by designing equipment for the
Ghostbusters, the project supports
non-programmers in a few important
ways. Students can create physical
devices. They can use existing
technology and modify its normal
functionality for their designs (e.g.,
mounting movable ghostbusting
technology on the base of a remote-
controlled car). For software interfaces,
students who do not program can
build intricate prototypes with tools
like Invision or even Powerpoint.
The project also offers programmers
opportunities to push themselves
in creative ways, dipping their toes
into the worlds of virtual reality, app
development, or graphic design.
The project has four major parts:
• Analyze the users, their environment,
and their tasks. We do this by watching
Ghostbusters in class. We review specific
scenes that show the Ghostbusters
using technology or working in a typical
ghost-filled environment to highlight
important environmental attributes.
These include things like omnipresent
slime, details of their uniforms and
equipment, and the active, strenuous
activities they perform.
• Identify a technology to build and
explain what tasks it will support. I offer
suggestions, like building a new ghost
trap, containment unit, interface, or
ghost detector, but students are free to
pick whatever they like.
• Create, evaluate, and iterate with
low- and high-fidelity prototypes. We
use heuristic evaluations, cognitive
walkthroughs, personas, and user
testing (where classmates act as
Ghostbusters since they have domain
expertise). I bring in uniforms and
equipment to force students to test
their tech in “realistic” conditions.
• Present. Create a final prototype/
demo, present it, and write a paper
describing the whole process of
analysis, design, and evaluation.
We spend the final six weeks of
the 15-week semester on this project,
with intermediate deadlines every
week or two. By this point in the term,
students have had lectures and practice
with design techniques, task analysis,
It was a valuable