Course Description

How do you know if your next computer system, app or website will be a success? Well, if you look at all major technological advances in the last few decades, you’ll see that it heavily depends on whether it works well with people. Developments such as email, smartphones, and social networks have all involved some form of human-to-computer interaction and interface. The critical success factor for modern technology has therefore become not what it does but how it interacts with people. For example, can you even imagine life without your smartphone these days? Technology has interwoven itself not only into the human psyche but also quite literally—handheld devices can now be seen attached to peoples’ palms in virtually any setting.

When people use technology, a biological information processor (i.e., the brain) interacts with a mechanical information processor (i.e., the computer)—and this interaction will fail if there is no common ground. If you, as a designer, miss the mark between these two worlds of natural and artificial intelligence, they will collide jarringly. This course will therefore merge brain science and computer science in order to teach you the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). You will learn optimal approaches to designing better software, mobile applications, and websites, including online communities, by learning how to create software that interacts with human intuitions. Such knowledge of HCI is now a critical skill—building new hardware and software goods will result in negative returns on investment (ROI) if users can’t or don’t want to use them. Designers must know the basics of brain science in order to practice computer science, not only for people but for communities, too.

The course is created and presented by Brian Whitworth, a registered psychologist who is also trained in computing and has a wealth of experience and qualifications in both fields: BA (Psych), BSc (Maths), MA (Psych), PhD (IS), and Major (Retd.). Each lesson highlights a particular brain-technology difference and uses it to explain what works—and what doesn’t—when people use technology. Every lesson is further divided into ten-minute video blocks, that you can watch independently, so as to fit your learning experience into a busy schedule.

What you will learn

  • Human attention—in particular, how the brain decides what is most important and therefore what we should look at first
  • How to create effective designs, through basing them on how the brain manages and prioritizes the sensory information it receives
  • The link between intuition and the evolution of our brains, as well as how to apply this knowledge so as to build software that engages with human intuition
  • How to compose screens that work visually, by tapping into the brain science behind visual recognition
  • Human recollection, and its implications on designing documents and software that support memory
  • How to create products that cater to the brain’s feedback loop, as well as screen controls that tap into our sense of purpose
  • How to build technology that makes learning easier, thus becoming more successful
  • An understanding of how human and social factors affect technology—including future social and technical evolutions

Who should take this course

This is an advanced-level course on brain and computer sciences. It is targeted at anyone interested in the synergy of people and technology:

  • UX, UI, and web designers looking to learn relevant skills and knowledge so as to build digital systems for people
  • Software engineers keen on writing programs that work for people, not the other way around
  • Project managers interested in successfully creating an online platform that fosters interactions between people
  • Newcomers to design who are considering making a switch to UX design
  • Anyone interested in human-technical interfaces, from reporters and philosophers to the general public

Courses in the Interaction Design Foundation are designed to contain comprehensive, evidence-based content, while ensuring that the learning curve is never too steep. All participants will have the opportunity to share ideas, seek help with tests, and enjoy the social aspects afforded by our open and friendly forum.

Learn and work with a global team of designers

When you take part in this course, you will join a global multidisciplinary team working on the course and the exercises at the same time as you. You will work together to improve your skills and understanding. Your course group will be made up of an incredibly diverse group of professionals, all of whom have the same objective—to become successful designers. It’s your chance to learn, grow, and network with your peers across the planet.

Lessons in this course

Note: Lessons become available at a schedule of one lesson per week. Once a lesson becomes available, it is open for you forever — you can take all the time you want to go through each lesson. There is no time limit to finish a course, and you always have access to your classmates, course material, and your answers.

The estimated time to complete this course is a total of 18 hours 12 mins spread over 8 weeks.

Lesson 0: Introduction

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 57 mins.

  • 0.1: FAQ (20 mins)
  • 0.2: Introduction (58 mins)
  • 0.3: An introduction to IDF courses (14 mins)
  • 0.4: Please check your information before continuing (1 min)
  • 0.5: Meet your peers online in our discussion forums (6 mins)
    • 0.6: Meet your peers offline through IDF Local Groups (1 min)
    • 0.7: The Timeless Nature of IDF Courses (11 mins)
    • 0.8: Your path towards earning your Course Certificate (5 mins)
    • 0.9: Mandatory lessons vs. Optional lessons (2 mins)
    • 0.10: A mix between video-based and text-based lesson content (2 mins)

Lesson 1: Attention

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 46 mins.

