Learning from Alumni (CSC 295 2013F) : Home

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Welcome to the Fall 2013 session of Grinnell College's CSC 295, a special topics course entitled Thinking Beyond Grinnell - Learning from Alumni. In this course, we will meet (often virtually) with alumni with careers related to computer science who will talk about their life and career paths, and will provide advice for students on things to learn and things to do. You can read the offical blurb for more details.

The focus of the class is the visits by alumni. While some of these visits will involve alumni coming directly to campus, the majority of the visits will be “virtual”, via Skype or some other teleconferencing system.

The Web site for the course is http://www.cs.grinnell.edu/~rebelsky/Courses/CSC295/2013F/ You can find all sorts of interesting things on the course web, and I'd encourage you to look there.

This is an experimental course. Among other things, this means that I expect to be updating the syllabus as the semester goes on.


Meets: Thursdays, 2:15-4:05 p.m., Science 3821.

Instructor: Samuel A. Rebelsky, Science 3824. 269-4410 (office). 236-7445 (home). Office hours: Monday, 2:15-4:05; Tuesday, 2:15-2:45; Wednesday: 2:15-2:45; Friday, 3:15-4:05. I tend to follow an open door policy: Feel free to stop by when my door is open or to make an appointment for another time. Please do not call my house before 7 a.m. or after 10 p.m.


This course is offered for one credit and is graded as S/D/F. All students who take the course are expected to

  • attend at least eleven of the thirteen class meetings;
  • do all assigned readings;
  • facilitiate (or co-facilitate) approximately three physical or virtual alumni visits (the precise number depends on the number of students enrolled);
  • write a short reflective piece on each alumni visit; and
  • write a short reflective piece at the end of the semester.

Facilitating Visits

The students in this course are responsible for hosting and facilitating the visits of the alumni. (Practice with organizing visits is one of the learning goals of the course.) At the start of the semester, students will sign up in groups to facilitate alumni visits (see the schedule for details of particular visits).

As the facilitator for a visit, you are expected to work with the alumnus or alumna on the following in advance of the visit.

  • Develop a structure for their visit. While most visits will involve a moderate-length lecture (say 45 minutes) and a follow-up question and answer (or discussion) session, some alumni might want to consider other approaches.
  • Identify any resources that they would like students to read or explore before their talk.
  • Write a short biographical sketch that can be distributed to the class before the class meeting.
  • Write a short abstract for the lecture that can be distributed to the class before the class meeting.
  • Work out any technological issues for their visit. For in-class visits, that means making sure that we have the resources (Internet, projection, etc.) that they need for the visit. For remote visits, that means making sure that Skype (or whatever communication system they suggest) works appropriately.

Your work also continues into the class session. During the class session you facilitate, you should do the following:

  • Arrive early to set up technologies.
  • Introduce the alumna or alumnus.
  • Continue to monitor technologies during class.
  • Facilitate discussion.
  • Be ready to ask a wide variety of questions.

Textbooks and Other Readings


Copyright (c) 2013 Samuel A. Rebelsky.

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