DTC 478: Spring 2021: Syllabus

WHEN:Monday, Wednesday, Friday @ 10:10am–11:00am
WHERE:Online via Zoom, Panopto, and Blackboard
INSTRUCTOR:Tor de Vries ([email protected])
OFFICE:Online: M/Tu/Th 11:00am–12:00pm, and W/F during asynchronous class hours, with availability at other times; use the instructor's online appointment scheduler


From the WSU DTC course catalog:

Usability and Interface Design
Design of websites using best practices of visual literacy, interface architecture, and usability. Course Prerequisite: DTC 355.

Specifically, this course explores the design of web and mobile interfaces with a focus on creating an effective and efficient user experience for a real-world project or client. Material covered will include:

  • Review and practice concepts related to UI/UX — user interface and user experience — as they apply to a larger team-based web design/development project.
  • Introduction to various issues around managing teams, projects, and clients.

Ideally, this course will build on the UI/UX concepts introduced in other DTC classes, including DTC 355: Multimedia Authoring, and apply them to projects that may include real-world web design clients. The course's team-based projects require ongoing coordination and participation. As a result, careful management of time is important to succeed in this class.



Course-specific goals include:

  • UI/UX visual and structural design
  • wireframing
  • accessibility standards
  • content management
  • writing for the web
  • working in teams
  • understanding clients and audiences
  • exploring technology solutions
  • and more

DTC-specific learning outcomes include:

  • Demonstrate competency with technology for designing and distributing digital works in various mediums.
  • Demonstrate competency with design principles through both the production and analysis of media objects.
  • Demonstrate and articulate an understanding of the way digital media and information function and circulate in multiple cultural contexts.
  • Effectively communicate through writing and speech why and how digital media content makes meaning.


Due to the nature of the material and the projects, the semester will proceed in units.

Unit 1 will be Weeks 1-3, from January 20 to February 5:

  • There will be one synchronous / live lesson, usually on Mondays during the course's scheduled time slot (10:10am–11:00am). A link to the Zoom session will be available on the course's Blackboard site under "Live / Synchronous".
  • There will also be asynchronous / recorded video materials, typically recorded as 2-3 lessons, with a combined total of 2 hours of recorded material. All recordings, including recordings of the live Zoom sessions, will be available on the course's Blackboard site under "Recorded / Async".

Unit 2 will be Weeks 4-5, from February 8 to February 19:

  • There will be 1-2 hours of recorded materials.
  • The class will be divided into 4-7 teams of students.
  • Each team will be assigned a period of 15-20 minutes during regular class time to meet with the instructor about specific team-based projects assigned in this unit (depending on the number of teams).
  • Students can schedule additional time with the instructor outside of the class.

Unit 3 will be Weeks 6-16, from February 22 to May 7:

  • There may be 1-2 hours of recorded materials.
  • The class teams may be reorganized/revised.
  • Final projects and/or clients will be assigned.
  • Each team will be assigned a period of 15-20 minutes during regular class time to meet with the instructor about specific team-based projects assigned in this unit.
  • Students can schedule additional time with the instructor outside of the class.
  • Unit 3 has some general subunits:
    • Strategy + Scope
    • Structure + Content
    • Skeleton + Tech
    • Design + Testing
    • Deliver + Document

Whether live or recorded, lessons will include presentation and demonstration of concepts, and you may be assigned readings and tutorials to complete, in addition to projects.

Attendance to synchronous / live lectures is not required, though it is very strongly recommended that you attend live team meetings. You will be graded on participation in team projects.

This calendar is subject to updates as the semester progresses. Specific week-by-week dates and deadlines may vary from this overview, and can be reviewed on the DTC 478 Calendar.

In addition, students are encouraged to refer to the WSU academic calendar often to be aware of critical deadlines throughout the semester. The academic calendar can be found at http://registrar.wsu.edu/academic-calendar/.


