Here you will find information on required readings, import university policies, and course-specific policies like attendance and cell phone use.

Required Texts

Lanier, Jaron. Who Owns the Future? New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013. Paperback. $17.00 retail. $11.97 on Amazon.
O'Neil, Cathy. Weapons of Math Destruction. New York: Crown, 2016. Hardcover. $26 retail. $15.85 on Amazon.

Grade Breakdown

Item Percentage Comments
Attendance and Participation 20 See attendance section below
Self-Guided Skills Development 10 Counts less so you can focus on process on not worry as much
Synthesis 1 and Artist Statement 15 Set dues date, lots of topic flexibility
Synthesis 2 and Artist Statement 15 Set dues date, lots of topic flexibility
Team-Based Project and Team Member Statements 15 2/3 team grade, 1/3 individual contribution
Capstone Portfolio and Reflection 20 Heavily based on reflection and a sense of overall growth
Lightning Talks 5 Pass/Fail (see policy below)

How I Will Grade Assignments

Major Assignment Rubric

Assignment Process: Evaluates whether students have followed directions properly. All materials are turned in on time and in the right place. Assignment directions are followed. Required components are all present and submitted on time.
Attention to Detail in Code: Links work properly, images display, all html tags terminate properly, CSS affects correct elements, design is resizable and cross-browser compatible. If errors persist, there is evidence in students' writing (or history of github commits, etc.) to demonstrate effort.
Attention to Detail in Writing: Language shows thought, precision, and control in word choice. Uses forms of grammar, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and syntax that are appropriate for published work. Demonstrates careful attention to proofreading. Correctly and consistently cites external sources. If errors or problems are present, it is clear that the student has made multiple attempts to revise and improve the document.
Interface Functionality and Design: Interface is easy to navigate and aesthetically balanced. Appears to be designed with an overall vision or sense of purpose. Data visualizations or interactives are clearly contextualized and show evidence of attention to design. Features that may seem out of place are well contextualized in written materials.
Research/Data Content: Project shows sophistication and originality. Revolves around a sufficiently complex question or point of focus. Sequence of written material, where applicable, supports rhetorical purpose. Examples are specific and relevant, and explanations are given that show how material (verbal and visual) contributes to an overall sense of purpose. Supplementary documents make it clear that content was as important as design throughout the process.
Synthesis of Form and Content: Digital functionality extends research in some way. Clear connections between design and subject matter. Approach conveys care and creativity. Work successfully imagines its audience and choices seem consistent with that audience. Elements that may seem out of balance are discussed in written materials.
Evidence of Effort: Supplementary statements and process assignments clarify and contextualize choices. Work shows no signs of last-minute, unresolved complications. Student has shown the professor drafts in office hours or during studio blocks.

Pass/Fail Assignments/Components

Pass/Fail assignments or components will receive either a 100% or a zero. To receive a 100%, you must turn in the assignment on time and fulfill all the required components, which are listed on all assignment descriptions.


Attendance will be taken in every class. All unexcused absences will reduce your participation grade, as will all instances on unexcused tardiness. This is a class where you have to come to do well. Every semester I am forced to give out 2-3 Ds and Fs, and it's almost always students who didn't show up regularly. In the event of an excused absence, you should get class notes from a classmate and speak to me about a makeup assignment. Your best bet here is to seldom or never miss class. Anything more than four absences, even if they’re excused, and I’ll probably recommend that you withdraw. If you know you are going to miss class for a sport commitment (or other sanctioned reason) you must let me know ahead of time so I can assign work to keep you on track.


Cell phones should be off and put away. Laptops are okay for notes and such, but you should not be messaging, using Facebook, etc. I’ll check screens regularly give you a verbal warning on your first offense. After that, I reserve the right to ask you to leave class and mark you absent if you are creating a distraction.

E-mail Etiquette

When you send me an email, please follow some basic conventions of formality and politeness. There's no need to construct the equivalent of a business letter, but please don't begin your message with "hey," and take an extra moment to make sure you spelled my name correctly. I promise to do the same with you. Also, one last thing. I'm not normally picky, but I would appreciate it if you avoid phrases like, "Unfortunately, I will not be in class today." It is unfortunate for you, not for me, so, "I'm sorry to miss class today" is more appropriate.

Extensions vs. Late Work

Life happens. Sometimes something just isn’t going to get done. If you speak to me ahead of time and I approve an extension, I will always assign a new due date and hold you to it. The trade off is that work turned in this way is probably not going end up in my hand when I grade everything else, so it’s going to get less feedback. Retroactive extensions will not be granted. You have to ask ahead of time. If you miss a deadline entirely without getting an extension, you can still do the assignment as part of the final portfolio, but you will automatically receive a 0 for the initial grade.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

You are expected to comply with the university’s policy on academic integrity. Anyone suspected of violating this obligation for any reason during the semester will be required to participate in the procedural process, initiated at the instructor level, as outlined in the University Guidelines on Academic Integrity, which can be found at www.fcas.pitt.edu/academicintegrity.html. Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s work without giving proper credit. Plagiarism is not tolerated by the university, so don’t do it. The minimal consequence of plagiarism in this course will be failure of the assignment with no opportunity to make it up.


If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both me and Disability Resources and Services, 216 William Pitt Union, 412-648-7890, 412-383-7355 (TTY), as early as possible in the term. DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

Sexual Harassment

The University of Pittsburgh will not tolerate sexual assault/sexual harassment. Complete details of the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy may be found and read in its entirety at http://www.provost.pitt.edu/information-on/antiharassment_statement.html. This policy provides a variety of individuals on each University of Pittsburgh campus who should be contacted with questions or concerns.

A Note on Office Hours

My office hours are listed on every page of this website. That said, I'm usually in my office much more often than my stated office hours would suggest, and I encourage you to drop by at your convenience. I'm also happy to meet with you by appointment. If I ever need to cancel office hours on a given day, I will let you all know by email.

Writing Emphasis Course

This course has a W designation, the Dietrich School General Education Requirement for a Writing-Emphasis course, for students who have successfully completed seminar in composition or its equivalent. W-Courses are designed to teach writing within a discipline through writing assignments that are distributed across the entire term. Students are expected to produce at least 20-24 pages of written work, with "a significant portion of this work … substantially revised in response to instructor feedback and class discussion."

General Policies for Major Assignments

  1. All of the major assignments for this class involve making a fork of a private repository, creating a folder, and making a pull request when complete. Your materials should always remain inside your target folder.
  2. All of the major assignments require a root index.html and links to all subdirectories.
  3. Unless otherwise noted, all major assignments are due by the start of class time on the due date.
  4. All assignments should use creative, original titles. Titles should always be distinguished by some sort of prominent design element (size, bold, etc.)
  5. Late work is not accepted. Revisions are accepted only with the final portfolio and count only toward the portfolio grade.
  6. For all assignments, please proofread your work as carefully as possible.