Course Structure - Spring 2016

"In this capstone class, students reflect on Computer Science as a discipline, the connections with other disciplines, the impacts of technology upon society, and ethical considerations introduced by computers. In the process of completing a major project, students consider marketing, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance. In this class, seniors complete and present their online portfolio. As the culmination of their program, students explore the transition to graduate school or the commercial sector." (catalog)

Professor Don Patterson
Lecture: M W F : 2:00 - 3:05
Classroom: Winter Hall 311
Discussion Section: N/A
Telephone: 7028 (on campus) 805-565-7028 (off campus)
Office Hours: TBD
Teaching Assistant:N/A
Office Hours:N/A

The following book(s) are required for this class.
Shaping Things by Sterling
The following book(s) are optional for this class.

Class Attendance / Participation / Readings (3 dropped) ~30%
Capstone Project ~40%
Professional Development ~30%

As the class progresses I may find it necessary to alter the percentages.

This class is a lot of work. You will have to develop computer systems. You will have to read a lot.

Here are some things you will be learning:

  • The Development of a Capstone project
  • Ethical Issues arising from technology
  • How to transition to a post-college professional life

I prefer to give many small assignments which build up a picture of overall student learning success rather than to rely on one or two large exams which students may bomb based on non-learning related complications.

At the end of the day, learning requires the active initiative of the student. I consider myself someone who points students in the right direction and can/will explain the fundamentals of a subject matter. I can't actually do the work of learning for a student. That takes effort and self-motivation. I will help to provide structure and incentives for that learning, but you also need to learn how to expand on this subject yourself. In a technical field like this, you will be left behind the field in about six months, regardless of how well I present the subject matter, if you can't keep learning on your own.

I like to stop talking periodically and let students ask questions.

This class is going to be a small and intimate community. Participation is essential for it to be successful.

Participation will be assessed by attendance on days in which nothing tangible is due. On days in which responses are due, participation will be evaluated based on the response and the communication of it to the rest of the group.

A capstone project is a major part of this class. Several projects milestones will be assigned consisting of planning, presentation and development tasks for a capstone project. These tasks that will almost certainly require additional technical and user research outside of class.

The goal of the capstone project will be to give you a chance to synthesize many different things that you have learned during your undergraduate career and to create an artifact that you can use in job interviews or post-graduate assessments or possibly just for your own sense of enjoyment and accomplishment.

Some of these will be able to be done in small groups

This class will have no quizzes.

I strive to pick the best-of-class tools to use to administer this class and with which to teach. That requires using multiple websites. They are carefully chosen. Unfortunately, like most of the rest of online activities they are also highly fragmented (not one super-tool). We utilize several online tools in this class. Please familiarize yourself with their use and location. I expect you to check in and use all of them:

This is a small class, so our tools will consist of the following:

  1. This web page: in particular the calendar part, is the authoritative location for communicating assignments, materials from the class and due dates.
  2. Eureka for the gradebook 195 on Eureka
  3. Eureka for the news forum 195 on Eureka

Another way in which technology is changing is the way it is used during lecture time.

On the one hand my students are almost always adults. You should be able to choose to use electronics in class if you want. On the other hand there is a world of sophisticated software, marketing and designs that are doing everything they can to get your attention. They are so good at what they do that you don't have control over your own cognition. One thing that is clear - if you have your laptop open, if you are texting, tweeting, pinteresting, doing email, surfing the web, playing candy crush etc, you are not learning as much as people who put away their electronics and focus fully on the class. The truth is you are lousy at multi-tasking and it's hurting your grades because it's preventing you from thinking deeply about anything. Putting away the devices requires discipline that some of you need to learn, but won't unless you are forced.

There's an additional problem though. It turns out that if the person next to you is using a laptop, it hurts your GPA also. Using your laptop is like second-hand smoke. It's not just you hurting yourself, it's you hurting other people as well.

Clay Shirky has written a long article about these problems that is worth considering as we start off a new semester

For this class I am going to ask us all to turn off our network capability on our devices while class is in session. This will allow us to review texts and take notes as appropriate, but will limit the amount of alerting that drags us out of the deeper thinking we hope to accomplish

Periodically at the beginning of class I will take the opportunity to address issues of Christian Faith and it's relationship to our course material, current events or personal reflections. This may include times of prayer, listening to music or speech, or direction discussion.

These moments are typically not planned far in advance or recorded, but are noted post-facto on the class calendar.

We have many goals for students taking courses in the Computer Science Program. Some of them are specific to particular courses, but almost all are examples of our Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs).

This are the overarching Computer Science Program Learning Objectives

  1. Core Knowledge Students will know the core ideas and methods in the field of computer science.
  2. Communication Students will be able to communicate information and ideas of computer science in writing or orally.
  3. Creativity Students will be able to independently learn new ideas and techniques and to formulate and solve a novel problem in computer science.
  4. Christian Connection Students will incorporate computer science knowledge and skill into a wider interdisciplinary framework and especially into a personal faith and its accompanying worldview.

Some of the things that you will learn map to the above learning objectives as follows:

  • Developing an idea for the Capstone project - PL02
  • Formulating a plan for the Capstone implementation - PL01
  • Communicating and persuading the effectiveness of the plan - PL02
  • Implementing the Capstone project - PL01,PL03
  • Preparing a resume - PL02,PL04
  • Preparing to interview - PL02,PL04
  • Prepaing a professional portfolio - PL02, PL03
  • Participating in many readings and discussions of technology, ethics and society - PL01, PL02, PL03, PL04