Class Structure – Let’s talk about class structure, and about our activities throughout the quarter. So evidently this is gonna be a very different class from the ones you’ve taken before, and we’re gonna set out some principles for this class and for this new experience for many of us.
Compassion is gonna be key to all of our work. Right now, our priority is focusing on everyone’s health: on our physical health and our mental health, and we all need to be very mindful of our own health but also caring for each other and being mindful of everyone’s well-being. As such, we will approach all of our discussions and all of our work with a degree of compassion towards our classmates and everyone in the class as we always should, and this is gonna be one of the things that we’ll be very observant about in the class.
We need to be very respectful. Obviously we’re going to communicate in new ways, be it through Zoom chats through discussion boards, and we need all of our interactions to be respectful. In general, imagine you have the person in front of you, what what kind of things would you say and do if you were talking to the person face to face? And try to keep those – that respect in mind. We’re gonna need a lot of solidarity in the class. We’re gonna be learning together.
This is gonna be a new experience and we need to create an environment, and essentially a community, where there can be nurturing. We’re all learning. Feel free to ask questions and to use discussions to enrich our personal projects and our work. As for the evaluation, this class is going to be credit or no credit. We expect you to keep a constant level of work throughout the quarter. Yeah, and to perform several tasks in order to get the credit. The four tasks are the ones detailed below.
Each week, we will have discussion of questions. I will propose a couple of discussion questions and you will answer one of them in our Piazza discussion board, and you will also provide feedback to another student’s question. That way we’ll have discussion going and we will try to simulate the discussions we would have in a classroom. Each week, we will have a programming exercise. I will propose to you a programming activity, some challenge related to language, and we will try to work through it together.
Throughout the quarter, we will be thinking about ethical questions, reading papers on the ethics of natural language processing, and we’re gonna have ethics – explicit ethics related activities three times during the quarter. You can find more details in the syllabus.
Finally, we are going to have a final project. You’re going to work on something that – that you’re interested in something that you’re passionate about: some piece of software that you want to develop that is related to natural language processing. The project will be split in four parts. You can find more details in the syllabus. Also if you wish to get a citation of the class, I’m sorry in order for you to get credit you need to provide constant work for these four areas of evaluation. In order to get a citation, you need to provide work that is an A-level in all four areas of evaluations.
I promise again to keep the readings down to the essentials so that we can get straight to work. We’re gonna be using three free textbooks, so the textbook Speech and Language processing from Jurafsky and Martin is available online. We’re gonna be using the third edition, an edition so new that it hasn’t been finished yet! We’re going to be using the draft of the book and there are some chapters that are not written yet and in that case we will use the equivalent chapters of the second edition.
We’ll use an open textbook from Katherine Anderson called Essentials of Linguistics for some of the linguistics parts of the class. We’ll also be using chapters from the book language files 12 from Ohio State University. It’s a book that we would usually need to pay for, but for this quarter it’s free and available online. So again all the textbooks are free. You do not need to pay for any text.
Programming wise we’re gonna be working with the Python programming language and with the Anaconda environment environment manager. If you’re already comfortable using any other environment manager, if you’re comfortable using pip if you’re comfortable using apt-get you are – you can continue to use anything you’re comfortable with, but I really like Anaconda I think it makes the installation of packages much easier and it’s the environment manager I will use during the class. Feel free, we can have more discussion about this in the discussion boards.
And by the way I am very familiar with Ubuntu and Windows and our TAs are familiar with Mac architectures, so operating system wise we should be fine. Also by the way in case we need it, we can get space in the supercomputer or cloud computing. We’ll talk about it as the need arises.
I’m Rolando, and we are gonna have two TAs: Sihao, and John. They are gonna be helping us mostly with the discussions and you can ask us any question about the class. So in a typical week I will send you a list of YouTube videos to watch, recordings like this one. I will ask you to watch them. I will ask you to read some of the rea – of the essential readings from our textbooks and then to participate in the Piazza discussion board with some of the questions. You’re going to write some answers and then you’re also going to interact with other students’ answers.
This way again we will simulate the discussions we would have in the classroom. In addition to this, and working on the weekly exercises, you’re going to do some work on ethics questions. Some of the weeks, you’re also going to be working on your final project, thinking about it or implementing some part, and this is what a typical week would look like.
Practically all of the class is going to be asynchronous but I will have Zoom office hours in case you wanna come in and ask questions. To be honest, I haven’t defined the time yet because I prefer to talk about this with all of you, so we can figure out what times are best. And also during the first week I would like to meet all of you through Zoom so I will write a Piazza message where I would leave you I think at least six time slots for the first week so that you can put your name in one of them and we can have a Zoom meeting so I can meet everyone in the class. Thank you for your time, and let’s do this!
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