CS 492/692 - Spring 2020 - Message 6

I will urge you to read all of the website contents carefully. In several places I explain the process this year with online in a lot of detail, maybe more than you really need to know. In this way, just about all of your questions will be answered.

The reality is that for this course, because I grade the first four assignments, there are periods where I am not very reachable via email. This is why I always have you cc Andreas astoecke@uwaterloo.ca regardless if you are in Sec1 or Sec2. The RPEs are managed totally by the TAs; I am not involved while they are running. I do oversight at the end with TAs however before grades are decided.

The first page you should look at carefully is the Timetable. It outlines which topics we are going to focus on this year, for Readings and Discussion, and for Assignments and RPEs. At several times, the assignment being written relates to a recently handled discussion topic. Often, the RPE of the week aligns in some way with the discussion topic as well. We will be covering: Overview of Social Implications (where your A1 asks you reflect on what you think is the Biggest Problem -- feel free to do personal reflection and research is not being asked for (though if you are claiming a statistic or hard fact, then you do need to cite). A1 comes up pretty soon into the course; it is due 10am Waterloo time on Thu May 21. It is a very short assignment and is worth about 5 marks. All assignment grades are shown in terms of multiples of 5s -- but when the assignment total is determined that grade out of 50 gets converted to one out of 60. (So... technically A1 is worth 6 marks but that is harder to wrap your head around).

Once we get through Week1, we are in a shorter week due to Victoria Day and we are discussing The Internet. I will ask you to view a video for one of the classes: this will give you a good perspective on the origins of the Internet and will let you keep this in the back of your minds for the rest of term. There are a fair number of readings that week. You are always welcome to just skim some; most are fairly short. A lot of the time the readings are there as food for thought for future assignments, such as A5. By the time we get to our May 22 class a few important announcements are on the go: A2 is made visible on the website. It is a short answer one page sheet for you to complete, thinking just from the top of your head (no research required -- want to see your thinking processes). If we were meeting face to face, it would have been done during classtime. You have a longer stretch for it, but the time to complete it is not intended to be long. It is handed in May 28. Also by May 22 we will reveal a) all the RPE groups for the course (shown on a webpage) and b) whether you are in Group1 or Group2 for your section. Your section shows which newsgroup you are in, who can be possible groupmates for RPEs and Assignments. The Groups is an artificial split of the section to enable our discussions to involve fewer people. We reserve the right to dissolve the groups if the turnout at each class is too light for good discussion. This is another reason for you to be encouraged to be online during the designated classtime (if you are able -- no one is penalized for not making it, due to all the extenuating circumstances this year). Knowing your Group is important because for all dates in the Timetable that have a group in parens, you attend that day if this is Your group and do not, if it is the other group. In a typical week, Group 1 participates in the newsgroup on Mondays and the RPE on Friday but skips Wednesdays, for instance.

Week 3 onwards proceeds with the smaller groups for discussion. The earlier discussions are a bit more crowded but it is difficult to split the class until the phase when people stop being added/subtracted ends. We have core topics following of Privacy, Work (two classes, one focused on productivity and nature of work; one focused on e-commerce and changing workplace), Ethics, Computer-Mediated Communication, Gender Equity).

Around this time, we end the Group 1 and Group 2 split and come together for a discussion on the pros and cons of video games, view an interesting guest lecture on computers and mental health, and then have two ending classes: Jul 27 has its timeslot set aside for you to complete course evaluations (after hearing a speech) and for you to be handed a peer's A5 to evaluate, with a form provided where you should be able to do all that in class time (more or less). Again, those unable to be online still have more time to finish this task (say by the last class, Jul 29). Our discussion board on Jul 27 will merely have a few announcements and instructions for you. On Jul 29, we will say a few words about the grading of RPEs in advance of grades being revealed on LEARN. We will get into a final discussion of the course and its topics and maybe award a few prizes for outstanding students.

Apart from Topics of the Week, RPEs consume 10 of our classes so I need to say a few words about them, and about the Assignments that you complete. I will do that next.