Course Info:

Course Title & Number: Interactive Design for Developing Communities: IMM-470-02

Professor: Mark Thompson
Office Address: AIMM 312
Email Address:
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 11am-1:30pm or by appointment

Class Meets: Fridays, 9:30am-12:20pm
Room: AIM 226

Course Description:

Course Poster

For most of us, Interactive Multimedia implies broadband and rich media. However, for many in the U.S., and most in the developing world, broadband is still out of reach.

This class expands the range of multimedia choices available to students, so they can develop solutions based on the bandwidth and device capabilities of their audiences, whatever they may be, including narrowband alternatives.

Working as a design studio, students will develop prototypes using the Twilio API,, HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, and PostgreSQL. We’ll explore Interactive Voice Response systems, SMS, Responsive Web, Geolocation, Digital Maps, Databases, Open Data through 3rd-party APIs and messaging apps like Twitter, SnapChat and WhatsApp. Case studies will include projects in Healthcare, Emergency Response, Food & Agriculture, Conservation, Education and Human & Civil Rights.

Course Materials:

Alternative Messaging Platforms

Supplementary Course Materials

Design Process

Policy, News & Research

ICT Stats


Partner Organizations

Suggested Books (Optional)

Course Requirements:

  • Design Notebook
  • 2 Partner Organization Site Visits
  • User Personas, User Stories
  • Vision Document
  • Final Presentation

Course Purpose & Learning Goals:

The purpose of this class is to expand the range of multimedia choices available to students for communicating with audiences, based on their bandwidth and communication capabilities, emphasizing voice & narrowband alternatives.

Using the Twilio API,, Leaflet.js and Ushahidi, students will develop prototypes using a range of multimedia components including:

  • SMS messaging
  • Interactive Voice Response systems (IVRs)
  • Geolocation & Interactive Maps
  • Open Data & 3rd Party APIs

We’ll also review case studies of needs & solutions in Healthcare, Emergency Response, Food & Agriculture, Conservation, Education, and Human & Civil Rights.

Course Schedule:

Jan 29 – Intros & Syllabus

Feb 5 – Partner Project Presentations, Intro to Twilio SMS

Feb 12 –  Teams, Projects & Twilio SMS cont.

Feb 17 – Twilio Voice

Feb 24 – Twilio Voice Recordings

Mar 4 – Twilio Polls

Mar 11 – Data & APIs, Vision Documents

Mar 18 – Spring Break

Mar 25 – Project Vision Documents due, SMS

Apr 1 – Voice

Apr 8 – Project Team Pages

Apr 15 – Open Discussion

Apr 22 – Project Implementation Documentation

Apr 29 – Prep for Partner Presentations

May 6 – Prep for Partner Presentations

May 11 – Final Presentations


Grades with be determined according to the following formula:

  • 30% Final demonstration
  • 20% Vision document
  • 10% User Personas
  • 10% User Stories
  • 20% Site Visits
  • 10% Design Notebook

Note: Details of how each of the above will be scored will be provided at the time of assignment.

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