  • Strongly Recommended Book: The Elements of User Experience, 2nd Edition, by Jesse James Garrett. (ISBN # 0321683684) This should be available for purchase at the Bookie or online from stores such as Amazon. You should have a physical or e-book copy. A digital copy may be available through Academia.edu inexpensively. Make sure you get the second edition (2010/2011); it is noticeably different from the first edition (2003).
  • Google Chrome. The web development tools demonstrated in class will primarily use the free Chrome web browser. Students can use Firefox, Safari, or other browsers in their own work, but the instructor will focus on Chrome.
  • An active Google account. If you have a Gmail account, you already have a Google account. However, you can register for Google without Gmail.
  • Zoom. Every student at WSU should have access to a pro account for Zoom. You're going to be using it to host and record team meetings.
  • JumpChart. WSU students can get a free account converted to a no-cost Deluxe account after signing up with their WSU email.
  • MockFlowDepending on your work, the free account might not be sufficient for class.
  • Slack. You're going to create a Slack channel for your final team/project.
  • A project management tool. To be determined, but will be something low-cost. Could be Basecamp or Wrike.
  • Web Hosting, per team/project. Do not set this up until team projects have been finalized. Current plan: one team member will pay for the hosting ($30-ish) and the rest of the team pays that person for their percentage of the cost via Venmo, PayPal, etc.

As you know, a computer and reliable internet access are required for this class. WSU is providing additional technology support, as follows:


The instructor will be using Blackboard (learn.wsu.edu) to provide grades and detailed information for our class. Course readings, videos, assignment information, instructor presentations, and other materials will be available there. You will also be expected to submit all your assignments via Blackboard.  You will also be able to access the most up-to-date information about your grade in Blackboard.

Class reminders and urgent updates will be sent by e-mail through Blackboard. Note that Blackboard only sends email to your official WSU account, so make sure you check your WSU email regularly.

You can ask questions or contact the instructor in one of the following ways:

  • By email at [email protected]. Note that WSU regulations prohibit the instructor from corresponding with you about the class to any non-WSU email account, so make sure you email from your WSU account.
  • By scheduling a private Zoom appointment. Use the instructor's appointment scheduler.
  • Through the Discussion Board on Blackboard. Asking questions there will generally be visible to your classmates. Any student is free to contribute to a discussion, but the instructor reserves the right to edit or remove messages if needed.
  • Through the officially unofficial Slack channels. If you're on Slack, you can join Tor's workspace at bit.ly/tdv-slack, then join your specific DTC class channel to ask quick questions or get news updates. Slack is not an official WSU communications method, so course news will never only be shared on Slack, and Tor can't answer specific questions about grades or students through Slack.

Generally, do not expect the instructor to respond outside of normal weekday hours: 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. He may sometimes respond outside of those hours, but do not expect it.


Grade and other information on each assignment and assessment will be available on the course's Blackboard site.

The grade distribution is as follows:

  • 10%: Your individual participation and project work in Unit 1.
  • 10%: Your individual participation and project work in Unit 2.
  • 40%: Your individual participation and project work in Unit 3.
  • 40%: Your team's project work in Unit 3.

Each week, students should expect to spend 4-10 hours outside of class on work for this class, though it will vary by student, material, and assignments.

This class is focused heavily on projects and teams. As a result, it is impossible to accept late work, especially when it impacts the rest of your team. Ongoing team-wide delays will be reviewed and considered if they arise.

For projects: if you meet the bare minimum requirements as described in each assignment, you will be given a grade of 75% (C, or 2.0). Your grade can go up from there with additional effort and attention to detail.

There is no curve on grading in this class. The grading scale is as follows:

A94% – 100%4.0C+77% – 79%2.3
A –90% – 93%3.7C74% – 76%2.0
B+87% – 89%3.3C-70% – 73%1.7
B84% – 86%3.0D+67% – 69%1.3
B –80% – 83%2.7D60% – 66%1.0


Work you create in this class may be available on the internet through this web site, and through your work in this course. As a result, your work and your name may be publicly linked to our class without any further discussion beyond this note in the syllabus.

If you have concerns about the public display of your work, or about your name being publicly attached to this class during your enrollment, please let the instructor know.



Academic integrity
Washington State University, a community dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, expects all students to behave in a manner consistent with its high standards of scholarship and conduct. Students are expected to uphold these standards both on and off campus and acknowledge the university's authority to take disciplinary action. The purpose of these standards and processes is to educate students and protect the welfare of the community.

