Fall 2015
Interactive 2, GRAPH-228-01
California College of the Arts
SF Main Campus, [1] Room E1 [2] Room E2
Monday, Wednesday [1] 12–3pm [2] 4–7pm
Instructor: Laurel Schwulst, lschwulst@cca.edu

Course description

This course focuses on interaction design with projects that are based online. Questions asked during the course include:

(This course has a formal emphasis, using what knowledge students have about composition, typography, and hierarchy as a basis.)

(Today interaction online is focused on information flow within living, social ecosystems that students already well know. We will go beyond and average user’s perspective to critically examine the web through historical, political, and social lenses. This course encourages students to holistically approach to the web and its constituent code as a living kit of parts patiently waiting to be harnessed in novel and innovative ways.)

(We will explore design principles relating to dynamic media and understand how good design should take advantage of the web both formally and conceptually. This design should be conditional online, changing in response to its environment and users, so we will create accommodating, flexible systems.)

The course will heavily employ real-world, contemporary examples of design, art, and presences online. These thematic groupings of artwork, portfolios, archives, exhibition platforms, blogs, web apps, etc. will be examined with a critical eye and mind. Additionally, we will discuss what makes a design practice and the importance of discovering each student’s unique approach and methodology.

This course is open to ~15 students. No prior programming knowledge is required to take this class. Interested students with special circumstances can speak to me directly and, in addition, be sure to thoroughly fill out the intro survey I give during the first week of class.

Class activities

In general, the class will be broken into two halves.

One half will include any combination of:

The other half will include any combination of skill-based workshop with working lab time and/or individual consultation.

Reading panel groups

Reading discussions will be in panel format. For each group of readings, three or four students will assigned. On the day a group of readings is discussed, those students will sit around the center table of the classroom (on the panel) to discuss, moderated by the instructor and TA. Everyone else will quietly listen until the end of 20 minutes time allotted. A short Q&A will follow.


Throughout the duration of the course, groups of content (readings and videos) will be given around these specific themes:


Project 1 ... Republish a Text
Project 2 ... 25 Variations
Project 3 ... CSS Typeface
Project 4 ... Hoax


In this class, students will strive to make memorable, functional online experiences. Projects should both take a stance (be poetic, critical, and clear) and also be functional (achieve their goals and not break). The invention of useful products is not the focus of this class, but the invention of useful, surprising techniques and approaches might be. Craft (in both code and design) and overall presentation are also important. Taking risks and having fun are encouraged.


20% ... Project 1
20% ... Project 2
20% ... Project 3
20% ... Project 4
20% ... Reading panel participation

Letter grades represent the following: A = excellent; B = good; C = satisfactory; D = unsatisfactory; F = failure. A grade of C- or less is considered a failing grade for required courses within the major, and you will need to retake this course if you achieve a grade lower than a C.

Academic Integrity

Students will become familiar with using pre-existing language, images, and software as raw material while creating entirely new works. While making websites, we will learn what technologies are good (and necessary) to appropriate and how to properly credit their inclusion.


Attendance is required. Students are expected to be on time and remain in class for the entire period scheduled. Work missed due to any type of absence is the student’s responsibility. Three or more absences will result in a failing grade. Three late arrivals equals an absence. If you absolutely must miss class, email me in advance.


Students should bring their own personal laptops to class. They should also be responsible for their own files, making sure to back them up in some way. For editing and updating code, we will use the code editor Sublime Text. For website hosting, we will use Github Pages. For code learning, we will use Codecademy. For image-making and sketching, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are standard tools that all students should have. Other good digital-image making tools include a phone, digital camera, scanner, screen capture, etc.