About the Course/Instructor

CSC 211 - Computer Organization and Architecture - Weinman

1  About the Course

Q.
Is there a breakdown of how much each part of the class is worth for our final grade? Or is it mostly based on labs? Will there be any individual projects/midterms?
A.
Yes, but it's not completely transparent. It's (almost?) entirely based on the labs. The number of points for each lab (still to be determined) is proportional to its contribution in the final calculation.
Q.
How exactly will labs work in this class if we do not have access to the hardware we normally would in the 211 classroom? Will we still be learning the same things we would if we were on campus?
A.
What we would ordinarily do with actual electronics we will do in perfectly adequate simulators. There are some things a simulator can't do, but these are mostly good. (No one really likes to breathe toxic smoke anyhow.)
You'll still be meeting all the stated learning outcomes for the course, though we did necessarily trim a tiny bit on the content (Skipping over the lower-level electrical aspects, both due to the more limited seven-week timeframe but also due to the inability to use the hardware).
Q.
How will you grade things anonymously? I notice you want us to include a reference document for each lab, so will that be used for you to know our identity?
A.
Your name won't be on the physical work that we look at, but since you will turn it in through a computer system, the folder it belongs to is associated with your name. And yes, the references do de-anonymize you (through your "initials"-cum-signature), but we don't read that until after we've established a baseline grade.
Q.
Is there a software that we would need to download for the course?
A.
It is optional and will be covered as we progress through the labs. In short, all is available via the MathLAN already, though it is free/libre and also available for your own personal devices.
Q.
What is your late work policy, if any? (Section 8 Clarification)
A.
Don't have any? (Joke.) While I ordinarily have a very clear and well-defined policy (one letter grade penalty per day), I'm trying to be flexible this term. That said, I am only as flexible as the schedule itself is. If you fall behind, it will likely be catastrophic. So, for real, don't submit late work. If you end up sick and out of class, we'll work together to ameliorate the potential catastrophe.
Q.
Are there no exams?
A.
Affirmative. I believe in-class timed exams are the best and fairest way to assess your knowledge for this course. In the current circumstances I have no truly effective way to do that. Unfortunately, exams do provide an important opportunity for learning, yet it will be your responsibility to make sure you are regularly consolidating your knowledge. If you like, I would be happy to provide you with good problems from the textbook for practice.
Q.
What parts of the course have students historically found most interesting, and what have they most struggled with?
A.
Ooh, that's a cool question. I always ask what students enjoyed most about he course ... but those papers are locked up in my office on campus. I'd like to think the biggest struggles are with the software we use, rather than any concepts. I look forward to learning your answers to these questions.
Q.
Will we be using FastX for this class?
A.
Yes, that's the plan.
Q.
I was originally going to say no further questions, but I remembered I wanted to ask what steps should I take to get a tutor for this course.
A.
It s very early in the course, and I sense you might be having some trepidation. I admit it feels like we re moving fast, but I will also share with you that the class sessions are in fact exactly the same and at the same speed as in our fourteen week semester. (There s only fewer of them.) So take heart - you can do this, just like many students before you have. I encourage you to develop connections with those in the course and perhaps find ways you can work and study together. (The labs are collaborative, so you already have that as an advantage.)
There aren t generally individual tutors for courses above the 100-level intro sequence (CSC 151 and CSC 161). However, the mentor and I are available for copious amounts of office hours, so I hope you will avail yourself of us to ask lots of questions as they arise. I wouldn t be sad if you dropped by every single day!
Please keep me posted on how things are going for you.

2  About Me

Q.
What do you like to do for fun?
A.
I love cooking (especially barbecue and grilling - they are different! - but also many foods from around the world), being outdoors (fishing, hiking, camping, etc.), and traveling. I also read fiction extensively (I try to spend my last hour of the evening reading fiction.)
Q.
Have you taught your children how to code yet, and if not, do you plan on teaching them while they re young?
A.
Yes, we started playing Robot Turtles at age 4, and my 7yo is already programming in blocks languages (for his legos and Scratch, Jr.).
Q.
What s your view on bionic implants, specifically cybernetic eyes?
A.
Sounds hard, but it would be cool for the visually impaired. And game changing for those who wire in alternate spectral modalities (i.e., infrared, thermal, etc.). Mind blown.
Q.
I m interested in increasing course integrations for the Maker Lab and was wondering if you had any project ideas on how the Maker Lab could help enrich CS courses.
A.
None immediately come to mind, but I will let you know!
Q.
How did you end up at Grinnell?
A.
Briefly, I wanted to focus on teaching at least as much as I do on scholarship (research); Grinnell's application deadline was earliest among the places I applied, and they won the race by giving me an offer to work here first. I'm tremendously fortunate to belong to such a fantastic community.
Q.
This might be kind of mundane, but how do you want me to address you in emails? Professor Weinman, Jerod, Prof Weinman, Prof Jerod, something else?
A.
Either Professor/Prof. Weinman or Jerod, I suppose. Just Jerod is fine. Thanks for asking!
Q.
Favorite dinosaur
A.
Hm. Big thumbs up to Iguanodon.