University instructors have the authority to intervene in all situations where students are suspected of academic dishonesty. In such instances, responsible instructors retain the authority to assign grades to students considering, from an academic standpoint, the nature of the student action. The consequences for such actions should be spelled out beforehand in the syllabus. More information regarding responding to academic integrity violations can be found at: https://communitystandards.wsu.edu/.

In this course, students who violate WSU’s Academic Integrity Policy will be disciplined as follows:

  • For the first violation, the student will receive a failing grade of zero on that assignment. Depending on the scope and nature of the violation, the instructor may require additional work simply in order to pass the course, though the failing grade may remain in effect.
  • For the second violation, the student will receive a failing grade for the entire course. Additionally, the student will not have the option to withdraw from the course pending an appeal, and will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct.

Academic integrity violations include, but are not limited to, plagiarism and unauthorized collaboration as defined in the Standards of Conduct for Students, WAC 504-26-010(3). You need to read and understand all of the definitions of cheating: app.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=504-26-010.

This specific course involves the use of digital media. There are countless sources on the Internet that provide downloadable photos, videos, and other media; in fact, your instructor has a page of links to such resources. Students are permitted to use online media in their assignments only under the following conditions:

  • The original image's source URL, creator, and other information must be documented in a spreadsheet according to the instructor's guidelines.
  • The original image file must be saved and submitted with the assignment.

Without this documentation, any use of images discovered by the instructor may be considered an instance of plagiarism.

If you have any questions about what is and is not allowed in this course, please ask the instructor for clarification before proceeding with your assignment.

Decorum & Respect
This class will maintain academic decorum, meaning that all respectfully expressed positions will be accepted into the discussion and responded to in kind. Agreement is by no means a goal of the course. However, civility is a skill that will be practiced at all levels of interaction (group discussion, written assignments, blog responses, etc.).

Preferred identities & pronouns
This course affirms people of all gender expressions and gender identities. If you prefer to be called a different name than what is on the class roster, please let me know. Feel free to correct me on your gender pronoun. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Personal technology etiquette
In order to ensure a productive learning environment, students are required to turn off or set your personal communication device to silent during class time. In general, disruptive use of technological devices will result in a significantly lowered grade. If disruption/disrespect of the classroom environment persists, absences will be marked.



Students should make every effort to attend live/synchronous lectures at their scheduled time. Although attendance to live/synchronous Zoom classes is not required, it is strongly encouraged. If a student is unable to attend at the scheduled time, they are expected to fully watch the recorded video as soon as they can. However, students will be graded on attendance/viewing of videos over the semester.

Administrative Drops for Non-Attendance
Students enrolled in online classes may be dropped if they have not logged into the class Blackboard and Zoom sessions during the first week, and have not contacted the instructor. Students should not assume that they have been dropped without checking their class schedules.

Students should make all reasonable efforts to attend all class meetings. However, in the event a student is unable to attend a class, it is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor as soon as possible and make arrangements for any missed work. Missing class meetings may result in reducing the overall grade in the class.

Additional considerations about absences include:

