might we create social interactions between concert goers in a way that does not detract from the performance? how might we engage the audience in the performance?
  • Town hall meetings:  how might we help a room of people reach consensus on a contentious issue? how might we provide a voice for people who may not usually speak up during a town hall?
  • Creative collaborations:  how might we help people do creative things together? How might we combine creative acts into something greater than the sum of the parts?
  • Gaming meetups: how might we engage people in novel and social forms of fun?
  • Corporate meetings:  how might we help workers divide and coordinate effort around a shared problem? how might we aggregate effort/work from many people into a shared data visualization?

If teams wish to propose a social setting or topic question that is not listed above (e.g. parties, theme parks, marathons, etc.), please discuss it with Professor Dow in advance. The main constraints are:  

  1. use devices to connect people 
  2. in a co-located social setting
  3. with at least three simultaneous users 
  4. interacting in real-time to share information

Timeline and deliverables

Final deliverables are broken out across four deadlines:

  • Week 4: Final assignment released: team formation, brainstorming and topic research
  • Week 5: Work on field research, pitches, and reports
  • Week 6: Present project pitches, turn-in research reports (Due May 8th)
  • Week 7: Build v1 prototype
  • Week 8: Test v1 prototype in discussion sections (Due May 22nd)
  • Week 9: Iterate and build v2 prototype
  • Week 10: Test v2 prototype in sections or lecture hall (Due June 5th)
  • Week 11: Present final project presentations, turn-in final portfolio piece (Due June 12th)

Field research
In week 5, teams should choose a social setting from the list above (or another with approval from the professor) that they would like to augment with technology.  The goal of field research is to explain the social setting and to offer insights for how technology might solve a challenge or offer a new opportunity for social interaction. 

The following should be part of your team's field research: 
  • Observations:  As a team, conduct ~1 hour (minimum) of direct observations: taking note of social and cultural norms, visible behaviors, power hierarchies, information sharing and other interactions. Take note of the how the physical space influences social interactions.  If your chosen social setting cannot be observed directly, you can usually find youtube videos (e.g., town hall meetings, interactive plays, etc.). You can also reflect on your own past experiences in this social setting. Write about 1 page describing what your team observes (or what you recall) about the information challenges and the potential for technology.  
  • Interviews:  Each teammate should conduct at least 1 informal interviews with people who participate in the social setting. To prepare for the interviews, teams should write an interview guide with 5-10 questions. Write a page (or less) per interview describing what you learned about the social setting and the information needs for the group.  
  • Summary of challenge: Based on the observations and interviews, describe the key challenge or opportunity you would like to address with your novel social computing application. 
  • Online research into competitors:  The team must conduct an extensive competitive analysis to understand what technologies already exist for group interaction for your chosen social setting. For each competing solution, describe what the technology does and what are the main limitations wrt to solving the challenge (or creating the opportunity) you outlined above.  
Pitches and Research Reports (due May 8th)
Teams will summarize their field research and competitive analysis as part of a verbal pitch and research report due on May 8th.  Teams should focus on describing the social setting, the challenge or opportunity for technology, and the competitors in that space. 

In sections on May 8 and 10th, each team will present a short 4-minute pitch to get feedback. Pitches should cover:
  • What's the social setting?  Show a picture, describe the context. 
  • What's the challenge or opportunity?  State why it's important.
  • What's been done in the space already?  Make sure to search for competing ideas!
  • What's your unique idea? Articulate why it's novel.
  • How will you prototype the idea?  Describe a minimal viable prototype for your experience.
Sign up your team for a pitch here:  Final project pitch sign-up

Research reports are due on May 8th. They can be up to 5 pages in length (12-pt font, single spacing).  The report will allow your team to expand on details not covered in the verbal pitches. The reports should include: 

  • What's the social setting? Show photos, describe the context. 
  • What did you learn from field research?  Describe any direct observations; summarize interviews.
  • What's the challenge or opportunity?  State why it's important.
  • What's been done in the space already?  Make sure to search for competing ideas!
  • What's your unique idea? Articulate why it's novel.
  • How will you prototype the idea?  Describe a minimal viable prototype for your experience.
  • How will you evaluate the new social experience? List the key questions you seek to answer.
  • How will you divide the work among your team? Make a plan.
Reports should be marked "Research Report" and placed into your team's Google folder. Any notes, photos, brainstorming, online research of competitors, etc should be included in your team's folder into additional sub-folders so that we can see evidence of your process. 

