CS 492/CS 692 S20 Notes on Online Newsgroups (draft)

Please read this note about how Piazza will be used to manage our discussions of the Topic of the Week. A moderate variation of this protocol will be used for the Role Playing Exercise (RPE) classes.

When we had a discussion in our face-to-face classes, I moderated. I asked for a show of hands from those who wanted to speak, took down names in a certain order, and then invited students, one by one to speak. People did not simply shout out a comment or speak out of turn. The process on our Piazza newsgroup will be the same. All students will be urged to participate in our discussions during the class timeslot, in order to have a much richer experience. Each discussion will have a separate Piazza folder (indicated by the date).

I will begin the class by posting a Note to remind students of the topic of the day and of any important announcements. I will follow this by initiating a Poll. All students currently online should respond: you have a chance to register your attendance or to indicate your interest in making a comment about the readings. After I see the poll results, I will post another Note to show who is in the queue to provide a comment; I will invite those students to post and ask everyone else in the class to remain silent. Those invited to post should follow the instructions provided in my Note carefully. I will provide some reactions to these posts and then conduct a second poll to allow those who missed the attendance call earlier to respond and those who now want to comment to indicate so. This process will repeat until towards the end of class time, when I will cut discussion short and end the class (50 minutes after the official start time). Anyone who was unable to participate synchronously will still be able to add a new post, after class time and continuing until midnight of the date in question (either to simply register their attendance or to add a comment). Any posts after midnight will be ignored.

Anyone who posts (synchronously or asynchronously) will be urged to keep their comments brief: on the order of 2 or 3 sentences. Synchronous students are welcome to ask to post more than once (after each poll). Those participating asynchronously are asked to post just ONCE, a but may include comments on TWO different subtopics within their post (2 to 3 sentences each).

I have been told that students may need to refresh with some frequency while participating synchronously in order to view all comments.

Please note that while I will be providing brief reactions to the posts being made synchronously (during the official class time), for the asynchronous posts that day, I will read and make a record towards class participation, but I will not respond or react.

When this class met face-to-face it was quite typical for a number of students in the class to be present, but not to offer a comment. In much the same vein, you shouldn't feel that you have to say something in every class. Class participation will be judged as a combination of: attendance (most important) and value of comments made (where quantity is not the real issue; quality is being judged).

Note as well: there will be a brief summary of the Readings posted on our course website, on the Class Notes page, close to class time. Students can consult these notes; they take the place of my blackboard writing at the start of face-to-face classes. Students are still urged to actually look through the Readings themselves (not just my summaries). This will enable a richer reaction. Many of those papers are also very helpful towards the completion of various assignments in the course.