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Check this page for updates on upcoming classes, our learning goals, and the lesson modules we'll use to get there.

CIT-100 ONLINE: Weekly Lesson Guides

Course Schedule and Lesson Guides

Please treat each week's guide as gold--it is your path through this course, week-by-week. If you have any questions, please call the technologyrediscovery.net shop at 412.894.3020.

I can also receive emails at edarsow@ccac.edu but programming questions can most effectively be answered over the phone or during office hours.


Week 1: Monday 29 Jan - Saturday 3 Feb

Computers as systems | binary language | Computer Hardware

Welcome to CIT-100 online! Each week we'll explore a new area of computer coolness. We'll start with the basics this week: how do computers "work" and what are the things inside of them that make all the magic happen. Please attend to the content in each week's guide carefully, as it will guide your through your learning.

Step 1: Watch Welcome and Overview Video

This 20-min clip walks through our course process, our website, and what to expect in terms of grading and feedback. I apologize for any confusion in this regard:

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Learning Objectives

  1. Define and discuss the concept of a system--generally.
  2. Build and label a system flow diagram for both a computer and a non-computing machine and discuss their common component functions
  3. Annotate a photograph of a computer by noting the core components and their function
  4. Explain the general idea of binary data storage and operations inside as applied to computers
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Lesson Sequence

  1. Read through our course syllabus and think about what would make a grade "fair" for an online course. movieAs linked in the image above, view our course intro video on youtube.
  2. Devote 20 minutes of study to overview articles on computers hosted on Wikipedia and the Computer hardware on Wikipedia You'll be making a system diagram of a computer system, so get a flavor for what the range of components inside a computer is.
  3. To get a sense of what kinds of technology our course will explore,view the segment: movieIs a digital camera a computer? which explores our working definition of a computer.
  4. Choose a non-computer system that interests you and create a diagram of its components and their relationships. movieIn this example video, Eric explores the steering system in a truck and shows how a diagram of this system can be generated.
  5. Now that you have your own non-computer system diagrammed, review the list of core components in a computer on the wikipedia article linked in step 2. movieAs you watch the final video (week 1, segment 4) start creating a note card for each of these core components which list the name and a carefully summarized definition of what that component does.
    • Power supply
    • Motherboard
    • CPU
    • Random Access Memory
    • Hard Drive
    • Input devices
    • Output devices
  6. Work on assembling a diagram of how these listed components work together by arranging your note cards on a table. You can place sheets of paper under the cards and draw connecting lines between them, labeling what is flowing. NOTE that this is an exploratory activity so you can tinker with computer components. We'll review the complete diagram starting next week.
  7. Assemble your two diagrams and a discussion of how they are connected into a word processing document as explained in the following section: Weekly Products
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Weekly Products

STEP 1: Create a new word processing document. Type your first name, "CIT100, Spring 2018, Week 1" and your special ID number at the top. (See the intro video for instructions on creating your special ID.)

STEP 2: Manufacture your Special ID number. Locate your student id number either within MyCCAC or on your Student ID card. Your four-digit special ID is the FIRST TWO followed by the LAST TWO digits of your student ID number.

So if my assigned student ID number is 56387239, the special ID I'll use throughout this course is 5639.

STEP 3: Save this document with a title that looks like this: week1_[your special ID number]_[your first name]. For example, Juan's special ID number is 1234, so he would name is file: "week1_juan_1234".

STEP 4: Create three sections in this document, and include your work on each of these three tasks that you've created over the week in that document.

  1. Component diagram of a non-computer system
  2. Labeled component diagram of a specific computer system you regularly use
  3. Brief discussion of what these two diagrams have in common and what makes them unique

If you make a digram on paper, snap a photo of it, and transfer it to your computer via email. If you need guidance on that, this tutorial provides four different transfer mechanisms. You can then insert photos into a MS Word document with these simple steps.

NOTE that you can find tutorials for almost any basic office task by searching intelligently in a search engine. I found this one by searching "insert images into ms word". Best to not phrase searches as questions.

STEP 5: Upload--Once your document is complete, upload that document to our shared submission directory. and your week is done!

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Essential Resources

These are also linked in the steps they should be reviewed above.

Computer basics on Wikipedia provides a through discussion of how we can define a computer and insights about the history of computing.

Computer hardware on Wikipedia provides a base knowledge about each and every component inside a computer.

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curiosity Corner

The Imitation Game film about Alan Turing, a leading thinker in the development of modern computing. Complete with WWII drama, machinery, and even an exploration of romance with a mathematician.


Week 2: Monday 5 Feb - Saturday 10 Feb

Mighty Operating systems | File systems & file types | Access Control

With a developing understanding of a computer's key components, we're ready to explore the software that runs on that hardware, the most important of which is called the Operating System (OS) which is a collection of software tools that allows useful programs to interact with the hardware itself.

