View this PageEdit this PageAttachments to this PageHistory of this PageHomeRecent ChangesSearch the SwikiHelp Guide

What should a non-majors CS1 look like?

THIS PAGE IS GETTING CROWDED You're welcome to respond here or continue at CS1 cont'd

I'm working on designing a new CS1 (first CS) class, an alternative to CS1321. We're calling it Introduction to Media Computation. The main ideas of the course are:
The idea is for the course to focus on projects like synthesizing and manipulating sounds, doing Photoshop-like filters on images, and doing video effects (like putting a movie of yourself on the moon). The motivation is that 3-10 lines of code could do something that you want done, in order to make a point, cheaper and easier than buying and learning a high-end video/sound/image tool. I'm hoping that the assignments can be more open-ended and allow for more creative expression than traditional CS1. Along the way, we can introduce CS ideas while building and manipulating real media.

I'm aiming this class at non-CS majors, and maybe CS majors who are turned off by CS1321. It's probably not even a class for Engineers who strongly want a MATLAB and number-crunching focus in CS1. I hope it's a good fit for Ivan Allen College (e.g., LCC) students, Management, and Science students.

I'm trying to get feedback on the idea, and on the language for the course. I'm mostly interested in getting feedback from the kinds of students who might take such a course.

IF YOU ARE NOT A CS MAJOR, AND YOU ARE A 1st or 2nd year student, would you be willing to participate in this survey?


Thanks for participating! You're welcome to answer everything anonymously, or nothing at all. Feel free to contact me at with any questions.

Type in an answer and hit "Add to this page" BEFORE going on to the next question, please.

P.S. I'd like to be able to share your comments on this page with others interested in the design of an alternative CS1 class. If you don't want me to share your comments, please just say so next to your comment and I won't.

1. What's your major (so I get a sense of what majors are represented by these answers)?


Building Construction



Building Construction
















Building Construction



Building Construction












Kangaroos hop around. They are very good at boxing.

What's the difference between Architorture and Building Construction?



2. What do you think about the idea of an "Introduction to Media Computation" course? Does it sound motivating? More so than CS1321? Or just as undesirable?

it sounds awesome

It's definitely more useful and exciting than a programming class for students within the College of Architecture and other programs.

It's so simple and such an obvious answer to the problem at hand...yet BRILLIANT!!!!

how about replacing cs 1321 with arch 4420 for the COA. We learn how the computer works and how interfaces work....we also learn either autocad and microstation which are important to the COA

It sounds really good. I am currently struggling in cs1321, and it seems a bit not necessary. It has nothing to do with my major. It sounds more motivating that cs1321.

I would agree with the previous student. I believe that there should be a general computer class credit that must be satisfied, but the course should be specific to the major. So architecture students could take 4420 and the science and management majors can take the proposed course. This alternative course sounds much more exciting, motivating, and benificial than CS 1321.

I feel that it would be much more motivating than CS 1321 and I think that a sort of general computer class about different workshops should be integrated into this class or replace the proposed class.

sounds wonderful, i also agree with the above comments concerning arch 4420

The proposed course is definitely a motivator, since the current requirement does little but get in the way of the courses for the major. Integrating the required computer education credit with an area that sufficiently yields to the material of the major/field would be enormously beneficial.

It sounds great, and it even sounds like something that would be useful to an architect.

I took the course when it was 1311. I found myself constantly lost and struggling to keep up. Even in precepts I would lag behing because i was one of the only non-CS majors in there, and the preceptor didn't want to "keep the rest of the class waiting". I think that the media manipulation is key for our major, but as you say, with everything going digital, I think basic programming should still be covered.

i think this is what cs has been waiting for, something useful

I feel like the course describe would definitely be more useful than the current CS 1321. I am pleased that GA Tech is responding to students concerns and allowing those of us not majoring in CS to take a more creative based course that will be benificial instead of a chore.

I'm currently taking cs 1321, and i know as a freshman that it is my hardest
course, and probibly the hardest of those yet to come. It's disappointing
that it has no relevance to my future in the College of Architecture.
Understandably, it may help influence how I think, and will force me to do
my best in a course where I am not fluent with its language. However, I feel
the course is simply there as a challenging course, with no seeable benefit.

Hey, yeah, I think this couse sounds awesome...i am definitely interested, as an ID student this defintely appeals more to me

thank you thank you thank you. this really sounds applicable to our majors. i'm so glad i didn't take cs.

