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Students advance project development and troubleshooting skills through Lake Land College’s Human Computer Interaction class

August 13, 2014

From LED-lit ties to a portable Pandora player, Lake Land College Information Technology (IT) students explored the interaction between humans and computers during the summer term in their class, Human Computer Interaction. 

Each summer the class, which is housed in the Business Division at the college, is offered as an elective for students studying IT. According to instructor Scott Rhine, the class offers students who have taken other technical IT classes a chance to use the skills they have gained through their coursework for a capstone project of their choice. Students are also encouraged to pursue projects in which they are interested but for which they have not received any training or coursework. The process of research, learning, discovery and accomplishment is the core of this class.

“The essence of this class is for the students to create something from start to finish,” said Rhine.
“They start with brainstorming and design, then product development and implementation of physical and electronic interfaces. The goal is to extend the reality of computer use and game play using both currently available and custom hardware and software.” 

According to student Heather Wilkey, Champaign, the best part of creating her project, Pi Wall, was getting to watch her favorite movies on a wall of monitors.

“In this case, bigger is better,” said Wilkey. “Then, that minute when 120 plus hours of work pays off and you see that you created something that is totally awesome and totally works, well, it’s a great feeling!”

Wilkey said that the open-project based approach to this class is her preferred type of learning environment. 

“I am a very hands-on learner and love the trial and error process this class provided,” she said. 

For her project, the hardware Wilkey used includes 10 credit-card-sized, single-board computer known as a Raspberry Pi; 10 micro USB cables and power supplies; 10 Ethernet cables; a 10+ port switch; 10 SD cards, a mouse, a keyboard, 10 monitors and mounting stands. To run her big screen project, Wilkey used a Windows PC and programmed SD cards to have multiple bootable Linux operating systems. 

According to Seth Kline, Neoga, this class allows students to use their imagination to create many different projects. He said that being able to think for himself and troubleshoot issues was a valuable learning experience for him. 

For his final project, Kline created what he calls Pandora’s Box, a portable internet radio player that uses a Raspberry Pi to automatically load Pandora, log the user in, and play the user’s station. The player can be controlled using four push button to change the song or station, or adjust the volume. 

Taking the Human Computer Interaction class fulfills an elective credit for the Information Technology degrees and certificates, including Computer Applications, Network Administration, Computer Programming, Web Technology, Computer Game Development and Digital Media Specialist. To learn more about the program options, visit: www.lakeland.cc.il.us/as/bus/index.cfm. 

To learn more, contact Rhine at 217-234-5353 or srhine@lakelandcollege.edu.

Cutline: Lake Land College information technology student, Heather Wilkey, Champaign, poses with her final project for her Human Computer Interaction, Pi Wall. Wilkey said that the open-project based approach to this class is her preferred type of learning environment. 

 


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