Syllabus Fall Loyola Marymount University

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					                                   C M S I / P S YC 3 9 8 - 0 1
                        I N T R O D U C T I O N T O V I R T UA L W O R L D S
Fall 2010                                   Richard L. Gilbert, PhD               John David N. Dionisio, PhD
University Hall 3240         , SL: Griffith Parx, SL: Day Donner
R 4:30–7:00pm                 Office Hours: R 3–4pm, or by appt.                     TR 9am–12nn, or by appt.
3 semester hours                      University Hall 4767; (310) 338-7635          Doolan 106; (310) 338-5782

Objectives and Outcomes                                     Classroom, Laboratory, and
This course is built upon L. Dee Fink’s taxonomy of         Virtual Environment
significant learning, as applied to virtual worlds. Long    We are all responsible for maintaining a classroom
after the course concludes, our hope is that:               and laboratory environment that is safe and con-
• You understand the concept of a virtual world             ducive to learning. This course is unique in that it
   and are proficient at moving, communicating,             also includes a virtual environment within which
   and otherwise functioning in this environment            these responsibilities are also applicable. As such,
• You understand the basic properties of virtual            we will observe the following:
   objects, and can construct and customize such            1. You are responsible for your own learning and
   objects of moderate complexity                               for being a good class citizen.
• You know the range of behaviors that virtual              2. We will always treat individuals with respect,
   objects can manifest as agents, and can script such          and act with honesty and integrity at all times.
   behaviors into these objects                             3. We will treat all classroom and laboratory facili-
• You feel confident about your ability to explore a            ties, virtual or otherwise, with appropriate care.
   virtual world and its capabilities on your own,          4. Class will start on time.
   ranging from being a consumer of the virtual world       5. You are expected to come to class having done
   (experiencing things, interacting with other ava-            the assigned reading and preparatory work.
   tars) to a producer within that world (creating and
   scripting objects, providing services)                   6. You are expected to bring the required materi-
                                                                als to each class session.
• You recognize and appreciate how the psycho-
   logical and technological issues in this course re-      7. Cell phones, pagers, and other communication
   late to society, our daily lives, and ourselves              or music devices will be turned off.
• You have some skills and tools for “leaving your
   comfort zone” and learning more about psy-               Course Work and Grading
   chology and computer science on your own                 Graded coursework consists of in-class exercises, 2
                                                            tests, 1 course blog/portfolio, and 1 project. Letter
• You learn how to communicate and work effec-
   tively with colleagues from different disciplines        grades are determined as follows: ≥ 90% gets an
                                                            A– or better; ≥ 80% gets a B– or better; ≥ 70%
                                                            gets a C– or better. The instructors may curve
Materials and Texts                                         grades upward based on qualitative considerations
• Assorted handouts, articles, and sample code to           such as degree of difficulty, effort, class participa-
  be distributed throughout the semester                    tion, time constraints, and overall attitude. Grades
• Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (any available              are never curved downward.
  edition or publisher)
                                                            In-Class Exercises
• Accounts in Second Life and Google
                                                            In-class exercises will be assigned throughout the
Additional information is also available on the web;
                                                            semester, about once per week. In-class exercises
do not hesitate to look for further sources of in-
                                                            are where you can learn from your mistakes with-
formation regarding the concepts, techniques,
                                                            out grading penalty: if you do the work and submit
tools, and paradigms that we will discuss.
                                                            it on time, you will get full credit, regardless of

Loyola Marymount University                   CMSI / PSYC 398 Syllabus                                      Page 1
correctness. What goes around comes around: the            responsibility to keep up. The instructors should
effort you put into the exercises pays off in the          be notified as soon as possible, electronically or by
midterm, blog/portfolio, and database/3D exhibit.          phone, of the reasons for all absences. We will
The exercise submission deadline is always the end         make arrangements to discuss make-up work. At
of that class’s day. Submissions after the deadline        the discretion of the instructors, excessive ab-
receive half credit, period.                               sences may result in a grade of incomplete (I).
                                                           Note that the last day to add or drop a class with-
Tests                                                      out a grade of W is September 3. The withdrawal
Exams are scheduled for October 7 and December             or credit/no-credit status deadline is November 5.
16. They are meant to assess foundational knowl-
edge, and as such, questions may be content-               University Policy on Academic Honesty
oriented or forward-looking (i.e., “use this knowl-        Loyola Marymount University expects high stan-
edge to resolve this situation”). You may neither          dards of honesty and integrity from all members of
solicit nor give help while an exam is in progress.        its community. All students are expected to follow
Late and/or missed tests are handled on a case-to-         the LMU honor code, as stated in the LMU Under-
case basis; in all instances, talk to us about them.       graduate Bulletin 2010-2011.
Course Blog/Portfolio                                      Americans with Disabilities Act
In-class work will be supplemented by assorted             Students with special needs as addressed by the
readings, reflections, and activities to be done in        Americans with Disabilities Act who need reason-
between sessions. These will be documented in              able modifications, special assistance, or accom- Blog entries    modations in this course should promptly direct
will be graded based on their punctuality during the       their request to the Disability Support Services
semester, then as an overall portfolio of work at the      (DSS) Office. Any student who currently has a
end of the semester.                                       documented disability (physical, learning, or psy-
                                                           chological) needing academic accommodations
Database and 3D Exhibit of Psychologically                 should contact DSS (Daum Hall, Room 224,
Beneficial Virtual World Applications                       x84535) as early in the semester as possible. All
You will apply what you learn to create a database         discussions will remain confidential. Please visit
and 3D exhibit of psychologically beneficial virtual for additional information.
world applications, working in interdisciplinary
teams to: (a) search virtual environments for such         Course Schedule
applications, (b) gather and present data about            Specifics may change as the course progresses; uni-
them, and (c) create a virtual exhibit about these         versity dates (italicized) are less likely to change.
applications with pertinent information, links, and
illustrations. The exhibits will be graded based on         September         Course overview, history of
their psychology content as well as their technical                           virtual worlds, basic skills
design and functionality. The group nature of this          September 3       Last day to add or drop a class with-
work will also involve self- and peer assessment. To                          out a grade of W
facilitate the creation of these exhibits, groups may
                                                            October           Building and scripting
need to pay for uploads or other virtual services;
the instructors view this cost as commensurate              October 7         Exam 1
with or less than a typical textbook purchase. The          N o v e m b e r / Virtual world psychology and
project is due on December 9.                               December          culture: benefits and applications
Attendance                                                  November 5        Withdraw/credit/no-credit deadline
Attendance at all class sessions (virtually or other-       November 24–26 Thanksgiving; no class
wise, as appropriate) is expected, but not absolutely       December 9        Database and 3D exhibit due
required. Each week will include activities and             December 16 Exam 2 (non-cumulative)
presentations that will be difficult to make up. If
you must miss one or more class sessions, it is your

Loyola Marymount University                  CMSI / PSYC 398 Syllabus                                        Page 2

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