It would probably be a whole lot better for someone in the COA to handle. Unless they like the extreme workload of a CS-minded class, the alternative would be much more suitable for a Non-CS/Engineer.

I think that this idea, to create a better focused CS class, is a wonderful idea. There are many processes that use computers that those of us in the design and construction industries need to learn and by learning the codes and systems of these programs would be greatly benificial.

I am currently taking CS and not doing very well in it even though I spend hours a week doing the homework for the class. I put long hours into the class but still make relatively low scores on the homework. This is very demoralizing and I feel that it is having a negative effect in my other more important classes. This new "Introduction to Media Computation" course sounds like a much better class.

i think that it is a great idea. i thought that 2130 was an introduction to the language, but if we dont have to learn the language, whats the point in taking 2130?

i mean 1321

I would do it, definitely. I think it's a good idea, especially if the applications used in the class would be useful later. This sounds strange, but I actually enjoy the straight up coding of 1321. The only thing that annoys me is the no-sharing policy and the length of the seemingly useless stuff. I understand and appreciate the logic that the class demands, but there are a lot of things to change. This new class, integrated with a little coding, would be very stimulating.

as a STAC major, an alternative to the scary 1321 CS is heartening...STAC is lib arts, for us non-sciencey and non-math folks. I know very little about computers, and the hostile reputation of the CS college worries me, because i need to keep the HOPE scholarship yet it's very possible that i will fail CS 1321. I think a communications and applications based CS is a great idea, since i will never ever ever ever use the crap that is taught in 1321.

I think the idea of an alternate CS1321 course for non-engineering students in any form is comforting, but the ideas you have seem more appealing and useful to students of non-engineering majors.

I think the alternate course sounds much more useful to college of architecture majors than cs 1321.

The course title sounds lame. Or was that an attempt to make it non-threatening to non-cs minded folks?

Think it is great, because I don't ever think I will use this programming in mgt. HTML at the most.

Graphics might be a better subject (more applicable) for non-CS majors.

I think it sounds awesome! I am registered for the pilot course and am very excited about the prospects of it. Thank you for doing this, it will hopefully be a great experience!

I think it's great, but it's too late for me: I've already taken the hell that is CS 1321. I know it's selfish, but I want other people to suffer the same way I have to.

The title makes the course sound as if it is very useless and lacking any substance.

Yes, you might as well rename it "CS for people who are too dumb to pass 1321." I thought it was great that everybody had to take a hard-core coding class, because that way nobody could graduate without being
comfortable with a computer, which is important since practically every job uses them these days. It makes me sick to hear the sorrity girls on my hall getting drunk and partying with their frat boys every night while ace'ing their CS media class. We CS majors have to take a whole year of physics and some really nasty math classes (like Combinatorics) that have little-to-nothing to do with our major, how about making easier versions of those, too? It's really too bad I have to lose HOPE because I chose a real major, so I don't have a bunch of grade-inflating STAC classes to balance out the shafting I get in all my other classes.

3. Are the open-ended and creative assignments a draw for you, or not so important?


A draw, COA students have good imaginations and like to apply their ideas to their work, rather than typing in lines of code without an appreciation for what they are doing.

I could actually apply what I learned in a class that was open-ended and creative to my major. I think that open-ended is a key term and crucial for a class that is required by the entire student body.



A draw, it is better to allow students to explore their creativity with new media.

A draw, In the College of architecture there are so many unique and creative thoughts that should be expressed,but not shown through lines of code.

Creative/open-ended assignments would be definitely attractive; such a course would give an architecture student such as myself the ability of not just applying what was learned in class, but moreso by the ability of learning how to apply my creativity in an other way outside of the traditional studio setting. It would be a way in which to mimic some of the current COA classes that are digital-media based and provide a more intensive study on digital methods.

Very much so, design students like to play a role in deciding what they need to be working on. It is horrible when someone limits our creativity.

Creative assignments are good, but gove us the tools to execute them too. To me allowing us to be creative without teaching us how to code, would be like teaching us to design, but leaving out the drafting.

most def a draw

Definitely a draw... at a technical school I think we should make it a point to foster creativity.

defintely a draw, any students from COA would probably agree


I like the though of not having the set guidelines for assignments in a course like CS.

definitely a draw. i can't stand to sit and stare at lines of boring code in CS now.

I'm artsy and anything creative is better than the junk my roommate spends hours doing in her CS 1321 class.

I think that this is an incredible idea. It is definitely more applicable for architecture majors than cs 1321.

