Readings are subject to change. Please always check the online syllabus.

CS 4472/6470: Design of Online Communities

Instructor: Amy Bruckman
Email: asb at
Student Hours: Talk to me after class, or email for an appointment.
Head TA: Beatriz Palacios-Abad
Email: bepa at
Student Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.
TA: Katelyn Helms
Email: krhelms11 at
Student Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.
TA: Ramisa Murshed
Email: ramisa at
Student Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.
TA: Naishi Shah
Email: nshah438 at
Student Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.
TA: Rishi Thulasiraman
Email: rthulasiraman3 at
Student Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.
Location: Molecular Sciences and Engineering G011 (note: this is an in-person class)
Time: Tuesday, Thursday 12:30-1:45
Class Schedule: Calendar

Learning Objectives

Online communities are becoming an increasing part of how we work, play, and learn. But how are they designed? What are they really good for? Why are some communities more successful than others? What are the key issues in this field of research?

At the completion of this course, students will be able to:



Additional readings are online and on Canvas.


Assignments and Grading

Your grade is based on:

Assignments (except reading reflections) will be graded on a list of criteria (specified on the assignment) such as quality of writing, completeness, insight into design issues, insight into social issues, etc. For each criterion, you will receive either a check plus, check, or check minus. Most criterion will receive a check. A plus means "you impressed me." A minus means the assignment is incomplete, incorrect, or sloppy in some fashion with respect to that criterion. Your grade on an assignment starts at a 90 and goes up about 3 points for each plus and down about 3 points for each minus. This is not exact--it may be adjusted more. Generally, a 90 means your work satisifed what was expected and more than that means you impressed us; less means this not what we expected.

Extra credit towards the design assignment is offered for giving an in-class presentation about your design.

Late Policy

Assignments are due fifteen minutes before the start of class on the day they are due. Reading reflections are due 24 hours and 15 minutes before class. If you hand in a reading reflection after the deadline but before class, there will be a three point late penalty. Once class starts, the reflection will receive a zero unless you have a documented excuse (such as illness, job interview, conference attendance). Reading reflections may not use late days.

For all other work (other than reading reflections), over the course of the term, you have three "late days" where work may be late with no explanation needed. Once you have used up your late days, late assignments will be penalized at a rate of 3 pts (one grade step: A becomes A-) per day. Assignments more than one week late will not be accepted. Presentations may not be late. I suggest you save your late days for your larger assignments. We can't transfer them if you have used them and then are late on a later assignment worth more points.


Class attendance in person is required.

If you need to miss class for a legitimate reason, please email the head TA before lecture. Legitimate reasons for missing class include illness, a job interview, or attending a professional conference. Excuses that will NOT be accepted include for example picking someone up at the airport, having something due in another class, or having furniture delivered.

If you are ill but feel up to watching class remotely, email the head TA before class to ask for a link to watch class via livestream. I will only be streaming when needed, and it will not be recorded.

Class mode will likely change during the semester

When community spread of Covid-19 is low, there will be no video stream. You are expected to come in person. Low is defined as: 1 or fewer cases per day/moving average on the GT campus, and 10 or fewer cases per 100,000 in Fulton County (light yellow on the New York Times map).

When community spread rises above those metrics, a video stream of class will be provided as an option; however, in-person attendance is still encouraged. Masked attendance at an in-person class by a vaccinated person is a relatively low-risk activity.

If you have special circumstances that make it difficult for you to attend in person even when the case level is low, please contact the instructor or Dean of Students' office. We will accommodate all reasonable requests.

Changes in whether a video stream is available will be announced in lecture and/or posted on Canvas as an announcement. You are responsible for paying attention to announcements.

Stay home if you are sick

Stay home if you are sick. If you have any symptoms of illness of any kind, please don't come in. A video will be provided for you, even if class is in in-person mode.

English as a Second Language

If Engish is not your first language, you may request to not be graded on your writing for a particular individual assignment. This means you won't be penalized for bad writing, but you also won't get credit for good writing. To take advantage of this option, you must mark "ESL" (English as a Second Language) on the first page of your assignment/paper. This option is not available for group assignments. We still of course expect you to try to write in correct English, and will do our best to offer useful feedback on your writing.

Reference format

Please use APA format for all references. APA format is described here.

Honor Code

This class abides by the Georgia Tech Honor Code. All assigned work is expected to be individual, except where explicitly written otherwise. You are encouraged to discuss the assignments with your classmates; however, what you hand in should be your own work.