Readings are subject to change. Please always check the online syllabus.

CS 6470: Design of Online Communities

Instructor: Amy Bruckman
Email: asb at
Office: TSRB 338 (85 5th St.)
Office Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.
TA: Tanisha Wagh
Email: tanishawagh at
Office Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.
Location: CCB 101
Time: Tuesday, Thursday 12:05-1:25
Class Schedule: Calendar

Learning Objectives

Online communities are becoming an increasing part of how we work, play, and learn. But how are they designed? What are they really good for? Why are some communities more successful than others? What are the key issues in this field of research?

At the completion of this course, students will be able to:

CS 6470 counts as a social computing class for the purpose of PhD breadth requirements.



Additional readings are on electronic reserve on the library website. The Library Web Localizer lets you get access to most articles online. You will need it for some assigned readings, and also for researching your term paper.


Assignments and Grading

Your grade is based on:

Assignments (except reading reflections) will be graded on a list of criteria (specified on the assignment) such as quality of writing, completeness, insight into design issues, insight into social issues, etc. For each criterion, you will receive either a check plus, check, or check minus. Most criterion will receive a check. A plus means "you impressed me." A minus means the assignment is incomplete, incorrect, or sloppy in some fashion with respect to that criterion. Pluses and minues are combined to give your grade for the assignment. For most assignments, you start out half way between a B+ and A-. One plus makes it an A-; one minus makes it a B+. These are general guidelines to let you know what to expect. Grading on specific assignments may differ.

Reading reflections are graded on a full credit/partial credit basis, as described on the Reading Reflections Assignment.

Extra credit towards the design assignment is offered for giving an in-class presentation about your design.

Late Policy

Assignments are due at the start of class on the day they are due. Reading reflections may not be late, except with a documented excuse (such as illness, job interview, conference attendance). For all other work (other than reading reflections), over the course of the term, you have three "late days" where work may be late with no explanation needed. Reading reflections may not use late days.

Once you have used up your late days, late assignments will be penalized at a rate of 3 pts (one grade step: A becomes A-) per day. Assignments more than one week late will not be accepted. Presentations may not be late.

English as a Second Language

If Engish is not your first language, you may request to not be graded on your writing for a particular individual assignment. This means you won't be penalized for bad writing, but you also won't get credit for good writing. To take advantage of this option, you must mark "ESL" (English as a Second Language) on the first page of your assignment/paper. This option is not available for group assignments. We still of course expect you to try to write in correct English, and will do our best to offer useful feedback on your writing.

Reference format

Please use APA format for all references. APA format is described here.

No Use of Laptops in Class

Educational research shows that taking notes by hand on paper will lead to better retention of material than taking notes by typing. Also,in the past we have had issues with students not only not paying attention but also disrupting others during class-- by playing games, by accidentally clicking on a video with the sound on, etc. Requests to use laptops in class will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you would like to use a laptop during class, please set up a time to meet with the professor.

You may use your laptop in class for the purpose of referencing assigned readings.

Honor Code

This class abides by the Georgia Tech Honor Code. All assigned work is expected to be individual, except where explicitly written otherwise. You are encouraged to discuss the assignments with your classmates; however, what you hand in should be your own work.

Course Eval

Course evaluations are an important part of how we improve the educational experience at Georgia Tech. We take your feedback very seriously, and use it to improve classes for future years. The Dean expects 100% participation on the course evaluation. If you take this class, you agree to complete your course evaluation at the end of the term. Thanks in advance--your input is really helpful!