Syllabus for CSci 1001, Fall 2012

This is the course syllabus for Nic McPhee's Fall 2012 Introduction to the computing world (CSci 1001) course at the University of Minnesota, Morris. For additional information (e.g., events and assignments) see the course schedule or the course Moodle site.

This is a 2 credit course which meets TTh 11-11:50am, in Sci 1020. There are no pre-requisites for this course.

Course description

The catalog description for this course is:

Basic hardware and software concepts, elementary data representation, problem solving techniques, algorithm development, introduction to web development, and methods for separation of content and presentation (such as HTML and CSS)

In just under 20 years the World Wide Web has grown from a little idea to one of the most important, ubiquitous, and influential technologies every developed, with Tim Berners-Lee (the "inventor" of the Web) being celebrated at this summer's London Olympics. How and why did that happen? What is the World Wide Web and how does it work? How do we design content and program interactions for the Web?

This course will address these issues and more. We'll learn about the basic components and operation of individual computers and larger networked systems like the Web. We'll also learn out to design content using HTML and cover an introduction to some of the key ideas of programming and algorithm development using JavaScript. These are the basic tools that companies like Google use to provide the cool web-based user experiences we get in things like Google Mail, Calendar, and Docs, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and most of the other nifty modern web tools we use all the time.

Course goals and learning objectives

Some of the key goals for this course include:

Nic's Spring 2014 office hours

My office hours for Spring, 2014, are:

I'll typically start my office hours in my office (Sci 1315), but I may well move to a lab if, for example, a group has a question about a project they're working on. The lab I'd be most likely to go to is:

If I leave the office during office hours I'll try to leave a note on my door telling you where I am, but you should always feel free to check the labs if you're looking for me.

Those times almost certainly won't work for everyone. You're always welcome to just drop by (see my complete schedule), and I'm happy to make appointments anytime I'm free. You may also find my contact info useful.

If these times work very badly for you (e.g., you have class conflicts all of these hours) then please let me know. If it turns out that a lot of folks have major conflicts then I'll want to reconsider my choices.

Nic's contact info

Nic McPhee's contact info
E-mail mcphee AT morris DOT umn DOT edu This is the preferred method of contact, but be warned that I get a lot of e-mail and bits get dropped now and then. Phone or IM is often better if it's critical or you need immediate feedback.
Web This is my "official" University web page, which consists primarily of links to my course web pages.
GTalk/GMail Same address as my e-mail above, as I've switched over to the U's new GMail system  
Twitter My name as a WikiWord, i.e., "Nic McPhee" without the space Make sure you identify yourself if your Twitter username doesn't obviously relate to the name on my course list smile
Office Sci 1315 Downstairs at the east end of the Science office wing
Office phone 320-589-6320 I don't have voice mail set up, so it'll just ring forever if I'm not there.
Division office 320-589-6300 They'll be happy to take a message, but phone, IM, or e-mail is better.
Fax 320-589-6371 I don't get faxes very often, so you should probably warn me (e.g., via e-mail) so I'll make a point to check for a fax.

Mailing address:

Nic McPhee
Division of Science and Mathematics
University of Minnesota, Morris
600 E. 4th Street
Morris, MN 56267-2132

I use the U's Google calendar to manage my calendar. Google may be the Evil Empire of the next decade, but they make a fine on-line calendar tool. If you're using Google calendar, feel free to use that to invite me to events/appointments.

Texts and other materials

This course has 1 required text:

This book provides a nice, broad overview of computing with plenty of understandable examples. It does a nice job introducing important basic concepts in the fun (and highly useful) context of creating and displaying web content and has plenty of good exercises to practice with.

You'll need at least two pieces of software: jEdit or some other text editor, and Firefox, Chrome, or some other web browser. You can use any text editor (even NotePad can work - shudder) for writing HTML and JavaScript, but you'll struggle a lot less and be more productive if you use a text editor that "understands" HTML/JavaScript and highlights syntax to help find parts of the code and match tags. I'll use jEdit in class, and we have jEdit installed in the computer lab in Imholte Hall that we'll use in this class, and it's free and available for most any platform.

You can use pretty much whatever web browser you want as long as it's fairly current; if you have some ancient copy of IE 6 then it's not going to deal well with some of the JavaScript features that you'd like to use. You also want a browser with a good JavaScript Console to help you see and work with the inevitable errors that you'll generate while your programming; Firefox and Chrome have quite nice ones.

Course outline

See the course schedule or the course Moodle site (or through your portal) for the calendar and outline of the course.

Course work and grading

This course will be primarily organized around a set of projects which will in turn generate the gradable products. The major projects (with their weights) will be:

Late policies

You may use three grace days however you would like throughout the term - this means you may turn in one assignment three "school days" late, one assignment two "school days" late and another assignment one "school day" late, or three assignments one "school day" late, with no penalty. Here a "school day" is a day that classes, though not necessarily this one, meet on campus - i.e., no weekends or holidays will count against you. It's possible that late work won't be graded until the end of the semester. You can turn in late assignments beyond your grace days, but there's not guarantee that they'll be graded, and if they are it won't be until the end of the semester.

Collaboration and Use of Resources

Assignments are individual work, unless otherwise stated. While it's perfectly OK (and is encouraged) to discuss the problem sets in general terms with others in the class, your solution must be your own work. Copying any part of another person's solution (even if you modify the code) is considered academic dishonesty and will be dealt with according to the university's policy.

