Letter to the Class

Letter to the Class

Here’s some intro information for CS 3240 for Spring 2021!

We (as in Prof. Mark Sherriff and Prof. Will McBurney) will be working together as your CS 3240 instruction team this coming semester and we are super excited for some of the stuff we have in store! We had a great time working together last semester (along with our awesome group of TAs!) and so we think that this spring will only get better!

We know you probably have a lot of questions about the upcoming semester, and while we are still working out a few changes and improvements from last semester, we can tell you some things about what 3240 is going to be like.

  1. CS 3240 is definitely classified as a “large class,” so we are going to be completely online the entire semester. You will have the same experience in the course no matter if you are on Grounds, in Charlottesville, or at home.

  2. The content of the course will be divided into weekly topics. Each week, there will be a set of prerecorded videos to watch (we created these last semester) and live sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The YouTube lectures and accompanying slides will be our primary form of “official content material,” as we will not have a textbook for the course that you need to purchase.

  3. On Tuesdays, we will introduce the material for the week (it’s good if you can watch the videos before Tuesday if possible) and do some Q&A. We also plan to have several guest speakers this semester on Tuesdays – mainly UVA alums that are now in industry doing development to come tell you about what it’s really like out there.

  4. Thursdays will be used for guided group activities. On these days, there will be a Guided Practice worksheet where you will work with a group of other students to answer questions, do some research, or create something related to the topic theme for that week.

  5. We will be alternating which one of us covers Tuesdays versus Thursdays (rather than sticking with our normal lecture time assignments), so everyone will get to work with both of us throughout the semester. You can attend either the 11 or the 2 - whichever works better for you. We won’t be taking attendance or anything at these times, so if you need to watch the video of these sessions later, that’s fine! (But PLEASE come to the live session when we have a guest speaker!) You will still have to complete any activities we do on Thursdays, but you can do them with a partner later if you don’t want or can’t do them live.

  6. Note that we have one “lab” section, which is our primary method for managing enrollment in the course. (As to why we are doing it this way… it’s a long story…) But you will have a regular team meeting with a TA on Mondays or Tuesdays every week, so understand that that will be scheduled in the future.

  7. As with every semester of 3240, a major component of the course will be working in teams to create a larger piece of software. We will be building web apps using python + django + postgres, which you will deploy on Heroku. But, you (the students) will get to decide what we will build! We will give you an overall theme and then you get to pitch ideas to the class for voting. Teams will get to choose their specific project from the top vote-getters. The theme for Spring 2021 is “Once COVID is over and we are back on Grounds, every student coming back will definitely need this app!”

We have a lot more information to get to you and we will do so as soon as we can! We are getting the website ready, along with some other tools we’ll be using for communication (like Discord). But if you have any questions, feel free to email us! There’s also a good chance that one or both of us will do some streaming on Twitch between now and the start of classes, so you could stop by there as well!

Looking forward to getting back to work with you all!


/Sherriff and McBurney

*** Sherriff’s YouTube channel is http://youtube.com/c/marksherriff and he streams Hearthstone from time to time on Twitch at http://twitch.tv/caelumcv

*** McBurney’s YouTube channel is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJJxSi_4C4b1CIm1-wbsvGA and he has been streaming his CS 2110 lectures on Twitch at http://twitch.tv/prof_mcburney

Prof. Sherriff