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Learning Objectives

  1. Explain the core roles of an operating system in a computer using practical examples from your day-to-day computer work.
  2. Create a mini-file system about a topic that's interesting to you and describe how its structure is useful inside computers.
  3. Dissect a file by identifying it size, location, permissions, type, and extensions and use that knowledge to describe your mini file system.
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Essential Resources

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Lesson Sequence

  1. View this week's introductory video that reviews last week's work and lays out the content for this week:movie Week 2, Segment 1 on YouTube
  2. Create a word processing document and save the file with a name in the following format: week2_OS_[first name]_[special ID Number]". For example, Joslyn whose special ID number is 4567 would name her file: "week2_os_joslyn_4567.docx". Document your learning in this file as you work through this week's lesson. Also place the same file name as the title of the document. Create section headers for each exercise in the guide below.
  3. Work through the Chunk 2, Module 1 Learning guide which provides step-by-step learning activities around the topic of operating systems and their core functions. This guide will also provide instructions for documenting your learning
  4. Note that the video guides for each exercise are posted at the beginning of each exercise's specific section.
  5. Use the link in the Weekly Products section (next) to upload your file and complete your work.
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Weekly Products

  1. You should have a word processing document created in step 2 above all ready to roll. Make sure your document is free of errors and organized into nice headers for each exercise. Remember, other students will look at your document and learn from your work: so make it accessible!
  2. You should also have a compressed file tree ready to roll. Its name should follow this structure: "fileTree_outdoorActivities_eric_1234.zip"
  3. Upload your word processing file AND your compressed file tree (created in exercise 3) to this shared directory. If you accidentally upload the wrong files, you will not be able to delete it so just upload the correct one and Eric will handle the deletion.
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curiosity Corner

Learn more about the Free Software movement on YouTube by a man named Richard Stallman who helped to create the Linux operating system, which runs most of the internet, all Google Searches, all Android Operating Systems, etc. Note that he is very political in the way he expresses his ideas and they do not represent the opinions of the course instructor or the Community College of Allegheny County and are instead shared as a learning resource for you to generate your own ideas about software licensing.


Week 3: Tuesday 13 Feb - Sunday 18 Feb

Continuing Operating System Explorations with a growing file tree

DUE DATE: Since I posted this later than expected, You have a week to get this done, so please have your updated and expanded tree and PDF file uploaded by the end of the day Thursday, Feb 22.

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Learning Objectives

  1. Unpack and analyze another student's file tree, build on that tree, and repackage the tree for sharing
  2. Navigate the windows Command Prompt program and run a utility that operates on files in the system.
  3. Use a word processor to format a document with columns, add column breaks, and use a highlighting tool
  4. Carefully and strategically name files so they are sorted in a logical fashion.

listLesson Sequences:

  1. Work through Chunk 2: Module 2 - Growing File Trees. This sequence will guide you through building onto an existing file tree created by another CCAC student (both online and in-person). You'll get to decompress the existing tree, add your own content and structure, and graft an entire tree into the tree you're editing. You'll have a newfound appreciation of the power of tree-based file structures by the end.

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  • The final steps in the above tutorial will ask you to upload two files to our shared tree directory. I'll check these to verify your hard work!


Week 4: Monday 19 Feb - Saturday 24 Feb [UNDER CONSTRUCTION]

Introduction to spreadsheets

Much of our data exchange on The Internet interacts with computers that can read and write information through the World Wide Web. We'll learn about the backbone technologies that make the Web possible and you'll create your own profile in HTML and CSS to share with the world!

Sequence 2: First exposure to Spreadsheets

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A screen shot of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program for the personal computer user. Image by Wikimedia uploader Gortu

Spreadsheets are commonly known as the "killer-app" of the computer world: their power to process numeric and text data was so obvious and immediately useful to individuals and businesses that the introduction of the VisiCalc in the early 1980s--the first mass-market spreadsheet program--was THE application that make personal computers into a household product. Check out the wikipedia history link in resources above.

The value of a spreadsheet lies in its ability to immediately re-caclulate the value of hundreds (if not thousands!) of cells of data when the value of any cell the sheet is changed. This ability to correct mistakes without computing all the sums, averages, etc., all over again not only made for fast analysis, but removed the chance of error in the re-calculations.

This sequence will guide you through creating a spreadsheet to record information about something interesting in your life and some basic procedures for organizing that data and generating some basic statistics.

