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This page will be kept up to date with information and resources related to how CS courses are handling impacts due to covid-19 (in particular online instruction and potential student/faculty illness).

For Students in CS Courses

S/U Grading

For each of your courses you will be able to choose whether you will be given a standard final letter grade (A-F) or S/U (Satisfactory / Unsatisfactory). See -

This is meant to give you flexibility. As much as possible you should continue to treat each course as you already have, and you can decide a bit later whether it would be in your interest to take S/U grading in any of your courses.

CS faculty have agreed on the following for CS courses to help students decide.

  • Week after spring break - give students their estimated letter grade up to now.
  • A few days before May 1 - give students estimated letter grade up until then.
  • Standard for S - the university is interpreting an S to mean D- or above. CS faculty have agreed that for CS courses this semester this means you have at least (a) finished the class (attempt assignments, take quizzes/exams, participate), and (b) complete a designated key assignment/task/project. The key assignment/task/project will be communicated for each course.
  • CS course prerequisites - all require a C or better (e.g., CS 201 has a prereq of C or better in CS 151). An S will not count for this prereq (because if a student would have ended up with a D then it would not be right to put them into the next course without being ready). If any student makes a good faith effort but in the end needs to take an S, be in touch with your instructor and the associate chairperson to discuss options.

Further notes that will be relevant in making your decision.

  • Grades of S do not count towards GPA.
  • If you are earning a C or higher, you should generally keep the A-F grading because that will look better on your transcript than an S.
  • You make your final decision before May 1, and should check with your advisor before deciding to make a course S/U.
  • There likely will be further updates and clarification at the link above as the intricacies of what this means in different situations are worked out.


If you are having difficulties which will put you in jeopardy of needing to drop any of your classes or under-perform (e.g. putting your GPA too low for graduation), please be in touch to try to get help. If you are having financial difficulties, we will put you in touch with the Dean of Students to talk through options. If you are having trouble in your CS courses, the associate chairperson of CS will make sure you get the help you need. If you have trouble in other courses, we will put you in touch with Associate Dean Dennis Ballard from the College of Arts and Sciences. If you have some other kind of problems, we will figure out who can help. Please copy the associate chairperson of computer science on any ask for help so that we can advocate for you.

If someone would like to contribute financially to the funds that are used to assist ISU students in financial need, we have been told to give to Student Affairs and specify the Michael L. Phillips Student Emergency Endowment.

University Info

Announcements from the university -

Generic online course/learning info from the university -


Students should plan to keep their calendars clear for when they would normally have lecture. Some instructors will meet online with their classes during the regular lecture time.

For courses where attendance is part of the grade, each instructor will determine how to count attendance during online instruction. The policy should be reasonable. Students should not be penalized for illness, and if there are other impacts related to covid-19 students should be in touch with their instructor and the associate chairperson of CS.

Lab Hours

CS Online Lab will be using Microsoft Teams. To get help, do the following.

  • Make sure you are using the latest version of Chrome or Edge (the software we will use is fully functional only in these browsers).
  • Go to or and login with your full ISU email address on the initial login and then using your ISU portal Id when asked for that. If you login at, Teams is one of the apps that shows up (along with Word, etc.).
  • Request access to the CS Online Lab team - by going to this link and clicking to request access. One of the faculty or GAs will approve your request to join.
  • Once part of the team, you can check on the General channel whether a GA / lab assistant is currently on duty. You can post questions in the chat, or you can ask to talk. With the video call you can share your screen to show your code and talk through debugging it.

Some notes...

  • We have all CS students enrolled in a blackboard course as well, so that we can use that as a backup option if there end up being any problems with Teams.
  • There is also a Microsoft Teams app that can be installed on phones and tablets. That should work as well.
  • If you aren't able to get into the CS Online Lab team and need to troubleshoot, check who is on duty at and you can look up their email address at ISU CS People.

Programming Assessment

For those who need to pass the programming assessment this term (CS 202, 500), we will likely offer the assessment online so that you have the same number of attempts as normal. The current thought is to give the assessment using blackboard with its lockdown browser quiz. The questions would be in the quiz, and you would type your answers rather than write them out. This is being tested out and we'll let you know.

Lecture and Office Hours

Each course instructor can choose how to deliver the content of the course - offline videos to watch, tutorials to follow, interaction using chat, synchronous video conferencing, or something else. Your instructor will let you know what to expect. You can see the possibilities that faculty are choosing from at Online-Instruction

Course Policies

The following are course policies being considered by the CS faculty to be reasonable and flexible given the situation with covid-19 and courses being converted to distance in the middle of the term. In addition we will of course abide by any guidance or standards issued by the university, and we will become more flexible as needed as the situation changes. We do not want students to have worse outcomes due to the situation than they otherwise would have.

