Class Endgame: The last 2 weeks

Short version:

  1. Expect exam details soon. Short version: it will be a semi-synchronous online exam given using Canvas quizzing.
  2. Expect WB12 to be announced soon. It will be due the last day of classes (Friday, May 1), although there will be a “check-in” deadline on Sunday, April 26th.
  3. The last 2 quizzes will be “graded surveys” - you get 100% just for participating.
  4. We will “cancel lectures” so that students have more time to work on the last workbook. (no new required videos). There may be optional videos on new topics, ideas for the workbook, or review material.
  5. There will be review materials provided in the last week of class.

Longer version:

As the semester winds down, and the realities of adapting classes to remote teaching become clearer, I can finally give some details of how the class will end. There are some modest changes that people may not even notice.

The Exam: it has been challenging to figure out how to give the exam in a way that is fair to everyone, fits within the University guidelines, and is practical (using the University provided tools). Expect an announcement soon. But the short version: it will be given using Canvas quizzing; it will be semi-synchronous (that means that everyone will take the exam within a window of time - if you want to take it during the official exam time slot you can), and I will give you the details of topic coverage. There will (at least) be a guide (like there was for the midterm).

Workbook 12: will be released soon. It is tricky because we need to try to quantify grading an open-ended assignment. If we thought students would be OK with “trust us, we will give you a fair grade that reflects how well you did and errs on the side of being generous”, it would be much easier.

Some important things to know about workbook 12:

  1. The assignment will be due on the last day of classes (May 1st). This has been on the course calendar all along. You will have close to 2 weeks to do the assignment.
  2. There will be a hand-in about half-way through (April 26th). This is just to make sure that people have started the assignment.
  3. You cannot drop this assignment (it cannot be one of your “drop 2”).
  4. Numerically, it will count the same as other assignments. However, if you do well on it, we may take that into account when figuring out your final grade.
  5. While the requirements may seem complicated, if you read it is “make a cool town and get a good grade” you don’t need to worry about all the details as much.

The Last Weeks Topics: Normally, the last weeks of class are a bunch of “advanced” topics that we go through quickly and are not connected to the programming assignments. Usually, its a set of lectures on topics I find really interesting (and important for graphics).

However, it is not clear how well the strategy of survey lectures in the last weeks adapts to the online setting. It is not clear how effective a short video lecture on these subjects would be. Since you don’t need to know them for the workbook, and you are busy with final projects for all of your classes, you may be less motivated to learn things just because they are interesting. I do not want to try to motivate you by threatening to ask about those topics on the quizzes or the exam.

So, for the last weeks of class, I would prefer that you take the time to focus on the final workbook. It is a chance to put together everything you’ve learned over the semester. It is a chance to try out things that you want to try out. It is a chance to be creative.

I will not introduce new (required) topics in the last 2 weeks. If there is interest, I can provide some material (readings, video lectures, or an online) on topics that you could use in your workbooks (e.g., morphing and skinning), or other graphics topics. If there is something you want to know about, send me a message (a private message on Piazza is best). I’ll find a way to help you learn about it.

I may make more videos. But these will either be for optional topics, or for review.

It feels weird to have a graphics class where I have barely mentioned ray-tracing (I did mention it in lecture, but only to say it is not what the pipeline does). It feels wrong not to talk about color perception (why do we get by with RGB when there are an infinite number of colors in the rainbow?). I wanted to explain how deferred shading works (since it is an important part of current games). I could go on. The reality is that an introductory graphics class really can only cover so much. Even in normal years.

So, what this means:

No new (required) lecture material: There will be no more “regular video lectures”. There may be videos or online help sessions / discussions, but these will be to either review existing material, or provide optional material.

No graded quizzes: since there is no more new material, there can’t be any new quizzes on new material. However, instead, we will have “graded surveys”. You get 100% just for participating (but you must participate). The first one, will be anonymous (we will know that you participated, but will not know who said what). The second one will depend on the first.

Online review sessions: Often in class, I would take some time at the end to review. This helps tie topics together, as well as help people prepare for the exam. I am not sure how well this translates into the online setting. There will be some for of review during the last week.Look for an announcement.

If you are interested in graphics, visualization, robotics, or related topics: I am happy to talk to people about it! If office hours don’t work, send me a note and we can set up a time. One of the things I miss in the online setting is talking to people about this stuff.