Electronic Communication

Electronic Communication in CS135

CS135 uses the web, Piazza, and email extensively for communication. We do not use LEARN. The kind of information conveyed with each varies:

  • The web site (which you are now reading) contains handouts, code, assignments, and other important information. It is actively managed and should be considered the primary source for up-to-date information.
  • Piazza is a forum optimized for asking questions and giving answers. We also use it for rapid dissemination of course-related announcements.
  • Email (@uwaterloo.ca) is used for private communication between students and course staff. Your @uwaterloo.ca email is also used by many other people within the University of Waterloo to communicate with you about important matters.

It is important that you be able to use all of these resources easily.

Piazza

We recommend you read Piazza at least once per day.

Before posting to Piazza, search for posts asking the same question, and read other questions and responses on the same topic. Often other students will have asked the same question you have. Having many students ask the same question over and over again clutters up the forums for everybody. Sometimes when we see such repeated questions our responses will be cranky: “search before you post!”

When asking assignment-related questions, be sure to reread the assignment questions carefully before posting. Often things you think are ambiguous really aren’t if you think through what is written in the question, and work through whatever examples we have provided.

Having said that, we intend for the forums to be open and friendly to discussion. If you have made an honest effort to find a solution to your problem and are still stuck, please post! A few students tend to post too quickly without thinking through their questions, but many others feel shy about posting and suffer needlessly as a result. If you are feeling hesitant about posting, you are likely in the latter group.

Email

Every UW student has an email address of the form userid@uwaterloo.ca . For example, jsmith@uwaterloo.ca .

It is very important that you receive and read the email sent to this address regularly.

You may have already received information about UW email and may have taken steps to set it up. If so, please consider your past decisions in light of the advice provided here. You probably already have an email address that you use regularly to communicate with friends and perhaps parents. The goal is to make it easy to use all of your email accounts, including your new UWaterloo account.

There are three main options to consider:

  1. Ignore the problem and try to remember to check each account individually. In practise, this likely won’t happen and we strongly advise you to not use this ‘solution.’ If you want to maintain separate email accounts for personal and school, see #3.
  2. Pick one account to be your main account and forward the email from all other accounts to your main account. Issues to consider:
    • You will likely send email from your main account. Most UW instructors (including CS135) expect that you send email from your UW account so your identity can be easily verified.
    • If you forward your UW email to an external provider such as Gmail or Hotmail, it will sometimes be marked as spam. If you forward UW email, you must locate the spam settings on the destination account and “whitelist” email from uwaterloo.ca.
  3. Use an email client (program) on your computer or phone (or both!) to read the mail from all of your accounts. They can be set up to consolidate all of your mail into a single mailbox or to keep each account separate. It can be configured to send email from various accounts so that UWaterloo email is sent from your UWaterloo account.

Recommendation: We think that option #3 is the best way to go.