When do I use CCLE, and when do I use the class website?

Use CCLE to access readings (that aren’t linked from the website), to submit assignments, listen to lecture podcasts, and to take the final. For everything else, use the class website.

Why won’t you accept late work?

We, your instructors, need to spend our energy preparing for class and helping you to succeed. Deducing the truth or falsehood of an excuse is not an appropriate role for an instructor and disrupts our teaching schedule.

The no-late-work policy emphatically includes blog posts and comments; not only is it unacceptable to submit your blog post or comments during class, it’s also disrespectful to your classmates and to me.

I’m a little nervous because I haven’t done a lot of technical stuff.

As long as you keep up with the readings and assignments, you should be totally fine. We’ve designed this class so that people with different technical skill levels can slot in at a place that’s comfortable for them. We don’t care where you start; just how much progress you make! If you’re doing the work but still finding yourself struggling, it’s important that you let us know. We’ll sit with you for as long as you need us to in order to help you get it. We really want you to succeed!

I’m a little nervous because I have done a lot of technical stuff. Will this class be too easy?

I’m not going to lie: there may be moments, like when we’re teaching Excel basics, where you find yourself sitting through information you’ve already heard. But to this I’d say four things:

  1. The DH approach to technology is different from every other discipline’s, so even if you’ve learned things a certain way, it might be interesting for you to get another angle on it.
  2. We cover a lot of areas that may be new to you. Even if you’re an accomplished statistician, for example, you may not have done a lot of mapping, GIS, or web design.
  3. We do a lot of theory, which will hopefully be new and fun for everyone.
  4. When we learn technical skills together in class, we’re not trying to see who’s the awesomest coder or who can understand things the fastest. Instead, we all work together to make sure everyone gets everything. If you’re bored but see a classmate struggling, your job is not to roll your eyes, but to jump in and help (if they want it), with empathy and respect. Your job as a learner isn’t done until everyone gets it.

Think hard about number 4. Is that the kind of person you are? If not, that is totally fine, but this might not be the right class for you.

Why aren’t you letting us pick our own research topics?

It’s true, in previous years, teams have selected their own topics. This was great in a lot of ways, but I’ve changed the assignment a lot this year. Most significantly, you’re working intensively with a humanities dataset. It’s not easy to find these datasets, and once you do find them, it’s not easy to get them into the right shape for manipulating. Since we only have 10 weeks, and I want you to be able to do meaningful research, I’ve pre-selected the topics for you.

That said, I think it’s also just really valuable to know that anything can be interesting if you research it carefully and immerse yourself in it. You are UCLA students. You can learn about anything.

Why aren’t you letting us form our own groups?

Again, it’s true, in the past, I’ve allowed students to form their own groups. And I do want you to enjoy working with your fellow group members. But it’s even more important to me that everyone in the group develops his or her skills. We’ve observed that when group members have marked differences in technical skills, then more technically adept team members will naturally take on more technical responsibility. It’s just faster and more efficient that way. But we want all team members to push each other to learn more. So we’re attempting to form groups of similar skill levels. Don’t worry about comparing yourself to your classmates. Everybody starts somewhere, and everybody’s here to learn!