The creative assignments are what appeals most to me, not so much like the by the book, only numbers and coding material that is the focus of CS1321.

This isn't Georgia State! If they want an easy CS course, let them take cs1050. At least they'll get a math component in there :)

I don't know about mgt majors drawing, i can see this with COA

'creative assignments' sounds like hell for a large class.

"My TA gave me a worse grade than ____"...

CREATIVE sounds great! :)

I love creativeness!! And tech needs more creative stuff. Too many people here are boring and dull. Especially in a CS course. DEATH TO CODING THE CRAP I HAVE TO CODE IN CS 1321.

I think we should have artistic assignments using photoshop and a digital tablet or something like that where the grade is given on the basis of the student's artistic merit.

Creativity is great, so long as the material doesn't suffer. It's important that everyone learn such basic things as recursion, iteration, linked lists, arrays, conditionals, binary search trees and all the various sorting algorithms. Understanding is pivotal to understanding how computers think, which makes it much easier to figure out how to do something or why a program keeps crashing. Either way, I don't feel creativity is a neccessary component- how much creativity was there in calculus?

4. A big issue for me is choice of language. I'm considering

Which would you prefer of these three? Or is there another language that you'd prefer to learn?

no preference

I hear all the time that Scheme is in a way a waste of time, so I think that Python would be better. Java should be saved for those in CS2.

I don't even know what a computer language is but scheme sounds like a bad idea. Whatever can actually be used.

Scheme is horrible. I would rather have pseudocode again. Java is a pain in the butt if you are not good at programming. Python sounds cool.

Scheme is not a good language for the first time student. And Java seems to be here 2nd year CS students. So python sounds a lot better than Scheme, Scheme is very difficult as you progress.

I have heard that scheme is very confusing, hard, and not applicable to real computer applications. I think that Python would be the most appropriate language for the proposed course.

I dont know much about it, but I heard that both Java and Scheme are ridiculous. Python is a good choice.

i dont think a language is an important topic for non-engineering students. perhaps unix and html would be more benificial in the long run than the others.

Python sounds like the most useful of the three.

I have attempted to use Scheme before, and it really wasnt a pleasant experience. Perhaps it was the method by which it was taught? or maybe it really just is a bad code, where the skill will be obsolete in real world programming. I think that Python would be most appropriate as a language, but thats only because of the reputation it has for being easier than most. I do not think that JAVA should be used for this course; too difficult.

An actual language or as close to it as you can get without being overly complicated would be my preference.

Although Java is a good skill to have, I believe those of us not going into computer related professions and going into more creativity motivated fields would appreciate and hold onto a language such as python. Scheme is hard and isn't even worth the time.


I dont know much about languages, but python defintely sounds the most appealing

I think Java. It is useful for anyone and it isn't all that tough to learn.

I think that Java is the most widely used and because many COA students will be in jobs that don't focus on choosing one's own language, Java would come in handy the most.

scheme is relatively pointless since it isn't used anywhere. and for a beginning course, something like java would be too difficult. so i guess that leaves python.

There's a consensus that Scheme is out, and with good reason. The other two sound appealing, but both have their upsides and downsides. Python sounds easier to use however a little less useful, and Java's definitly harder but more applicable. I think Java would be the weay to go, since everyones saying that they want something they can use, and a lot of these people will be in the visual arts field.

pick whichever computer language you want, as long as the prof and the TAs can explain it in normal-people english, as opposed to technical jargon.

Python sounds more like a language that would parallel the material in the new version of CS1321 for non-engineering majors.

Oooh ooh ! How about C#?

I think Java or something of the sort would be useful, something that would look attractive to future employeers

PYTHON! but Java would be useful...and yes, normal people english is key! I know nothing about CS and look foward to learning, but not at super high speed.

I don't know much about those languages, sorry. But I'd say, whatever you do, don't do scheme. I shudder when I hear that word. I can't even say phrases like "in the grand scheme of things" without breaking out in a cold sweat.

C is definitely the best choice. Barring that, Java.
C is the most practical language. Non majors could definitely use some PRACTICALITY instead of this strange "merely-educational" "limited real-world applicability" scheme stuff.

Heck even majors could use some practicality. C, C++, C# or some equally widely-accepted alternate.

Of course if C were to be taught in an intro course it would have to be taught at a level somewhere between the various high-school C classes and the CS 2130 class here.

What about Smalltalk?

