TEC154 2010S The Evolution of Technology

FAQ

Why did Sam give this assignment?
Evidence suggests that students are more likely to read the syllabus if they have to answer questions about it. I also believe that having used the site, you will be more likely to go back to it when you have questions.
Are laptops allowed in class as a note taking medium?
Yes
What are the policies on bottled water and other food/drink (it is an 8am class)?
You may certainly bring food and water, as long as it's not a distraction.
The course syllabus is not currently loaded on your website (or this computer isnt able to access the link).
That issue has been fixed.
How does one do exceptional work?
It's a lot like "technology". It's hard to describe, but I know it when I see it. In general, exceptional work is the exception - it shows an insight or an approach that goes beyond the norm.
I am quite shy, and thus do not talk a lot in class, but I am paying attention. Also, you can speak a lot faster than I can process the idea you are trying to get across and come up with my own thoughts. What should I do?
If I call on you, feel free to say either (a) "Give me a minute to think about it" or (b) "I can't answer that right now, please come back to me later". Alternately arrange with me in advance to be the first person to talk about a particular subject.
What technologies are we going to be learning about?
It's still a bit up in the air. The plans for visiting discussions of technology include: Stone tools, writing, recorded music, musical instruments, solar energy, digital art, biotechnology, bridges, and the Web.
I could not find a full definition of the term "EBoard". What do you mean by "EBoard"?
I had not intended to have a full definition, just the link to the EBoards section. In general, the EBoards are my attempt to provide an electronic blackboard for the class. The EBoards should give you a partial record of what we did in many class sessions. (I am unlikely to have EBoards for classes in which we have guest lecturers.)
Will we really have the final exam during finals week?
That's the plan. Let's see ... the registrar says that our final is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 20.
My biggest concern is that the class is quite large, and I have the tendency to simply sit back and listen to the conversation going on in class, rather than participate in it myself. I realize that class participation will be 10% of my grade. Therefore, I need to make a conscious effort to participate.
I will also do my best to call on folks who don't participate.
I am concerned that the course will take a lot of time, particularly the readings for the course.
I do my best to keep the workload reasonable. Let me know if you find that it is not. While I do expect you to do reading before each class, I think you'll find that the total amount is not too bad (usually thirty pages or less, although a bit more when we get to the single-author books).
Will you describe the final paper in more detail?
The paper will be of moderate length (tentatively 10 pages, double spaced, 10 pt, normal margins) about a technology of your choice, exploring that technology through the various "lenses" we develop throughout the semester. It will demonstrate your understanding of those lenses and show that you can apply them well in a new context.
Can you tell me more about the exams?
I'll talk more about those when we get closer to each exam. I tend to break the exam into two parts: In part one, you have the opportunity to demonstrate that you understood the key concepts of the course (e.g., what criteria Berry might use to evaluate a new technology). In part two, you have the opportunity to demonstrate that you can apply these concepts, either by considering them in the context of a new technology, or by comparing them to each other. (This description is not exact, since I'll also expect that you'll know some things about the particular technologies we've studied.)
My biggest concern about this course is that I won't understand some of the actual technical aspects of the material we cover.
There shouldn't be anything that technical. If you find that something is too technical, please ask.
It seems very odd to be submitting questions at 8 p.m. Why that time?
Because I want to have a chance to read over them before class time. (I won't always succeed, but I'd like the opportunity.)
I guess the only question I have that isn't answered in the website is what are the dates for the major assignments and what do they entail?
The major assignments are the mid-semester examination, which takes place on week seven, the final examination, which takes place whenever the registrar schedules it, and a variety of steps in the major paper, which will be after spring break. I'll give you the particular dates before spring break.
Do you have a policy about extensions?
Hmmm ... I feel like that's in the stuff you read. Anyway, I strongly prefer that you get work in on time. However, I understand that that's not always possible. I prefer that you arrange for extensions in advance, and with a good reason. I will deal with the need for last-minute extensions (cause, for example, by health issue or family/friend emergencies) when necessary.
How long should questions on the readings be? Are you looking for a paragraph for each question or a page for each question?
Each homework reading questions should general be a sentence or two. A page is way too long.
I wonder if this will be one of the "surprisingly ungraded" assignments.
Well, it's being graded, just on a Plus/Check/Minus scale.

Disclaimer: I usually create these pages on the fly, which means that I rarely proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details. It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.

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Samuel A. Rebelsky, rebelsky@grinnell.edu

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