CCST9003 Scientific and Technological Literacy
Everyday Computing and the Internet

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]

Non-Permissible Combination:
CCST9004 Appropriate Technology for the Developing World /
CCST9015 Electronic Technologies in Everyday Life


Course Description

[This Common Core course is a Small Private Online Course (SPOC), i.e. traditional in-class lecture materials are replaced by video recordings or other online learning materials, thus leaving more time for interactions in face-to-face sessions.]

In order to make informed decisions in this information age, everyone needs to have an efficient way to sift through and evaluate the myriads of information that is available through the Internet. The ultimate objective of this course is to help students develop a “computational” state of mind for everyday events. Specifically, the course will enable students to answer the following questions: What daily problems need to be solved by a computational method? Are such problems solvable? By what means can such problems be solved? Is it worthwhile to compute such problems? How do all these problems relate to the Internet that we use on a daily basis? We will also discuss intensively the societal impacts of computing technologies on our daily life. The course will be taught with minimal levels of mathematical and technical detail.

Online lectures would be available for the whole course, making room for more in-depth learning in lecture sessions. Specifically, four to five lecture sessions would be conducted in collaborative workshop formats, whereby students need to work in teams to complete hands-on tasks corresponding to the topics covered in the course.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain, in a high-level manner, various representative computational algorithms (e.g. Google search, Google map route finding, etc.).
  2. Use the understanding of limitations on computability to judge whether a certain problem is computable.
  3. Apply the various “tricks” learnt in designing algorithms (e.g. recursion) to come up with a rough solution to a new problem.
  4. Demonstrate appreciation of the various technology frontiers and make informed judgements as to what new services/products we can expect to be derived from them.
  5. Critically judge whether a certain computing service/facility is likely to be beneficial to society.
  6. Demonstrate understanding that “computing” as a tool is a double-edge sword, and thus, reflect critically on whether we have been relying too much on computing devices in educating and entertaining young people.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Sat)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 10
Tutorials 10
Seminars / Guest lectures 2
Reading / Self-study 20
Online lectures 8
Online assessments 2
Assessment: In-class assignment 12
Assessment: Short one-page survey + 3-minute talk 30
Assessment: Project report writing 16
Assessment: Project presentation (incl preparation) 16
Assessment: Simple quantitative homework assignments 15
Total: 141

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Online assessment 10
Participation in classroom activities 20
Contribution in tutorials 10
Short survey 15
3-minute talk 15
Project report 15
Group project presentation 15

Required Reading

Timely articles published on the Web and in other magazines (e.g. Science, Nature, Time, Newsweek, The Economist, Psychology Today, etc.)

Recommended Reading

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor Y.K. Kwok
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Tel: 2859 8059
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor Y.K. Kwok
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Tel: 2859 8059
Ms. Andrea Qi
Honorary Lecturer, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Tel: 3917 6188