E6998-004 — Topics in CSCW:
Media Spaces and Internet Communities
Class location: Engineering Terrace 259
Thursdays, 6:50 pm - 8:40 pm
Course Web Page: www.webcollab.com/columbia.
Instructors: Alison Lee and Catalina Danis
Office hours: Thursdays 4:30-5:30 in 460 CS.
If you are unable to
attend office hours, please make an alternative appointment through email.
Teaching Assistant: Qi Xu, Shapiro 721, 939-7117, (qxu"@"cs.columbia.edu).
Office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 5:00-6:00 in Shapiro 721.
CS Prerequisites and Degree Requirements
Any CS course numbered in the W41xx or E61xx series, or permission of
instructor. Java programming experience and familiarity with Web and Web
technologies assumed. This course fulfills the
Collaborative Work elective area for the PhD program.
Non-CS Graduate Prerequisites
Non-CS graduate students are welcomed and strongly encouraged to take
this course. Non-CS graduate student interested in studying the social,
behavioral, design, and/or applications development aspects of
collaboration technologies, you must contact Alison Lee
Danis first. After securing the instructor's permission, a non-CS
graduate student may register for 3 points of COMS W4901 Section 014
Projects in Computer Science (for graduate students). This course is
not open to undergraduate students. Familiarity with World Wide Web is
Please note that different requirements exist for E6998 and
W4901 students. Course work consists of the following elements:
All readings will be drawn from materials available either publicly on
the Web or distributed in paper form one week before the associated class.
All students are responsible for the "Assigned Readings" listed in the
syllabus. With the exception of the first class, materials must be read
before attending the class and a 1-2 paragraph write-up for each
reading must be submitted.
All students will complete a weekly write-up for each of the
assigned readings. Each write-up consists of no more than 2 paragraphs
and no more than 400 words. The goal of these writeups is to have the
students read and think about the readings. These writeups are not
summaries of the papers. For each reading, students can pick one question
from the following list or formulate their own. State this question as a
title in the writeup for the particular reading. Then, answer the question
in no more than 2 paragraphs and no more than 400 words.
These writeups must be submitted to each student's own BSCW workspace
by 8 AM on Thursday morning — on the day of the class during which
the readings will be discussed. If the timestamp on this file reads later
than 8 AM, the writeups are considered late and a grade of 0 will be given
(with NO EXCEPTIONS).
Possible Writeup Questions:
- What are the two or three thought-provoking issues raised by the
paper and explain your choice?
- How is the paper relevant to your project?
- Critique the workplace study used in the paper in terms of its
effectiveness in answering the research question set out by the authors.
- What are the potential social consequences (e.g., privacy, user
acceptance, abuse, adaptation beyond intended use) of introducing the
system described in the paper to a real-world setting?
This course work is worth 20% for both E6998 and W4901 students.
A research or design with programming project is required for E6998
students. The project must be done in a multi-person group, with a minimum
of 3 people. The project will be divided into several
milestones due at
particular points during the semester. Students may select from:
A list of possible semester projects can be obtained from the
instructors. Alternatively, students may propose a specific, well-defined
project. All projects and the composition of the group must be approved
in advance by one of the instructors.
This course work is worth 40% for E6998 students.
W4901 students must "consult" on a group project and write a term
paper. They will interact with E6998 students in a consulting role to
assist in studying, designing, and developing useful application projects.
This role involves participation as "methodologists", "designers", and/or
"end users" for the projects.
The term paper consist of three components:
- Place the group project in the CSCW context by reviewing and
discussing the relevant literature associated with the chosen group
- Critique the group project from the standpoint of its contribution
to the body of CSCW knowledge/systems.
- Discuss the consultant's role in the group project.
The term paper will also have associated with it, several
at prescribed points during the semester.
This course work is worth 60% for W4901 students.
W4901 students must complete two small assignments related to BSCW (the
course shared workspace environment).
This course work is worth 10% for W4901 students.
Two short quizzes will be given at the end of class periods, after
discussion for that day ends. These are intended only for E6998 students
and are worth 30%.
No examination will be given during "e;finals week"e;. (The registrar
may still schedule one; ignore this.)
Lectures will be given in seminar style, with active student
participation expected. Class attendance is required. Attendance
will be taken at every lecture except for the first. Any absence should be
discussed with the instructor, in advance when possible.
This course work is worth 10% for both E6998 and W4901 students.
In line with the topic of the course, cooperative work, we will be
using a Web-based tool from the GMD called BSCW (Basic Support for Cooperative Work)
to host a shared workspace for fostering and supporting communication of
public interest to students and instructors outside of class. Examples of
types of interactions are:
The course BSCW
system is accessible to registered students (Need the URL).
- Class news,
- Class assignments,
- Course notes,
- Discussions of relevance to the class as a whole (e.g., logistics
technical content, readings, projects, term papers),
- Discussions among project group members and consultants,
- Shared work of project group members and consultants,
- Private workspace for each student's work.
You can address personal questions (e.g., about grading or special
concerns) regarding course work to the TA and other matters to the
instructors through email. We will try to answer email within 24 hours.
Phone calls and drop-in visits are limited to office hours. If you are
unable to attend office hours, please make an alternative appointment
Computer accounts are required to:
- Access and post to the course BSCW system,
- Do production work if you elect to do a programming group project.
Students may use any computer accounts they like, provided they can:
- Read and post to discussions in the course BSCW,
- Access the course BSCW system to share work among project group
members and consultants,
- Access the course BSCW system to submit individual course work in
each student's individual workspace,
- Receive email regularly.
If don't have such a computer account, CLIC laboratory accounts are
available for $45 to students taking this course. Details are available at