Computers and Computing
This course provides an introduction to
computers and information technology and assumes no previous experience with
computers. In addition to learning about the basic concepts of computer
systems, students will gain considerable hands-on experience with
databases, spreadsheets, and web page design.
We also discuss some of the ways in which information technology
is impacting today's society.
- To achieve computer literacy
- To understand theories behind computer science
- To make you a productive and creative user of the computer
- To emphasize problem solving
- Basic Computer Architecture
- Hardware, Software, operating systems and core functions. (1 week)
- Computer Networks, The Internet, and the World Wide Web
- Fundamentals of networks; Students design & publish their
own web page. (1 week)
- Database use and design
- Creation, use, and layout of modern databases using Microsoft Access. (1 week)
- Spreadsheet use and design
- Developing and managing spreadsheet tables using Microsoft Excel. Coverage
of design techniques to improve performance. (1 week)
- Introduction to a programming language
- Project design and implementation using Visual Basic. Use of
a programming language to implement simple interfaces. (4-5 weeks)
Who should take this course
This course is targeted to the non-engineering major who needs to function
in an ever increasingly computerized society. More than just a survey
course, students will be required to work in some detail with various
applications in order to develop skills they can apply in other classes
or in their careers. The idea is twofold. First, to provide enough practical
knowledge such that they will be comfortable with using the types of
applications presented. And second, to provide enough theoretical knowledge
about why things work so that they can solve problems they encounter
in the future. No previous computer knowledge is required.
No prerequisites are needed except a desire to work and learn.
A word about class computers
Class time will be a "hands-on" computing environment. There will be lots
of time for you to practice with the applications through various demos.
During class time, using
the computers for other classes' work or for doing unrelated functions
(like Web surfing) is NOT permitted.
- Computer Confluence, 7th Edition by George Beekman [CC]
- Microsoft Office Excel 2003
(Illustrated Introductory) by Reding and Wermers [Excel]
- Microsoft Office Access 2003
(Illustrated Introductory) by L. Friedrichsen [Access]
- The Visual Basic Coach, by Jeff Salvage [VB]
- Some way to keep what you create
- You'll want to keep copies of everything you hand in for reference
purposes. I recommend either two (2) high-density (1.44 MB) 3.5 inch
floppy disks, a zip disk, or a USB drive. You can also email copies of
what you create in class to yourself so you can download them at home,
or else upload files to your IDOL account using the SSH Secure File Transfer
program (for PCs). Always keep a backup copy somewhere. Do not
expect the work you do in our Olin classroom to be there the next day.
Weekly assignments given involving each application covered. Assignments
are based around a theme to illustrate how applications are used
collectively toward a common goal. Each assignment must be turned in both
on paper and electronically via Blackboard.
Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date.
Late penalty is 20% per day late.
Do not expect to be able to print out your assignment in our Olin classroom
right before class starts. Make time to print it out earlier.
Exams. There will be two midterm exams and one final. The midterms
will be on Fri, Sept. 30th and Fri, Oct. 28th. Exams
are cumulative, closed book, and closed notes.
You may bring one page of notes (single-sided)
to the second midterm and two pages of notes (single-sided) to the final. No
notes are allowed on the first midterm. If you can't be at an exam for a
good reason (illness, for example) please come talk to me so we can
make other arrangements.
- Homework Assignments: 40%
- Midterm Exams: 15% each
- Final Exam: 25%
- Participation: 5% (effort, improvement, class participation, etc.)
Students often have some confusion about what might
or might not be considered "cheating" in a computer class. In general,
you should feel free to ask questions of your fellow students.
However, I also need to make sure that you are
actually learning, and not simply using other people as a crutch. As
with writing a paper for an English class, there is a point at which working
together becomes plagiarism. As a rule of thumb, feel free to discuss
general solutions to problems, but the writing down of an actual solution
must be done solo by you. For example, it is fine to have someone else
look at your spreadsheet to help you figure out why a formula isn't working.
It is not fine for two people to create their spreadsheets together so that
they end up with similar layouts and formulas.
What you need to do
To prepare for class, you are required to do the
Show upYou are expected to be present for every class. However, I
realize that sometimes other things come up (interview, illness, etc.) so just
please let me know in advance or by phone/email if you're going to be absent.
Unexcused absences are NOT allowed and will affect your grade. If you miss
class, get notes from someone and do the readings before coming to see me. I'm
happy to explain things, but I won't repeat lectures for you.
Read the textLectures will primarily follow the major topics covered
by the text. You should do the reading for that week before coming to
class so that questions you have about the material can be answered during
lecture. There will always be a time for questions about the readings or
previous lectures at the beginning of class. Take advantage of it. All of the
readings for the entire term can be found on the course web page in the Full Schedule section.
Check the web pageThe reading assignments (and other announcements)
will be posted regularly on the course web page. You are required to check it
at least once a week. The URL is at the top of this document.
The Bottom Line
Ask questions and seek help. This is the most
important point of all. I live to answer questions. Don't be afraid to come to
my office every single day if you want. It's better for everybody (you AND me)
if you understand things sooner rather than later. More often than not, there's
a line of people waiting to see me on the day before a project is due. You'll
get the help you need faster by starting on projects sooner rather than waiting
until the last minute.
Any student with a documented learning disorder is welcome to come talk to me
privately about options for completion of exams and homework assignments.
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