CICS students participate in Usability Day

Ten Ball State University graduate students with the Center for Information and Communication Sciences are traveling to IUPUI today to give a presentation about the definition of sustainability at the World Usability Day event.

This is the fifth-annual celebration of World Usability Day. Last year 43 countries participated in the event, which its Web site says seeks to promote easy and simple access to everyday services and products.
Richard Bellaver, professor of Information and Communication Sciences, will give a presentation about defining usability.

"There are five aspects," he said. "The product has to be effective, efficient, easy to learn, error tolerant and bring satisfaction [to the end user]. If you can judge those kinds of things, you're able to determine if it works."

Rod Collier, a Ball State alumnus and licensed architect with Rottmann Architects, will be the keynote speaker.

This year's theme is sustainability.

Collier said his presentation will be about how sustainability can come into play in architecture and in people's daily lives.

"You're the next generation to run this planet," he said. "Anything I do is only going to make it easier for your generation, and anything you do will only make it easier for the next generation [to promote the environment]."

Collier said he will showcase sustainable projects he has done, including construction of the David Letterman Communication and Media Building, which his company built to be LEED certified. A certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design means the architects used recycled materials, and a low amount of toxins, energy efficient lighting, windows and heating.

"Even if [each project] isn't going to be LEED certified, I still push my clients to be green," he said.

Collier said it's easy to be green, by recycling at home, using windows that don't let in as much sunlight and a more efficient furnace. The savings outweigh the extra expense for these upgrades, he said.
Kirsten Smith, associate director of CICS, coordinated the trip for graduate students to IUPUI today. She and a few CICS faculty members are members of The Usability Professionals' Association.

"This event happens across the world," she said. "Events will take place from New Zealand to San Francisco."

She said the purpose is to make the general population aware of usability and to broaden its appeal. She said it also allows students to see the many kinds of jobs that deal with usability. In years past, graduate students have gotten jobs from the contacts they made at Usability Day events, she said.

Green Initiatives Coordinator John Vann teaches four sustainability classes, and he said knowing about the issues is vital.

"If people don't know the issues, then they won't take action," he said.
Paul Buis, chairman of the Department of Computer Science, said software companies are often more concerned with functionality than usability.

Several years ago, he worked on a project to develop the Expert Review Tool, which would put software usability into numerical data.

"We did what we were supposed to do," he said. "But we found that companies didn't want to use it. It added one more piece of complexity."
Buis said functionality measures how well a product does what it says it will do, but usability measures how easy it is to use.

What- Fifth annual World Usability Day
When- Nov. 12
Where- IUPUI Student Center
Theme- Sustainability
Why- According to its Web site, World Usability Day was founded to ensure that the services and products important to life are easier to access and simpler to use.
Speaker- Rod Collier, licensed architect at Rottman Architects in Indianapolis
Students- Ten graduate students from CICS and three faculty members are planning to attend

Five aspects of usability (defined by Richard Bellaver, professor of Information and Communication Sciences)--
Product is effective
efficient
easy to learn
error-tolerant
brings satisfaction to the end user

LEED-certified buildings at Ball State--
Letterman Building
Park Hall
King Hall (still under construction)

Green Initiatives Coordinator John Vann's current projects and goals for promoting sustainability at Ball State--

  • Installing an occupancy center in all classrooms and hallways. Occupancy centers reduce electricity in low-traffic areas by using sensors to turn off the lights when no one is using the room or hallway.
  • Adding more recycling bins and instructing students and staff how to effectively recycle
  • Enforcing a no-idling policy. If someone leaves their car idling for more than 10 seconds, they should turn it off.
  • Printing on both sides of paper and using 30 percent post-consumer product paper everywhere on campus

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