Collaboration, Creativity, and Computing (Fall 2018)


Instructor: Sang Won Lee (he/him/himself)

Email/Office/Web: /

Class Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 3:30 P.M. – 4:45 P.M.

Class Location: Learning Studio (Room 253) at Moss Art Center

Office hours:

  • As specified in this calendar: (link) – Typically immediately after the class in the classroom.
  • By appointment (request by email)

Last updated: 01/23/2018


When someone asks you to “be more creative”, what are you supposed to do? You might understand it as a polite way of saying that what you’ve been doing has become dull or predictable. Creativity is still an underexplored trait that we aren’t exactly sure how to facilitate. For that reason, creating computational systems that can promote people’s creativity is a significant challenge. Today’s computational systems have facilitated new modes of creation. However, the fundamental process of being creative is still left to users. In particular, we focus on the social and collaborative aspects of creativity and we explore how computational systems can address the challenges in facilitating creativity via collaboration. This course is primarily a research-oriented course, and students will develop an artifact that can help us better understand how to computationally facilitate creativity via collaboration.  

Learning Objectives

After successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify important features of creativity support tools in computing.
  • Learn how to build and design interactive systems that support collaborative creation, facilitate human creativity, and/or enable new creative practice.
  • Explore how to facilitate class discussion and participation.

Recommended Prerequisites

A student is expected to have taken one of the following courses in the past with the grade of B or better: Models & Theories of HCI (CS5724), User Interface Software(CS 5774), Social Computing(CS 5984), Computer Supported Coop Work (CS5734) or any course equivalent.  Each student is expected to either have or obtain (by themselves) the technical skills necessary to create an interactive system for their team. This class does not teach programming.


Cours blog and the Canvas are two primary websites that you should check. You are expected to check these frequently.

Course Blog (

Course blog is created primarily for you to submit their blog assignments with the class, to share any interesting information (software, artworks, tools, events, papers, or creative practices), and to write anything about the subject matters and things you’ve learned from carrying out the project. This means that the rest of the class will read your assignments (and that’s the whole purpose!). If you have any reason why someone may want to submit something privately, please let me know. Note that whenever you write a blog post in the course blog, the target audience is not me, but the general public. Contextualize the content, write in an approachable language, and be respectful.

In addition, the course blog will maintain links to up-to-date information about this course: course syllabus, course schedule, and office hours schedule.

For those who did not create a WordPress account, please create an account with your PID at and log in at This is essential for this class. Once you created an account,  you can expect an invitation email from me. Once you accept an invitation, you will be one of the authors of this blog. When you write a blog, please include one image that is the most relevant to the content and set it as a featured image.

Canvas (

Information about the course, including announcements, supplementary readings, and resources to assist in completing presentations, will be posted on Canvas and/or the course blog. All the assignments that are relevant to the project shall be submitted to Canvas Assignments.  All the grades will be returned via Canvas.

Slack ( (Optional)

Throughout the semester, we will use the Slack CHCI Workspace for any informal communication. I will create a private channel in CHCI workspace and invite everyone. Here’s the link to invite yourself to the workspace and then I will invite you to the channel(#ccc2019spring). You can also use Slack to share interesting articles, media, etc. with the rest of the class, and to ask me any question you might have. Note that Slack messages are eventually ephemeral; the messages go away when it reaches the workspace limit (for free plan). Users may (and probably should) mute notifications—please don’t expect me to respond instantly, and don’t worry about bothering me with a message at 3 A.M.  I strongly recommend using a desktop application instead of web browsers.


I ask you to maintain a public Github repository for your project. At the end of the project, I will ask you to submit the URL to the code repository. If there is an inevitable reason why you cannot use Github, please let me know.  


  • Reading Assignment Presentation – 20 mins(15%)
  • Reading Assignment Discussion Leading – 10 mins (10%)
  • Participation (10%)
  • Reading Reflections (24%)  → (BLOG submission)
  • Two initial ideas (1%) → (BLOG submission)
  • Open-ended Term Projects (50%)
    • Project Proposal Presentation + Proposal (5%) → Proposal due 2/17
    • Mid-term Presentation + Mid-term Report (15%) → Report due 3/31
    • Final Presentation + Final Report  + Code submission (30%) → Final Report due 5/12

These values are subject to slight adjustments, at my discretion. The final project presentations will be held on the dates posted on the schedule. Exceptions to presentation and project deadlines may be made on a case-by-case basis by the instructor. Requests for an exception must be made prior to the absence.

