• The course web (you are looking at it) has course information and content. New material will be announced on Canvas.
  • Announcements will be made via Canvas.
  • Emergency announcements will be made via email, but we will try to keep this to a minimum.
  • General (Open) Discussions via Piazza.
  • Communication with Course Staff via Piazza, or email in an emergency.
  • Course restricted information via Canvas pages and Files.
  • Grading Feedback via Canvas.
  • Synchronous class meetings via Zoom. (see the Canvas Zoom List)
  • Consulting hours and office hours will be held either in person or on Zoom,
  • Workbooks are obtained and handed in via GitHub classroom and a Canvas survey.
  • Exams and Surveys will use Canvas Quizzes.
  • Please be respectful of others in online communications.

The class will be conducted remotely. Lectures will be delivered by a combination of Zoom and pre-recorded videos. Exams and assignments will be online. Consulting (e.g., office hours and help) will be held both in person and online.

We will use Canvas for communications between course staff and students. Canvas is for one-way (student-to-staff) communications. Do not reply to Canvas grading comments. See Regrade Policy for how to request a regrade, or ask clarification questions (not regrade requests) on Piazza.

We will use Piazza for general discussions and direct communications with course staff. Piazza is a decent tool for free-ranging discussions where anyone might want to start a new topic. It’s commonly used in CS classes, so most students are familiar with it.

Key Communications Things

Announcements via Canvas. The course staff will make announcements using the Canvas announcement system. If something is important, we will announce it on Canvas. You may want to configure Canvas to notify you when there are announcements. You can configure Canvas to send you email when there is an announcement.

Email for emergencies only. We will only send email to the class mailing list (1) at the beginning of the semester while we are getting started, or (2) in the event of something really urgent that we want to make sure everyone sees right away. (we expect some people to get Canvas announcements as part of a daily summary) If you want to send us a message, use Piazza (below).

Course Information on the Course Web. If I want to give you information (like this page), it will be on the course web. If new information is made available, it will be announced on Canvas (so you don’t need to keep checking the course web for new stuff). At the beginning of the semester, there is a large amount to read on the course web.

Restricted Information via Canvas Files and Pages. If something is restricted (limited to use by the class), it will be placed on Canvas, not on the open web. Please do not share restricted materials outside of class.

Communicate with the course staff via Piazza. Send us a private message on Piazza as the preferred way to communicate with us. We prefer this to email. It has the advantage that two of us read it, so you will get a quicker response. (even if its because the TA sees message and alerts the Professor of the urgency). It also helps us, because it logs all class traffic in one place. If something is personal, it is OK to send email.

Synchronous class meetings will use Zoom. You can find the Zoom links on Canvas. See Zoom for more information.

Consulting hours will be in person and via Zoom. We will support both in-person and online help from the staff. See Consulting Hours. Please use the Consulting Assistance Form to register (preferably before you join the BBCU session). Remember, regrade requests happen via the form (see Regrade Policy).

One-on-one meetings should be scheduled via the web form. To request a meeting with course staff, use the Appointment Scheduling Form.

GitHub Classroom will be use to distribute and turn-in workbooks. See the explanation on the Git and GitHub in CS559 page and the Workbooks page.

Consulting and Office Hours

See Consulting Hours

Using Piazza for Class

  1. Search to make sure someone else hasn’t already asked the same question.

  2. When possible, post questions publicly. This way, others can answer. And, the course staff has more incentive to give a good answer (since many students will benefit from it).

  3. Avoid posting code publicly - you do not want to “give away” the answers to the assignments. You might post a tip or trick, but don’t post a part of the assignment.

  4. The course staff may, at its discretion, convert a public post to private, or remove any posting.

  5. The course staff will not change a posting from private to public. However, we might ask you to do so (before we will answer it).

  6. Use Piazza to discuss topics related to class - even if they aren’t tied to a question. Anything about computer graphics is fair game!

  7. Don’t post large pieces of code - even to course staff. It is difficult to debug someone else’s code when they just give you a snippet in a message.

Some Things You Can Do

In an in person class, there is subtle dialog that adds to the class. Students ask questions. The professor sees puzzled faces. Students chat with their classmates. We all chat before and after class. If I make a mistake while lecturing, or an assignment isn’t clear, I’ll find out right away. If a student sees an interesting connection between topics in class, or has an interesting perspective, they can bring it up. If a student wants to know where to go to learn more about a topic, they ask me after class.

If you want clarification on an administrative thing (for example, an assignment isn’t clear)… Make a public posting on Piazza (after checking that no one else has asked the question already). Others may have the same question.

If you have a content question - either something that doesn’t make sense, or something you want more information about… Make a public posting on Piazza (after checking that no one else has asked the question already). Others may have the same question.

If you see something cool or interesting that is related to class, like you find some new tool or see some particular cool graphics… Make a public posting on Piazza

If you want feedback on your work before it is due, or more info on the feedback we give you afterwards… Make a private message to the course staff on Piazza.

Some Things Not to Do

  1. Do not reply in Canvas grading comments! Canvas grading comments are a way for us to give you feedback. If you post a reply to your feedback, we may not see it.

  2. Do not send the course staff an Email when Piazza is more appropriate. Prefer Piazza to email - you are more likely to get a faster response since many of us check it, and if one of us sees it, we can alert the other (if it needs them). Email responses may be delayed, and may also say “please ask on Piazza”.

  3. Do not send a private Piazza message for something of interest of the class. If you need a clarification, someone else might be asking the same question. First check to see if someone else already asked on Piazza. Then post it as a public question, so everyone can see our response. If we don’t think your post is appropriate for the whole class, we can make it private before we respond. However, if you send us a private post, we will not make it public (we might respond to you and ask that you make the post public, which will add a delay).

  4. Do not use Canvas direct messages to communicate with the course staff. Prefer Piazza, or even email. Things in Canvas direct messages often get missed.

  5. Do not reply to Canvas announcements or anything else in Canvas.

Etiquette Online and Online Conduct

Online discussion can be challenging. Because you don’t get the real-time feedback from others, you may say something inappropriate, mean, hurtful, aggressive, or offensive without realizing it - or only realizing it too late (after the posting has circulated and damage is done). On the receiving side, because we miss the non-verbal cues, it is easy to misinterpret a message in a negative way. And when we try to resolve bad occurrences, delays in dialog can allow negative feelings to grow before they can be diffused.

Because it is new, the “rules” for acceptable conduct online (both in terms of being sufficiently civil in discussion and being proper academic conduct) is not well formed. Use good judgment. If there is something questionable, feel free to ask.

In the past, we have found that students in online discussions for this class have been respectful and professional. But I think this takes conscious effort from everyone.

Some guidelines:

  1. Be polite and respectful of others. It’s OK to disagree, but do so in a constructive way. Be mindful of the how the reader will interpret your message.
  2. Stay within the topic and scope of discussions.
  3. If you feel that someone is being inappropriate, or says something that hurts you, feel free to bring it up with the course staff.
  4. Use reasonable writing. What works in spoken conversation can feel weird in writing.
  5. Beware of sarcasm and humor - it often doesn’t work online, and you cannot get immediate feedback to know that it is being interpreted correctly.
  6. Be honest. Don’t cheat.
  7. Don’t plagiarize. Give proper attribution for things you borrow.

See also the University Netiquette Guidelines

The course staff has the right to remove content it feels is inappropriate at its discretion.