Fa19 ITLS-6535-Online Syllabus

ITLS 6535: Design Thinking 

Course Description

Welcome to Design Thinking! In this course, we will explore design thinking methods and tools to support these practices. Specifically, we will discuss issues around human-centered design, user experience, and user interface design such as rapid prototyping, wire-framing, user testing, and collaborative design methodologies.  You have three main tasks to accomplish: (1) thinking, (2) designing, and (3) sharing.  


Breanne Litts Roxie Christensen


Dr. Breanne Litts

Assistant Professor 

Director of L.E.D. Lab

(435) 797-0142

Office Hours By Appointment

Teaching Assistant

Roxie Christensen

Email Roxie

Office Hours By






We are available via email/phone/video to chat through any issues you may have. During the week (Monday-Friday), we will respond to your email or phone call within 24 hours, except for holidays. If you attempt to reach us after 5pm on Friday, then expect a response by 12pm on Monday. While we will typically respond quicker than these timeframes, please plan accordingly. If we don't respond within this timeframe, please follow up as we may not have received your email/call. 

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Understand the foundations of design thinking. IDEA Objective #1 (Objectives #2 & #11 are secondary) 
  2. Understand and experience how designers work on a project in a team setting. IDEA Objective #5 (Objective #4 is secondary)
  3. Applying design thinking processes, approaches, and tools by designing products or artifacts. IDEA Objective #3 (Objectives #4 & #6 are secondary)
  4. Building and demonstrating design literacies through thinking, designing, and sharing. IDEA Objective #6 (Objectives #8, #9, & #10 are secondary)

Course website

You will need to use Canvas extensively in this course, and will be expected to stay connected and up-to-date with that system. All due dates will be kept current in Canvas. Communication outside of class will primarily happen through Canvas announcements, so make sure that your technology is setup in such a way that you receive these announcements. Please check out the Canvas tutorial videos at this link: https://resources.instructure.com/courses/32/pages/canvas-student-tour- videos

Canvas announcements are the main way with which we will be communicating with you. Set your notifications accordingly. You will miss critical and helpful information if you don't check the announcements. 


Topics we we will cover this semester include: Design (Week 1), Human-Centered Design (Week 2), Design Thinking (Week 3), Project Management (Week 4), UX Research & Usability (Week 5), Participatory Design (Week 6), Personas/Scenarios (Week 7), Information Architecture (Week 8), Wireframe (Week 9), Prototype (Week 10), Think Alouds/Interviews (Week 11), Accessibility (Week 12), Developing Your Design Story (Week 13), Thanksgiving Break (Week 14), Final Presentations Due (Week 15), Final Rationale & Reports Due (Week 16)


Throughout the course you will be examining, evaluating, and engaging design thinking in various ways. In each section of the course, you will be response for: (1) thinking, (2) designing, and (3) sharing. The amount of time you'll spend on each task will vary by section. 

(1) Thinking: This class will make you think. Hard. We have curated a ton of resources to support you throughout the course including academic texts, Designer and UX blogs, and videos. We expect that you will intentionally and meaningfully examine, evaluate, and engage these resources. The books we selected for this course are seminal works in academia and industry, but are fairly accessible, easy-to-read texts. Please do not get caught up in the number of pages. Some texts will be easier to read, while others may take more time. I recommend considering these "how to read" and "sink or skim" tips that outline how to manage the heavy reading in graduate school. We've balanced the level of "thinking" we expect with the level of designing and sharing we expect for each section. 

(2) Designing: It's design thinking, so prepare to design! You're going to have two big projects over the course of this semester: a collaborative redesign project and a real world design project. This is your chance to strut your stuff and show off all the design knowledge and skills you've picked up in the class, but remember even the most experienced designers fail sometimes. So, when your design failures happen, take a few moments to reflect here, realize you're in good company, and get back into the design game!

(3) Sharing: This is how we know you completed the reading and designing we require in this course. It is your chance to show us how deeply you're engaging with the course material and concepts. Sharing includes both actively participating on the discussion board (initial posts typically due Thursday and responses typically due Mondays, see each weekly page for more information) as well as comprehensively documenting your design process. Some of you may keep a design journal throughout the course, which I highly recommend. Even if you're completely confused or you utterly destroyed your design project, you need to share and reflect with us. 

Assignment Overview

You are required to complete the following assignments: 

Please see the grade break down below and respective project descriptions in the "Assignments" tab for more information on each of these. 


We have structured this class such that you will work in smaller teams over the semester, but those teams will change, which will give you a chance to meet several of your peers. Over the semester, you will participate in a total of THREE different groups: 

(1) Reading Team One (weeks 1-8) – randomly assigned

(2) Reading Team Two  (weeks 9-16) – randomly assigned

(3) Collaborative Design Project – self-selected team based on project interest 

Required Texts

There are three required books for this course: two Design Thinking books and two UX books. Each book is a practical guide to design and will become a tool in your daily life as a designer beyond the scope of this course. While we won’t read all of the books cover-to-cover, we will read through the bulk of them together and much of the additional material will likely be relevant to your final project. Cheaper, used options for these books are available from several retailers. Please let me know immediately if you have trouble locating a book.

  1. The Design of Everyday Things: Revised & Expanded  Edition - Donald Norman $13 at Amazon or FREE PDF
  2. Change by Design - Tim Brown $18 at Amazon
  3. Don’t Make Me Think Revisited (3rd Ed) - Steve Krug $35 at Amazon

Grading Scheme

Course Assignments


 Thinking & Sharing: Reading & Discussion



 Thinking & Sharing: Designer Chats



 Designing: Collaborative Design Project (multiple components)


Client Meeting Plan 


Design Brief 




Information Architecture/Card Sorting 




User Test 


 Thinking: Rationale & Documentation


 Sharing: Collaborative Final Project Pitch 



300 Points


Late Work

Late work is handled on a case-by-case basis and is accepted at the professor’s discretion. I have no obligation to accept your late work, but I understand that we’re all humans and life happens, so please contact me immediately. When possible, please be proactive rather than reactive in reaching out. 