Term Project

This is a group project-based course, and the significant portion of your grade focuses on successfully completing a single, large group project. The project will allow you to apply your skills and knowledge from prior HCI courses, as well as new skills and knowledge gained from this course. It will encompass requirements gathering, design, implementation, and evaluation.

The project topic is open-ended under the theme of the class. The four intentionally ambiguously-defined topics are as follows:

  • Supporting people creating artifacts with computers
  • Understanding how to computationally facilitate human creativity
  • Mediating collaborative creation using computational systems
  • Creating an computer mediated artwork

Your project outcome should help us understand how computing can facilitate human’s creative process, and/or collaborative creation. You need to justify that the topic is interesting, relevant to the course, and is of suitable difficulty at the proposal stage.

One team can have up to three people. However, I will NOT take into account how many people are working in a team in grading. I will evaluate only based on the quality of the work. I mean it and I encourage you to form a team. Groups will be mostly self-organized, and we will use one of the class time for team formation. The instructor may assist with forming groups as requested. The groups and their project will be consistent for the entire semester except in extenuating circumstances.

You must complete and turn in all milestones and project requirements in order to pass the course. If you do not turn one of them in, you will get an F in the course. This is to prevent students from “settling” for a lower grade and skipping some of the milestones.

We have a limited amount of money that can be used for purchasing equipment needed for your projects. However, please note that it takes a long time to get approval to place an order, and to receive one in a timely manner. In addition, any purchased equipment must be returned at the end of the semester. Plan ahead and let me know as soon as possible if your team needs a certain type of resource (either digital or physical). I will accept any purchase request before midterm due.

For any term project paper submission at any stage (proposal, mid-term report, final report), use CHI Proceedings Format. The length of the paper should be at least 4 pages excluding the reference but it is not a good sign if you have not much to say. For the proposal and the mid-term report, you are submitting a portion of the final report. (e.g. the proposal only includes an introduction and related works, and the mid-term report only includes an introduction, related works, and design/implementation/analysis plan)

The final paper should be submittable to a relevant conference ideally as a full paper, or at least as a poster. This is definitely possible and I have done this personally multiple times when I was a first year master student, which is the most cited paper of mine at the moment. I will support you in case you decided to submit a paper to conferences (review, advising, travel support for the authors).

Grading Scheme

Most of the times, I will use a simple grading scheme for each criterion. (Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, Fail).

Readings Reflections

During this course, you will be asked to read academic papers and write your reflections where you will not just summarize the papers but think about what additional questions the paper enables. Some of the discussion points for your reflections are

  • What is the research method? – What did they do to solve the problem?
  • How do the research outcomes inform us how we can build an interactive system that can facilitate creativity or support creative process?
  • How does the paper relate to your project? How can you apply the core finding of the research to your research project? If not applicable, what kinds of new ideas does the paper give you?
  • What risks or negative impacts are not discussed in the paper?
  • What opportunities are the authors missing?
  • If they measure creativity, how did they measure creativity? What are the potential risks in measuring creativity in such a way?

Reading reflections should be within 400~500 words with the summary no more than 100 words. You won’t be penalized if you write more, but being brief and clear is a necessary skill no matter what jobs you take. Remember how much you hate to read a lengthy email. Here is a great example of a reflection written by Prof. Kurt Luther. I will skip ONE (updated) lowest scores from the reflections.

Most of the readings for the course will be available through the ACM Digital Library or other paywalls. Use the following address to access article: Reading will be available in the separate Google Spreadsheets. Reading is available here. Per each class day, you pick one of the two suggested papers and submit a reading reflection report to the course blog.


You should actively participate in the class discussion. Participation is hard to measure (like creativity). One good proxy is to simply measure the quantity, the method of which is chosen in many papers about creativity. I will simply log and count the number of participants in class discussion.

Reading Assignment Presentation and Discussion

One student will be assigned to present two papers in one presentation, and another student will be assigned to be an official ‘discussant’ for the papers. The discussant’s job is to deeply evaluate the work and have conversation-provoking questions ready in advance of the presentation itself.