JAVA, without a doubt. It shares much of the same syntax as the most used languages (C/C++) and is, in itself, widely used. However, it avoids the really nitty-gritty stuff (like memory allocation and garbage collecting) that isn't so important developing a cognitive model of how a computer works and thinks.

Scheme is the way to go. It is a simple clean language unlike these other two confusing messy kludges.

5. Finally, what would YOU like to be able to do when you get done with CS1? Do you want to be able to program? Or just understand how programs are done? Or just complete the Core Area B requirement? :-) If you want to be able to program, what kinds of things?

i wanna know how to use everyday programs more efficiently. i wanna learn how my computer functions and what it's made of. i hate programming and i seriously think it is useless to learn in college if it's not your major.

I have no need for good programming knowledge, but would like to be familiar with multimedia programs, they are much more practical for design majors.

I do not see myself programming a computer ever in the future. If I do need a computer programmed, I'll hire a Computer Science major. I don't know any of the features in Word besides bold, italics, etc. and I know that the CS for Engineering majors course (1361, I believe) learned some of that stuff. I could use pagemaker, photoshop, Microsoft Excel, even though I don't know what it does but I've heard, it's practical.

some basic programming would be useful so that you know how they work, but I don't think the focus should be on it specifically for COA students. I think it should be geared toward multimedia and how they work so you can have an understanding of them, so you can know their limitations.

I really do not cae about knowing how to program. I don't see a need for it. I know how to use Adobe and Microsoft Office Programs. I think multimedia is more important. So, basically, I am just looking for the Core Area B requirement.

The only reason that I would take a CS class is to fulfill a requirement. I would much rather fill that credit with a course applicable to my area of study. Otherwise it is a waste of time.

I dont have a need for programming knowledge, but I would need to fill my CS 1 requirement. But the more related CS is to my major the better it will be.

I want to satisfy the Core Area B requirement, nothing really more. Although the content of the proposed course that would reflect the needs of the field of architecture would make me more interested in it.

I do not see myself needing programming skills in the future, but I would like to understand a little about it. Mainly I would like to understand and have a basic knowledge of computers and programs. If CS was not required I would never take it.

I agree with the above statements about using software more efficiently. On top of that I would to be able to execute basic web design. As designers, we can only benefit from applying our gifts to other media.

I do not remember hardly anything from my CS1321 class, except that I was very bitter about taking it then and still have a deep hate for having to spend so much of my time on it. I didn't inherit any new skills from the class and that is very frustrating. I wish I would've learned more about web design.

I think that learning how to do web design would be benificial.

i really do think SOME programming is beneficial, especially the basics..web design is interesting

You got to learn some programming. The labs were also useful such as designing a webpage.

I do not care so much about programming. I would like to be able to work with graphics and drawing programs, just simply understand how it works.

for the most part, i'm only taking the class because i have to. however, i would like to leave with knowledge on how to design web pages and anything relative to an architecture major.

i would like to be able to design web sites to some degree, but the most important thing is PASSING THE CLASS so i can check it off.

I don't necessarily have a desire to program myself, but a simple understanding of what programming is would be good start for me.


I don't care to program, using a computer and the applications for it I think is enough for me. I think IT, that we have to take should be the extent to it, plus maybe some basic programming, we learn how to use HTML in IT

I would just like to know how to use my computer. Web design is cool. I want to learn stuff that is actually useful; programming is not useful to an IAML major (Inta Modern Language). Mostly, I would like a CS class in which I can PASS, and, more importantly, keep my scholarship.

I want to be able to program computer games.

Programming is useful to everyone. For example, I wrote a program just the other day to tell me what grades I needed to make in my classes in order to retain HOPE. Besides, programming/intensive computing looks good on your resume, no matter what kind of job you're applying for. 1321 is NOT that hard; it has very clear and concise lecture slides, and an army of TAs you can bug if you still have trouble understanding it. The 10 hour homework assignments you get ever other week is kind of a drag, but thats nothing compared to the 40 hour ones we get in 2130 EVERY week.

6. Any general comments or questions?

i like the idea of working with programs like photoshop and non-programming things

When do you think this class will be offered, and will there be enough spaces for non-CS majors who want to take it to sign up?

replace CS3121 with ARCH4420 !!!!!!

I'd also like to know when the class would be offered. Enough room for non-CS majors is also a big concern.
I know that I'm just worried about the time the CS1321 in existence would take along with my studio courses; it would cause me to do poorly in my most important class to my major. If I could take an alternative that I would come away from the class with knowledge applicable to my major, I would be ecstatic, rather than coming out of CS1321 with a D (if I'm lucky) and not learning anything on top of my architecture studio work suffering.