100 % to 93.0%


< 93.0 % to 90.0%


< 90.0 % to 87.0%


< 87.0 % to 83.0%


< 83.0 % to 80.0%


< 80.0 % to 77.0%


< 77.0 % to 73.0%


< 73.0 % to 70.0%


< 70.0 % to 67.0%


< 67.0 % to 60.0%


< 59.0 % to 0.0%



There are no additional fees for this course.

Canvas Information

Canvas is where course content, grades, and communication will reside for this course.

University Policies & Procedures

Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibilities

Academic freedom is the right to teach, study, discuss, investigate, discover, create, and publish freely. Academic freedom protects the rights of faculty members in teaching and of students in learning. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Faculty members are entitled to full freedom in teaching, research, and creative activities, subject to the limitations imposed by professional responsibility. Faculty Code Policy #403 further defines academic freedom and professional responsibilities.

Academic Integrity – "The Honor System"

Each student has the right and duty to pursue his or her academic experience free of dishonesty. To enhance the learning environment at Utah State University and to develop student academic integrity, each student agrees to the following Honor Pledge:
"I pledge, on my honor, to conduct myself with the foremost level of academic integrity."
A student who lives by the Honor Pledge is a student who does more than not cheat, falsify, or plagiarize. A student who lives by the Honor Pledge:

  • Espouses academic integrity as an underlying and essential principle of the Utah State University community;
  • Understands that each act of academic dishonesty devalues every degree that is awarded by this institution; and
  • Is a welcomed and valued member of Utah State University.

Academic Dishonesty

The instructor of this course will take appropriate actions in response to Academic Dishonesty, as defined the University’s Student Code.  Acts of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to:

  • Cheating: using, attempting to use, or providing others with any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, examinations, or in any other academic exercise or activity.  Unauthorized assistance includes:
    • Working in a group when the instructor has designated that the quiz, test, examination, or any other academic exercise or activity be done “individually;”
    • Depending on the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments;
    • Substituting for another student, or permitting another student to substitute for oneself, in taking an examination or preparing academic work;
    • Acquiring tests or other academic material belonging to a faculty member, staff member, or another student without express permission;
    • Continuing to write after time has been called on a quiz, test, examination, or any other academic exercise or activity;
    • Submitting substantially the same work for credit in more than one class, except with prior approval of the instructor; or engaging in any form of research fraud.
  • Falsification: altering or fabricating any information or citation in an academic exercise or activity.
  • Plagiarism: representing, by paraphrase or direct quotation, the published or unpublished work of another person as one‘s own in any academic exercise or activity without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes using materials prepared by another person or by an agency engaged in the sale of term papers or other academic materials.

For additional information go to: ARTICLE VI. University Regulations Regarding Academic Integrity

Sexual Harassment/Title IX

Utah State University is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free from acts of sexual misconduct and discrimination and to fostering respect and dignity for all members of the USU community. Title IX and USU Policy 339 address sexual harassment in the workplace and academic setting.

The university responds promptly upon learning of any form of possible discrimination or sexual misconduct.  Any individual may contact USU’s Office of Equity for available options and resources or clarification.  The university has established a complaint procedure to handle all types of discrimination complaints, including sexual harassment (USU Policy 305), and has designated the Office of Equity Director/Title IX Coordinator as the official responsible for receiving and investigating complaints of sexual harassment. 

Withdrawal Policy and "I" Grade Policy

Students are required to complete all courses for which they are registered by the end of the semester. In some cases, a student may be unable to complete all of the coursework because of extenuating circumstances, but not due to poor performance or to retain financial aid. The term ‘extenuating’ circumstances includes: (1) incapacitating illness which prevents a student from attending classes for a minimum period of two weeks, (2) a death in the immediate family, (3) financial responsibilities requiring a student to alter a work schedule to secure employment, (4) change in work schedule as required by an employer, or (5) other emergencies deemed appropriate by the instructor.

Students with Disabilities

USU welcomes students with disabilities. If you have, or suspect you may have, a physical, mental health, or learning disability that may require accommodations in this course, please contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) as early in the semester as possible (University Inn # 101, (435) 797‐2444, drc@usu.edu). All disability related accommodations must be approved by the DRC.  Once approved, the DRC will coordinate with faculty to provide accommodations.

Diversity Statement

Regardless of intent, careless or ill-informed remarks can be offensive and hurtful to others and detract from the learning climate. If you feel uncomfortable in a classroom due to offensive language or actions by an instructor or student(s) regarding ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, contact:

You can learn about your student rights by visiting:
The Code of Policies and Procedures for Students at Utah State University: https://studentconduct.usu.edu/studentcode

Grievance Process

Students who feel they have been unfairly treated may file a grievance through the channels and procedures described in the Student Code: Article VII.

Full details for USU Academic Policies and Procedures can be found at:

Emergency Procedures

In the case of a drill or real emergency, classes will be notified to evacuate the building by the sound of the fire/emergency alarm system or by a building representative. In the event of a disaster that may interfere with either notification, evacuate as the situation dictates (i.e., in an earthquake when shaking ceases or immediately when a fire is discovered). Turn off computers and take any personal items with you. Elevators should not be used; instead, use the closest stairs.