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Online / Remote Learning

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to COVID-19, all aspects of RPI's Fall 2020 Data Structures course will be conducted online. Please be patient as we adapt our materials and teaching methods to this format.

Required Computing Hardware

All students are required to have sole use of a personal computer (laptop or desktop) with moderate computing power. This equipment should not be shared with anyone else during the term. It should not be shared with other students, friends, or family members. Students are responsible for physically securing their computer and protecting all accounts with good passwords.

Many students will have a laptop from RPI's Mobile Computing Program. You may alternatively choose to Bring Your Own Laptop, but it should meet similar minimum requirements.

All students will be required to participate in mandatory small group video conferencing calls and will need a simple webcam, speakers or headphones, and microphone. Note: The built-in camera, speaker, and microphone with most modern laptops should be sufficient.

Required Computing Software

You may use any of the major Operating Systems (GNU/Linux, MacOS, or Windows) for this course. Please follow the C++ Installation Instructions for your Operating System.

We will be using Cisco's Webex Meetings for video conferencing. Please read the documentation and download the Webex Meetings application for your operating system (MacOS or Windows). Linux users are currently limited to accessing Webex Meetings through their web browser, but hopefully this will work well enough for this course.

Students will be asked to enable their camera and microphone during small group sessions. Students will also need to screenshare their C++ development environment to demonstrate their code during lab and ask for help during office hours. We will practice using this software during the first lab meeting.

Internet Access

Students are expected to have reliable internet access on a daily or near daily basis throughout the term. All materials (lecture videos and lecture, lab, and homework handouts) will be posted on the Calendar. All official course announcements and Q & A will be on the Discussion Forum.


Lectures will consist of pre-recorded videos and/or live remote lectures with limited student text-chat interaction via Cisco WebEx Meetings (or WebEx Events). Students are not required to attend live remote lectures -- these sessions will also be recorded. PDF copies of the lecture notes and video recordings of lectures will be posted on the Calendar on (approximately) the date of the lecture.

MediaSite channel for all course videos

Students are strongly encouraged to practice good time management and watch the lectures during the scheduled lecture time or within 24 hours of the lecture time. See also: Lecture Participation Polls.


Attendance will be taken at mandatory weekly video conferencing lab study group meetings using WebEx Meetings. We will finalize the schedule of these weekly lab study group meetings during the first week or two of classes. We hope to schedule most students during the Wednesday "LAB" time slot for their registration section. We will consider both academic schedule conflicts and the student's local time zone.

Office Hours

Students can ask questions about lecture and lab material, and get one-on-one help on their homework during office hours held by the instructor, graduate TAs, and undergraduate programming mentors. See also Office Hours Schedule and Getting Help. All office hours will be conducted remotely using video conferencing through WebEx Meetings.

Tests and Final Exam

The online / remote testing procedure is under development and may be adapted or modified as the term progresses.

The tests and final exam will be primarily digital versions of our traditional pencil and paper examinations (short answer questions and medium length programming exercises). For each of these exams a subset of students will be selected at random for a short followup oral exam with a member of the teaching staff using Webex video conferencing.

See Calendar for the exam dates and time. We will consider necessary student accommodations, including the student's local timezone and extenuating personal situations, on a case-by-case basis.

Communication and Teaching Staff

The faculty, graduate TAs, undergraduate programming mentors, and administrative staff assigned to Data Structures this term are passionate about technology and education, and care about your overall health and happiness.

These are unusual and stressful times. This is a very large class (typically 300+ students in the fall term) and resources are not infinite. None of us (teachers or students) are experts in online education. We are all looking forward to "normal times" and our eventual return to the physical classroom.

Please be patient as we adapt our course materials and teaching methods to this format. Please use the discussion forum to ask your course-related questions so we can share our answers with all students. Please limit your email communication with the teaching staff to confidential matters. Thank you!