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Math Education
Colloquium Series
@ Suffolk University
Boston



Celebrating Our 11th Year
of Teaching On-Line

Suffolk University is one of the major universities in Boston, featuring its internationally respected Law School, School of Management, and College of Arts and Sciences

Suffolk University is
fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

All Distance Calculus Courses
are offered through the
Mathematics &
Computer Science Department
at Suffolk University.

Visit Our
Distance Calculus
Sister Program


How The Course Works

The are two main differences between a lecture-based computer science course and Distance Computer Science:

  • No Lectures
    In a lecture-based computer science course, the lectures by the instructor are the cornerstone of the course. In Distance Computer Science, there are no "live" lectures.

    Instead, there are recorded lectures, where you watch the computer screen and listen to the instructor walk-through a set of topics, go over some techniques, etc. These screen movies are almost better than a "regular lecture" because you may skip over parts that seem too easy/basic for you, and move to the parts you really need to soak up. And, you can watch these interesting parts more than once - something you cannot do in a regular classroom!

  • Intensive Student-Instructor Communication
    In a lecture-based course, you have limited (if at all) communications with the instructor and/or teaching assistant. In Distance Computer Science, communication between the instructor and teaching assistant and student is the cornerstone of the course.
Assignments for Introduction To Computer Science:

In a typical Distance Computer Science course, you will have approximately 70 assignments to turn in. Often, you will turn each of these assignments in multiple times, in a system we refer to recursive homework .

The types of assignments include the following:

  • Textbook Reading
    True/False Reading Questions will help you read the text more carefully than you would normally.

  • Multimedia Help Movies (and T/F Quizzes)
    A lot of computer science is learned by watching someone do something (maybe multiple times), and then trying it yourself. To help you focus on these multimedia help movies, we have some True/False questions that go along with each one.

  • Lab Problems
    Various problems where you will be building an HTML and/or PHP webpages, and then turning these in electronically for instructor and/or teaching assistant review.

  • Quizzes
    Some on-line quizzes to help you focus on key concepts we are covering.

  • Final Term Project
    This project will be on a topic that you choose. A hobby, an academic interest, something from your major - all are possibilities. In consultation with the instructor, you will choose this topic, and create a series of webpages - a website - for this topic, that includes programming functionality from PHP and HTML.

  • When ready or when stuck, the student "hands-in" the URL/file they are working on to the instruction team using a webform. The instruction teams looks at, grades, and comments the URL/file, usually asking more questions of the student, seeking the student to achieve the desired expertise of the module.

    The "hand-in" and "get-back" of these notebooks can happen 2, 3, 4, 6, 9,... times for a single URL/file. Back and forth. Back and forth. Until the student has 100% understanding of the objectives of the module.

    About 50% of the communication between student and instructional team happens via these URLs/files. The other 50% of the communications happen via Instant Messenger/Chat in real-time.

    "Hey, Professor, I have a question on Lab #2, Question 3."

    "Sure, hand it in so I can see it, and we'll chat about it here."

    "I'm having troubles with problem (c). I keep getting a PHP error. "

    "Look on line #57. You need a ';' on the end of that line."

    "Ah. Got it. Now I'm getting another PHP error."

    "See if you can find the new problem. Looks like it is near Line 80."

    "Cool. Hold on."

    This example conversation could be happening at 10AM in the morning - 10AM for whom? the student may be in France, and the instructor in Boston. The exact time is up to "when the student and instructor connect." It might be over a Saturday afternoon, it might be on a Tuesday evening.

    If the connection does not happen on Chat on a particular day, then the communication happens during the "back-and-forth" of the notebook exchange. This is not in "real-time", but it is pretty good.

    After each module, the student will take a Quiz. This Quiz is made available when both the instructor and the student feel that the student has mastered the content in the module. In almost all cases, the Quiz is "aced" because the Quiz is not taken unless the instructor is satisfied as to the student's understanding. So Quizzes are usually "happy experiences!"

    At the end of the course, when all of the assigned modules have been completed, the student is given a Final Exam.

    The Final Exam is taken at the student's location, under supervision by an Exam Mentor that is jointly identified by the student and approved by the instructor. Usually the Exam Mentor is someone at the student's company or at the student's home institution, who agrees to proctor the Final Exam to the student.

    Although this Final Exam might sound scary, it really is not. The Final Exam is only administered when the instructor is confident and satisfied with the student's completion of the course materials. As is the case with the Quizzes, the Final Exam is usually a "happy experience" as well.

    Unlimited Time?

    Well, almost.

    You have 1 year to complete a Distance Computer Science course from the end of the semester of enrollment. So if you enrolled in the middle of the Fall term, you have 1 year to complete the course from the end of that particular term - by the end of the following Fall term.

    For most students, this is plenty of time, even figuring in taking longer to engage the course due to weaker math backgrounds, and/or figuring in time need for "taking a break" if one's job or career places special demands on you for a few months.

    Distance Computer Science is offered through the Mathematics and Computer Science Department
    at Suffolk University •41 Temple Street • Beacon Hill • Boston, Massachusetts 02114 USA

    Phone: 617.497.2096
    FAX: 617.497.2116
    [email protected]
    http://www.distancecompsci.com