January 23, 2003
This is a "how-to" course about computers. It doesn't assume you can recognize a computer on sight or find the "on" switch; however, it covers a wide enough range of topics that many people who have been using computers for years will still find something new in it. This course satisfies the "Second Competency" component of the Adelphi General Education requirements, and is a requirement for the new "Computer and Management Information Systems" major, but does not count as a math/science distribution course. 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 "A First Course in Computer Programming"; talk to me.
Topics covered this semester fall into three main categories:
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.
Specific software. You'll be comfortable using a variety of features of common operating systems, word processors, spreadsheets, databases, mail programs, presentation managers, Web browsers, Web search engines, etc. 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, and tables; 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.
This course will involve reading assignments and homework exercises from two textbooks: Using Information Technology, by Sawyer & Williams, and Learning Web Design, by Jennifer Niederst. I shall also give out other reading assignments by email, on the Web, etc.
I intend to cover most of both textbooks this semester, so you need to read about 50 pages per week, on average. This may sound like a lot, but these books are relatively quick reading, with lots of pictures. Make time in your weekly schedule for the reading!
As I write this (the week before classes start), I envision 10 small homework assignments, each worth 7.5% of the semester grade, a midterm worth 10%, and a final exam worth 15%. If we get behind schedule, we'll actually do fewer assignments than this; I'll keep an up-to-date schedule on my Web page.
Exams 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.
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 and Wednesday from 2:25-3:40 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!