  • Passing - If you make an effort to finish the course and maintain contact with your instructor, you will pass with at least a D-.
  • Hardship clause - If you have extenuating circumstances that would prevent you from finishing a course you should get in touch with your instructor and the associate chairperson (, 812-237-2126). We will work something out with you.
  • Online CS Lab - Is being staffed regular hours (though closed for spring break) - how it works. If these hours don't work for you let us know.
  • Final exams - Student may be allowed to choose whether to take a final exam or complete a final project of equivalent difficulty to take the place of the final. Exams will likely be given using the blackboard lockdown browser with webcam. If a student does not have access to a webcam or reliable internet, you can request an option to take an oral exam by phone.
  • Quizzes and assignments - For categories with at least 4 grades (e.g., assignments, quizzes), the lowest may be dropped.
  • Programming assessment - Will be given using the blackboard lockdown browser with webcam. A by-phone option can be requested if needed. If you pass the programming assessment in CS 202 and CS 500 you get at least a C. In CS 202, at least 50% of the remaining time on assignments/lecture should be aimed at helping you pass the programming assessment.
  • CS 151, 170, 201, 202, 303 - These are prerequisites for other courses. The faculty are discussing the threshold for getting a C in these courses this semester, and possible remediation options.
  • Schedule - Each course should be as clear as possible with the schedule of assignments, lectures, etc. See CS Online Teaching for recommendations.
  • Attendance - Courses should have at least some points each week that are easy to earn, play the role of attendance or participation, and can justify you passing the course.
  • Grades - Should be kept mostly up to date in blackboard.
  • Talk to us - Give points for talking with instructor via skype, teams, phone, etc. Also give points for checking in with the Online CS Lab.
  • Responsiveness - Try to be more responsive than normal via email and other means - replying multiple times per day (as opposed to within 1-2 business days, the normal standard).

Admissions / Prospective Students

We are aware that students hoping to attend ISU will have additional challenges in securing all required documentation, etc. in a timely manner.

For those applying for the CS MS, if our normal Graduate Admissions process is not feasible (e.g., you could not do a Skype interview but could do a phone interview due to internet issues, etc.) please be in touch with the associate chairperson. We will also be glad to defer Fall 2020 admissions to Spring 2021 for those who are admitted but end up unable to get to ISU in time for Fall 2020. Note that our normal admissions deadline for Fall is June 15, and for Spring is Nov 15. At this time the university-required documents for admission (4-year degree or equivalent transcript, English language scores if not from the US) remain the same, and the process for obtaining a student visa for international students remains the same. If there are any changes we will let all applicants know and post details here.

For international students, we are aware that many US consulates have put a hold on taking new appointments for visa interviews. At this time we just have to wait to see how this situation develops. As noted, we will be glad to take students for Spring 2021 entry if needed.

Administrative Things


Anything that normally needs signature on a physical piece of paper should be emailed instead. We will do print/sign/scan/email for these forms until further notice.

For CS Faculty, GAs, Lab Assistants

Graduate Assistants and Student Workers

Graduate assistants are expected to continue their duties. Those teaching courses continue to teach, now online. Lab hours will continue (though online now). Grading will continue.

Undergraduate lab assistants will continue their lab hours (online) if they are willing to do so. We appreciate you continuing to serve the department! Rather than clocking in, you will need to keep a spreadsheet of your hours that is accurate to the minute. You should only count time as working when you are logged into the online lab hours site when your normal lab hours take place.

Resources for Faculty

Information about what some of us use as tools for online teaching - Online-Instruction

Covid-19 Data and Analysis

Many will be interested in examining the data related to the spread of Covid-19. Some resources.


March 12

Head's up message from associate chairperson of CS

Cheers students enrolled in CS courses. As expected, we will be online-only starting next week. CS faculty met earlier in the week to discuss common expectations across all CS courses.

We will likely meet again tomorrow or this weekend to pin down the details. I will be in touch again after that, and will likely put up a website with information/resources related to your CS courses.

A few things to give you a head's up on already are below. Please read through that, and if you have any questions be in touch with your instructors and/or myself.

Note - face to face classes /will/ meet today and tomorrow as usual.

Reliable internet - you will need a reliable internet connection to view lectures and/or participate in synchronous sessions. If you will not have a reliable internet connection, please notify your instructors and myself ASAP.

Normal class meeting times - faculty may choose to hold synchronous online class sessions/lectures during your regular meeting times (everyone would connect to a video conferencing system at the same time). Until you hear otherwise you should keep your regular class meeting times blocked off on your calendars.

Lectures - faculty will choose between synchronous lectures, videos that can be viewed asynchronously, tutorials to follow, detailed powerpoint slides. Each faculty member will choose based on (a) their own preferences, and (b) what is likely best for the course.

Assignments - will likely continue on the same schedule. You should expect to continue working on your courses.

Unix lab - is likely to become an "online lab". We are working out the details, but we will have online hours where you can connect with one of the lab assistants to share screens, look at code, etc.

Quizzes and exams - faculty can choose whether to give quizzes/exams online or not. If the university resumes face to face eventually, faculty may choose to delay quizzes and exams until then.

Delay in startup - you may experience a delay in some courses getting up and rolling online. Faculty who have never taught online courses before will be getting up to speed early next week.