Computer Literacy
CSC 101, Fall 1996
Merrie Bergmann
Ileana Streinu
Dominique Thiébaut

Course Description & Syllabus

1. Introduction 7. Grading Policy
2. Class Times 8. Professors
3. Textbooks 9. Teaching Assistants
4. Course Structure 10. Lab Assistant
5. Lateness Policy 11. Office/Lab Hours
6. Grading 12. Tentative schedule


This course is designed to expose students to a broad view of computer science, by examining computers at different levels: from hardware and theory to history and societal impact. This is not a programming course; CSC 111 is an introduction to programming. The lecture material will be supplemented by weekly labs. There are three primary aims to the course:

(1) Learn various computer skills: Word, Excel, and HyperCard, generally familiarity with Macs and PCs(Windows 95), email and basic understanding of the Internet, including the World Wide Web. For the first time this semester, we will use both Macs and PCs in this class. We will also use the UNIX machine sophia, but mainly for email and for posting your own web page. The course is not primarily directed towards the attainment of skills; rather these are picked up along the way.

(2) Understand how a computer works. Few computer literacy courses attempt this, but we consider it a major component of the course. It is an intellectual challenge to understand how the intricate components of a computer fit together to produce the behavior we see. We will discuss the "machine language" used by computers, the components of the hardware, and how it all fits together. We will also discuss the low-level workings of computer networks.

(3) Gain a feel for what computers can and cannot do. We will discuss artificial intelligence, whether computers can learn or be creative, what is an algorithm and a computer program, what is the underlying structure of a computer network, and if time allows, we will talk about computer crime, and the impact of computers on society.

No prior experience with computers is assumed. There are no prerequisites, mathematical or otherwise.

Class Times

Lecture: Tuesdays 9:00 - 10:20, Seelye 201

Lecture: Thursdays 9:00 - 10:20, Seelye 201

Lab sec A: Thursdays 1:00 - 2:50, Seelye 411 or Burton B01 and B17

Lab sec B: Thursdays 3:00 - 4:50, Seelye 411 or Burton B01 and B17

Lab sec C: Thursdays 7:30 - 9:30, Seelye 411 or Burton B01 and B17


Helene G. Kershner, Computer Literacy, (Second Edition), D.C. Heath & Co.

K. Pitter and Robert Minato, Every student's guide to the World Wide Web, McGraw Hill 1996

Each student needs two blank high-density (HD) diskettes. They may be purchased at the Grécourt Book Store.

Course Structure

The class will meet twice a week for lectures, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and once a week for a lab (on Thursday). Lectures will be held in Seelye 201. There are three lab sections, all meeting in Seelye 411 during the first month. In October we will move into the newly upgraded PC labs in Burton basement, rooms B01 and B17.

There will be 10 assignments, many an extension of the lab in some way. The assignment will be distributed at the Thursday lab, and will be due by Wednesday at midnight, the following week. Some students will find it possible to complete some of the assignment during the lab period in which it is distributed.

The labs are to be done with a partner, but for the homeworks we expect individual work. Each lab requires something to be turned in the following Wednesday, when the homework is also turned in. Both labs and homeworks usually will be turned in electronically. The lab and homework are given a single letter grade.

There will be two written in-class quizzes, Oct. 3rd and Oct. 31st, and a self-scheduled final exam (December 16-19).

Lateness Policy

Everyone is granted three free "late days," which may be used in increments of whole days. Assignments handed in after the late days are exhausted are subject to a grading penalty proportional to lateness (one letter grade per day; weekend = 1 day). Extra late days will be granted only with a Dean's excuse.


Homework (60%); Quiz 1 (10%); Quiz 2 (10%); Final (20%)

Grading Policy

A Exceptional: highly creative, perfect technical skills in all hwk and lab work, excellent class attendence.
A- Outstanding: perfect technical skills, creative.
B+ Very good: good technical skills, but makes occasional mistakes; shows creativity.
B Good: good technical skills with occasional mistakes; average quality of work.
B- Good, but frequent mistakes, average quality of work.
C+ Modest technical skills, average quality of work.
C Modest technical skills, modest quality of work.
C- Low technical skills, modest quality, but did the work and attended the classes.
F Fail: missed many classes/homeworks/labs/exams, didn't show any interest in the class.


Ileana Streinu : course coordinator

Office: McConnell 210

Phone: x3827



Merrie Bergmann
Dominique Thiébaut

Teaching Assistants

Berit Oskey, Katie Moriarty, Maureen Murray, Heather Alef, Diana Calderazzo, and Laura Morris

Lab Assistant

Gunnar Blix

Office/Lab hours (subject to weekly adjustment)

When Who Where
Sun 7-10 TAsSeelye 411
Mon 7-10 TAsSeelye 411
Tues 7-10 TAsSeelye 411
Tues 10:20 - 11:30 Ileana Seelye 201, McConnell 210
Wed 7-10 TAsSeelye 411
Thurs 10:20 -11:30 Ileana Seelye 201, McConnell 210

Tentative schedule

Go to the class Home Page

Last updated on September 1, 1996.