  • The presenter will be evaluated by the quality of presentation and how the audience is engaged in the follow-up discussion. (20~25 minutes)
  • The discussant will be strictly evaluated by how active the class discussion is. The discussion should last more than 10 minutes. Silence means “Fail” grade. Dominating the entire discussion time means “Poor” grade. The discussant should bring questions that can elicit participation and facilitate discussion. The presenter can actively participate in the discussion and help the discussant.
  • While there will be assigned a discussant for each paper, the rest of the class is expected to participate in the discussion.
  • One cannot lead discussion and present papers on the same day.
  • Both presenter and discussant should read both the required and the optional reading assignment and use them in their presentation and discussion.
  • The presenter should come up with the overarching research question of two papers.
  • The presenter MUST send the presentation slides to the instructor and the discussant 72 hours before the presentation via email.
  • The presenter should be actively involved in the leading discussion as it will be part of their evaluation.  
  • The discussant does not need to prepare slides but certainly can if it helps facilitate class participation or the discussant finds the needs to complement the presenter’s slides.

Presentation Feedback

When each team presents their project idea and the progress, the rest of the class will be asked to give feedback on the presentation. For more information about these three criteria, please check out this paper.


Your attendance matters for the discussant grade. In addition, class time is incredibly valuable co-working time with your teammates, during which every member of your team is available. You are expected to attend all class sessions, and I will check the attendance during presentations and regular check-in with project teams.  A final grade of a student who misses more than four classes of the scheduled classes will be lowered one step for each unexcused absence. For example, if a student got A- and missed 6 classes, the student will get B-. If you are ill, you have to provide a doctor’s note that must specify that you are (or were) unable to attend the class due to the severity of the illness. For immediate family emergencies: provide valid documentation, e.g., an obituary, a doctor’s note, a certified note from your parent or guardian.

Honor Code

The Virginia Tech Undergraduate Honor System is in effect for all work, whether performed individually or in teams. Be particularly careful to avoid plagiarism, which essentially means using materials (ideas, code, designs, text, etc.) that you did not create without giving appropriate credit to the creator (using quotation marks, citations, comments in the code, URLs, etc.). Students are encouraged to consult with one another about project design and evaluation issues, as the sharing of ideas here will lead to better work. Any suspected violations of the honor code will be promptly reported to the honor system, as required by university policy. Believe me, I have done this.

Regrade Requests

If you disagree with the grading of a particular assignment, write a brief (one paragraph) description of the problem and hand it to me with the assignment/exam for a regrade. Regrade requests must be submitted within one week of when the graded assignment is made available to the student. Late regrade requests will not be accepted.

Office Hours

I will have regularly scheduled office hours each week, as specified at the top of this document. You are encouraged to make use of these to discuss aspects of the course, such as lecture material, reading assignments, and the project problems. In cases where you cannot make office hours, please contact me to arrange an appointment; don’t wait until the last minute, though!


For the most prompt response, please use the course’s Slack channel(see below). I will endeavor to respond promptly to emailed questions, ideally in one working day. Note that emails received during evenings and on weekends are subject to a delay in response. Email that is relatively short is probably best, while questions/concerns that are more open-ended can often be better handled during office hours or after class (because we can talk much faster than we write, and we can interact immediately!). If you are asking a question about an assignment that others might have already asked, please first check the course website to see if the question has already been answered either in the announcements section or in the section associated with that specific assignment.

Assignments and Late Penalty

Assignments must be turned in on the indicated due dates, by 11:59 P.M. unless otherwise specified. NO late work will be accepted.

Accommodation Policy

Virginia Tech welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. The University promotes efforts to provide equal access and a culture of inclusion without altering the essential elements of coursework. If you anticipate or experience academic barriers that may be due to a disability, including but not limited to ADHD, chronic or temporary medical conditions, deafness or hardness of hearing, a learning disability, mental health, or vision impairment, please contact the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office at 540-231-3788,, or by visiting If you have an SSD accommodation letter, please meet with me privately during office hours as early in the semester as possible to deliver your letter and discuss your accommodations. You must give me a reasonable notice to implement your accommodations, generally 5 business days (10 business days for assignments).