OMS CS6460: Educational Technology — Spring 2020

This page provides information about the Georgia Tech OMS CS6460 class on Educational Technology relevant only to the Spring 2020 semester. Note that this page is subject to change at any time. The Spring 2020 semester of the OMS CS6460 class will begin on January 6, 2020. Below, find the course’s calendar, grading criteria, and other information. For more complete information about the course’s requirements and learning objectives, please see the general CS6460 page.

To help with navigation, here are some of the links you’ll be using frequently in this course:

Course Calendar At-A-Glance

Below is the calendar for the Spring 2020 OMS CS6460 class. Note that assignment due dates are all Sundays at 11:59PM Anywhere on Earth time. We recommend changing your time zone in Canvas to show the due date in your local time. For the complete course calendar, please see the Full Course Calendar.

Week #Week OfDeliverableAssignment Due Date
101/06/2020Introductions, Start-of-Course Survey01/12/2020
201/13/2020Assignment 1, Peer Feedback01/19/2020
301/20/2020Assignment 2, Peer Feedback01/26/2020
401/27/2020Assignment 3, Peer Feedback02/02/2020
502/03/2020Peer Feedback, Quarter-Course Survey02/09/2020
602/10/2020Qualifier Question02/16/2020
702/17/2020Project Proposal, Peer Feedback02/23/2020
802/24/2020Weekly Status Check 1, Peer Feedback03/01/2020
903/02/2020Weekly Status Check 2, Mid-Course Survey03/08/2020
1003/09/2020Weekly Status Check 3, Intermediate Milestone 103/15/2020
1103/16/2020Weekly Status Check 4, Peer Feedback03/22/2020
1203/23/2020Weekly Status Check 503/29/2020
1303/30/2020Weekly Status Check 6, Intermediate Milestone 204/05/2020
1404/07/2020Weekly Status Check 7, Peer Feedback04/12/2020
1504/14/2020Weekly Status Check 804/19/2020
1604/21/2020Project, Presentation, Paper04/26/2020
1704/28/2020End-of-Course Survey, CIOS Survey, Peer Feedback05/03/2020

Course Assessments

Below are the various assessments in this course, as well as the relative importance attached to each. Note that we expect all students in this course to enter with enthusiasm and an earnest desire to contribute to both the course and the field, not simply a desire to get a grade and move on. Additionally, we expect that the projects in the course will be extremely different, and it will not be possible to create any single rubric that can apply to every student’s work. As such, grading typically will be very general. Consistency is instead supplied by the structure of the course: every student should resubmit any subpar work where permissible, secure their mentor’s agreement on their proposal, and complete weekly status checks to adjust expectations and agree on deviations from the proposal. Historically, any student who has not received an A has not fulfilled those three obligations.

We assess all assignments on a 11-point scale, 0-10. These grades correspond to how close the assignment came to meeting the expectations of the assessment: 10 is “exceeds expectations”, 9 is “meets expectations”, 8 is “almost meets expectations”, and so on. If a student receives a grade below 9 on any assignment (excluding milestones and the final project deliverables), they may resubmit the assignment up to one week after the grade is received. Resubmissions may receive up to a 9.

Final grades will be calculated as an average of all individual grade components, weighted according to the percentages below. Students receiving a final average of 90 or above will receive an A; of 80 to 90 will receive a B; of 70 to 80 will receive a C; of 60 to 70 will receive a D; and of below 60 will receive an F. There is no curve. It is intentionally possible for every student in the class to receive an A.

Written Assignments (15%)

The first five weeks of the semester, you will complete three written assignments. These serve two purposes: they show your overall progress toward settling on an idea to pursue for your project, and they train you on some of the specific skills you’ll need to execute the remaining assignments in the course. By the time you reach the end of these assignments, you’ll have selected either the research, development, or content track, and you’ll have a high-level idea of your project. Each assignment is worth an equal portion of this 15%. For a complete description of the written assignments, see the pages dedicated to assignment 1, assignment 2 and, assignment 3.

Qualifier Question (10%)

Once you have explored and identified a general project area you would like to emphasize, your mentor will pose to you a targeted question about the chosen community. Your answer to this targeted question should reflect your understanding of the community, your ability to reason about the community, and your understanding of the broader issues facing the community. This question is where you should demonstrate your ability to converse in this community; therefore, your answer to this question is expected to be more polished and academic. You should certainly include citations to related work, and you should generally avoid speaking in first-person. For a complete description of the qualifier question, see the dedicated qualifier question page.

