Topic Presentation

You'll PRESENT materials and TEACH a class about a specific topic in social computing.

Tips & Info

What do I do?

Once a semester, you'll lead a class section for 25 minutes. This means you'll present in front of the class, show examples, run activities, ask and answer questions, and facilitate class discussion. Here are the three steps that are involved:

  • Share your lesson plan with the course staff and get feedback. This is a written document (maximum one page) that needs to be sent to the course staff.
  • Read the pre-class material thoroughly (not just the required ones but all readings for that day). Also, read peer students' critiques for the assigned reading and summarize them.
  • Submit your presentation material and activity document after your presentation.
Your presentation should include the following:
  • Present a few real-life examples that represent the topics covered in the pre-class material. Explain what the examples are about, why they matter, and what the implications are. Feel free to promote student discussion regarding the examples.
  • Design and run an in-class activity, which should ask students to analyze, design, make, or present something.
Key in your activity design is to include interactive components, such as a short design exercise, a simulated crowdsourcing task, a poll, group brainstorming, etc. Please mimimize the amount of one-way lecturing to students. Surprisingly, designing for interactivity requires more time, thought, and effort than preparing a one-way lecture. So please plan ahead and talk to the course staff for feedback and help.

Why do this?

One-way lectures are boring, and they are not the best way to learn. You learn better by teaching and engaging.

How do I submit?

Here's a timeline for a Mon (Wed) presentation:
  • Thu (Mon) night: Email your lesson plan in PDF by 11:59pm two days before class, which would be Thursday (if presenting on Mon) or Monday (if presenting on Wed). This is to give you enough time to iterate on your plan and get feedback or help from the course staff. Please cc all your team members in the email.
  • Fri (Tue) noon: Prof sends you feedback on the lesson plan.
  • Fri (Tue) night: Send your (tentative) slides by 11:59pm the night before your presentation. All examples and activity design should be finalized. Minor tweaks can be made until the class. This is to ensure that Prof can better sync his part of the class with the presentation.
  • Right before class: Join the Zoom early (at least 10 mins) to check your audio, video, and screen setup.
  • Mon (Wed) after class: Email your final presentation slides and activity document, both in PDF, by 11:59pm the day of your presentation. Your slides will be posted on the course website.

What should a lesson plan look like?

This is a high-level outline of your class. Please send it as PDF to the staff email A bullet-pointed list of things to cover is fine. Keep it to maximum one page. Make sure to include an estimate of how long you plan to spend for each component. The following should be included:
  • Learning objective: Maximum 2-3 short statements of what students will learn or achieve by the end of your class.
  • Real-life Examples: List examples you are planning to present to class. Add a short description about what they are and what connection you are trying to make with the course topic.
  • Activity: Design a short activity for students to practice and apply the concepts related to the topic of the class. Asking students to work in small groups (2-4) is a good idea. Be creative and innovative. Actively use physical materials (e.g., paper or post-it) as well as digital tools (e.g., Google forms for collecting responses, Google docs for collaborative document editing). A good activity asks students to generate a concrete artifact as a result. In the lesson plan, include an initial plan of your activity.

What should I submit after the presentation?

After your presentation, please send the following to the staff email ( (1) a PDF file of your final slides used in class and (2) an activity document that includes the following:
  • Learning objective of the activity
  • Detailed instructions for running the activity, to the level someone outside of your team can replicate
  • Instructions given to students during class
  • Any material used for the activity: photos of physical materials or links to digital tools (or screenshots)
  • Reflection: What worked well and not? What would you change to make it work better?

How to design a successful remote lesson?

Running a remote interactive lesson is challenging even for experienced instructors. Here are a few things you should keep in mind.
  • Using Zoom's breakout rooms: You're welcome to put students into breakout rooms for small-group discussion and activity. (1) Your lesson plan should include how many students should be assigned per group. Please note that only random assignment will be possible. (2) Please use breakout rooms only once during your presentation, as it requires additional time and coordination.
  • Discussion: Please use Zoom's text chat for simple discussion. You can also consider creative use of Google docs or Google slides for synchronous discussion with many participants.
  • Time management: Running activities remotely (especially using Zoom's breakout rooms) takes more time than the physical classroom counterpart. Please add time for room assignment and coordination in your lesson plan. Running a couple minutes over will be okay, but covering only half of what you planned in 30 minutes is problematic.

How is it going to be graded?

Your presentation will be graded by the course staff. Here's the grade break-down:

  • Lesson plan (10%): Submitted on time? How organized is the class plan? If everything goes as planned, is it going to be an engaging session?
  • Real-life Examples (20%): Are the examples accurately and effectively representing the class topic? Are the examples timely, interesting, creative, thought-provoking, and unique?
  • Activity (40%): Did you design an engaging activity that reflects the topic of class? Did students actively participate in the discussion? Were your instructions clear? Is time well-managed? Did the post-activity discussion point to the main lessons?
  • Presentation (30%): How well did the overall presentation go? This includes the organization, your delivery both verbally and visually, level of preparation, quality of material, fluidity of discussion, and peer students' reaction.

Extra Credit

First volunteers are often at a disadvantage. Presenters in the first two sessions will get extra credit: 10% for the first session presenters and 5% for the second session presenters.

Team Presentation

You will be presenting in a team. You should work closely in your team to plan the 25-minute lesson. Every member should contribute to the preparation and presentation. The general expectation goes high as the number of members in a team increases, in terms of the level of preparation, coverage of the pre-class material, etc.

Late Policy

You should be present on the day of your presentation. No late presentations are allowed.