CS5734: Social Computing and Computer-supported Cooperative Work (Fall 2019)


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

Email/Office/ /

Class Time: Thursday, 9:30 AM – 12:15 PM.

Class Location: Room 109 at Architecture Annex

Office hours:

  • By appointment (request by email)

Last updated: 09/12/2019

Course Description

The course focuses on a wide range of topics in Social Computing and Computer Supported Cooperative Work field  – or simply CSCW: design, implementation, use, and analysis of computing systems concerned with multiple users and stakeholders. 

Over the course of the semester, students will also carry out team projects. They will conduct a genealogical literature review about a social science theory of relevance to collaborative and social computing; analyze the ways in which that theory has and has not been applied to the design and analysis of collaborative and social computing systems; construct a design space based on their findings; and produce a series of conceptual design proposals to address either a gap in the design space and/or to flesh out a sweet spot in that space. 

Research papers will be curated by the instructor and high-quality work will be submitted for review to the ACM Conference on Social Computing and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work(CSCW).

Learning Objectives

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

  • Understand the challenges involved in developing computational systems for multi-users, groups, organizations, communities, and society. 
  • Learn how computational systems can affect the ways in which we communicate, collaborate, and interact with each other. 

Recommended Prerequisites

 A student is expected to have taken one of the following courses in the past with a grade of B- or better: Models & Theories of HCI (CS5724), Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction(CS 3724), Introduction to Graphical User Interface(CS 3744), or any course equivalent.  Each student is expected to either have or obtain (by themselves) the technical skills necessary to carry out the project for the team. This class does not teach programming.


Cours blog, Slack, and Canvas are three primary websites that we will use throughout the semester. You are expected to check these frequently. 

are three primary websites that we will use throughout the semester. 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, papers, events), 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 do NOT have 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 (

Throughout the semester, we will use the Slack CHCI Workspace for any informal communication. It is the quickest way for students to communicate with the instructor. 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(#cscwclass2019). 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 your project involves any development. If there is an inevitable reason why you cannot use Github, please let me know.  


  • Reading Assignment Presentation – 20 mins (15%) 
  • Participation + Attendance (10%) 
  • Reading Reflections (15%)  → (BLOG submission) 
  • Assignments + Quiz (10%) 
  • Open-ended Term Projects (50%) 
    • Project Proposal Presentation + Proposal (5%) → Proposal due 9/26
    • Weekly Progress Report (10%) 
    • Mid-term Presentation + Mid-term Report (15%) → Report due 3/31
    • Final Presentation (12/5) + Final Report  + Code submission (20%) → Final Report due 12/12

These values are subject to adjustments, at the instructor’s discretion. The final project presentations will be held on the dates posted on the schedule. Exceptions to meeting presentation and project deadlines are not allowed except in special circumstances that can be proved with documents (e.g. doctor’s note).

Term Project

This is a group project-based course, and a 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, analyzing, and/or evaluation.

The project topic is open-ended under the theme of the class. The deliverable of the project is a research paper. Ideally, the project outcome should be something submittable to the CSCW conference both in terms of the selected topic and the quality. Here are some topics that I am interested in just for the sake of giving you some examples of potential projects. However, your own ideas are welcome. 

  • Supporting collaborative programming in real time
  • Making social media programmable
  • Furniture for the Future of Work (
  • Awareness of always-on voice recording in a social context.
  • Collaborative brainstorming in Augmented Reality

You need to justify that the topic is interesting, relevant to the course, and is of suitable difficulty at the proposal stage. 

One team should be composed of two or three people; NO solo project is allowed. I will NOT take into account how many people are working in a team in grading. The quality of the outcome matters and I will evaluate only based on this. I mean it and I encourage you to form a team. Groups will be mostly self-organized, and we will use a few classes to facilitate 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, 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, using services, or compensating human subjects needed for your projects. However, please note that it takes a long time to get approval to place an order, and to receive reimbursement 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 (a proposal, mid-term report, final report), use the single-column ACM Small article template. This can be found here. The length of the paper should be at least 6 pages excluding the reference. I don’t mind short paper but I mind an incomplete paper. For the proposal and the mid-term report, you are submitting a portion of the final report. (e.g. the proposal may include only an introduction and tentative plan; the mid-term report may include an introduction, related works, and design/implementation/analysis plan; and the final proposal should include the result and findings).

The final paper should be submittable to a relevant conference ideally as a full paper, or at least as a poster. I will support you in case you decided to submit a paper to conferences (review, advising, travel support for the authors). Being able to submit to the CSCW conference will lead to a good grade in this course. You should have at least 20 references for academic papers. Any presentation may be recorded for the evaluation purpose but it will not be shared publically.

Grading Scheme

Most of the times, if not all, 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. The summary should not exceed 50% of your reflection. 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 computational systems affect groups, organizations, communities, and networks? 
  • How do the research outcome allow us to enhance the current design of computational systems? 
  • 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 has been changed since the paper was published? 

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 lowest score from the reflections. (This policy is canceled on 9/12)

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


You should actively participate in the class discussion. Participation is hard to measure. One good proxy is to simply measure the quantity; I will take into account the number of participation in class discussion and attendance for example. 

We will do active learning methods during the class, which may require 

Reading Assignment Presentation and Discussion

One student will be assigned to present a paper of their choice and lead the discussion on the paper. The presenter’s job is to convey the messages that authors intended to deliver to the audience and to lead a discussion with conversation-provoking questions to elicit the participation of the audience. 

  • The presenter will be evaluated by the quality of the presentation. (20 minutes Total) 
  • The presenter MUST send the presentation slides to the instructor and 48 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 presentation may be recorded for the evaluation purpose but it will not be shared with anyone.

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 for good feedback, please check out this paper


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 a C. For immediate emergencies, provide valid documentation, e.g., a doctor’s note, conference program.

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 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 above). I will endeavor to respond promptly to emailed questions, ideally within 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 11:59:59 P.M. unless otherwise specified. NO late work will be accepted unless coordinated with the instructor in advance.

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).