Step-by-step spreadsheet creation

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Learning Objectives

  1. Explain the core concept of a spreadsheet and the difference between a data cell and a calculated cell.
  2. Create a data gathering schema (structure) for recording information about some interesting information about your life and populate that schema
  3. Format spreadsheet cells to create a clear data system that highlights the data, its headers, and its calculated values
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Essential Resources

bookLearning Resources

  1. Libre Office: 100% Free and open source alternative to the Microsoft Corporation's Proprietary (and expensive!) Office suite. Link to the Libre Office download page. You can do ALL assignments for this course using this office suite. Your instructor uses it exclusively for all office tasks. These programs all are 90% compatible with Microsoft's Proprietary Office formats like *.docx, *.xlsx so can be shared with Microsoft Users without any hassle. (the 10% non-compatible components are for advanced operations like Macros and charts).
  2. Kevin O'Brien's Libre Office suite tutorials on his professional page: ahuka.com. . This tutorial section is designed for students choosing to use free and open source Libre Office.
  3. CCAC's Student software access page contains links to tools for using OneDrive and for downloading Microsoft Corporation's Office Suite and Windows tools. NOTE that any MS Office products downloaded will become inactive soon after your student status ends at CCAC--downloaders beware! You'll be forced to pay upwards of $150 to active a non-student license key to regain access to your software.
  4. The University of Pittsburgh's Microsoft Excel Fundamentals guide is GOLD and is authorized for re-use by other institutions. Please review the table of contents of this document before digging into this lesson so you can refer back to this resource as needed. I'll reference page numbers in here as we go.
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Weekly Products

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Lesson Sequence


Week 5: Monday 26 Feb - Saturday 3 March

HTML Goodies | Interacting with Web Servers | Web security basics

HTML and CSS are only the beginning of web-based technologies. Javascript is a fully-fledged programming language that runs on all modern Web browsers. We'll explore what Javascript does, tinker a little with some code, and make buttons work. Since many important activities occur between computers on the Web (banking, shopping), we'll explore some basic principles of maintaining web security.

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Learning Objectives

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Week 6: Monday 5 March - Saturday 10 Marck

The Mighty Spreadsheet!

Many work-related computer tasks involve a spreadsheet, which is a table of cells organized in rows and columns capable of storing values and functions that operate on those values. We'll create basis spreadsheets and store data in those spreadsheets about something interesting to you.

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Week 7: Monday 12 March - Saturday 17 March

Leveraging the power of Spreadsheets to save you time and increase your precision

Spreadsheets can not only store and track data, but they can work as decision aids to help us make complicated decisions that involve numbers much easier. We'll explore some common use cases for spreadsheet decision making and you'll design a decision and use a spreadsheet to make that decision based on data.

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Week 8: Monday 19 March - Saturday 24 March

Death By Slide Deck

Microsoft Powerpoint is a program that allows folks to create slides and put stuff on them to display on a screen. A collection of these slides is called a "slide deck". (We would say that MS Powerpoint creates slide decks.) Many perfectly good lives have been wasted staring at these slides, wishing one was dead, or at least ill enough to justify not being in that room, staring at that particular slide.

In this module, we'll role play conversations such that you can avoid creating a slide deck for nearly any requested situation by substituting a more engaging presentation mechanism.

To satisfy course learning requirements, we'll review essential slide deck skills by creating a lyrics show timed to the beats of our favorite songs.

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Learning Objectives

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Week X: [SPRING BREAK!!!] Monday 26 March - Saturday 31 March

Take the week off and explore!

No required activities this week: only an encouragement to relax by learning something new about computers that you are curious about or interested in.


Week 9: Monday 2 April - Saturday 7 April

Connected spreadsheets: Database fundamentals

Many of us use the term "database" to describe a thing on a computer that stores information. We'll dive into what makes a database distinct from a spreadsheet, and how they are similar. With this knowledge, we'll start building our own database containing information that we care about.

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Week 10: Monday 9 April - Saturday 14 April

Databases 2: Putting a database into action with inserts and queries

Databases just store that data and provide a language called SQL (structure query language) for removing that data. We'll learn SQL basics and use those skills to extract data from our own databases that is interesting and useful to us in our lives.

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Week 11: Monday 16 April - Saturday 21 April

Computer and network security fundamentals

Data security breaches are commonplace occurrences these days: many high-profile companies, such as Target and MasterCard, have been the victim of data theft. We'll learn about essential concepts to protect digital data from unwanted release and use encryption tools to securely transmit messages to one another.

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Week 12: Monday 23 April - Saturday 28 April

Tinkering with Web Security

Computer interactions over the web can be made very secure if we understand the fundamental concepts of digital communication and encryption. This week, we'll assess the security level of various websites and recommend ways in which interacting with those websites can be done safely.

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Week 13: Monday 30 April - Saturday 5 May

Final Projects!

To tie a bow around our learning this term, we'll use this week to start the design of our final projects and begin implementing our ideas.

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Week 14: ["Finals"] Monday 7 May - Saturday 12 May

Celebrating the Cyborg life!

During finals week, we'll share and digest final projects made by our classmates and create ideas for future development of our computing skills.

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Page created on 2018 and last updated on 2018 and can be freely reproduced according to the site's content use agreement.

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