  • COVID-19-Related Absences
    Students are responsible for ensuring that they attend all class meetings and complete all in-class and out-of-class work as assigned by the instructor. Students are also responsible for communicating with the instructor should they need to be absent.During the fall semester it is likely that some students will be required to quarantine or will fall ill for an extended period. Many students will also have challenges related to access to technology and internet or quiet spaces to attend a remote class. Faculty should exercise understanding and generosity in responding to students’ requests to keep up with the coursework or make up missed work. It is the expectation of the Provost’s Office that instructors will reasonably accommodate students who are absent for an extended period. Regularly using Panopto or recording zoom sessions will assist students in keeping up with the course. "Reasonably accommodate" means coordinating with the student on scheduling examinations or other activities necessary for completing course requirements and includes offering different times for examinations or activities. Instructors may determine that the missed work and/or class time is so extensive that the student cannot make it up without taking an Incomplete grade. Students have one year to complete the work, unless a shorter interval is specified by the instructor. The Incomplete grade will administratively convert to an F grade after one year. There are no extensions beyond the one year.
  • University Sponsored Absences
    Any student who is required to participate in university-sponsored activities such as field trips, musical performances, judging teams, intercollegiate athletic events, etc., should obtain an official Class Absence Request form from the faculty or staff member supervising the on- or off-campus activity. The form must contain specific information concerning the activity and date, be signed by the supervising faculty or staff member, and be submitted by the student at least one week in advance to the individual instructors of the student’s classes. It is recommended, but not required, that a student not be penalized for absence from class provided a properly signed Class Absence Request form has been filed with the instructor prior to the absence. These university-sponsored absences are subject to an instructor’s attendance policy and are not intended to imply additional acceptable absences. In all instances, it is the student’s responsibility to make up all work missed.
  • Military Service Members
    Students who are members of the National Guard or a reserve branch of a military service are occasionally required to miss class for weekend drills, active duty, and related responsibilities. In such a case, instructors must not penalize students for the absences and should allow them to make-up the missed work. In each instance, it is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor of the duty before the absence, provide appropriate documentation if requested and complete the missed work as soon as reasonably possible.
  • Flexible Attendance as an Access Accommodation
    Some students have disabilities or chronic medical conditions of an episodic nature that may require flexibility regarding attendance. The Access Center recognizes that in some cases, allowing absences beyond those normally allowed in a course is a reasonable accommodation. However, there are courses in which a specified standard of attendance may be an essential part of the course. When the Access Center determines that flexible attendance may be a reasonable accommodation, instructors will receive notification of approved accommodations and procedures for their consideration. Final determinations regarding flexible attendance will be determined on a case-by-case basis. See the Flexible Attendance Guidelines at the Access Center website and Rule 83. NOTE: The Access Center does not provide accommodations for acute illnesses that cause extended absences (e.g., mono, strep throat, conjunctivitis). In these cases, students are to work with their instructors as indicated under Other Absences.
  • Other Absences
    Students must sometimes miss class meetings, examinations, or other academic obligations affecting their grades due to extenuating circumstances. It is the responsibility of the student to provide a written explanation for the absence to the instructor as soon as it is reasonable to do so. When possible, students should provide appropriate documentation for their absence but instructors cannot require written excuses from health care professionals.As long as such absences are not excessive, it is recommended, but not required, that the instructor provide and document reasonable arrangements. Determinations regarding the acceptance of an absence are the discretion of the instructor based on the attendance policy as stated in the class syllabus.
  • Accommodation for Absence Due to Religious Observances
    Washington State University reasonably accommodates absences allowing for students to take holidays for reasons of faith or conscience or organized activities conducted under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization. Reasonable accommodation requires the student to coordinate with the instructor on scheduling examinations or other activities necessary for course completion. Students requesting accommodation must provide written notification within the first two weeks of the beginning of the course and include specific dates for absences. Approved accommodations for absences will not adversely impact student grades. Absence from classes or examinations for religious reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence. Students who feel they have been treated unfairly in terms of this accommodation may refer to Academic Regulation 104 - Academic Complaint Procedures. See also Rule 82.Instructors must reasonably accommodate students who, due to the observance of religious holidays, expect to be absent or endure a significant hardship during certain days of the course. "Reasonably accommodate" means coordinating with the student on scheduling examinations or other activities necessary for completion of the course and includes offering different times for examinations or activities.

    • Any student seeking reasonable accommodations under this section must provide written notice to the instructor, within the first two weeks of the beginning of the course and include the specific dates for absences. Absence from classes or examinations for religious reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence.
    • The instructor shall inform the student of the decision in writing within seven calendar days of the receipt of the request.
    • Approved accommodations for absences will not adversely impact student grades.
    • The university provides notice to students of this policy on the university’s web site and in course or program syllabi, including grievance procedures.
  • Any student who believes that she or he has not been appropriately accommodated under this policy may seek review of the decision by sending a written request to the chairperson of the department offering the course, as soon as possible and no later than seven days after learning of the instructor’s decision. After the chair’s decision, the student or the instructor may appeal to the dean’s office. Appeals to the dean’s office must be presented in writing within seven calendar days of the chair’s decision. The decision of the dean or associate dean shall be made within seven calendar days and is final. The University Ombudsman is available at any stage for advice or assistance in resolving requests for accommodation. Students should understand that fairness in the examination process is an important consideration in the educational process and that they do have a duty to cooperate in making alternate arrangements.
  • Emergency Notifications
    While the Office of the Dean of Students does not excuse or verify student absences, in the event a student is going to be away from class for an extended period and is unable to contact the instructor in a timely manner, the Office of the Dean of Students may provide an emergency notification on the student’s behalf to the instructors, informing them of the student’s absence and the planned duration of the absence. An emergency notification should not be required or used to excuse a student’s absence.

