Computing for the Socio-Techno Web

CS115/MAS115 -- Spring 2018

This is a course about Web Technologies and the Social Implications of the Web

CS115 is for students who want a broad exposure to the fundamental concepts of computer science, but also for those that may want to major in Media Arts and Sciences (cross-listed as MAS115). Students get hands-on programming experience building Web applications using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Given that most people experience the Web today using computer technologies from online networks (Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc), the technical topics are explored along with the social aspects of computing. We study the structure of the Social Web, and focus on a variety of cyberspace issues such as information availability, personal and group privacy, online security, critical thinking, online propaganda and manipulation, restricted resources, self-perception, and decision-making. No prior knowledge of computing is assumed.

About CS115/MAS115

Major Topics in this course


  • Computational Thinking - Understanding programming and why it helps us solve problems.
  • Social Implications of Technology - The Web keeps changing our understangind of the World.
  • Critical Thinking - Searching for information is easy, understanding how to evaluate it is still hard.
  • Web Technologies - How computers work and why you can be good at programming them using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Meet your instructors & tutors

Click here for CS115 drop-in calendar


CS115/MAS115 Spring 2018 tentative schedule


Please note that READINGS are due on the day they appear.
Check this page frequently, as it is subject to change.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Feb 19

President's day

Feb 21

Feb 23

Last day to drop a course

Assign3: Net Neutrality mini-project
due at 11:59pm

Mar 21

Take-home midterm due

Mar 22

Spring break

Mar 23

Spring break

Mar 26

Spring break

Mar 27

Spring break

Mar 28

Spring break

Mar 29

Spring break

Mar 30

Spring break

Apr 04

Apr 05

TBD

Apr 06

Weekly reflection: programming diary

Apr 16

Marathon Monday

Apr 20

Weekly reflection: programming diary

Apr 23

In-class FINAL

Apr 25

Apr 26

Security & Cryptography

Read: BITS 5: Secret bits - until page 174

Apr 27

Peer editing final papers

Weekly reflection: programming diary

Apr 30

TBD: maybe crowdsourcing & the future of labor markets

May 02

May 03

Wrap-up: where do you go from here?

May 04

Final Project due

Reflection on project: questionnaire

Administrative details of CS115/MAS115


Prerequisites None, in terms of prior classes. But what is required is a desire to learn more about the socio-technological world you will live in.

Students cannot get credit for both CS115 and either CS110 or CS114, due to considerable overlap of material with these two courses.

Lectures and Labs Each week there are two 70-minute lectures that will introduce the main content of the course and one 70-minute lab with exercises to reinforce the lecture material and to develop general programming, testing and debugging skills. In labs you will be working either with a partner, or individually. In general, be aware that labs contain more tasks than can reasonably be done in the available class time. At the end of the day of your lab, each student is required to submit whatever lab work they have worked on until then. These submissions will be part of the student's participation grade (see "Grading Policy" further down.)

Course Group Please verify that you are registered to the CS115-MAS115-SP18 google group. This group has several purposes. We will use it to make class announcements, such as corrections to assignments and clarifications of material discussed in class. We encourage you to post questions or comments that are of interest to students in the course. Please do not post significant amounts of assignment-related JavaScript code (i.e. more than one or two lines of code) in your messages on the group! The instructors and TAs will read messages posted in the group on a regular basis and post answers to questions found there. If you know the answer to a classmate's question, feel free to post a reply yourself. The course group is also a good place to find people to join a study group. You should plan on reading group messages on a regular basis.

Textbook We will be using a variety of books and resources. The good news is that you are not required to buy any material, though you may want to do so if you would rather read from paper instead of online. The material we will be using are:

Material from other CS courses CS115/MAS115 was designed by including some of the material that were previously taught in two other courses, CS110 and CS114. Occasionally, we may also reference material from other CS classes in this course if they are relevant to the current topic.

Class participation, Reading material, Quizes and Assignments: You are required to study the reading material assigned for each lecture before you come to class. There will also be weekly reflections on your readings and class discussions; there will also be regular assignments that will test a deeper understanging of the material.

Exams: There will be a take-home midterm exam and an in-class final (see the schedule).

