Summary: The syllabus
explains course resources, activities, and policies.
Please come by during my office hours to discuss course content, get extra help, or just talk about how the course is going. Note that if multiple students have similar questions or issues, we may work together as a group. If you cannot attend a scheduled office hour, you may also email me to schedule an appointment; please include 3-4 possible meeting times so I can pick one that works for me.
I enjoy getting to know my students, but I generally prefer to
reserve office hours for academic and advising matters. If you would
like to have a more informal conversation, I would be delighted to
accept an invitation to lunch, or you may join me for my daily walk.
(See my calendar outside my door.)
Email is also a reliable way to contact me, but please allow 24 hours for a resonse (except on weekends, when I do not read email as regularly. You may also call me in my office (641-269-4306, or x4306 on campus).
There is no required textbook for this course. Weekly readings will
primarily be drawn from Communications of the ACM (CACM), which has the following editorial
Communications of the ACM is the leading monthly print and online magazine for the computing and information technology fields. Communications is recognized as the most trustedand knowledgeable source of industry information for today’s computing professional. Communications brings its readership in-depth coverage of emerging areas of computer sciene, new trends in information technology, and practical applications. Industry leaders use Communications as a platform to present and debate various technology implications, public policies, engineering challenges, and market trends. The prestige and unmatched reputation that Communications of the ACM enjoys today is built upon a 50-year commitment to high-quality editorial content and a steadfast dedication to advancing the arts, sciences, and applications ofinformation technology.
Occasionally, some material will be supplemented by other
introductory readings, textbook excerpts, or research papers. I will
provide these and note them in the detailed class schedule. Some other
books may be helpful during the term, and will be on reserve in the
This class meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1:00 to 2:05 p.m. in SCI 3813. We will explore many technical concepts through collaborative, hands-on exercises, and we will consider many social issues through class discussions. You cannot make up these experiences by reading someone else's lecture notes. You are expected to attend and actively participate in class. I am expected to make class worth attending.
Note that classes start at 1:00 p.m., not 1:15. Be on time. Come prepared for the day's activity by doing any required readings and/or skimming the lab exercises. Even though this is a computing class, I expect you to bring paper and a pen or pencil.
Because much of our work in this course involves collaboration and discussion, you will be evaluated on your participation. Participating in class involves
Students who regularly meet these criteria can expect to earn 90 points (an A-) for their participation grade. I will reward students who regularly provide significant insights or guide discussion in productive ways with a higher participation score. Students who fail to participate regularly (such as by demonstrating a lack of preparation) or who participate in counterproductive ways (such as by dominating the conversation or making inappropriate comments) can expect to earn a lower score.
One unexcused absence will have no effect on your participation
score. (See the Attendance Policy
You are expected to do any required readings before class. To learn the most
from the readings, try the SQ3R
On most Mondays, we will spend at least half the class discussing the readings. To help you prepare, you will write a few thoughtful paragraphs (typed, double-spaced, 1 to 2 pages) in which you reflect on and respond to the reading(s). See the reading response assignment for more details.
Grading will be on a simple ternary scale:
||for an adequate response
||for a particularly clear or
||for an unclear or insufficient
Many class days will involve collaborative laboratory work to experiment with and learn more about the concepts we discuss. You many not always complete the laboratory assignments during class. It is important that you try to finish these outside of class to be sure you are engaging with all the material we cover.
The lab activities are crafted to enhance your learning. Like playing an instrument or speaking a forein language, the only way to become proficient is to practice. You may be expected to write up your solutions to some lab exercises as part of your homework.
Weekly homework assignments will cover problems from lectures and
laboratory exercises. These are due at the beginning of class on
You are welcome to discuss material with others, but any work
you submit should be your own. (One good rule of thumb is that you
should not leave your discussion with anything written down about the
problem.) The only exception to this is when assignments cover lab
exercises that were performed collaboratively. In this case, each
collaborator should individually submit any required materials, with
You will write one short paper (roughly 4 pages) that expands on the social implications of some technology beyond what is covered by our readings or our class discussions. Additional details will be provided later in the course, but the milestones are as follows:
As an opportunity for you to demonstrate your understanding of the technical course material, there will be two non-cumulative exams. The first will be in our regular class hour, and the second during the scheduled final exam time.
||1 p.m., Friday, March 3
||2 p.m., Thursday, May 17
Do not make airline reservations that will conflict with your final exam schedule.
As a study aid, you may prepare a single-sided, 8.5" x 11" page of
handwritten notes to consult during the exam. You may not type or
photocopy these notes. You will submit your notes along with your exam.
As students, you are members of the academic community. Both the
College and I expect the highest standards of academic honesty. (See
the Grinnell College Student Handbook, e.g., http://www.grinnell.edu/offices/studentaffairs/shb/academicpolicies/academichonesty).
Among other things, this means clearly distinguishing between work that
is your own, and work that should be attributed to others.
It is expected that the collaboration policies given in this syllabus and on particular assignments will be followed. Furthermore, any program results or output must be faithfully recorded, not forged. (A thoughtful explanation of unexpected behavior can often be a worthwhile submission and is much better than the alternative.)
In your homework assignments, you must give specific attribution for
any assistance you received. For example, one possible acknowledgement
format is "[Person X] helped me to
[do thing Y] by [explaining Z]."
As an instructor, I will meet my obligation to bring any work suspected to be in violation of the College's Academic Honesty Policy to the attention of the Committee on Academic Standing, after which there is no recourse with me.
If you have a disability that requires accommodations, please meet with me right away so that we can work together to find accommodations that meet your learning needs. You will also need to provide documentation of your disability to the Academic Advising Office, located on the third floor of the Rosenfield Center (x3701). See the Student Affairs page on Academic Accomodation for more information.
I know that sometimes things happen. Therefore, one unexcused
absence (your "oops" day) will
no effect on your participation score. If you are absent, I would
appreciate a written explanation (email is appropriate). If you know in
advance that you will be absent for any reason, please notify me in
writing (again, email is fine) at least 7 days in advance so we can
make suitable arrangements.
Assignments are due at the beginning
of class on the specified date.
A grace day is an automatic extension until the next class period. Each student will be granted two grace days that can be used for any assignment for any reason. I would appreciate hearing in advance by email if you intend to use a grace day; however, any assignment submitted late will automatically use a grace day if you still have one. Please use your grace days wisely. (For example, you may need them if you fall ill.)
Deadlines for exercises involving programming will automatically be extended by at least one class period if MathLAN is down for an unscheduled period of 3 or more hours during the three days preceeding the assignment due date.
Barring exceptional circumstances, late work will not otherwise be
Absolute deadline: All work must be turned in by Friday, May 11 at 5 p.m.
I will use the following scheme as a base for weighting grades for individual activities in the final grade:
|Best of homework average,
reading response average,
exam average, essay
I do not believe in "grading on a curve"; I would be pleased if you all earned A's in this course.
Janet Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org)Created January 12, 2012