It is OK to use code found in a textbook or online, but such use must be credited (i.e. you have to state the exact source of the code and clearly explain how this code was used). Failure to credit the source constitutes academic dishonesty.

Using code samples from the book or from lecture notes as a starting point of your code is perfectly reasonable. However, using large chunks of code "as is" (even with proper credit) may significantly reduce your grade if your own contribution was small. If in doubt about what materials are appropriate to use and how, please ask the instructor.

Grade reporting on Moodle

Grades will be entered on the course Moodle site and can be checked there throughout the semester. If you have any questions or concerns, please bring them up right away when it's much easier to address them.

ALERT!If you're visiting this syllabus after the semester has ended, the link to the course Moodle site may no longer work. They archive old courses almost immediately, which puts them at a new URL; try this URL instead. Failing that, please contact me if you need access to any of that information.

Grading standards (definition of grades)

Senate academic workload policy

For undergraduate courses, one credit is defined as equivalent to an average of three hours of learning effort per week (over a full semester) necessary for an average student to achieve an average grade (a C) in the course. For example, an average student taking a four credit course that meets for four hours a week should expect to spend an additional eight hours a week on course work outside the classroom in order to get a C in that course.

General information

Student privacy

Federal law protects your right as a student to keep your work and identifying information confidential. Public discourse, however, is crucial to the intellectual and academic process, whether it be within the course or in the broader world. Information such as grades will be protected and confidential, but our our use of technologies such as Moodle, wikis, and Google Docs will sometimes make students' names and U of M Internet IDs visible to other people in the course and, potentially, to the wider Internet. If you have concerns about the visibility of your Internet ID, please contact me for further information.

Academic assistance

The Academic Assistance office on campus provides free tutoring for a variety of introductory courses, and well as general assistance in a host of areas (e.g., study skills, careful reading, and time management). The Writing Room can be an excellent source of assistance with writing assignments.

Accessibility and institutional support

The University of Minnesota is committed to providing all students equal access to learning opportunities. Disability Services is the campus office that works with students who have disabilities to provide and/or arrange reasonable accommodations. Students registered with Disability Services who have a letter requesting accommodations, are encouraged to contact the instructor early in the semester. Students who have, or think they may have, a disability (e.g. psychiatric, attentional, learning, vision, hearing, physical, or systemic), are invited to contact Disability Services for a confidential discussion at 320-589-6163 or freyc AT umn DOT edu. Additional information is available at the DS web site at .

The University of Minnesota is committed to providing all students equal access to learning opportunities. Disability Services is the campus office that works with students who have disabilities to provide and/or arrange reasonable accommodations. Students registered with Disability Services, who have a letter requesting accommodations, are encouraged to contact the instructor early in the semester. Students who have, or think they may have, a disability (e.g. psychiatric, attentional, learning, vision, hearing, physical, or systemic), are invited to contact Disability Services for a confidential discussion at 320-589-6163 (320-589-6178 V/TTY) or . Additional information is available at the DS website .

As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce your ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via .


University policy prohibits sexual harassment as defined by the University of Minnesota Regents' policy: In general, harassment or intimidation of others in the class for whatever reason is unacceptable (and hardly conducive to a successful learning environment).

Regarding academic integrity

Scholastic honesty is of fundamental importance to the functioning of any community of scholars. Although the pursuit of knowledge is always a communal project, individual academic achievement must be the result of a person's own efforts and abilities. Members of an academic community are responsible for their own personal and academic development and for fostering an academic climate in which all members draw from and give back to the community. The University is charged with implementing those policies which will help bring about such an academic climate. However, the ultimate responsibility for creating a community of scholars, in which mutual self-respect flourishes, lies with the individual members of the community. Each member must, therefore, act according to the highest standards of academic honesty.

-- from the preface of UMM's Student Academic Integrity Policy

Academic integrity is essential to a positive teaching and learning environment. All students enrolled in University courses are expected to complete coursework responsibilities with fairness and honesty. Failure to do so by seeking unfair advantage over others or misrepresenting someone else?s work as your own, can result in disciplinary action. The University Student Conduct Code defines scholastic dishonesty as follows:

Scholastic Dishonesty: submission of false records of academic achievement; cheating on assignments or examinations; plagiarizing; altering, forging, or misusing a University academic record; taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement.

Within this course, a student responsible for scholastic dishonesty can be assigned a penalty up to and including an "F" or "N" for the course. If you have any questions regarding the expectations for a specific assignment or exam, ask.

For more information see:

Regarding classroom conduct

Students are expected to interact with the instructor and other students with respect and courtesy. Students should attend every class session prepared to learn and work. Participation in class is expected, which includes both speaking up and listening. Give class your full attention while here. Complete all assignments, including the reading, in a timely fashion. Turn off cell phones and other electronic distractions during class so we may all better focus on the material. Students whose behavior is disruptive either to the instructor or to other students will be asked to leave. Students whose behavior suggests the need for counseling or other assistance may be referred to counseling services. Students whose behavior violates the University Student Conduct Code will be subject to disciplinary action.

Some relevant University Senate statements and policies

-- NicMcPhee - 22 Aug 2012

SyllabusForm edit
Name Introduction to the computing world
Discipline CSci
Course # 1001
Term Fall
Year 2012
Num credits 2
Days and time TTh 11-11:50am
Location Sci 1020
Pre-requisites None
Course URL
Moodle course # 10193