The fall semester is less than two months away and KMDI is excited to announce the addition of new iSchool/KMDI faculty member, Dr. Olivier St-Cyr.
St-Cyr completed his PhD at U of T and has specialized in research on Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction. His research interests include: human-computer interaction, ecological interface design, cognitive engineering and much more. In Fall 2016 and Winter 2017, Dr. St-Cyr will be teaching KMD 1001H: Theory and Methods in Knowledge Media. We asked Dr. St-Cyr a few questions to help our wide collaborative institution to get to know him.
What interests you about the Knowledge Media Design Institute as a whole?
The interdisciplinary character of the institute is what interests me the most. Many students on campus from very varied disciplines are working on design problems and solutions as part of their graduate work. It’s nice to know there is an institute that can give these students the tools to think about their design from different points of view. I think design solutions benefit the most when someone looks/critiques your design from a completely different angle than yours. It makes designers realize how diverse people are. This in turns translates to design solutions that work for people.
What are you looking forward to about being a professor here at KMDI?
First and foremost, I’m looking forward to meeting the students. Learning at the graduate level is a shared responsibility. Yes, the students will learn a lot from my courses, but I’m looking forward to learning just as much from them. I’m looking forward to hearing their stories, why they chose KMDI, how does KMDI (and my courses) fit into their program and studies. I’m also looking forward to transmitting my passion for User-Centred Design (UCD) to the students. I’m been teaching UCD for 10 years in different schools/programs and I’m really passionate about the topic. I want the students who take my courses to development the same enthusiasm as my professors gave me when I was a student.
Your main research focuses surround Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction. Could you tell us about any current research projects?
As a teaching-stream professor (i.e., lecturer) my main areas of focus are teaching and pedagogical approaches to higher-level learning. I’m currently re-designing the User Experience Design (UXD) centration for the Faculty of Information (iSchool), including the course KMD1001. This re-design effort will ensure our UXD graduate receive the most up-to-date education in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and are ready for the workplace after graduation. I’m also interested to study approaches to implementing and teaching HCI courses at the graduate level.
From your past experiences could you tell us what you’ve learned about collaboration with people from other academic disciplines?
I would say the main thing I learned is that UCD cannot be done in silo. It requires people bringing different points of view to the table. It requires debating these points of view and being able to see aspects of your design (or someone else’s design) from other angles. This is the essence of the iterative process we teach in HCI. When I worked at IBM Canada, I interacted with people from technical and non-technical backgrounds: programmers, quality assurance testers, technical writers, graphic designers, product managers and executives. Each challenged me in different ways about what I was designing (sometimes from a technical point of view, other times because it was not clear to them what I was trying to achieve). This benefited my design and ultimately, in the end, the users. Although the whole idea of collaborative design does seem appealing, the reality is that there are still many artifacts designed in a silos. This is why students can benefit from the KMDI collaborative program.
What would you like students to know about you?
I spent eight years working in industry on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) related projects in organizations such as the University Health Network (UHN), IBM Canada Limited, and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). Over the past years, I helped provide HCI designs solutions in several domains: medical software, medical devices, data replication software, pharmaceutical software, nuclear power plant information systems, artificial intelligence, computer networks, and news wire communication systems. I have taught several courses in Computer Programming, User Interface Design, and HCI at Seneca College, the University of Toronto, York University, and the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) University. I joined the iSchool at the University of Toronto in July 2016 to lead their UXD concentration and transmit my knowledge and passion about UCD and HCI. Despite everything I have worked on thus far, there’s always one thing that never changes with me: being in the classroom is what makes me the happiest when it comes to my work.
What can KMD students look forward to from your teaching this year?
As I mentioned previously, lots of passion about what I’m teaching. Lots of applied knowledge; applying what you know in HCI/UCD/UXD is essential; you have to do it to understand it well. In that sense, I try to bring a very industry-based realistic approach to my teaching. There will be lots of group exercises so that students can learn and exchange about different points of view. Lots of collaborative learning, I want to learn from my students so that I can become a better professor. Finally, lots of fun! HCI is a very fun discipline to learn and to practice. I want the students to have as much fun learning as I have teaching.
Where can students find you on social media/online??
Thank you, Professor St – Cyr for your time. We are looking forward to your work with KDMI community.