Project Proposal (10%)

After completing the first portion of the class, you will propose your project, either individually or in a group. You should lay out a broad description of the motivating principles and objectives of the project, a clear statement of what work will be done, a week-by-week plan for completing that work (including separating individuals’ responsibilities in the case of group projects), a description of the intermediate milestones to be delivered, and a description of the ultimate contribution that will be delivered. Your mentor will then work with you to scope your proposal, address any potential issues, ensure the feasibility of the project plan, and ultimately approve your proposal. Because your proposal is personal to the work you plan to do, writing in first-person is acceptable; however, it should be polished and academic, including references to related research. For a complete description of the project proposal, see its dedicated page.

Project Weekly Status Checks (5%)

Each week, you will submit a short, individual status check. If you are in a group, each member of the group will submit their own status check. The purpose of the status check is to ensure progress is being made on a weekly basis in accordance with the plan outlined in the proposal, to identify early on if group members are not fulfilling their roles, and to recover if unexpected obstacles arise. For a complete description of the weekly status checks, see their dedicated page.

Intermediate Milestones (10%)

While working on your project, you will deliver two intermediate video milestones, one three weeks into the project and one six weeks into the project. These intermediate milestones serve two purposes: one, they are to demonstrate to your mentor the progress you are making, and two, they are to give you the opportunity to receive feedback from your peers. Both milestones should be videos including narration: you should show off the progress you’ve made and ask for what feedback you need. In addition to the video, you are welcome to include survey drafts, experimental plans, wireframes, etc. on which you would like feedback, but the primary focus of the milestone should be your video presentation. For a complete description of the intermediate milestones, click see their dedicated page.

Final Project (20%), Paper (10%), and Presentation (5%)

At the end of the semester, you or your group will deliver three things: the project itself, a presentation of the project, and a paper. The nature of the deliverable will differ based on your project. If you select the research track, the deliverable will be the research instruments, data, and analysis. If you select the development track, the deliverable will be the working tool itself. If you select the content track, the deliverable would be the content that you developed. The presentation is meant to present the project to your classmates and, if you agree, to future students in the class. The paper is meant to present the project to potential conferences, journals, or investors, if you choose to use it that way.

The three components of the final project are not weighted evenly; the final project itself counts for 20% of your final grade; the final paper counts for 10%; and the final presentation count for 5%. For a complete description of the final project and its two accompanying deliverables, the dedicated pages for the project, paper, and presentation.

Participation (15%)

Because this course is driven by the community of students, participation is required and assessed explicitly. Participation can come in many forms: interacting and posting on Piazza; contributing new articles and information to the class library; completing class surveys; completing Peer Feedback tasks; participating in conversations via other tools; participating in your classmates’ experiments and beta tests; and more. Generally, participation is simply anything you do to make the class better for everyone else. Participation will be evaluated according to a point system described on the Class Participation assignment page. For a complete description of the participation policy, see its dedicated page.

Course Policies

The following policies are binding for this course.


We have an incredible team of mentors helping out with this course. However, all our mentors are busy professionals with jobs, families, and OMS classes of their own. Each mentor will be assigned roughly 20 students, and each student should expect to effectively receive around 30 minutes of dedicated mentor time each week for the duration of the semester. This time includes time spent reading assignments and writing feedback. Because of this, we ask that you be respectful and efficient with mentors’ time.

Most importantly, note that with a few clearly-defined exceptions (providing the qualifier question, approving the project proposal), nothing you do in this class is dependent on the mentors. If absence of feedback or communication with your mentor becomes an issue, that should not be considered an excuse not to complete any assigned work. It will be taken under consideration with regard to the quality of your work, but waiting on feedback is not an excuse to fail to move forward.

Finally, there may be times when we need to shift mentors around. For example, if you get together with a few other students for a group project, we’ll rearrange those partnerships so that one mentor can work with everyone on that project. Or, if a person’s interests change and end up aligning very closely with a different mentor, we may move people around then as well. Finally, if drops or anything result in the load being very imbalanced between mentors, we may make switches then. We don’t anticipate issues here, but we believe it’s better to set these expectations in advance than to have to write policies governing these things later.

Official Course Communication

You are responsible for knowing the following information:

  1. Anything posted to this syllabus (including the pages linked from here, such as the general course landing page).
  2. Anything emailed directly to you by the teaching team (including announcements via Piazza or Canvas), 24 hours after receiving such an email.