  • 1.1: Reality Levels (18 mins)
  • 1.2: Control (21 mins)
  • 1.3: The Illusion (22 mins)
  • 1.4: Information Overload (31 mins)
  • 1.5: Simplicity (13 mins)
    • 1.6: Engage The Brain (20 mins)
    • 1.7: Attention Flows (27 mins)
    • 1.8: Designer Notes Attention (10 mins)
    • 1.9: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 2: Context

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 25 mins.

  • 2.1: The Parallel Advantage (17 mins)
  • 2.2: The Senses (27 mins)
  • 2.3: Encoding (27 mins)
  • 2.4: Borders (16 mins)
  • 2.5: Context (16 mins)
    • 2.6: Environments (29 mins)
    • 2.7: Designer Notes Context (7 mins)
    • 2.8: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 3: Intuition

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 3 hours 59 mins.

  • 3.1: Reliability (23 mins)
  • 3.2: The Brain Onion (30 mins)
  • 3.3: System Performance (49 mins)
  • 3.4: A Society Of Mind (27 mins)
  • 3.5: Distraction (27 mins)
    • 3.6: Stress (33 mins)
    • 3.7: Good Intuitions (30 mins)
    • 3.8: Designer Notes Intuition (15 mins)
    • 3.9: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 4: Recognition

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 2 hours 29 mins.

  • 4.1: Recognition Is Cortical (12 mins)
  • 4.2: The Visual Hierarchy (12 mins)
  • 4.3: Border Ambiguity (14 mins)
  • 4.4: Framing Ambiguity (16 mins)
  • 4.5: Composition Ambiguity (27 mins)
    • 4.6: Feature Ambiguity (19 mins)
    • 4.7: Classification (19 mins)
    • 4.8: Faces (7 mins)
    • 4.9: Art (18 mins)
    • 4.10: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 5: Thought

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 3 hours 14 mins.

  • 5.1: Access by Location (29 mins)
  • 5.2: Language (37 mins)
  • 5.3: Sensory Integration (21 mins)
  • 5.4: Thought (26 mins)
  • 5.5: Documents (27 mins)
    • 5.6: Remembering (38 mins)
    • 5.7: Designer Notes Thought (12 mins)
    • 5.8: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 6: Feedback

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 4 hours 23 mins.

  • 6.1: Feedback Loops (20 mins)
  • 6.2: Driving The Feedback Loop (13 mins)
  • 6.3: Purpose (44 mins)
  • 6.4: Feedback Elements (43 mins)
  • 6.5: Locus Of Control (31 mins)
    • 6.6: The Feedback Problem (33 mins)
    • 6.7: Navigation (25 mins)
    • 6.8: Screen Controls (36 mins)
    • 6.9: Designer Notes Feedback (14 mins)
    • 6.10: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 7: Learning

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 4 hours 17 mins.

  • 7.1: Learning (22 mins)
  • 7.2: Feedback Centers (34 mins)
  • 7.3: Intellectual Learning (19 mins)
  • 7.4: Emotional Learning (34 mins)
  • 7.5: The Emotional Center (24 mins)
    • 7.6: Skills (36 mins)
    • 7.7: Social Learning (23 mins)
    • 7.8: Support Learning (37 mins)
    • 7.9: Self Change (24 mins)
    • 7.10: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 8: The Future Is Us

To be scheduled. Estimated time to complete: 1 hour 56 mins.

  • 8.1: The Future Is Us 1 (17 mins)
  • 8.2: The Future Is Us 2 (30 mins)
  • 8.3: The Future Is Us 3 (38 mins)
  • 8.4: The Future Is Us 4 (26 mins)
  • 8.5: Discussion Exercise (5 mins)

Lesson 9: Course Certificate, Final Networking, and Course Wrap-up

To be scheduled.

  • 9.1: Course Evaluation (1 min)

Industry-trusted UX Course Certificate

You earn an industry-trusted Course Certificate once you complete the course - even if you finish the course after the official end date. In other words, as long as you have enrolled in the course you will always be able to finish it and to get a course certificate. You will also have permanent access to the course material, your answers and the discussions.

Course Certificates from the IDF are verifiable and trusted by industry leaders. You can highlight them on your resume, CV, LinkedIn profile or your website.

Course Certificate

Our courses and Course Certificates are trusted by these industry leaders, who have taken up company memberships with the IDF:

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