Skip to main content

Syllabus for LAFF Spring 2015

The Instructors

Maggie Myers

Robert van de Geijn


Work you can expect

Each week a new section of the course will be made available. Each section is broken into subsections. Within subsections you will find units that include videos, reading assignments, activities, homework, or programming assignments.

You Decide How You Want to Engage in the Course

You are welcome to Audit this course and have complete FREE access to all of the course material, tests, and the online discussion forum.  If you audit the course, you will earn a free Honors Code Certificate upon satisfactory completion of the course materials.If you plan to commit to the lectures, assignments, and tests and want proof of your achievement to give your engagement more validity, then choose the Verified Certificate of Achievement option. A verified certificate shows that you have successfully completed your edX course and confirms your identity through your photo and ID. For more information, please visit the edx Verified Certificates of Achievement   information page. 

Satisfactory Completion

Earn a certificate by successfully completing homework and answering questions on the midterms and final exam. There are 12 weeks for which homework will be submitted.  You submit a problem by clicking the “Check” box for each problem.  Each week will contribute 5% of the overall course score. Each of two midterms is worth 10% and comprehensive final contributes 20%.  To earn a certificate, you must accumulate at least 60% of the possible overall score. 



There are three exams: two midterms, and a comprehensive final.  The midterms cover all topics up to that point in the course and the final covers the entire course.  There will be sample exams available to help you study before the exams. Why do we have the exams?  They may provide evidence of what and how much you are learning.  But, more importantly, they are part of the learning and understanding process.  We understand that your primary goal is to learn linear algebra.  While studying for the exams, you will have the opportunity to review, make connections, and learn the hard-to-grasp concepts more deeply.  In the end, this should enhance retention of your knowledge and skills.  By taking the exam, you also have the chance to evaluate yourself.You are encouraged to post and answer questions and conduct discussions related to the sample exams.



Homework is sprinkled throughout the materials. There are different kinds of homework.  Originally we were planning to organize these by type but later decided it was more natural to mix them into the material.  The types are

o   Practice

o   Exercises to build insight

o   Think about problems (Always/Sometimes/Never and True/False questions that after you answer you are encouraged to prove)

o   Programming assignments (which you can choose to skip)

o   Applications

We recognize individuals have personal learning styles.  It is not necessary to complete everything to learn the material or even to earn a certificate.  You choose how you want to engage in the course.


Homework Grading

In order to help you pace yourself, we have deadlines for completing graded homework.  Some of the interactive exercises will not be graded.  We hope you will find them engaging.  Most of the homework is completion or multiple-choice.  When you click check, your answer is submitted and scored. If you miss a question, try it again.  You have multiple tries on questions to get the problem correct (even True/False).   Each homework problem conveys the number of points it is worth and the number you have earned. Proofs will not be graded but you will earn credit for the correct appraisal of Aways/Sometimes/Never or True/False.  Programming assignments will not be graded but you will report that you have completed these or skipped them for cedit.  You don’t need to submit homework problems in order.

The percentage of responses for a given week will be calculated upon the submission deadline for that week.  Each week’s homework submission will be 5% of your total.  So if you complete 50% of the homework for Week 1, will earn 2.5 percentage points  (50% of the 5%) towards the 60 percentage points for a certificate.

The bottom line:  If you are serious about learning, we think you will find the material rewarding.


Textbook information

This course is based on materials found at ULAFF (  Notes derived from these materials are made available one week at a time as PDF documents, free of charge.  They are structured to fit with the edX platform, with hyperlinks in the PDF document to the corresponding unit of the edX course and links in each unit of the course to the corresponding subsection of the PDF document.  We hope this helps you navigate between the notes and the online activities.


When can I watch the lectures, read notes, and work on the homework?

The course will launch 28 January 2015 with Week 1.  After the release of a week, you can watch the lectures, read notes, or work on assignments at any time before the due date.  For a complete schedule, look at the Course Calendar.  


Collaboration Guidelines

We always encourage our students to collaborate, as long as the purpose is to learn.  Please use the discussion boards to interact with us and other participants.  While we would like to interact with you on a more personal level, realize that there are tens of thousands of participants and we are teaching other classes as well…  We simply do not have time to answer your e-mail or take a phone call…  We will monitor the discussion forums and will answer questions as quickly as possible.

Please help us create a healthy learning environment by following these simple standards:

Be polite. Please treat one another with respect, so 
that everyone can continue to be involved and seek friendly support.

Be sensitive. This is a global forum with participants from many different cultures and backgrounds. Be very careful not to offend one another.

Post appropriate content. Be supportive.  However, avoid posting content that violates the Honor Code or Terms of Service. You may not post inappropriate or copyrighted content, advertise or promote outside products or organizations, or spam the forums with repeat content.

Be proud of your posts. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want associated with your name.

Anonymous posts aren’t anonymous to staff. We do not expect to observe any issues because we trust you to keep our forum communities strong and healthy. However, inappropriate posts may be deleted or made invisible to other students by forum moderators. People who repeatedly break these rules may be removed from the course.


Topics Covered

See the course outline.

Deadlines and Important Dates

The course starts on 28 January 2015 and closes at 23:00 UTC time on 25 May 2015.  Materials will be released weekly on Wednesdays and homework will be due on 23:00 UTC Mondays, as described on the Course Calendar. There is a window of 19 days between the material release and the due date for the homework of that week. While we encourage you to complete a week’s work before the launch of the next week, we realize that life sometimes gets in the way so we have established a flexible cushion.  Please don’t procrastinate.  Again, the course is closed 25 May 2015.  If you miss a deadline or two, you can still earn a certificate.  We suggest you complete as much of the material as you need for your goals.

Be Patient With Us!

Unexpected complications may occur as the course proceeds.  This may mean that the schedule changes if this happens.  Please be flexible!

Now, LAFF with us!