I like the idea a lot, and maybe replacing the grade in the new course with the exsisting grade for students who have already struggled through cs1321.

A major concern of mine is the availability for the class. There should be enough classes offered in conjunction with the non-CS and non-engineering majors. I understand the concept of well-rounded students and I think that an alternative course would make students more round than CS1321. Right now everyone hates it and forgets it as soon as they take the final. It only takes time away from my major courses.

I like the idea a lot, and I am going to hold off of taking CS 1 so that I might be able to take this class. I hope there would be someway to take a CS class that didnt involve programming, but taught us how to use programs. Programming and Code have nothing to do with Architecture.

As it seems to be the general consensus that a Tech student should leave the Institute with some basic knowledge of electronic aids for his/her field, it seems redundant to have a student majoring in an area that typically does not use extensive computer programming to have to learn a language, especially a language that will most likely become obsolete, after leaving Tech.

The proposed course must be implemented if Tech really wants to offer/instill the notion of 'progress and service' (from the school motto) to both the student and the community in which (s)he will be entering after graduation. Tech offers cs1321, and it really only serves as a disservice to the student and his/her future.

The reason that I have not taken CS thus far is because it is so incredibly time consuming. Many COA students spend in excess of 8 hours a day working in studio, there is not much time afterwards for other classes (especially if they are as time consuming as CS).
Thanks for allowing us the opportunity to voice our feelings!

I think it would be a vast improvement if the course was particular to the College of Architecture.

I was trying to avoid taking CS at Tech at all costs because of the horror stories I have heard. They consisted primarily of time consuming projects that left students with little gratification or satisfaction. Thank you for attepmting to allow student to potential learn skills that will be helpful instead of hindering on student's ability to complete other assignments.

I know someone has already asked...but when will this be available??

What other changes are being considered for the COA in light of common freshman classes?

This seems to have been a long time coming. Please consider that those of us responding want to be able to take these courses.

get it out there soon. i don't want to fail CS1321 again.

the CoE people will be having a separate CS class for their field - it's a little less demanding and a little more geared for Engineers. I believe other non-CS majors should have the same option. But, be careful not to make it too extreme so as to eliminate the basic knowledge a student at a technical institute should have.

my comment- HURRY AND GET THIS GOING! the class you are describing sounds interesting, as CS classes go. Thank you sooooooo much, on behalf of computer illiterate people.

The course should be open to all non-engineering majors, not just college of architecture because the other non-engineering majors too do not need useless CS1321 in their careers particular to their major.

Tech really needs a computer literate populace. Creating a course to deal with those who can't hack it doesn't help the reputation of this institute. Please consider putting in a strong programming component, whatever language or pseudocode is chosen. I'm tired of hearing politicians and arts&science folks without the foggiest notions of technology. These same "educated" people become lawyers and legislators and change the landscape of technology for the rest of us. Mark, for the love of God, please teach these kids some good CS. Using powerpoint and a few apps is gonna really butcher their chances later in life... unless they end up as my personal assistant ;)


ooooh, someone mentioned Photo Shop. I like, I like! But people, CS 1321 has nothing to do with International Affairs Modern Language. And if you plan on being a housewife like me, then it is absolutely retarded to have to suffer through a class such as CS1321 in which you have NO interest. Bah, I'll be so happy when I'm done with CS1321 and can move on to the FUN classes in the Ivan Allen College. LONG LIVE THE LIBERAL ARTS.
Mark– this class is a good idea. You'll be saving some people their sanity. Thank you for letting me vent about how God-awful I find CS1321. Sorry to all you CS people, hate to break it to you, but some of us just cannot think like a computer no matter how hard we try.

.."And if you plan on being a housewife like me"..."the FUN classes".. Wow. Oh my god. This is why there was such a backlash against the admittance of women to the institute back in the 20s or whenever, people were affraid that easier classes would have to be introduced to placate them, and (by proxy) lower the institute's reputation, and that is exactly what is going on here. It makes me sick to think that somebody is going to my school just for the "fun" of it. I do hours and hours of work and study every night just to keep up with my classes, and that's how I know I'm getting something out of this school, and I'm being prepared for the real world. I would've gone to Georgia Southern or UGA(although some majors are respectable) if I wanted to have fun.

Thanks very much for your comments!
Mark Guzdial