CPSC 489/689: Computers, Education, and Literature

Spring Semester, 2001
Time and place: MWF 12:40 - 1:30 HRBB 126
Instructor: Dr. Frank Shipman
Office hours: HRBB 402B, Mon/Wed 3:00 - 4:00 pm, or by appointment

Course description

This class investigates potential and realized impact of computers in education, literacy, and the humanities. The computers and education topics covered include (1) computer applications for the traditional classroom, (2) computers and constuctivist pedagogy, (3) distance learning, and (4) intelligent tutoring systems. The computers and literacy topics covered include (1) effect of computers on reading and belief of information, (2) computerís impact on the author, reader, and the interaction between them, (3) computers and argumentation, and (4) interactive genres of literature.

These topics will be discussed at both a conceptual and tool level. By the end of the course, you will be able to look at an existing system or design a new system with an understanding of the impact it may have on education, literacy, communication, or community.


Students should have a basic knowledge of computing and the humanities, and the ability to program complex systems and be able to learn new software tools on their own. Ask instructor if you have any questions.

Reading materials

This course will focus around discussions of the readings. We will read three books as well as papers taken from a variety of conferences and journals concerning human-computer interaction, hypertext, computers and education, and computers and the humanities.

Page to Screen, edited by Ilana Snyder, book
Hamlet on the Holodeck, by Janet Murray, book
Cybertext, by Espen Aarseth, book

On-line materials: To supplement the readings, additional material will made available through the class web site.


for 689 students:                         for 489 students:
  Short assignments	20%                 Short assignments	30%
  Class participation	20%                 Class participation	25%
  Team project		40%                 Team project        45%
  Term paper            20%

Short assignments

There will be a number of assignments due in class. These assignments may require use of specific software outside of class time and will take the form of short essays, written answers to questions, and design documents. All material turned in should be printed using a computer printer or typed except when noted otherwise.

Homework late policy:
10% is deducted from your grade for every school day late up to a maximum of one week after the original due date.

Here is the VKB User's Manual

Class participation

Most class periods will include a discussion of reading materials. One student will be selected to present a brief (10-15 minute) overview of the material for each class and another student (or two) will be assigned to have discussion questions ready and lead discussion. All students are expected to have done the readings and be able to participate in discussions. Keep up with the readings so there will be no pop quizzes!


Students will form three-person teams and define a semester project or select one from a list of existing ideas. There will be three preliminary progress reports for the projects emphasizing particular phases of the interface design process:
(1) identifying a topic, determining cognitive and social issues, and determining an approach,
(2) creating an initial system design and mock-up, and
(3) instantiating the design in a prototype implementation.

The final project report (10-20 pages) will also require the design of an evaluation procedure for refining the resulting interface. The in-class presentations of project progress will be about 5 minutes long and the final presentation on the project will be approximately 15 minutes long and include all members of the team.

Project grades will be determined by both the instructorís review of the project and studentís description of their and other memberís work.

Programming for projects:
done in language and operating system of your choice on machines to which you have access.

Term paper

Each 689 student will select a topic on which to write a 10-15 page term paper. These papers are to describe the current state of practice and research with references to the current literature. Topics need to be approved by the instructor. Students should be careful to properly use quotation and citation for information from all sources.

489/689 Assignment 1:

Due in class on January 29

1. Write no more than three pages about the best educational computer application you have used. Describe why you selected this application as best. What was the topic you were learning? How did the system help you learn? How did the instructor (if there was one) include the software with other materials? How might you improve on the software and its use?

Important: All reports are to be printed on a word processor or typed (no handwritten assignments will be accepted). All writing should be the work of the student -- any text taken from other sources needs to be quoted and referenced. It is expected that students will correct grammar and spelling -- these are grounds to deduct from your grade. (i.e. Use a spelling checker and reread what you write before turning it in.)