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21W.780 Communicating in Technical Organizations

Spring 2006

A cell phone keypad illuminated in the dark.A cell phone keypad illuminated in the dark. (Photo courtesy of Francisco Javier Morales.)

Course Highlights

This course features detailed descriptions of the assignments and several related resources provided to students in the course.

Course Description

This class offers students an opportunity to experiment with various forms and practices of cellphone communication and, most importantly, to propose and develop a semester-long project using advanced A780 cellphones donated by Motorola along with access to J2ME™ source code for programming cellphone applications. Class size is limited. Students in small collaborative groups will propose, implement and report on a semester-long project.



Syllabus

Course Description

This class offers students an opportunity to experiment with various forms and practices of cellphone communication and, most importantly, to propose and develop a semester-long project using advanced a780 cellphones donated by Motorola along with access to J2ME™ source code for programming cellphone applications. Class size is limited. Students in small collaborative groups will propose, implement and report on a semester-long project.



Assignments and Grading

Attendance

Attendance is mandatory. Unexcused absences will lower your final grade by one letter grade. Most assignments reflect the development stream of your semester-long project development.

Oral Reports

Oral Reports count 50% towards your final grade.

Written Reports

Reading Material

Students are expected to consult the resources in readings and related resources.



Calendar

Lec #TopicsKey Dates
1Student introductions; cell phones distributed
2Informal discussion of project group ideas

Input and output features of mobile phones
Assignment 1 due
3Oral Presentation of Project ProposalsAssignment 2 due
4Collaborative coding sessionAssignment 3 due
5Video conferences with Motorola engineers on social communication strategiesAssignment 4 due
6Student presentations of media capture (audio, video, still image, drawings)Assignment 5 due
7In-class test of paper mobile user interface prototypesAssignment 6 due
8Collaborative coding session (cont.)Assignment 7 due
9Progress demo showing how you resolved key roadblocks identified earlier in Lec #7Assignment 8 due
10Final Project presentationsAssignment 9 due
11Final Project presentations (cont.)
12Last class meeting, student evaluations, emergency final presentation timeAssignment 10 due 3 days after Lec #12




Assignments

This section contains class assignments and instructions for the oral presentation of the project proposal.


AssignmentsDescriptionS
1Familiarize yourself with the A780 Cellphone and Documentation; begin review of research papers at Relevant Papers; begin first of weekly posts to class blog
2Project groups prepare oral proposal for Lec #3
3Written proposal, in hardcopy and designed for mobile display screen, due 3 days after Lec #4; First coding session using J2ME™ in Lec #3; Code sample application
4Written proposal, in hardcopy and designed for mobile display screen, due 3 days after Lec #4; Prepare research questions for Motorola staff videoconference in Lec #5
5Use media capture features of the a780 to present media show next class
6Create paper prototypes for your mobile user interface for usability tests in class, in Lec #7
7Project groups will share code they have written for their projects and discuss this code next class. Key programming problems discussed
8Oral progress report and alpha demo of final project in Lec #9; Project groups demo solutions to the key problems in project implementation
9Prepare for final project oral presentations beginning next class, Lec #10, continuing Lec #11 and Lec #12 (if needed)
10Final written reports (10 pages) due 3 days after Lec #12





Oral Presentations of Project Proposal

Time: 10 minutes per group, followed by 5 minutes Q&A

Basic Format: You'll use Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides to help us follow along (see instructions for sending Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides to the course TA below). In general, keep your Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides concise and uncluttered. A good rule of thumb is no more than five bullets per slide. Rather than using complete sentences for text, use phrases and fragments. Use a sans-serif font; avoid distracting background colors and unnecessary graphic ornamentation.

  • Why of your project). What kinds of audiences are you aiming at?

  • How of your project.

PLEASE NOTE: In addition to your fellow students in the classroom during Lec #5, Frank will have colleagues virtually present by videoconference, including the following: Frank himself, a research anthropologist, a user interface designer, a technical marketing person, and Frank's lab manager.

Written Proposals: Format above also relates to the written oral proposals, which are group authored (one document per group) and are due 3 days after Lec #3 by noon at my office. Leave three (3) copies of the written proposals. Written reports usually clock in around 10 pages, including figures. The online Mayfield guide for MIT students (certificates required) has useful information on style.

Finally, at our last class the course TA requested that you send your Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides to him so he can make them available to the folks following along at Motorola the night of the presentations. Here is his information on how to get him the files:

Email Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides to the course TA at least 24 hours in advance. The TA will put them in a zip file, and send them over to Frank.





Related Resources

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Students are expected to consult the following resources throughout the semester:

  • Amazon logo Perelman, Leslie C., James Paradis, and Edward Barrett. The Mayfield Handbook of Technical and Scientific Writing. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 1997. ISBN: 1559346477.



    • here, from The McGraw-Hill Companies.



  • PDF)



  • 21W.780 Mobile Technology Blog





Readings

Below is an extensive list of recently published research on cell phones and social context, mobile design, games, privacy, ambient communication, social software and media consumption using cell technology.

Relevant Papers (PDF)

More reading material can be found in related resources.




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