Generally speaking, we will post announcements via Canvas and cross-post their content to Piazza; you should thus ensure that your Canvas settings are such that you receive these announcements promptly, ideally via email (in addition to other mechanisms if you’d like). Georgia Tech generally recommends students to check their Georgia Tech email once every 24 hours. So, if an announcement or message is time sensitive, you will not be responsible for the contents of the announcement until 24 hours after it has been sent.

We generally prefer to handle communication via Piazza to help with collaboration among the teaching team, but we understand Piazza is not ideal for having information “pushed” to you. We may contact you via a private Piazza post instead of an email, but if we do so, we will choose to send email notifications immediately, bypassing your individual settings, in order to ensure you’re alerted. As such, this type of communication will also fall under #2 above.

Note that this means you won’t be responsible for knowing information communicated in several other methods we’ll be using. You aren’t responsible for knowing anything posted to Piazza that isn’t linked from an official announcement. You aren’t responsible for anything said in Slack or any other third-party sites we may sometimes use to communicate with students. You don’t need to worry about missing critical information so long as you keep up with your email and understand the documents on this web site. This also applies in reverse: we do not monitor our Canvas message boxes and we may not respond to direct emails. If you need to get in touch with the course staff, please post privately to Piazza (either to all Instructors or to an instructor individually) and tag the instructor in the relevant post.

Office Hours

This class uses the chat tool Slack for its office hours. Slack is a popular team communication chat tool that allows conversations in public rooms, private rooms, and private messages. You can sign up for the student Slack community at Slack office hours are not scheduled at specific times; instead, the instructor is usually available on Slack throughout the day and responds quickly. In general, you may ask questions in the public #office-hours room, or message him directly. When necessary, Hangouts, Skype calls, or other forms of conversation can be launched from within Slack. If you are not comfortable signing up for Slack to participate in Slack office hours, you may also feel free to email or post privately on Piazza to set up a chat via an alternate technology.

Late Work

Although this class is largely self-directed, deadlines and weekly routines help our mentors spend the majority of their time interacting with students and a minority handling administrative and organizational tasks. Therefore, we cannot accept late work. We have made the descriptions of all assignments available on the first day of class so that if there are expected interruptions (business trips, family vacations, etc.), you can complete the work ahead of time. In proposing your project, you are welcome to include external constraints in the planning process and build in time where you know you won’t be able to work on your project. Of course, emergencies (illness, family emergencies) will happen. In those instances, please contact the Dean of Students office. The Dean of Students is equipped to verify emergencies and pass confirmation on to all your classes. For consistency, we ask all students to do this in the event of an emergency.

Academic Honesty

All students in the class are expected to know and abide by the Georgia Tech Academic Honor Code. Specifically for us, the following academic honesty policies are binding for this class:

  • In written essays, all sources are expected to be cited according to APA style, both in-line with quotation marks and at the end of the document. You should consult the Purdue OWL Research and Citation Resources for proper citation practices, especially the following pages: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing, Paraphrasing, Avoiding Plagiarism Overview, Is It Plagiarism?, and Safe Practices. You should also consult our dedicated pages on how to use citations and how to avoid plagiarism.
  • Any non-original figures must similarly be cited. If you borrow an existing figure and modify it, you must still cite the original figure. It must be obvious what portion of your submission is your own creation.
  • Any programming resources, such as existing code or libraries, must be cited as well. Include a link to the original source of the code and clearly note where the copied code begins and ends (for example, with /* BEGIN CODE FROM (source link) */ before and /* END CODE FROM (source link) */ after the copied code). Any external libraries, images, or any other materials not created by you should be referenced either within the code (where possible) or in a README file included with the deliverable.

These policies, including the rules on all pages linked in this section, are binding for the class. Any violations of this policy will be subject to the institute’s Academic Integrity procedures, which may include a 0 grade on assignments found to contain violations; additional grade penalties; and academic probation or dismissal.

Note that if you are accused of academic misconduct, you are not permitted to withdraw from the class until the accusation is resolved; if you are found to have participated in misconduct, you will not be allowed to withdraw for the duration of the semester. If you do so anyway, you will be forcibly re-enrolled without any opportunity to make up work you may have missed while illegally withdrawn.


As mentioned previously, this course is as much an experiment in educational technology as it is a class on educational technology. First, because this class is experimental and we are continually striving to improve it, there are bound to be things that go wrong. We ask your patience and support as we figure things out, and in return, we promise that we, too, will be fair and understanding, especially with anything that might impact your grade or performance in the class. Second, we want to consistently get feedback on how we can improve and expand the course for future iterations. You can take advantage of the feedback box on Piazza (especially if you want to gather input from others in the class), give us feedback on the surveys, or contact us directly via private Piazza messages.