Santa Fe Institute Online Course
"Introduction to Complexity"
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When will the course start? February 4, 2013
Who will teach the course? Melanie Mitchell, External Professor, Santa Fe Institute
How much will it cost? Nothing. The course is completely free.
How is the course funded? The course is funded by the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) through a grant from the Templeton Foundation. In order to support future courses, we will be asking for small, voluntary donations to cover the costs of developing and providing those courses.
Who is the intended audience and what are the prerequisites? This course is intended for anyone with an interest in complex systems. For this introductory course, there are no prerequisites, and no science or math background is necessary. The level will be similar to that of an interdisciplinary undergraduate class, though the topics are broad enough to be of interest to people ranging from high school students to professionals.
What topics will be covered? This course will be a broad overview of the sciences of complexity. There will be 11 units; each will cover one major topic in complex systems. See the course syllabus for specific topics.
How will the course work? Each unit will consist of a series of short videos, with each video corresponding to subtopics of the unit's main topic. The course website will lead you through the videos in order, allowing you to skip or repeat videos as you desire. You can watch these videos at your own pace and in any order you desire; once posted, they will remain available indefinitely. Anyone will be able to watch the videos even without registering for the course. However, in order to be graded and receive a certificate of completion, you will need to register and finish all the homework assignments and final exam within the 11-week course period (i.e., by April 21, 2013).
How long will the course last? 11 weeks. We expect that participants will complete about one unit per week. However, the videos will stay online indefinitely.
What about quizzes? Many subunits will be followed by a quiz that you can take online and that will be graded automatically. These quizzes wonÕt count towards your final grade; their purpose is to allow you to see how well you have understood the material in the video, and what you might need to review.
What about the final exam? There will be a final exam that must be taken during the last week of the course in order to receive a certificate of completion. The final exam will test you on all the units. Like the quizzes, the final exam can be completed online and will be graded automatically.
And homework? Each unit will be followed by a homework assignment that you can complete and submit online. Homework assignments also will be graded automatically. The homework will be a combination of written exercises (with numerical answers), multiple-choice questions, and experiments with computer simulations using the Netlogo platform.
What is Netlogo and how do I get it? This course will use the Netlogo simulation platform for examples, demonstrations, and homework assignments. Netlogo is a free software package that runs on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux operating systems. No previous experience with Netlogo, or with computer programming, is required. The introductory videos of the course will give instructions on how to download and use Netlogo and further videos will teach students the Netlogo language and how to develop their own simulations.
Will Netlogo run on iPads or other tablets, or on smartphones ? No, not yet, though the NetLogo team is working on this. For now you have to run it on a regular computer. Any computer running Windows, Macintosh, or Linux should work with NetLogo.
Is there a required textbook? No textbook is required. There will be a few reading assignments that will be provided on the course web site.
Do I have to register to take the course? Anyone will be able to watch the videos and take the embedded quizzes at any time. However, registration will be required for you to be able to submit homework, take the final exam, participate in the student forum, and receive a certificate of completion.
How do I register? To register please visit http://www.complexityexplorer.org/.
Can I register after the course begins? Yes, but to receive a grade and a certificate you must register and complete the homework and final exams before the end of the course (i.e., by April 21, 2013).
How much time will the course require? To complete the course in the given 11-week period, you should expect to spend 1–2 hours per week watching videos and taking quizzes, and 2–4 hours per week on homework, for a total of 3–6 hours per week.
How will my work be graded? You will be graded on the basis of your homework and final exam. Each will count for 50% of your grade. Quizzes do not count toward your final grade.
What are the rules on collaboration with other people? You are free to discuss anything with anyone! We will host an online forum for students to discuss the course material, homework, etc. However, we ask that your homework solutions be your own (albeit with help from others if necessary) and that your final exam be taken entirely on your own, without collaboration with others or help from the Web. Of course, we are relying on the honor system for our students to abide by these rules.
Can I get university credit for this course? No, not at this time. It is possible that in the future we may be able to partner with colleges and universities so as to offer our courses for credit, but there is currently no mechanism for this.
Will I get any kind of certificate? Everyone who registers for and finishes the course will receive a certificate of completion from the Santa Fe Institute. Finishing the course means successfully finishing all homework assignments and passing the final exam.
What is this "Student Forum" you've been talking about? We will host and moderate a "Student Forum" in which enrolled course participants can post questions, answers, and otherwise discuss the course materials. Questions posted to this forum will be answered by the instructor, teaching assistant, and/or other students.
Will there be any other kind of social networking for participants? We hope to help organize local "Meetups" (via Meetup.com) for course participants who would like to meet in person.
IÕd like to take this course, but I wonÕt have time to finish it by April 21, 2013. Will the course be offered again? Yes, we plan to offer this course again, most likely in Fall, 2013.
Will you be offering any follow-up courses? Funding permitting, SFI hopes to offer a follow-up course to this one (Introduction to Complexity, part 2) starting in Summer 2013. We also hope to offer a series of more advanced, special-topic courses related to complex systems. All course participants will have the option to sign up for e-mail announcements for subsequent offerings.
What if I have more questions? Please address any other questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will collect such questions and send out an addendum to this FAQ before the course starts on February 4, 2013.