This course satisfies the "Second Competency" component of the Adelphi General Education requirements, and is a requirement for the "Computer and Management Information Systems" major, but does not count as a math/science distribution course. Of Adelphi's six University-wide learning goals, this course is primarily concerned with Information Literacy, and secondarily with all the rest: communication, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, artistic expression, and global citizenship. If you're interested in writing your own programs or are considering majoring in computer science, you may still take this course but might be better served by a programming course like CS 160 "Computer Programming for Non-Majors" or CS 171 "Introduction to Computer Programming"; talk to me.
This course deals with several different kinds of material:
Concepts and language. You'll understand enough of what's going on inside a computer to distinguish between programs, files, folders, operating systems, hardware, Web pages, and so on. You'll be comfortable enough with computer terminology to not feel like an idiot when shopping for computer hardware or software. You'll be unafraid of error messages, able to read and use them to figure out what's wrong. You'll understand how networked computers find one another and send information around the network. You'll understand common kinds of security threats (viruses, Trojan horses, phishing, and so on) and how to defend against them.
Using specific software. Most people entering this course are already familiar with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (or their equivalents), so we'll study some other kinds of applications: spreadsheets (like Excel) and databases (like Access). You'll understand enough of the concepts underlying these programs that when you move to a different program of the same kind, you can learn it quickly.
Web site design and construction. You'll learn to use both authoring software and the HTML language to build and modify Web pages with formatting, graphics, links, tables, and CSS; you'll know when to use which graphics format and how to convert one to another; you'll consider how best to present particular kinds of content, and use those features that make your site more effective. You'll also learn some tactics for evaluating information you find on the Web to decide how reliable it is.
The largest, fuzziest, and most complex topic involves human beings: how do computers and telecommunications affect people's lives, and how do people's differences and decisions affect what happens in the world of computers and telecommunications? We'll discuss gender, race, and economic issues, spam, computer fraud and extortion, freedom of speech, privacy, government surveillance, corporate surveillance, intellectual property, censorship, voting machines, net neutrality, and other current issues that come up during the semester. Students are encouraged to find news stories of interest and bring them to the class's attention.
This course will involve reading assignments and homework exercises from two textbooks: Computer Concepts, by Parsons & Oja, and Office XP: Introductory Concepts and Techniques, by Shelly, Cashman, and Vermaat. We'll work through most of the Parsons & Oja book, and a few chapters (on Excel and Access) of the Office book. I'll also give out other reading assignments by email, on the Web, etc.
You'll need to read about 50 pages per week. This may sound like a lot, but these books are relatively quick reading, with lots of pictures and a fair amount of information you probably already know. Make time in your weekly schedule for the reading!
There will be several small homework assignments, at least one term paper, at least one oral presentation to the class, and a final exam. There will also be a significant "class participation" component, based on participation and discussion both in the classroom and on the BlackBoard discussion board. I'll keep an up-to-date schedule on my Web page.
The final exam must be taken at the scheduled time, unless arranged in advance or prevented by a documented medical or family emergency. If you have three or more exams scheduled on the same date, or a religious holiday that conflicts with an exam or assignment due date, please notify me in writing within the first two weeks of the semester in order to receive due consideration. Exams not taken without one of the above excuses will be recorded with a grade of 0.
The Adelphi University Code of Ethics applies to this course; look it up on
the Web at
Assignments in this class are to be done either individually or in teams of two; in the latter case, you may not do multiple homeworks with the same partner. You may discuss general approaches to a problem with classmates, but you may not copy. If you do, all the students involved will be penalized (e.g. I'll grade the assignment once and divide the points equally among the several people who turned it in).
All work on an exam must be entirely the work of the one person whose name is at the top of the page. If I have evidence that one student copied from another on an exam, both students will be penalized; see above.
This class meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12:00-12:50 PM in Science 227, except on University holidays or if I cancel class. The schedule of topics, reading, and homework is on the Web at http://www.adelphi.edu/sbloch/class/170; the dates are subject to change depending on how classroom discussions actually go. I expect you to have read the reading assignments before the lecture that deals with that topic; this way I can concentrate my time on answering questions and clarifying subtle or difficult points in the textbook, rather than on reading the textbook to you, which will bore both of us. Please read ahead!