202: Information Organization and Retrieval
Frequently Asked Questions
Individual and Group Work Tips:
1. Where can I go for
quiet individual study when South Hall is buzzing with too much
2. Where can project groups
meet for brainstorming and other collaborative work?
3. What collaboration
tools are available to SIMS students?
4. What other tools and
equipment are available?
5. I'm nervous about presenting
to the class. How can I become more confident?
6. English is not my first
language. I'd like to strengthen my fluency -- what resources are
available to me?
1. Where can I
go for quiet individual study when South Hall is buzzing with too
Although it is intended for "recreational
reading and browsing," many students find that the Morrison
Library (101 Doe) is a great place to escape for strictly silent
work. The UCB Library offers
a variety of reading rooms, including Graduate
Services (208 Doe), a comfortable study space for graduate students
where you can escape the crowds, study in a quiet environment, and
check your email at one of four computer stations. With a little exploration,
you'll find that the various libraries on campus offer many great
quiet study places. (Have another suggestion? Please let us know.)
2. Where can project
groups meet for brainstorming and other collaborative work?
We recommend that project groups meet
regularly to discuss milestones, distribute tasks, share information
and anticipate problems. You may find it helpful to schedule a weekly
meeting time and place early on. There are plenty of options for
students wanting to meet and work in project groups. South Hall
is the obvious one; SIMS students may take advantage of 24x7 access
to the computer labs (rooms 3, 5, and 210), and part-time access
to empty classrooms (such as rooms 107 and 205) with white boards.
Be sure to speak with Lety about scheduling a classroom in advance.
At times, however, South Hall can seem too distracting or insular
for focused group discussion. The
Main Library (Doe), located a short walk from SIMS, offers study
rooms furnished with tables, chairs, electrical outlets and wall-mounted
chalkboards. One- to two-hour sessions can be reserved up to 24
hours in advance at the Main Stack desk using your current UCB student
ID or library card. (More
information.) The area immediately surrounding the Berkeley
campus offers a number of spacious cafes that groups might find
a perfect atmosphere for meetings. The Free
Speech Movement Cafe, adjacent to Moffitt
Library, is a great meeting place (indoor and outdoor seating)
but very popular and often too crowded. If the weather's cooperating,
your group might just prefer to meet on a grassy patch outdoors
on campus. Be creative, and don't forget to factor in some time
for laughter.... (Have another suggestion? Please let us know.)
3. What collaboration
tools are available to SIMS students?
An email alias will be created for
each group, and will help facilitate virtual conversations. Each
group will also have a shared group folder in G:/groups/is202_photos/group[number]/
on the SIMS network. Additionally, a public web-based storage area
(e.g. Yahoo! Briefcase)
may also serve your shared folder needs, while also providing universal
access to documents from any Internet-connected location. You might
find that eD (short
for e-Decisions) helps your group reach consensus while working
remotely. Brainstorming does not just happen, and won't necessarily
come naturally to your group; defining a set of brainstorming rules
up-front will help your team get more out of the experience.
Document sharing within groups can be quite challenging. Some students
find it helpful to use the track
changes feature in MS Word (Tools > Track Changes > Highlight
Changes...) when editing each other's work. Word also offers a versioning
feature (File > Versions...) that lets you capture annotations.
SIMS computers are equipped with Adobe Acrobat to allow you to create
PDF versions of your documents, as a means of capturing work in
a fixed form as well as preserving formatting across platforms.
(Acrobat Reader, required to read PDF documents, may be downloaded
4. What other tools
and equipment are available?
Take some time to explore your surroundings
at South Hall. The upstairs lab (room 210) offers workstations with
scanners near the printers, and Wacom tablets at various station
locations throughout. Each lab -- located in rooms 3, 5, and 210
-- is equipped with at least one printer, some of which conveniently
support double-sided printing (check printer properties).
SIMS students working in the labs have access to a variety of licensed
software applications, some of which may be unfamiliar to you. A
communal library of technical books and manuals, found in bookcases
both upstairs and downstairs, is there to help you. The school subscribes
to a number of trade magazines, also for students' shared use.
5. I'm nervous
about presenting to the class. How can I become more confident?
Speaking to a room of people can be
intimidating, especially for those who have little experience doing
it. Your time at SIMS offers an excellent opportunity to improve
on this important professional skill in a safe environment. The
very best thing you can do for yourself and your fellow project
mates is practice your presentation until you are comfortable with
it. Some find it helpful to use notes to stay oriented, but try
hard not to read directly from them. Whenever possible, avoid just
reading the text or bullet points off your PowerPoint slides --
we've all had to watch that, and it's not very interesting. Also
avoid unnecessarily wordy presentations; a succinct message can
be quite powerful, and will be a requirement for your relatively
brief presentation allotments. Don't underestimate the power of
images, offering a "show" rather than a "tell"
to illustrate your point. Practice in front of your classmates and
seek their constructive critique. Do the same for them... they'll
appreciate the favor. You may also try videotaping yourselves and
watching with your group for specific comments. Your professors
and TAs are also happy to be a practice audience if you like. Just
ask! It's also a good idea to "test drive" your presentation
in the classroom prior to your actual presentation. Are the slides
legible from the back of the room? Can you be heard and understood
anywhere in the room? It's always best to find out in advance.
Other resources: Dave Messerschmitt's Pointers
on Giving a Talk; Presentation
Skills slideshow from CS160 (Spring 2002).
6. English is not
my first language. I'd like to strengthen my fluency -- what resources
are available to me?
There are a number of free services
offered by the campus Student
Learning Center, including conversation practice, grammar and
editing workshops, tutoring services, etc. See the "Non-Native Speakers"
link on their website for more details. There are also a number
of formal classes offered throughout the Berkeley community. Unlike
workshops, these classes will give a more set curriculum with on-going
supervision and feedback. Services
for International Students and Scholars (SISS) has assembled
information into a document
that you might find helpful. You'll also find a number of ESL (English
as a Second Language) programs offered through UCB
Extension and at area community colleges. Some of the listed
courses are even free. Finally, Sabrina Saracco is offering an Academic
Writing Group this fall for free (description).
If you're interested in attending the writing group, please contact
her via e-mail.