In this assignment, you will observe peoples’ behavior around mobile devices in a public place. Spend at least two hours in observation. You should note how people are using their mobile devices; for example:

  • What devices do they have?
  • How are they carrying them?
  • Do they seem to have any problems using them?
  • What do they seem to be doing with the devices?
  • Are they doing something else while using the device (walking, talking eating)? How do they handle this situation?

You might spend the first hour noting general patterns and finding interesting ones, then the second hour watching a single pattern more closely.

For this assignment, don’t interact with the people you’re watching—simply observe them. Please don’t take photos of people during your observation, though you could take photos of the space without identifying anyone. You could also recreate a mobile device usage scenario you observed and photograph it.


You will give a five minute presentation in class on the due date. You should include drawings or images to help the class understand what you observed (but without photographing specific people in public, as noted above).

Presentation guidelines

  • Your presentation must take no more than five minutes—this time limit will be strictly enforced.
  • You should rehearse your presentation several times before class.
  • Your slides should balance text to help the audience understand your observations with interesting imagery.
  • Do not read your slides to the class! This is one of the most common mistakes that novice presenters make.


This assignment is worth 7% of your final grade. Your in-class presentation will be graded according to the following criteria:

  • Clear, easy to read, without grammar or spelling errors (1%).
  • Clearly describes how the observation was conducted: when and where you went, how many people were there, what the environment was like, etc (1%).
  • Clearly describes an interesting pattern of activity related to mobile device interaction, with specific examples (3%).
  • Includes interesting concrete examples, sketches/images where appropriate (1%).
  • Presentation style is appropriate: you have obviously practiced your material, your slides have a good balance of text and imagery, you aren’t just reading the slides (1%).
(Note: thanks to Shaun Kane for permission to use some of his material for this page.)