Final Project: A paper demonstrating your deeper understanding of the material will be due at the end of the semester. Here is the tentative description of the final project.

The dates of the assignments, reflections, exam and final project are listed on the schedule. Please let the instructors know within the first two weeks of classes if you have a scheduling conflict, after that they will not be flexible except for emergencies.

Grading Policy Your final grade for the course will be computed as a weighted average of several components. One of them is class participation that includes attending lectures, attending labs, doing the work, and actively participating in discussions. The relative weight of each component is shown below:

  • Assignments: 25%
  • Final Project: 20%
  • Midterm Exam (take-home): 10%
  • Final Exam (in-class): 25%
  • Reflections and Class Participation: 20%
  • Total: 100%
This course complies with the Wellesley College grading policy. While that policy asks faculty to hold each 100- and 200-level course with 10 or more students to an average of no higher than 3.33, it does not require faculty to grade on a "curve." There is no arbitrary limit on the number of A's, B's, C's etc., and every student will be assigned the grade they earn and deserve according to the grading standards of the college.

Late Assignment Policy You will have 3 late passes for the assignments. One pass corresponds to 24h. If you are using a late pass, you do not need to contact the instructors. If have used all your passes, you are required to contact your instructor, before the assignment is due, to ensure that you have a plan for completing it. If solutions to an assignment are distributed before you have turned in, you are bound by the Honor Code not to examine them. Late passes cannot be used on reflections, exams, or the final project.

How to succeed in the course

  • Prepare to spend at least 10 hours every week.
  • Attend all lectures, quit all social media while in class.
  • Attend all labs, quit all social media while in class.
  • Read the assigned material and slides BEFORE class.
  • Read assignment description immediately, start thinking about it ASAP, not 1-2 days before it is due!
  • Start assignments early, be prepared to make mistakes.
  • Programming is a skill: The best programmer has made every mistake in the books!
  • Programming is hard: Do not blame yourself for your mistakes; just give yourself more time!

Collaboration Policy

Here is overview on our collaboration policy, and it is followed by a more detailed explanation below:
  • Assignments: Rotating pairs of students
  • Project: Teams of 2-3 students
  • Exams: Absolutely no collaboration

Collaboration on Assignments

We believe that collaboration fosters a healthy and enjoyable educational environment. For this reason, we encourage you to talk with other students about the course material and to form study groups. Programming assignments in this course can be challenging. Also teamwork is the norm in the CS industry. Given the above, some of the assignment work is required to be done with a partner, while some is required to be done individually. In each assignment tasks will be clearly marked as either "individual" or "pair-programming". The two team members must work closely together on the pair-programming tasks, and turn in a single hard copy of work they did together. Pair-programming tasks are subject to the following ground rules:
  • The work must be a true collaboration in which each member of the team will carry her own weight. It is not acceptable for two team members to split the work between them and work independently.
  • The fact that team members have to program together means that you need to carefully consider a potential partner's schedule before forming a team. You cannot be an effective team if you cannot find large chunks of time to spend at a computer together!
  • Working with different partners is a good way to build community in the class. We strongly recommend that you pair up with several other students during the semester.
Please check this document about the basics of pair-programming. In general, teams are allowed to discuss assignment tasks with other teams and exchange ideas about how to solve them. However, there is a thin line between collaboration and plagiarizing the work of others.

Each team or individual student must compose their own solution to each task

Discussing strategies and approaches with classmates and receiving general debugging advice from them is acceptable and encouraged. However you (and your partner) are required to write and debug all of your code. Furthermore, you should never look at another student's code. For example, it is OK to borrow code from the textbook, from materials discussed in class, and from other sources as long as you give proper credit. However, it is unacceptable and constitutes a violation of the Honor Code (1) to write a program together with someone not part of your team and turn in two copies of the same program, (2) to copy code written by your classmates, (3) to read another student's or team's code or (4) to view assignments, exams and solutions from previous terms of the course. In keeping with the standards of the scientific community, you must give credit where credit is due. If you make use of an idea that was developed by (or jointly with) others, please reference them appropriately in your work. It is unacceptable for students to work together but not to acknowledge each other in their write-ups.