Course Infrastructure

by Mike Gleicher on January 16, 2015


In general, we will not use email as a way to do “mass distribution” of information. That is, we won’t use the class mailing list much – unless its an emergency.

Most announcements will be made using the course web page. Students are required to check this regularly, or to (optionally) sign up to receive email notifications of new content.

For the purposes of this class, we will use your email address. If this isn’t something you use regularly, please try to forward it to an account you do read. Note that for other pieces of course infrastructure (like Canvas) we will use this as your account information.

Your “NETID” (that is, the thing you use for your address – for me its “mlgleicher”) is the primary key we will use for our record keeping. We will ask you to use this on things you turn in.

Yes, the course staff (professor and TA) violate this rule: I use my email account for everything, and often forget to check my address. Students don’t get this option, sorry.

Email is the best way to contact the course staff. If you send email from an account other than your account, please include your NETID in corrspondence. Also, please make sure your name comes in the “From” field.

Class Web

The primary mechanism for providing information about the class is the course web.

Students are responsible for the material that is on the web, especially the announcements (on the “News” topic/thread). Students must either check the page regularly, sign up for email notifications of new content, or subscribe to the RSS feed to be alerted to new content.

At first, a lot of stuff will be put all over the web page. Once things get running smoothly, important stuff will generally go onto the “news” page (which is a feed of news articles) which will then link to longer posts elsewhere.

There will also be a weekly “The Week in 638/838” posting to remind you of important stuff.

Remember: you are responsible for keeping up on announcements to the web page. “I didn’t see the assignment posted” is not a valid excuse.

Class Calendar

There is a class calendar that is available as a Google Calendar. This is largely redundant with the course web.


We will use a course management system called Canvas. We need to add people to the system manually, so if you are not able to log in and see the course, please let the instructor and TA know.

We will not use Canvas for announcements. It does not replace the course web.

We will not use Canvas for computing final grades. The numerical grades in Canvas are just codes to match our non-numerical scales (e.g. check/no-check will be given numbers 0-5). We will not just average these scores.

The course staff is still learning how to use Canvas, so the details of how we will use it will evolve over time.


There are two textbooks for this class. I will refer to them by the author’s last name: Munzner and Ware. Both of these are available online via the library.

All of the readings (including the textbooks) will be available to students in the class on the web. However, much of the reading are made available is subject to licenses or academic fair use principles. Therefore, we need to limit access to the reader. We will provide three mechanisms:

There will be a “” folder (this is the official university mechanism for file sharing). We will set this up so that students can view the folder using their credentials. If you are unable to access the Box folder, contact the TA.

There is a password protected space on the CS web server. Accessing this requires having a CS account. Everyone in this class will get one, but if this is your only CS class, you may find you don’t need to go through the effort to activate the account. You don’t need to use this one: everything will be available by Box.

Some of the material is available from the class’ library course page. Not everything is there. We intend to mirror the libraries content in Box and on the CS web page.

Note: the things in the protected course reader are for use by students in the class only. Do not share them with people outside the class.

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