Create your team's Google folder here:  Final project team folders

Prototypes and Evaluation 
Teams will develop their concepts for a novel social computing technology into a working prototype that can be evaluated during class in two iterations: the first iteration is due in Week 8 and the second is due in Week 10.  During these evaluation sessions, each team will demonstrate their idea and get feedback. Your team will need to develop a functional prototype that works with at least 3 simultaneous users, provide detailed instructions so that your peers can role-play the social setting during class, and create a survey to get feedback.    

During the evaluation sessions in Weeks 8 and 10, each team can ask fellow students to visit a URL for their prototype, role play as different users, and interact with each other through the system. Your team should gather usage information and user feedback through a survey that will help your team refine their project.  In week 8, teams will test their prototypes in their sections; this means each team will have ~20 minutes for their entire testing period (to explain prototype, read instructions, use prototype, and obtain feedback).  

Teams should use data collected during the first session in Week 8 and in order to significantly iterate on their prototype before the second session in Week 10.  During class in week 10, teams may request to test their prototype in the big lecture hall with up to 100 simultaneous users. Before week 10, we will ask each team whether they want their final evaluation to happen in section or in lecture and then we will determine a schedule and time slots based on needs and availability.  

For both in-class evaluation sessions, teams should prepare the following:   
  • Functional prototype:  provide a URL (or URLs) to a working prototype that can be tested through role play. See notes below about technology for the functional prototype. 
  • Instructions for users:  this should include a description of the social context, a script for the specific role(s) you want someone to play (to have different roles, simply have different sets of instructions), and any instructions for how to use the prototype (i.e., where should they click or write? how should they interact?).  You will ask your peers to read this before trying your prototype in class, so make sure to keep your instructions super clear and concise.  
  • Evaluation plan:  Write a list of evaluation questions. What do you want to learn about your novel social experience? What indicators might tell you if this could be successful?  What kind of emergent behavior do you expect/hope to see? What kind of feedback do you want? 
  • Feedback form: after demoing and testing your prototype, ask your fellow students to fill out a survey to evaluate your prototype. If time allows, you may lead a short focus group discussion about your prototype, but do this only after students fill out the feedback form (so that you get everyone's independent feedback first). You may also make video/audio recordings from the evaluation session for later analysis.
As for technology for the functional prototype, there are no specific requirements beyond the constraints of the assignment (real-time interaction of at least 3 simultaneous users). Your projects can be built from scratch, implemented in a Web framework like Meteor, or as a mash-up of existing technologies (such as Google docs/sheets/forms). Be strategic about this given the talents on your team:  you may want to, for example, create the first prototype in Google sheets for Week 8, and then transition to a more elaborate prototype made in Meteor for Week 10. You will not be graded on your development skills, but rather on your team's ability to show potential for a new kind of social computing experience.  

To support this, we have created the following prototypes. These are not novel by any means, but intended to give you a sense of what's possible with Google sheets (with conditional formatting, and scripting) and Meteor for real-time browser-to-browser interaction. Example prototypes:

Final Presentations and Online Portfolio Piece (due June 12th) 
Teams will summarize their prototypes and evaluations as part of a final presentation in HSS 1346 (max five minutes) and an online portfolio piece due on June 12th at 8am.  The goal should be to describe the social scenario, summarize the motivation for your concept, illustrate your prototype, and discuss what you learned through your evaluation.

For the presentation on June 12th, your team slides should: 
  • All team members' names on the first and last slide
  • Describe the social setting (borrow info from the Pitch and Research Report)
  • Motivate your problem/opportunity 
  • Illustrate the prototype(s) with screenshots or videos
  • Describe how your team conducted each evaluation session
  • Draw out key lessons learned from the evaluation. This should include both what people did (behavioral) and what people said (opinions).  Include quotes, images, videos from potential users to help provide context for your evaluation. Describe how your prototype changed between Week 8 and Week 10 to adjust to the feedback you received.  
  • Reflect on what prototyping revealed about the social structures and complexities related to the chosen social setting. 

To help create a smooth transition between presentations, please create your presentation as a Google slide deck and put a link in the final project presentation sign up sheet.