It is the responsibility of the student to make contact with their instructors as soon as possible to make arrangements for missed work. It is up to the instructor to determine what if any arrangements will be made for the student based upon the attendance policy as stated in syllabus.

Students who attempt to gain advantage through abuse of this policy (e.g., by providing an instructor with false information) may be referred to the Office of Student Standards and Accountability for disciplinary action.



WSU Email Policy
Current university policy states that all email communication must be sent to student’s official WSU email address. The instructor will not reply to course-related student correspondence from a non-WSU.edu email address.

Student Records
Please review information about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) at the following website: http://www.ronet.wsu.edu/Main/Apps/FerpaInfo.ASP. Each department is responsible to maintain the confidentiality of student records in accordance with FERPA. Questions regarding the access to or release of student records may be referred to the Registrar’s Office at 509-335-5346 or [email protected].

Reasonable Accommodations
Students with Disabilities: Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please either visit or call the Access Center (Washington Building 217; 509-335-3417, accesscenter.wsu.edu) to schedule an appointment with an Access Advisor. All accommodations must be approved through the Access Center.

WSU Safety Statement
Washington State University is committed to enhancing the safety of students, faculty, staff and Classroom and campus safety are of paramount importance at Washington State University, and are the shared responsibility of the entire campus population. WSU urges students to follow the “Alert, Assess, Act” protocol for all types of emergencies and the “Run, Hide, Fight” response for an active shooter incident. Remain ALERT (through direct observation or emergency notification), ASSESS your specific situation, and ACT in the most appropriate way to assure your own safety (and the safety of others if you are able).

Please sign up for emergency alerts on your account at MyWSU. For more information on this subject, campus safety, and related topics, please view the FBI’s Run, Hide, Fight video and visit the WSU safety portal.

Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment
Discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct (including stalking, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence) is prohibited at WSU (See WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment (Executive Policy 15) and WSU Standards of Conduct for Students).

If you feel you have experienced or have witnessed discriminatory conduct, you can contact the WSU Office of Civil Rights Compliance & Investigation (CRCI) and/or the WSU Title IX Coordinator at 509-335-8288 to discuss resources, including confidential resources, and reporting options. (Visit crci.wsu.edu for more information).

Most WSU employees, including faculty, who have information regarding sexual harassment or sexual misconduct are required to report the information to CRCI or a designated Title IX Coordinator or Liaison. Visit https://crci.wsu.edu/reporting-requirements/ for more information.

Student Request for Consideration
The Office of the Dean of Students and/or the Office for Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation may contact instructors on a student’s behalf when the student’s involvement in a matter implicating the WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, and Harassment (Executive Policy #15) is having a significant impact on the student’s academic progress. In such cases, the instructor is strongly encouraged to work with the student to address the student’s needs without compromising learning objectives. It is the responsibility of the student to contact the instructor to make these arrangements.

Students who are dissatisfied with the instructor’s arrangement regarding missed work may follow the Academic Complaint Procedures (Academic Regulation 104).

Academic Complaint Procedures
A student having complaints about instruction or grading should attempt to resolve those issues directly with the instructor. If that fails, the student should send an email to the instructor using his or her official WSU email account no later than 20 business days following the end of the semester. This email should briefly outline the complaint and be copied to the chairperson of the academic department.

If the complaint is not resolved with the instructor within 20 business days of sending the email, then the student may work directly with the chairperson of the academic department in which the course is offered. The chair’s decision shall be rendered within 20 additional business days.

After the chair’s decision, the student or the instructor may appeal to the academic college Dean’s Office. Complaints must be presented in writing to the college dean within 20 business days of the chair’s decision. The written statement should describe the complaint, indicate how it affects the individual or unit, and include the remedy sought from the college dean. The decision of the college dean is the final step and shall be made within 20 business days.

The University Ombudsman is available at any stage for advice or assistance in resolving academic complaints.

Note: Though chairs and deans (and academic area coordinators and campus chancellors) may resolve complaints about instruction and grading, they may not change a final grade without the consent of the instructor, except as provided by Rule 105.