Introduction – Welcome to CSCI 1301!

May 21, 2022 (04:25:15 PM)

For this first lab, we would like to discuss three important topics for you to succeed in this class.

  1. How to access the material and navigate our resources,
  2. What to read first,
  3. How to get help.

As you may have noted, the list of topics was already included a first time below the title: we generally try to include a table of contents and summary, along with numerous links, to make our guides easy to navigate.

Before you get started with this lab, please complete the short survey we have designed for you on LMS (formerly D2L), on the CSCI 1301 page, under Assessments, then Surveys. This brief series of questions are anonymous and not graded: they are purely for statistical purposes, and to make sure that this class suits your need. You can read more about why we survey our students.

What to Read First

Your instructor will be your primary guide when it comes to the order in which you need to read the material hosted here. However, you should feel free to explore our other useful documents that contain information you may be interested in fairly early in the semester (like…today!). Typically, the Installing Software page should probably be one of the first documents you read: it explains in detail how to set-up your computer to be able to execute, compile and study the code we will be discussing in class and lab, and how to access and use the computer labs.

Reading instructions is not always easy. You should try to always understand what is crucial, what is important, and what is optional. Although you may have overlooked that subtlety, the previous paragraph actually meant

Go read Installing Software as soon as possible, you want to be ready for the next lab!

This is particularly true for labs asking for you to set things up: there is little to gain in postponing that step, and if you are facing difficulties, it is better to ask earlier rather than later!

Some of the resources on this website are still in flux: the instructors are working hard to construct the material from scratch, and we are sorry if at times you feel that you are going through dry runs. On the flip side, remember that you did not have to buy a textbook, and that these resources will be tailored for your use and course of study here at Augusta University: among many other specificities, like using C#, we are making sure that security and other cyber-related issues are regularly discussed!

You should also remember that the internet is (also!) a wonderful place where many useful resources are shared. For instance, this guide on open source is an excellent place to understand what open source is and why it matters. Our resources are supported by Affordable Learning Georgia, which strives to share good, accessible and free (as in “free coffee” and as in “free speech”) Open Educational Resources (OER) to students in Georgia: reading their “About” page may help you understand the importance and benefits of developing resources here, for you!

What exactly is implied by “free” as in “free coffee” and as in “free speech”? Try to understand what “free software” means: is it like coffee (some people say “beer”) or like speech? Are the resources presented here free as in coffee, as in speech, or both? And what about your computer’s operating system? Your media player? Try to look at the licenses of some of the software you use on a daily basis. You may realize that some important software products are actually open source, and host their code on e.g. github!

How to Get Help

This may be the most important aspect of this lab: understanding when to get help, and how to obtain it, is critical in succeeding in your studies (be it in this class or other classes!). Your instructor should be your first point of contact for any question regarding the content of this class, but many other resources are available, through the University, for this class, or through clubs. Also, understanding how to ask is extremely important, and we will briefly discuss it.

At Augusta University

Some resources are available free of charge for all students:

For this Class

Again, your instructor should be your first point of contact. Make sure you have their email address, and understand their preferred means of communication: is it through LMS (formerly D2L), Teams, their office hours?

Secondly, if your class has an Undergraduate Course Assistant (UCA), this may be the right person to ask all kind of questions: they went through CSCI 1301 and have been selected based on their capacities, grades, interest and skills, so they will be able at the same time to relate to your struggle and describe the program better than anyone else!

There is also a way of reaching all the instructors of CSCI 1301 at once, and it is by commenting on this site’s pages, as we explain below.

Commenting Using a Github Account

On the website, if you look below, you will see a box where you can comment. This will require that you create a Github account, which is free and may serve multiple purpose if you intend to study, use, or contribute to open-source projects. The comment can use the markdown syntax (exactly like this resource!), which is also used on websites like stackoverflow and extremely popular!

If you feel like it, create an account on Github and leave a comment! We’ll be happy to read from you!

Through the ACM Club

The Augusta University chapter of the A.C.M is one of the university’s best resources for Computer Science, Information Technology and Cyber Security students. It provides a platform to network with other students in similar majors; presenting countless opportunities to expand not only the people you know, but also a fantastic place to learn and ask questions.

How to Ask a Question?

It may seems silly, but asking a question “the right way” may not always be easy.

  1. Once you’ve identified your issue, try again from scratch to see if you missed a point.
  2. Go over the instructions, and look in our resources for some meaningful keywords.
  3. Think about how you can describe your issue, what is the shortest route to reproduce it.
  4. If you are still facing difficulties, be detailed and clear about what you think went wrong: if the question is related to computers, specify which operating system, what you have tried, the exact nature of the error message, etc. Screenshots are not always the right way to convey your question: try to be descriptive, and explain what you tried. If you want to refer to a particular lab or lecture, open the corresponding page, look for the closest title, hover over it, and you should see a “§” symbol appears: click on it, you can now share that link so that your interlocutor knows precisely what you are talking about!

And, remember: your instructor knows that you are a student and here to learn, so you should never feel intimidated or assume that everyone knows better than you: many students struggle in this class at times, and you could actually do them all a favor by asking your instructor to go over a particular dimension that they may have overlooked or explained poorly!

You may have noticed that multiple links point to Can you check if the content and the software platform of wikihow are free (as in coffee or speech)?

  1. Even this sentence will be displayed, even if it makes no sense to discuss the links in the footer of a pdf file, which doesn’t have them!↩︎