For the online portfolio piece, also due on June 12th, create a landing page for your project. This webpage can also serve as a portfolio for team members when they go off to find jobs. The online portfolio piece should cover everything from the presentation (see list above), but in more detail. Include in-depth descriptions and reflections on what you did and why, what you learned, and give a brief outline of the overall process, and contributions made by each team member (e.g., Susan did about half of the back-end coding, Joe designed the UI, Jim wrote the study protocol, Sally prepared the online portfolio).  You can build this in a service like WordpressGoogle Sites, or Wix. Your landing page should include imagery that conveys your prototype's concept. You can also link to your slides from the landing page.

By the end of the quarter, your team's Google Drive folder should include: 
  • Research report (due May 8)
  • Project pitch in Google slides (due May 8)
  • Folder for prototypes with all iterations and documentation of your demo. This should include at least two prototypes (Week 8; Week 10), users instructions, evaluation goals and feedback forms. (due June 12)
  • A final presentation in Google slides (due June 12) 
  • Link to the online portfolio piece (include link in slides) (due June 12)

Final project grades are broken out into 4 deadlines adding up to 100 points: 

  • Tuesday, May 8: Research Report (15%), Project Pitch (10%) 
  • Tuesday, May 22: Version 1 - Prototyping and Evaluations (15%)                 
  • Tuesday, June 5: Version 2 - Prototyping and Evaluations (20%)
  • Tuesday, June 12: Online portfolio piece (25%) and Presentation (15%) 
Team assessments may affect individual grades (up or down) by as much as 10%. At the end of the project, we will ask for feedback on your contributions from your teammates. We suggest you keep a work log with dates, time spent, and what you did. This will help document your work. 
  • Project pitches (10%)
    • Does the presentation cover all the aspects in the description above?
    • Is the concept novel in some way?  
    • Is the presentation clear, engaging and concise (under 4 minutes)
  • Research report (15%)
    • Does the research report meet the basic requirements outlined above?
    • Did the team conduct extensive field research on their social setting (either in person, through online video, or through personal reflection)?
    • Does the interviews (one per member) contribute to a deeper understanding of the social setting?
    • Does the team effectively summarize the field research and identify a key challenge or opportunity?
    • Does the team conduct an extensive competitive analysis, and explain how their idea is novel?
  • Prototypes and evaluation (35% total: 15% w8 + 20% w10) 
    • W8 Prototypes (15%):
      • Does the team meet the basic requirements for prototyping and evaluation specified above?
      • Are the instructions for users clear and concise? Can users role-play the scenario effectively?
      • Is the prototype functional so that at least 3 users can interact simultaneously?
      • Does the evaluation plan effectively describe key questions/concerns?
      • Does the feedback form/survey collect data to help address questions in the evaluation plan
    • W10 Prototypes 20%):
      • Does the team meet all of the same requirements listed above for the w8 prototypes? 
      • Does the team iterate and improve the prototype between V1 and V2?
      • Does the team present a high level visual story about the prototype? (~2 min in length. Should convey social setting and context and visually illustrate a vision for the social experience.)
      • Does the team include imagery that helps set the context? (i.e. high fidelity screen shots of what the app would look like)
  • Final presentation (15%)
    • Does the presentation cover all the aspects in the description above?
    • Does the slide deck create a visual representation of the envisioned social computing experience (including social context and type of interaction)?
    • Is the presentation clear, engaging, and concise (under 5 minutes)?
    • Does the team provide evidence from the two prototyping sessions and surveys that the final concept could succeed in the chosen social setting?
  • Final online portfolio piece (25%)
    • Does the online portfolio piece meet the basic requirements outlined above?
    • Does the online portfolio piece provide extensive details on everything (including their process and details not covered during the short final presentation)?
    • Does the online portfolio piece successfully motivate the idea for your team's concept and reflect deeply on whether this prototype would work in the social setting? (if it's not a good concept, that's ok too; your team just needs to say why.)
    • Does the online portfolio piece effectively describe what the team learned through their two rounds of evaluation with their prototype?
    • Is the online portfolio piece well written? Does it have a narrative flow? Free from grammar and spelling errors? 
    • Is the online portfolio piece visually appealing for a broader audience? Does it look professional and complete?  Will future employers understand your idea within a short review of your team's portfolio piece (within 1-2 min)?