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Building an online community

Inshallah, we will be in person all semester. But things will be weird, and we may do more or less asynchronously.

Programming isn’t the worst thing to learn and discuss during a pandemic, but it still will require a little more conscious effort at community-building than a normal classroom.

Website guidelines.

This course uses a static website (which you’re probably on right now) to maintain the syllabus. There will be changes in the course of the semester; please accustom yourself to checking the online site. If you prefer a paper syllabus, an up-to-date pdf will generally be available at [].

Slack guidelines.

Most communication for this course will take place on a dedicated slack channel. Slack is a workplace productivity tool, but I find it works better for this class than NYU courses. Plus, by signing on to an NYU-wide channel

A few rules:

  1. Think of slack as a space that replaces some classroom time and also the in-person actions before and after class. Feel free to post random links, advertisements for your Skypespeare production of “Winter’s Tale,” whatever.
  2. You’ll probably feel stupid for not understanding something in this semester. And online communications about issues can be brusque. Please be considerate of your peer’s feelings when communication with them, and I will to be with you. I promise to pretend everyone is pretending to be more obtuse than they actually are.
  3. Whenever you encounter problems executing code, post them to Slack. Don’t email me or send it to my private slack channel. Inside the classroom it’s always complicated in programming classes make one student’s problems into teachable moments for everyone without boring them–on slack, you can learn from other people’s problems without having to sit through explanations of what you already know, but only if you read it. I highly encourage you to help your peers there.
  4. Slack allows you to paste code verbatim. The trick is to surround it with three backticks on either side. Try to figure this out!
  5. Full confession. I sometimes get overwhelmed with e-mail. I swear not this semester, but with the pandemic and the public schools, I might be like that guy in the movie Airplane who starts off the movie with “I picked the wrong week to quit smoking” and escalates from their. But I just leave Slack open. So if you send me any personal issues over slack DM, it lets me prioritize students over others trying to reach me.

Keeping discussions together

All online platforms try to do all things. But they’re not equally good.

Please DO:

  1. Sign into Slack for classroom discussions.
  2. Download the Slack desktop app and keep it running during office hours and class times

Please DON’T:

  1. Use the Zoom chat channel. I know it’s there, but if someone’s trying to catch up asychronously, it’ll be a mess.

Code of conduct

Be good. Affirm people for who they are and how they wish be treated; don’t make people feel bad. Coding is often a toxic culture that exacerbates some of the worst inequalities in our culture; the goal here is to try to get a fresh start.